Blessed be God! I have just recently had a rather wonderful weekend. I didn't think I would have anything to post here, but it seems that I have a rather ineffective memory. This weekend was a confirmation overnight retreat for the high school freshmen that will be confirmed this year. Things certainly did start off on the not so nice foot. The youth were rather kinda rude, sleepy, and all together, very very disinterested and much too cool to participate in such a retreat. It was rather disheartening to see this rather pathetic display of 'being cool,' but God works in His own way.
By the end of the first evening, we had a communal celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation. It is nights like that which give me such hope for the future of our Church. It was so wonderful to see so many going after years of maybe never going to Mass or even understanding or wanting to be involved. They waited in some long lines and we had many good priests there as well. It was a real blessing. I hadn't been to confession in at least 6 months and Lord knows how badly I needed it. I felt as though 6 months of grace rushed back into my soul that night. It was truly a blessing to be there.
We also had adoration from Saturday morning after Mass until our afternoon Mass on Sunday. Another blessing I am so thankful for. I also met a seminarian there who I am very sure will be a very holy priest someday. I talked with him well into the wee hours of the morning and I ended up suffering from sleep deprivation all weekend anyways. God worked so many wonderful things for me this weekend. I need to get to work in paying Him back and giving Him thanksgiving and praise. He even gave me the Epiphany hymn at Mass I had asked for from our musicians and been refused many times!
The Lord is so good to me and I have been so awful in return. May this new year give me new life and help me back on the path to Christ for all eternity in Heaven. Amen.
God bless you all abundantly and may He work wonders in your life this year!
When is the discernment of religious life, not discernment of religious life? This has been a question that I have been asking myself rather recently, and I have found myself pondering on it lately. I have seen a great number of young girls who have been discerning the religious life. Many of them are in high school or college, with a few beyond that even. I have seen several that thought they had a call, but have decided that it should not be further sought after for one reason or another. I have also seen, on the other hand, many young ladies who have become obsessed with religious life and becoming a Sister. Now, it is very good to have a desire for the religious life and have interest in it, but it is not healthy to have an obsession with it, just as it is not healthy to have an obsession with anything. Holy things are good, but an obsession is not healthy, and is really a great hindrance to becoming holy.
How can you tell the difference from true discernment of religious life from obsession? It is not easy to decipher either, unless you are spiritually mature. First, we must seek the Kingdom to find where the King desires us to be in His Kingdom. In these matters, I can speak from my own experience. Now, it really has not been until recently that I have felt some maturation of my soul. I would not even dare to say that my soul is totally mature even, but step by step, it is ascending.
Until quite recently, I have been an immature, and somewhat obsessed soul in discerning the religious life. I was there for the praise sometimes that I would get. Now, it was good holy praise, but if taken in and fed to the ego, it is no longer holy. For example, a friend would ask if I was still thinking about becoming a nun, and I would simply reply yes. They would say things like "Good!" "We'll be praying for you!" "That's great!" and the like. Now, not that any of these things are bad things to say, but if not taken with great humility, these bits of sugar feed the ego until it is inflated and one becomes very proud of their 'special' calling.
Now, do not get me wrong here. The call to the religious life is a precious and unique call! It truly is a special and very sacred thing to behold! It must be something revered like Mary's call was revered. How many people knew of her miraculous calling to be the Mother of God? Very few indeed! Her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, surely knew as we are told this in the Scriptures. Elizabeth knew as well, for God had revealed it to her. They were told as to give glory to God. It was revealed only to those that needed to in God's great plan of salvation. Jesus Himself did not reveal the greatness of his mother on earth. Likewise, our calling needs to be protected and revered. Our calling is a great gift from God and ought not to be misused.
Still, there are more signs of obsession. One of which that I have seen in many young women, along with myself, is a desire to know as many Sisters and communities as possible, and when in conversation show off this knowledge of communities. Now, it is one thing if someone is asking for information or if anyone has been there and there is a response to that in the spirit of informing another. But if one thinks the more Religious they know makes them more knowledgeable about religious life in general and will speak only about 'their' community, it can be that pride has snuck into your calling. This matter though, is still touchy and can vary from case to case, as I am not totally done thinking about the matters discussed above.
Along the same lines as above though, is that once one finds a community that God is leading them towards, suddenly, without even enterance or acceptance to the community, they find themselves to be part of the community. If the community is Franciscan, suddenly, they are Franciscan too! They must only read Franciscan books and about Franciscan Saints! Oh! They must now find a favorite Franciscan Saint! Now, they must get Franciscan things! Medals, jewelry, statues, holy cards, books! They must get to know every Franciscan they see, or even seek them out, and let them know that they too will be a Franciscan! There is just so much, and they must immerse themselves in it all! Surely, does this not sound obsessive, even to the common man? Discerning the religious life calls us to detachment, not attachment. We must continue to grow spiritually. We cannot limit ourselves to one spirituality of one order or community. Is anyone ever really truly Franciscan then? Yes. When one enters the order. But, through and through, we must first seek to become holy. Becoming one order or another does not effect how holy we are. Our human tastes like to take over and we find ourselves full of pride. How many religious have you met that take great pride in being one order or another? Sure, they will talk about how wonderful and holy the Saints of the order are and that the spirituality is beautiful, but all Saints are holy and wonderful and things that lead you close to Christ are beautiful, too. But there is no pride. To be holy, one must conquer pride.
Now, I am not saying it is not good to seek holy things in life, but we must seek them maturely and with great spiritual discernment and detachment. Great things come when the soul is mature. There are many other thoughts about this subject that have still yet to be thought about and considered. There are a great number of delicacies in this matter and need to be handled with care. I do not mean to upset anyone with my words, but please take them with a grain of humility and self-reflection. I too am guilty of committing these faults in my discernment. Please pray for me, and for holy and fervent priests and religious. God bless you all abundantly!
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Today I bring to you a totally awesome source for catechesis and apologetics. I present to you C.R. Publications Catholicism & Reason: The Creed and Apologetics. I have only finished the first six chapters and I am already blown away with the content of what I have read. I started just a few days ago going chapter by chapter and following up with the Leader's Manual to see what additional insights or clarifications can be made about the chapter. It has definitely been a time of great gains of knowledge. The first three chapters alone astound me with the proof for the existence of God, the need for religion, and proving the Scriptures as authentic and valid. Each one uses a series of logic and reasoning, each building up on the knowledge attained from the previous chapter. It is simply something I have never been presented with before in all my religious education and I am slightly disappointed that I never had the chance to learn about all this ever before.
The book itself is meant to be taught or discussed with a high school or older age group. The leader's manual is well laid out and gives tips for classes/meetings to discuss the topics/chapters in the book. Each chapter comes with a brief summary of what the book says along with some things that ought to be pointed out and terms that ought to be defined. It gives answers to some questions commonly asked when the topic is brought up and also will list if there are other chapters in the book that ought to be read along with the chapter for further understanding or in case questions related to both chapters come up in discussion. It provides some questions for discussion along with possible ideas for projects to help get more 'into' the topic and discussion. What I think is even most amazing is that at the end of each chapter, there is a list of references which includes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, several Church documents as they pertain to the topic along with several other books about the topic of the chapter. The list for some chapters is quite extensive, and usually includes the books that are suggested to have by the leader/catechist.
Now, the book itself is not boring and I never want to put it down, and when I have some free time away from classes and the work associated with that, I always want to continue reading, underlining, highlighting, and learning! It is very much like a great bedtime story that is just too good to stop, even though you know you need to get to bed! It is a very engaging read and full of useful knowledge. The publishers themselves had this to say about the book:
The most readable apologetics book on the market today, Catholicism and Reason offers a systematic presentation of Catholic beliefs that will prepare the reader to be a knowledgeable and articulate defender of the Catholic Faith. The book focuses on such topics as the existence of God, the historical reliability of the Gospels, the humanity and divinity of Christ, proofs for the resurrection, the founding of the Catholic Church on Peter, and the signs or marks that point to the Church of Jesus Christ today. Also discussed are infallibility, ecumenism, the Blessed Trinity, original and actual sin, grace and the virtues, heaven, hell, and purgatory, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.I can't wait to read some more, though it is already late and I may only get through most of a chapter. What makes this even better I think is that the chapters are quite short and perfect for taking up parts at a time, although it is better to read from front to back so the logic is able to build upon itself. Well, I ought to quit raving about this book, so I will leave you further information about the publishers. God bless you all abundantly!
C.R. Publications Inc. was founded in 1995 to publish books about the Catholic religion that are faithful to the Magisterium or teaching office of the Church. James J. Drummey, the president of the company, is a family man who has been involved in the field of religious education for more than 30 years. He is editor of "Catholic Replies," a highly acclaimed weekly question-and-answer newspaper column on religious topics, and is also author of two books, Catholic Replies and Catholic Replies 2, with answers to over 1,600 questions about religious matters and a comprehensive index at the end of each book.
Also published by C.R. Publications is the five-volume Catholicism Series, which was co-authored by Mr. Drummey and two priests, Msgr. Paul J. Hayes and the late Fr. Edward J. Hayes. The Hayes brothers taught and wrote about the Catholic Faith all their priestly lives, while at the same time serving as pastors and chaplains and working in the communications field.
There are teacher's manuals available for each of the books in the Catholicism Series, which is being widely used in Catholic parishes, high schools, colleges, and adult education programs. A committee of Catholic bishops has found the series to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and has highly commended the books for their strong emphasis on doctrine and their faithful adherence to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
I apologize for my extensive leave of absence from blogging. I ended up wasting my time with other petty things on the internet and has even left me even further behind. I am working on a longer post currently, although of no real substance I think, but rather some thoughts on somethings that have been somewhat bothersome lately. God bless you all abundantly!
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Do your words and actions during the week reflect the faith you profess and celebrate on Sunday?
Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe what ever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice."I feel as though I ought to be updating my blog more. I think it would be best to update only on certain days though. I will try to see if I can make a habit of Tuesday and Thursday blogging only. I am overall hoping to cut out a lot of my time on the internet as it has already messed things up nicely for me, especially with school and my RA job. I don't think I can even get into how much the internet has screwed up my spiritual life. I really am addicted I think. I really need to cut myself off from it. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to kick the habit? St. Isidore of Seville, patron of the internet, pray for me!
Well, in other news, the thought of marriage is starting to frighten me a little. It seems I have come to understand more about this beautiful vocation, but when I think of myself in that vocation, I get a little freaked out. I am sure that a good portion has to do with the fact that I have been discerning the religious life actively for the past 4-5 years. I am in the middle of applying to enter the Poor Clares and I think most of my identity is rooted in the fact that others see me as 'the future nun'. It is difficult to deal with some days. I also feel that I could not be a good mother and sometimes it seems I cannot have a strong and deep relationship with others. Perhaps it is now realizing what I have to give up in life to follow Jesus to whatever He is calling me to. It is certainly a cross that I have never thought of or was even aware of until recently. Lord, help me to know Your will in these matters!
Please pray also for a friend of mine. She is 21, unwed, and pregnant. Keep her in your prayers as this is a very very difficult time for not only her, but for all who know and love her. Thank you!
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Put to the Test
Call on Christ for help when facing temptation of any kind and He will deliver you.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil.
After one amazing weekend, I feel as though full of the Holy Spirit myself. Now the hard part: keeping myself focused on the Lord. This weekend was the Here I am Lord Conference in St. Charles, IL. Friday evening was a healing Mass celebrated by Fr. Stan Fortuna. It was truly a refreshing and powerful Mass. I felt a great love in my heart for Our Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It was wonderful to feel this consolation and immense love within my heart. Thank you dearest Jesus for this small grace. I needed to feel this as this holy season begins.
Saturday was filled with many wonderful talks by a great variety of persons, each with something similar yet totally different and profound! It was a very rich and wonderful experience. I only hope I will be able to digest it all and retain that which is needed. At lunch I ate with some wonderful Polish and Slovakian Religious along with a missionary Priest who gave an awe inspiring talk about what he does. He told a story that will forever change the way I view missionaries. May God bless them in their ministry and give us many many missionaries! It was a wonderful time just to sit and listen to them. They were a hoot!
It was beautiful to see the many religious present at the event and even the beauty and purity I saw in the Sisters and religious that I 'hung' around with. The Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi were giving me some of their winnings from the drawing earlier that evening so that I would 'survive' driving home in the winter storm that night. Fr. Andy and one of the Sisters from the aforementioned community came to help scrape the ice off of my windows on my car! May God reward them for their kindness! The one Sister is returning to Slovakia on Friday (although I cannot recall her name! I am hoping to find out somehow!) and I wanted to thank her for her beautiful witness that evening.
There was one thing on Saturday that was very bothersome to me, and I really need to work on. During the time for Q&A with the religious (ladies were with the women religious and men with the male religious), I had this one young lady who I am assuming may still be in her junior year of high school. When I was last at the conference, she was in the same group as me and just drove me batty! Her shirt, was rather loose fitting in the front and she was sitting on the rear part of the pew and leaning over, when right in front of her was a young man (note: this is from the last time I was there and the Q&A groups were co-ed). I was on the right of this young man, and apparently she hadn't the least idea that you could see straight down her shirt while she was leaning over! That poor young man. I was very tempted to tell her she ought to sit up as I too could see what the young man did. I didn't purely because I did not want to embarrass her and also because she would not stop talking! It suddenly seemed as though Q&A time was for her to talk about herself.
This year, the modesty issue was cleaned up and nowhere in sight. But she did take the opportunity to talk about herself and about how she was going to be an exchange student and she was hoping to be in Italy. I do have to say, the dear Sisters did not get much in the conversation! I did grab the chance to ask a question as soon as I could because I could not bear anymore to hear about her and what she was doing. I asked basically how the Sisters knew that they were called. I got one answer from one sister before one of the other sisters (in lay clothes, she was also married and became a religious after her husband passed away and her kids grew up) began to tell me about something, and because I felt that it was more or less not applicable to me, I tuned it out. Shame on me. I must have had such a rude look upon my face and now looking back, I feel awful about it. Although, I did ask the question more or less for the other young women in the group, and not so much for myself. God, forgive me of my fault.
There was also Mass on Saturday evening celebrated by Bishop Paprocki of Chicago. It was a beautiful but very crowded Mass as it was the parish's regular Saturday evening Mass. The Psalm when sung by the cantor, she had replaced every single male pronoun referring to God with either 'God' or something else that fit. It was not the only place where I heard this either. At Mass the previous night, one young lady behind me did the same thing with the prayer right after the offertory. GAH! I cannot explain the sheer aggravation I had! It was so upsetting to hear!
What is so wrong with calling God 'he'? It truly only makes sense that we call Him that in the first place! And should it really even matter? Why cannot we just pray the prayers prescribed by the Church just as they are? Why do we even feel a need to change something so minuscule as that? I do understand that God has no gender in reality, but in our human need to apply gender to things in language, it is proper to give God a male one. For one, Jesus is male. Jesus is indeed True God and True Man. I think that one is obvious. Now, the Holy Spirit, although spoken about sometimes in the female, it would be difficult to describe the Holy Spirit as female and being the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Also, God is called Father all over the scriptures. Are the scriptures all wrong too? Must we go 'fix' them as well? I see really no good reason to be changing prayers and songs all willy-nilly like.
Forgive me my rants. I do wish for union, but if the little things keep the multitudes apart, how can we say that we are one? The Church is beyond all these little things. I need very much to look beyond these and look to Our Lord. He is truly the reason for anything we do in the Church. May the Blessed Virgin Mary guide us all to come to know and lover her Son more and more. May St. Joseph protect the One, Holy, and Apostolic Catholic Church. Amen.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Have you chosen to follow Christ, even when it means accepting the cross?
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."It is only the second day of lent, and already I am feeling a little worn and weary. I am realizing how difficult of a lent this will be. I was very much excited for it to start, but now that it has, I feel like I ought to do better.
For one, last night I spent 15 minutes in adoration after being unable to locate where the evening of recollection was being held at. It was difficult and I felt as though I lacked in love for Our Saviour present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I felt just terrible to be there before Him. My mind would keep drifting and my prayers were few and sparse. I imagine Mass letting out in the middle of my time there was of no help, but I felt so distant and cut off from Our Lord.
I did however have the chance to make it to Mass twice. It was wonderful to be there although I was late for the first one and the second one was in the college's sparse kneeler-less chapel for every event in the college. I have to admit that I would not let the little things deter me from loving Our Lord, but it ended up being me that felt as though I did not love enough.
The rest of the day was normal and I did not eat anything until about 6:45pm and about an hour later, I was feeling ill. I did drink water throughout the day though. The day did not seem to be fervent in anyway and I did lack in prayer that day. I truly need to work on prayer before I can pronounce myself to be stuck in a period of spiritual dryness. Please pray for me. Pray that I can pray more and keep faithful to my Lenten promises!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Lent is quickly approaching dear friends in Christ! I thought it might be fun to give some definitions of what Lent is today.
The season of prayer and penance before Easter. Its purpose is to better prepare the faithful for the feast of the Resurrection, and dispose them for a more fruitful reception of the graces that Christ merited by his passion and death. In the Latin Rite, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for forty days, besides Sundays, until Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday occurs on any day from February 4 to March 11, depending on the date of Easter. Originally the period of fasting in preparation for Easter did not, as a rule, exceed two or three days. But by the time of the Council of Nicaea (325) forty days were already customary. And ever since, this length of time has been associated with Christ's forty-day fast in the desert before beginning his public life. According to the prescription of Pope Paul VI, in revising the Church's laws of fast and abstinence, "The time of Lent preserves its penitential character. The days of penitence to be observed under obligation throughout the Church are all Fridays and Ash Wednesday, that is to say the first days of Great Lent, according to the diversity of rites. Their substantial observance binds gravely" (Paenitemini, III, norm II). Besides fast and abstinence on specified days, the whole Lenten season is to be penitential, with stress on prayer, reception of the sacraments, almsgiving, and the practice of charity. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon lengten, lencten, spring, Lent.)And from the Catholic Dictionary by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Lent (LEHNT): (From Middle English lenten; Anglo-Saxon lencten: spring) The forty day liturgical season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. In the first three centuries, Lent lasted only two or three days. Later, it grew to three or four weeks. The number forty is first detected in the Canons of Nicaea (A.D. 325), Probably to recall Our Lord's forty days in the desert before His public ministry. In the East and West and throughout the centuries, the length of the fast has varied. An important dimension of the Lenten observance was the celebration of Mass by the Holy Father at what are called station churches. The present sacramentary recalls this custom and "strongly encourages the chief shepherd of the diocese to gather his people in this way." The Lenten Liturgy also highlights the present restoration of the Scrutiny Masses on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of the season for the catechumens (now called the "elect"), who will be initiated at the Easter Vigil. CCC 540, 1095, 1438May God bless you all abundantly this lent as we grow closer to Christ.
Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D., Rev. Peter M.J. Catholic Dictionary:Revised. Huntington, IN. Our Sunday Visitor. 2002. 464-465.
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Well, with lent starting on Wednesday this week, I though I would just link up to this great resource! Pray hard and be changed this lent. Please also visit the 'Box' widgit on my sidebar to download a Lenten Journey Calendar with things for everyday during the season. God bless you all abundantly!
A Catholic Life: Everything Lent
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Lent is only a week away. A time that I am hoping to fortify my faith and to grow in holiness. The past 6 months have been a time full of falling away, sloth, and sin. It was 6 months before I made my last confession. It was a sad time and one that I wish never to go through again. The pain to have to face Our Lord, knowing you cannot receive Him is great and weighs heavily upon the heart. But, blessed be God in His mercy. Confession bestows great graces for those who seek Him and His forgiveness. These past 6 months have in reality undone all of the work done within me these past 7 years. I feel like I am starting over again from the very beginning. He is calling me to be renewed and to be holy. The scars of my sins will be with me for a very long time, but the pain they caused will be strength enough to fight back the next time that temptation comes to seek and destroy. By the grace of God, I will fight back. May He be praised for His compassion and mercy.
Now, this lent I am hoping to be intense. I want to live life as I have never lived it before. There are so many things that I am hoping to do and get done this Lenten Season that I will be changed within to a point where I can never go back. I have a great list already of things that I would like to do this lent, both promises and penances. I know that if I attempt to do them all, I will just have a complete overload and would fail at keeping several of them. On the other hand, many of them go hand in hand in helping completing each 'task,' if you will.
- Give up elevators
- Give up sugar (low sugar diet)
- Give up meat
- A weekly adoration hour
- Go to weekly confession
- Go to daily Mass
- Pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily
- Get to bed by 10pm (unless on duty or in meetings)
- Get up by 7am
- Read the Bible
- Read the Catechism
- Read devotional/religious/apologetics/theology book(s)
- Create one great religious work of art
I also ask that whoever reads this will pray for me as I start anew this Lent. I want to be changed totally, and lent is surely a time for this to happen. Please, also leave your intentions so that I may pray for you as well. I want to be able to help others as I engage my mission. May your lent be life changing as well! God bless you all abundantly!
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!
Praised be Jesus Christ! Greetings to you and your holy angels! Tonight, I learned that I need to learn and read more. For one, I need to do some serious scripture study. I really need to get in depth in the Old Testament and, well, just the whole Bible itself! I would love to do the Great Adventure Bible Study all over again, considering I jumped in right at the beginning of the New Testament. I certainly learned a great deal just from that part of the study.
I also need to bone-up on the catechism. I know generally a great number of things, but I would love to learn about all the nuances and deeper meaning behind a lot of teachings. I really need to read the Compendium and then from there I will start reading the actual catechism (as wonderfully an exciting read that may be...). I would also love to be able to read my huge scripture commentary. I have only been able to read a little out of it and I loved what I read. It lent great meaning to a number of passages and even many minor background details that add greatly to the richness and beauty of the scriptures.
I'd love to read up some more about apologetics and such considering the books that I have. Although it is not bad, I have been reading a great number of devotional books rather than informational books. I've decided that if my little sister can tell me who Jesse is and I cannot quite pinpoint it, I need to do some serious studying. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for me! God bless you all abundantly!
Lord, Thy Will Be Done!