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They looked at each other silent, the awkwardness increasing.

He had immense love for her but made one big mistake that made her leave.

She found herself in a bad relationship, he prayed for her to find the one.

Soon enough they were having lunch, talking about her new boyfriend.


 

 

Take this week’s Fifty Challenge.

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Re-Ignition!

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One of the things I really don’t like about life is monotony. That stuck in a rut feeling. The going through the motions feeling. The feeling that you’ve done something a thousand times and it just starts to lose meaning. 

I used to be a great helper at my Church doing things in the Youth Ministry. I would help plan events, keep meetings going, and lead small groups trying to help young Catholic teens find their way in life. For the past few months, maybe even longer than that, I haven’t been doing those things. Mostly because I felt like I was not really doing anything after a while. The Youth Ministry was falling off, as in not as many attendants (amongst other things), and with a steady job and other life duties that I felt were more important, it started to seem like a waste of time and money to drive myself 30-40 minutes away to try and bring back to life something that I felt was just not going anywhere. 

But I always sort of miss it in a weird way. I know that reaching one young teen through Youth Ministry is better than reaching none. But I don’t know, I suddenly felt out of place. I continue to try to live my faith away from my home Parish. Do the normal layperson life. Go to church on Sunday, lead a decent prayer life, etc. However, it feels like ever since I stopped doing Youth Ministry at my home Parish, it’s just been slowly slipping away. Heck, I even missed like 2 or 3 Sunday masses in the past 5 weeks. And I’ve always been diligent about going every week, regardless of what was happening.

The fire of the Holy Spirit was dying inside me, it felt like it had been prominent for so long. But just recently whittled down to a dying ember, barely visible in the chasms of my souls.

But then… something happened. At work, no less, where the monotony was at it’s peak, where things proceeded as normal at almost all times, when I least expected it.

It was Friday and I’ve been observing Lent as many Fridays as I could remember, eating no meat. And one of the special needs workers was asking me, as usual, if I was going to In N’ Out today. And, again, as usual, I began telling my tales of how great In N Out burger was, until it clicked in my head that it was in fact Friday. So i began to say that I could not go to In N Out because it was Friday. Most of them were kind of shocked. Like they had never heard such a thing. But one of them perked up real quick and said,

“Oh, you don’t have to do that, that’s a Catholic thing.”

I quickly answered back that I was Catholic. And suddenly the look on his face changed to one of disgust, but concern at the same time for we were good friends. And he replied,

“Wait… I thought you were Christian…” more concern fell over his face.

I quickly started to try and explain that Catholics are Christians but that not all Christians are Catholics. Before I was quickly interrupted and he said,

“No, no, no, those Catholics, they claim to be Christian but they are not. They just aren’t. You are not a Christian…”

Insert here list of all things uninformed Christians think Catholics are doing wrong and/or are strictly against Bible teachings etc.

I was taken aback. I was thrown for a loop. I was just totally unready. Apologetics came rushing through my head giving an answer for every single thing that was said that I knew to be completely untrue. But the words could not leave my lips. In the distinct monotony that had been filling my life suddenly I was standing face to face with words that I didn’t know I couldn’t bear to hear…

“You are not a Christian.”

The words echoed in my heart, they punched me in the jaw, my heart raced, my head pounded. I didn’t know I could become so distraught by such words. Almost as if I was becoming enraged and filled with anger. But something was different, it wasn’t anger that was rushing over me…. but fear. Fear that those were the exact words that God had been wanting to tell me. To tell me I was falling off the path, to tell me that I was becoming content with a dying spirituality, to tell me that I was not doing good enough.

I wish that I could say that I suddenly felt a renewed call to my faith, that the fire of my soul was ablaze with great passion, and all those other things that people say after going through such a crazy emotional experience. But I don’t think that’s what it was supposed to be. 

I think it was God blowing out my old dying ember in my soul but quickly reigniting a new one and saying, “Start again, you can do it…. I know you can.”

My friend quickly apologized to me about saying the things he said after an hour or so. But in my mind, I was thanking him, thanking him for saying that I was basically not doing my job. And hoping that I can rekindle this ember back into the fire of Love that the Lord has intended for me.

So please, keep me in your prayers as the Lenten season continues, that I may slowly feed this fire into something wonderful again.

There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
There’s no place I’d rather be
Than here in your love, here in your love…

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain and I can’t control
I want more of You God, I want more of You God.

Set a Fire by Jesus Culture

Love is in the Air

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Wonderful things have been happening lately. Weddings! Lots of Weddings! It seems like they are only becoming more and more frequent. Like they can’t stop or won’t stop. It’s just the nature of things when you attend a Christian school and everyone is in a hurry to be married. You are bound to have friends that go in and quickly tie the knot. And all the love that I can give, I bring to them.

I can honestly say that usually I find quick marriages to be very hard and I always look and think it won’t last but all the ones I have attended in the past few months, I can’t say that… I don’t even think it. I don’t know if it is just how beautiful the wedding is in the moment or something entirely different. I truly believe all these weddings I have been a part of the past few months are going to work out and thrive! And if you don’t know what I mean by marrying young, I think the oldest person that was being married was 23, everyone else was younger, and I’ve been to at least 3 weddings these past few months. I don’t know if that is just the norm now-a-days or if it is just the people I know. But like I said, I have no doubts in my mind about them.

I feel like it has been the norm though to try and lead the married life but then turn around and not be committed to it. I don’t want to look up the exact statistics, because it would only be depressing, but I believe almost 50% of marriages end in divorce. And that is a staggering amount. It’s almost as if a culture has been made that look for the quick satisfaction and then simply throw it away when it becomes too much work. 

Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion… They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘for ever’, because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, I ask you to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you are incapable of true love.

Pope Francis at World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil

What I hope all people, especially newlyweds understand, is that marriage is a mutual submission to one another. It is only through this way that a marriage can thrive. It seems like a weird way to live but if done right I believe it can be the most loving marriage out there. In a way, marriage is supposed to try and emulate how God loves. God loves us all wholeheartedly with every fiber of his being, even when we mess up, even when we forget about Him, etc. etc. Forgiveness, understanding, patience… all qualities of God’s love are exactly what every married couple needs.

I am most certainly not any type of marriage expert so really I have no credibility to be spilling out advice. I am solidly into my 22nd year of life, single, and absolutely no plans of being married anytime soon. But I have a vision of how married life should be from books, teachings and most especially from all these past weddings I have seen, some that I have even been very fortunate to have been a part of. I can only hope that one day we all find it (or be swept up into the Religious life, that’s fine too). Find, not just the person that makes us happy in the moment, but the person that we can look at everyday and be entirely devoted to them and think, “How could it be that I have been so blessed?”

And may all young Husbands take St. John Chrysostom’s words to heart as they look at their brides:

I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us… I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.

St. John Chrysostom “On Marriage and the Family Life”

Beginning the Journey through Lent

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Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, this exact day, as we are reminded of our own humanity as we have ashes placed on our foreheads. It is a beautiful way to start the Journey through Lent and ultimately arrive at Easter, where we can rejoice on the day that our Salvation was assured.

I think in my younger days, Ash Wednesday was not that big of a deal for my family and I. I remember going to Church a few times, but really the big thing was to fast that day and not eat any meat. Which, frankly, as a child, I seldom did, because it was not expected of me. But now, being older and ultimately in charge of my own faith and spiritual development I have tried my best to keep up with the “rules” that follow for Ash Wednesday. Even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, going to any Ash Wednesday Mass it is almost assured that the Church will be packed tight, with all of the Congregation looking to receive their ash. Why it’s such a popular thing amongst Catholics has befuddled me for a while. One of the answers I had heard is that a great deal of families have a belief going around that the Ash does something special. I don’t really think so, but I really am not sure. But nevertheless, everyone is there and is ready to begin the Lenten Season.

And as is popular amongst most Christians, everyone is asking, “What are you giving up for Lent?” With the normal responses being: “chocolate, soda, fast food, etc.” It’s always sounded to me like people were going on a diet. But trust me, I’ve decided to do those things as well earlier on in my life. But I think what’s been hammered home into me most recently is that as good as giving up those things are, the main question is… Is giving that up leading you closer to Christ? or is it leading you to that Spring break body? Now I can’t say that about everybody, but I can challenge myself and everyone else to really dig deeper. Is there not something you think would make you a more loving person? Something that you have been meaning to say/do? Something that at the end of Lent you can look at yourself and say that you are a better person… and not just a more fit person. (Again… nothing wrong with being fit.)

So for myself, I am taking a couple of pages out of one of the Priest’s book that I hear at Mass on Sunday…

First of all: I just want to generally be more kind to people.

And Number two goes along with that: I want to give more attention to people. More focus. So often are we plagued by the things we have to do or the texts we have to answer that we forget to look at the people right in front of us and say that we are so grateful that they are in our lives. Or even listen to what they have to say, they may really need you.

Number Three: Be more grateful. Father really hit this one home at Mass on Ash Wednesday. He walked down the aisle of the Church 12 times…. 12 times to do a funeral. I think if I had to do that it would be staggeringly sad. But I would also be more grateful for my life and the people in my life, that they are still there and I have not yet lost them. I think it changes the way you live if you are grateful for those small things, the things you take for granted everyday.

And finally: Probably the biggest one… the one that I thought up on my own and did not steal directly out of Father’s book. I would like to “clear the air,” so to speak. And what that means is, I want to throughout Lent, contact people I believe I may have wronged in my lifetime and make amends. Say I’m sorry, make sure I have not hurt them. This might be the toughest one yet. I can truly only like of 2 or 3 that I feel I have to really talk to. But even those seem so daunting in my mind right now. But I will be continuously praying that I may find the peace and the will from God to do what I have set out to do. I think I will periodically post it on my Facebook too, and see if any other people come up out of it that way.

Alas, that is the beginning of my Lenten Journey.

Truthfully, I don’t know how many people will actually read this blog, and I don’t really care. This is more about having my thoughts out there and not trapped inside my mind. It feels very freeing. But it can also be a way for people that read it to also participate with myself and others in things that may be going through your mind as well.

So let us begin on this Journey together.

AMDG