Faith in Finals
In the midst of the craziness of the pre-finals freakout that possess every college student about this time I have been given the blessing of being able to just breathe today. I still have a lot to do and I’m so perpetually tired I may start hallucinating but for some reason today I’m very at peace. Mass this morning was particularly wonderful and the sun is out and though there is a lot to be done I feel I have a handle on it. I’ve been given the gift of peace today. On top of that, the big final paper I have to write is about marriage and family so that’s completely awesome.
Speaking of, take a gander at this little tidbit from Gaudium et Spes, “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is directed and enriched by the redemptive power of Christ and the salvific action of the church, with the result that the spouses are effectively led to God and are helped and strengthened in their lofty role as fathers and mothers” (Article 48). Pure beauty, right? I’ve been doing some hardcore thinking on this stuff and it just keeps getting better. “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love…” *sigh* I want that read at my wedding: so awesome. Marriage is so much more than a man who loves a woman, it is complete and mutual self-gift. Marriage is a union of three: man, woman, God. It is so beautiful I can’t even fully express it.
Everyone is crazy right now. Every other person you walk past has caffeine and books and looks exhausted and wired all at once. But I completely understand, I bought a cup of coffee today after classes and have piles of books around me. If I had written this two days ago, It would have been a mess of rants and incoherent sentences about how I want to get out of here and while I am ridiculously excited to go home for a month, I have been able to get grounded today through reconciliation and mass and appreciate today. My eyes are opened to the beauty of today and of this time in my life. It’s a blessing to be here and a blessing to have the strength and energy to get through it. I might sleep for days once this is over but for now I’m wired on coffee and being further sustained by faith, grace and beauty. I have found strength and motivation in the knowledge that it is for greater glory. Bring it.
Alright so I’m a few days behind on this but in honor of All Saints Day here is my thought: How seriously cool is it to have saints? We have people in heaven praying for us and guiding us. That’s so cool! We have armies of people in the presence of God, gazing upon His face, praying for us and our intentions. This year All Saints day was like a whole new experience for me. I went to a vigil mass on Halloween and I don’t know if it was the mood lighting in the church or the incense or what but when we sang the Litany of the Saints my heart was so moved with joy and awe and gratitude. Have you ever really thought about the saints? They were people just like us. They went to school and has parents and friends and went to church and said the same things we do in mass and recited the same prayers. I think we tend to caught up in this idea of unapproachable holiness when it comes to saints, as if they were born perfectly holy and remained that way until they died. That is not the case my friends. Some saints were serious sinners. People say that all the time when they’re trying to get teenagers to be better people, “Even saints sinned!” so I feel that we’ve become desensitized to that but really think about it: even the saints sinned. These holy people, some of which we blessed with this awesome thing called incorruptibility (The Incorruptibles, look it up.), they were normal people with challenges and struggles. I think we also get wrapped up in the fact that a lot of the more popular saints were religious persons: Popes, sisters, priests, brothers, etc.. and that a lot of them died in horrific or painful ways from some horrible disease or they were martyred. It was a bit of a revelation to me when I realized that not all saints became saints through that process. St Gianna Beretta Molla was a wife and a mother and had a professional career and granted that she died in child birth she was still amazing. She became a hero of mine because she was a mother who became a saint. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati died at a young age but he wasn’t a member of a holy order, he was just a young man. He was handsome and liked to be outside and have fun, he had a lot of friends and was very well liked (He was an incorruptible and a really cool guy, you should look him up too). St. John the Apostle died at an old age after a life of spreading the Gospel. Blessed Pope John Paul II died at an old age and, though he was Pope, he lived a pretty cool life of fun and adventure. Mother Teresa did have health issues and was a consecrated religious but still lived into later years. My point is, being a consecrated religious person and dying at a young age due to martyrdom or disease are not pre-requisites to sainthood. We can all be saints and while we’re here on earth trying to figure it out and make it to heaven and strive for sainthood we have armies of holy men and women praying for us and cheering for us to succeed. They’re some pretty cool people and I highly recommend looking into some of their lives. You can learn most from the experts, right? So why not learn how to get into heaven from those who have already done it?
All you holy men and women… pray for us.
Hardness of Heart
A week or three ago I was watching a video of a talk and the speaker mentioned hardness of heart. This got me on a thought path and I ended up with the thought of, “Do not let your heart be hardened and fight the hardness of hearts.” People get hurt and they get mad and they don’t heal and their hearts become hardened. Instead of working to heal the pain and the damage caused, a person will just adopt a, “ok, whatever. It is what it is” attitude and move on. The process of “moving on” is a good thing and important but a vital step in that process is healing. If you break your leg you don’t just get back up say “whatever” and run a marathon. You get up, you let it heal and walk on it a little more every day and eventually you’re strong again. It’s a process. If you get up and “whatever” and run, you cause even more damage than the initial wound. Our hearts are fragile. We need the time to heal. Recently, there have been a lot in instances in my life where people have allowed their hearts to be hardened and they think they’re doing themselves a favor. The more we ignore the pain and the wound doesn’t make it go away and it doesn’t become less. We let our pride and stubbornness get in the way. We get embarrassed because somewhere in time it was falsely established that being hurt means you’re weak. “Walk it off. Get over it.” Pain is not weakness, pain is human. Taking time to heal doesn’t mean you’re scared or weak, it means you’re smart enough to realize it’s necessary. If pain and hurt are left unacknowledged and untreated they build up and harden our hearts. We need to be vulnerable. I get it, that’s a scary word to a lot of people: VULNERABLE. Contrary to popular opinion this does not mean weak, helpless or defenseless. Vulnerability is so beautiful. There is nothing hidden or boarded up, it is open. When we allow, or even train, our hearts to be hardened we’re not any less susceptible to pain we’re only less susceptible to others. When our hearts are hardened they become closed off to everything and everyone else. We block ourselves in to wallow in our wounds in an attempt to not be disappointed or hurt again, but what good has that ever done anyone? We end up in no less pain than we ever were and now we’re alone and unhappy. We cut off all vulnerability and any chance of healing and we begin to lose our ability to give and accept love. “…because of the hardness of your hearts.” The beauty of this is that hardness of heart is reversible. It’s never too late and we’re never in too deep. The challenge is that we need to start chipping away at it. We need to begin to let ourselves be vulnerable and heal and realize that it in no way resembles weakness. It results in an even greater strength. Do not be afraid to feel pain and let yourself heal. You don’t have to do it alone but in order for anyone to help you need to let them. You need to be a little vulnerable to them. I know all of this sounds very feminine and a little hippie-esque but seriously, it isn’t. It’s important and it’s often in vulnerability that we find our greatest strength. In healing and vulnerability we find love and we find joy. Let yourself be vulnerable, let your wounds heal and do not let your heart be hardened.
21 Days of Gratitude - Day 21
Well, here we are. Day 21. That went by really fast.
Today I’m grateful for a couple things. First, I am grateful for the musicians who care about connection to their fans. That’s really all I can say about that right now because it’s part of something that I just can’t talk about right now… maybe in a few days. It’s way awesome. Anyway –
On Day 21 I feel like I should have some big revelation moment and be grateful for something totally awesome and inspiring and life changing… but all I have right now is just an over whelming feeling of gratefulness and humility. I’m grateful for beauty and art and today and the people in my life. Every day of these 21 days I have thought that I was grateful for the people in my life. I’m grateful for my family who love me always and endlessly. I’m grateful for my best friends who have been with me through everything and stayed with me and cared about me. I’m grateful for the amazing examples of love in my life and examples of marriage and faith. I’m grateful for the support of people in my life in all areas. Some people who I’m really close to and people I barley know who just want to help me do well. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn about my faith and the calling to do what I am planning to do with my life and the people who helped me realize it.
I’m grateful for love and all its possibilities. Love is a choice but it is also an action. It is something we actively do, it is something we are. It is a part of us. I’m grateful to have love and to know there is love waiting for me. I’m grateful to know that love is always planted deep in me and that it is one of the few things that have no limits in terms of giving or receiving.
I’m grateful for the unknown and all the possibilities. I always say that I just want to know what is going to happen. I wish I knew what he thought or what was going to happen or if it would work or how it would end up but really I am so grateful I don’t. Not knowing what will happen allows me to be present here and now and appreciate the moment. I am so grateful that there is a plan for me and that I have no idea with it is. Every second is part of the plan and I think the only way it would be fulfilled is if I blindly let it happen and trust that I am going the right way. Everything happens in its own time, in the right time. The fun part is that I have no idea when or what will happen but I have the grace to trust that the right thing, whatever that is, will happen in the right time.
It wouldn’t be a good 21 days if I didn’t acknowledge the thing I am most grateful for every day: the forgiveness, mercy and unconditional love of God. Never have I felt more humbled than when I recognize that the Author of everything gave of Himself for me and that in spite of every bad thing I do He continues to bless me and love me. Never have I felt more beautiful or cherished than when I’ve seen myself through the lens of True Love. It is the greatest gift I have been blessed with.
It’s been an exceptional 21 days. I have learned a lot about myself and it has instilled in me an awesome awareness and gratefulness for little things. It made me think about how blessed I am and made me acknowledge it every day. Sometimes the posts were short or late or maybe didn’t even make sense but I did it. I expected to come out of this feel grateful, obviously, but I didn’t expect to be so humbled. I am grateful for that too. This was a truly wonderful experience and (a bit cliché but appropriate) I am grateful for the past 21 days.
21 Days of Gratitude - Day 20
Today I am grateful for the gentlemen in my life. As I’m living on a college campus and hearing some of the things boys say and how they act I am realizing how blessed I have been to be surrounded by gentlemen (real men) my whole life. My family is full of nothing but gentlemen: my grandpa, my dad and my brother were the first men in my life and have always given me an example of what a man should act like (especially around a lady). As I got older the boys I met and became friends with were all immense gentlemen and always reinforced the example the men in my family had given me. My gentlemen friends always treated me like a lady with a respect and reminded me of my worth. All the men in my life now continue the trend. They do not swear or make comments about other women or act, frankly, like idiots. I have heard more foul language and comments (not about me, but still) living on campus than probably in my whole life. It doesn’t shock me, I know majority of guys act like this and “boys will be boys” but come on. Hearing all this stuff and being completely turned off by it has just made me appreciate the men in my life and the fact that they are true gentlemen. Every time I am walking around campus and hear some boy say something I’m not shocked but there is such a deep feeling of disappointment. I know some guys don’t know any better but it makes me sad to see the complete disregard for others. Now, a big part of this for me is that these boys don’t realize that it is their job to guard the dignity and purity of a woman and that includes the language she hears. I realize that girls are not blameless in this. I hear plenty of girls using all kinds of language too so why should guys think to protect us from that kind of stuff when we do it too? I can see why they would think that way and why girls would think if boys do it so can I. I may have been homeschooled but I don’t live under a rock.. I know this is how the world is but that doesn’t mean I’ll just accept it. This isn’t how it should be. We should all be speaking respectfully to each other and about each other.
Anyway, this is why I appreciate the gentlemen in my life. Regardless of what the world is doing, they recognize their duty to be respectful and shield women from that kind of behavior. They realize their first calling is to be a good man and so that is what they do.
Thank you gentlemen for being so awesome. Keep it up, be an example to others and know that someone is noticing your effort and is endlessly appreciative of it.
21 Days of Gratitude - Day 19
Today I am grateful that I have the ability to see. I guess when someone is born without sight, they don’t know what they’re missing but I know if I were to lose my sight I would be heartbroken. I am so appreciative of the ability to see things like sunsets and artwork and especially to know what the faces of those people I love look like. I get to look into people’s eyes when I talk to them and I’m so grateful for that. I can’t imagine not knowing what my sister or my mom or dad or best friends looked like or being able to look at them when we’re together. I’m so grateful that I get to see the sun each morning (well, some mornings…) and that I get to look people in the eye and catch a glimpse of who they are.
21 Days of Gratitude - Day 18
I was talking with my parents about all the memories I have, going on trips and just funny moments. This inspired tonight post of me being thankful for all the experiences I’ve had. I have had a pretty awesome life and I am so blessed. I’ve been to the Florida Keys and seen Dolphins, taken some awesome vacations, flown in the Good Year Blimp and seen all kinds of amazing things. I’ve gotten to do a lot of things and see a lot of things most people haven’t and though I don’t ever really think about, I’ve led pretty interesting life for only being 19. I think every experience helped, in some way, to shape me into the person I am now, even if it was just that now I have a great story.
I have been so blessed in my life to have all these experiences as well as experiences in my own home and a family to share them with. It hasn’t always just been my parents either; it’s been my brother and sisters, my friends and even the occasional overly friendly stranger. I’ve heard experience is the best teacher and I am so blessed to have been taught so much. Experiences shape us into who we are but they also help to form the bonds with others so there’s the blessing within the blessing, in all my experiences I have been able to get to know others and to form the connections that are the bases of some of the dearest relationships to me. I am so excited for all the new experiences and memories that are to be made and getting to share them with all the people who love me.
21 Days of Gratitude - Days 16 and 17
Alright, I was not a slacker. I wrote day 16 yesterday but had some trouble logging into Tumblr. I’m here now and it’s all good. So I am sharing a double dose today.
Well, as predicted, today I am grateful for my grandparents. I had dinner with them tonight and it just reminded me what spectacular people they are. I love sitting with them and hearing their stories about their life. My grandparents always give me a great example of love. Today, my grandma was cold in the restaurant and asked for the keys to the car to go get her jacket but instead my grandpa went and got it for her, brought it back and draped it around her shoulders. I love seeing my grandparents together. Sometimes they bicker but we all know that doesn’t mean they love each other less. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m surrounded by a ton of awesome marriages and my grandparents’ marriage is one of them.
There is so much I could say about my grandma and my grandpa, I could say how strong my grandpa is and that he is protective and loving or I could talk about how sweet and caring my grandma is, about everyone, and how she radiates love. I could say so much but it would turn into a rambling mess. I’ll just say that I’m thankful for them. I’m grateful for the example they’ve given me of faith, love and family. My grandparents are great people. I love them and I am so grateful for them.
Today I am grateful for my roommates. They are all so kind and though I may not always want to be with all of them, I do like them all and I’m grateful to be living with them. They are all care and are just so kind and willing to help me and show me around. One of my roommates cooks a lot so she makes dinner for us and we’re all pretty good about sharing things we’ve made. I’ve had the chance to get to know each other of them and I’m grateful for that. One of my roommates and I have a lot in common and it’s been a blessing to get to know her and being able to share so many things and have some good conversation. I am blessed to be living with 4 great people.
Not my deepest posts but sometimes being grateful isn’t about being deep and sometimes there isn’t a deep reflection. Sometimes we just need to be drenched in gratefulness and just be glad for the blessings we have.
21 Days of Gratitude - Day 15
I’m grateful for a lot of things right now. I’m grateful that my dad told me to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day. I’m grateful for this beautiful day and great weather. I’m grateful for the people in my life. I guess today I’m just grateful for today. I didn’t do much with it but I didn’t have to, it was just a good day.
I think so often everyone dreads the day. We think, “Man I just want this day to be over already.” Sometimes the day hasn’t even come and we can’t wait for it to be over. I get it, some days are more stressful than others and some are more anticipated than others but I think we all forget sometimes that every day is a gift. Every moment is a gift. The only thing we ever really have is that one moment we’re in. Everyone goes so fast. We “just want today to be over” of the next four years or the next ten or the next thirty. We make mental check lists for our days and our lives and we just want to check it off and get from A to B. I just want to meet the guy and get married. I just want to retire. I just want to be done with school. We don’t realize that these things take time for a reason. Maybe this moment isn’t just a gift. Maybe it has an intention behind it. Maybe it is a moment of creation and we need to just chill out and let it happen. I believe every day and every moment has a purpose. Maybe that purpose is just to get me a little bit closer to something else but I still need to let it happen. If we spend all our time wishing it away we aren’t allowing anything to happen, we’re closing off the possibilities. When we’re so focused on getting somewhere else, we forget about where we are and what a gift it is.
We wake up in the morning and think, “Ok, I just need to get through this this and this and then I’m done.” We don’t even take the time to be grateful that we woke up at all. We complain about getting out of bed when some people would do anything to be able to get out of bed. We complain about going to class when some people would love to have the opportunity to learn. We complain about our jobs while some people are wondering how they will pay for their house and provide for their children. We want to hurry up and rush through the day forgetting that someone, somewhere, didn’t get a ‘today.’ I don’t mean for that to be depressing, I’m just saying, we have this gift of life made up of consecutive gifts of days, hours and moments, we shouldn’t be wishing it away. There doesn’t have to be something spectacular or miraculous happening for a day to be beautiful or a blessing. Every day in itself is a blessing.
So here is my challenge for all of us (including myself): wake up every day for just one week and say to yourself, “Today is a gift and it is glorious.” I will bet you we’re all going to have an awesome week. Slow down, appreciate every moment and realize that today, in all of its mundane drudgery and simple beauty, is something to be grateful for.
21 Days of Graitude - Day 14
I was doing my homework, reading the Bible and I realized: my homework is reading the Bible. And Gaudium et Spes. And Catholicism by Robert Barron. This is my homework. These are my classes. So, today I am grateful that I am a Theology major. How cool is it that I have the option to go to school to learn about the Catholic faith? It’s way cool. All those documents I used to say, “I wish I had time to read that” I now have to read for class. My homework is to be Catholic. That is so awesome. I get to write papers about the creation and covenant stories and how they relate to each other and reveal the divine intention for and purpose of human beings. I can’t think of any other field of study that would capture my attention like Theology. I’m grateful that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, but I guess I enjoy it because it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And because it’s fascinating. It’s only week 5 and the more I’m learning the more I think to myself, “yeah, that makes sense. Catholicism is awesome.” I’m learning how everything fits together and things are being brought to light that I always knew but never really paid attention to. I’m tired and its getting grey and cold and at week 5 school is starting to lose its new car smell but Theology just keeps getting better. I’m learning and I’m enjoying it. Everything I learn gives me more reason to be Catholic.
I’m also grateful to be at a Catholic school (pretty good choice for a Theology major, yeah?) Even though sometimes some organizations don’t live up to their role of being authentically Catholic, Catholicism is at the heart of the school. Nothing gives me more peace on a bad day or comfort in a lonely moment than walking past the cross or the prayer garden or spending a few moments in the chapel. Oh and let’s not forget the daily mass, adoration and confession. Even just being bored in class and looking up and seeing a Crucifix hanging on the wall is a comfort. It reminds me why I am doing what I’m doing.
Even as it gets colder and darker or I get homesick or have a bad day, I’m still going to be grateful to be here. I love being Catholic and I am so blessed that I get to go to school to learn more about exactly what that means. I can’t imagine being this happy to be learning anything else.