Friday, October 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (#10)

  1. Life has been pretty busy lately - school has been crazy, teaching has been non-stop, and spending lots and lots of time in prayer and meditation. Just a quick post today with some worthy links!
  2. I have been listening to podcasts from Catholic Answers and on my ipod on my morning and afternoon metro commute and I am learning so much! I recommend checking them out - they carry discussions on a wide range of topics! I am currently listening to some by Jason Evert and Janet Smith on contraception, NFP, and chastity.
  3. Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary recommended this post on Heather King's Shirt of Flame. I've never read this blog before but I really liked this post - short but to the point.
  4. I was at Miami for homecoming last week (which was a BLAST!) and I, of course, had to make an appearance at the hockey game to see my (now) #1 Redhawks. The game was fantastic - you can see a video of the crowd cheering in our usual fashion with the Redhawks dominating 9-1 here - and also a bit scary. Will Weber, a junior defenseman for the Redhawks, suffered a nasty neck laceration in the first period and was rushed off to the hospital. He apparently stayed calm through the whole process and is doing great, and we hope to see him back on the ice soon. Keep him in your prayers! 
  5. Speaking of Miami, I have worn a Miami shirt EVERY DAY THIS WEEK. It could be because I got four new shirts while there for homecoming or just because I love Miami and miss it a lot. It's probably both. I also now have the Fight Song as my ringtone. Yes, readers, I really am that cool.
  6. Don't forget to vote this Tuesday! I must remember to send in my absentee ballot this weekend, but voting is so crucial, especially for us Catholic voters! Here's a video that I originally posted on August, 17, 2010:
  7. Finally, a post about the Catholic origins of Halloween  - I have yet to read it but will be sure to add it of my list of things to do today. Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." (Luke 17: 11-19)

Not only have we been offered healing for our many physical afflictions, but we have been given the chance for salvation through the grace of God. Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grilled Cheesus

The theme on last night's episode of Glee was faith, spirituality, and religion. It was called "Grilled Cheesus", and while I don't recommend praying to a grilled cheese sandwich to win a football game, it did bring up some interesting ideas... about what leads people, especially youth, to God, and more importantly, what continues to keep them away from God's love.

The main plot line in this episode was Kurt's dad suffering from a heart attack that also cut off oxygen from his brain, leaving him in a coma. While this suffering brought out a desire for faith in many of the characters, it seemed to push Kurt away from believing in God even more.

It brought up the idea of suffering, which is something that we've been discussing a lot at Bible study, in homilies, and just in conversations with others at the Newman Center. I can understand why having something so awful to someone you love so much would make you question if God exists, question why someone who is supposed to love you that much would do something that causes so much pain. I think what the episode started to touch upon though was the idea that suffering exists in our world because it unites us. It brought so many of the characters together, even though they were of different faiths, in prayer for Kurt's dad. It made them realize that while they might have struggles in their lives, they still have a wonderful life to live. However, I think it stopped short and missed the big picture - that we suffer so that we can not only come closer to God but so that we can share in Christ's suffering for all of us. When we suffer, we don't feel even a splinter of what Jesus went through in the Passion, but we know that there is at least one being out there in the world that has experienced and understands our pain.

It was ultimately Kurt opening his heart a tiny bit to believe in something he couldn't see or touch or feel, but something he knew existed - and that was his relationship with his dad. I am interested to see if they bring the issues they touched upon in this episode up again, or if it will just be another thought-provoking episode.

The Cure for Sleeplessness?

It takes me a long time to fall asleep at night. There are nights where I will lay in bed wide awake, tossing and turning, unable to relax for 3 hours. It usually doesn't matter how tired I am - I hardly ever fall asleep before 12:30 or 1 in the morning.

I have been adjusting to a new schedule which requires me to get up before 7 AM a few days a week to teach labs... and not falling asleep until 1 in the morning means that this girl that likes 8+ hours of sleep a night only gets about 5. Let's just leave it at I'm not a morning person... for most of the morning.

Last night was one of those nights. I was exhausted. Yet, I rolled around trying to get comfortable for hours. I got up and moved to the futon. I grabbed another blanket. I got a drink of water. I checked my e-mail (twice). Nothing was putting me to sleep. So I'm lying there thinking, "God, can you just help me relax so I can get some sleep, please?" and a thought pops into my head - "You should see who the patron saint of sleeplessness is." So I got up, checked my e-mail (again), and typed "patron saint of sleeplessness" into Google. Upon some further looking, I discovered St. Peter Damian, who himself suffered from chronic insomnia. In the information I found, it said that he was often so eager to pray that he slept very little and began to suffer from chronic insomnia. From this, he learned he needed to use some prudence in taking care of himself, but insomnia was something with which he struggled.

So my tired brain just said a quick - "St. Peter Damian, pray for me so I can get some sleep!"

I don't remember walking back to my bed and hunkering down under the covers, but I did. And I was knocked out. I woke up with my alarm out of a deep sleep, which could have only been granted by intense drugs or the will of God.

So I think St. Peter Damian might become my new friend on those nights where I have trouble falling asleep. I am going to continue trying this out, asking St. Peter Damian for his intercession, and see if this helps me sleep better. If it does, I might look up more information on the patron saint of back pain (St. Gemma Galgani), the patron saint of strange dreams (which always occur when I am knocked out in a deep sleep), and the patron saint of winning a bajillion dollars (to give to the poor, of course).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Five Fundamentals of a Firm Faith"

I promise, someday soon, I will write a post of my own! 

I wanted to post this reflection on this past Sunday's reading, which I think is especially applicable to young people in our world today! Thanks to GW Catholic Blogspot for re-posting this from "Maybe It's God", a blog by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington. I'll be sure to check out his blog from now on.


"Five Fundamentals of a Firm Faith - A Meditation on the Readings for the 27th Sunday of the Year".  

The readings for today’s Mass provide a rich fare in describing some essential qualities of faith. Each of these amounts to a fundamental for firm faith. There are five fundamentals that can be seen:

1. Want The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5-6). There’s an old saying, “What you want, you get.” It is true that many doubt this and think that they have wanted many things that they did not get. But it is likely they didn’t want it enough. Precluding physical impossibilities and other impossible things, when we really want something enough we usually get it. That’s because we work at it and have a passion for it.

Many people who say they cannot find time to pray or go to Church still find time to golf, watch TV and eat. They find the time because they want to do these things. They do not find time to pray or go to Mass because they do not want to do these things enough.

Hence, the apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith. In effect they ask for a deeper desire to know the Lord. Too often we miss a step in our prayer. We might ask the Lord to help us to pray when what we really should ask for is that the Lord give us a desire to pray. For, when we want to pray, we will pray. When we want to be holy, we will naturally strive for holy practices. It is about what we desire, what we want. Ask the Lord to help you want Him and his kingdom. Ask the Lord for a new heart that has proper wants and desires. Ask the Lord for a new mind that has proper priorities and that prefers to think on what is good, true and beautiful. What you want, you get.

2. Wait –How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity(Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4) –

Waiting is one of the great mysteries of the Christian life. Why God often makes us wait is not always clear. Perhaps He is trying to strengthen our faith. Perhaps he is helping us clarify or confirm our desires. But, truth be told, waiting on the Lord has a lot of mystery about it. Nevertheless it is consistently told us in scripture that we must learn to wait on the Lord and that there are blessings for those who do. For example:

1. Ps 37:8 Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil….those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.

2. Is 49:23 those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.

3. Lam 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

4. Is 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

And so, waiting is a fundamental of firm faith. Gospel music is replete with waiting themes. One song says , You can’t Hurry God, you just have to wait, trust and never doubt him, no matter how long it takes. He may not come when you want him but he’s always right on time. Another song says, Weeping may endure for a night but joy will come with the morning light. Other songs counsel that we must hold on and hold out:

1. I promised the Lord that I would hold out, he said he’d meet me in Galilee

2. Hold on just a little while longer, every thing’s gonna be alright

3. Keep your hand on the plow…Hold on

4. Lord help me to hold out, until my change comes!

The reading from Habakkuk above warns that the rash man has no integrity. That is another way of saying that waiting is integral to the Christian life. It is a fundamental of faith. To have integrity means to have all the necessary pieces and parts which make up the whole. To lack patience then is to lack integrity, to lack an essential fundamental of the Christian faith.

3. Withstand – God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. (2 Tim 1:6-8) This quote from today’s second reading tells us that life has its difficulties and challenges. Things do not always get easier by becoming a Christian. In fact, they often get harder since we must endure the hatred and ridicule of the world. Thus a fundamental of the Christian Faith is that we be able to withstand such things with courage.

Notice that this courage, power and love come from God, not from us. Hence it is grace that is being described here. This is not a moralism or a slogan. Withstanding means that God is “standing with” us, and we with God. Such withstanding is only possible by the relationship with God that comes by faith. In this way we discover the power, the capacity to withstand, to courageously live the Christian faith in a hostile world.

4. Work - Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.‘” (Luke 17:6-10) This saying of the Lord in today’s Gospel can tend to irritate us and even seem hurtful if we misunderstand grace and seek to understand this text by the flesh. Our flesh is self-centered and thinks we deserve praise and good things from God for the good things we do. The flesh expects, it demands, rewards. But the fact is that we can never have God in debt to us, never. If we have good works, they are not our gift to God, they are His gift to us.

All our works of charity and faith which our flesh wants credit for, they are all God’s work and God’s gift. The letter to the Ephesians makes this clear:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)

Hence if I think that I did something deserving of praise and reward I am thinking in terms of the flesh not the spirit. All I can really say to God is “Thank You” when I have done something good like caring for the poor or keeping the commandments. His grace alone permitted me to work them. God may speak elsewhere of rewarding us but that is His business. He is not in debt to us in anyway. When we have done everything we ought our one disposition should be gratitude. We are useless servants in the sense that we can do nothing without God’s grace. We can only do what we are told and what He enables us to do.

That said, it is clear, work is a pillar of faith. The text from today’s gospel and the text from Ephesians just above both make clear that work is something God has for us. James 2:17 says, So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Likewise, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me. It was I who chose you that you should go and bear fruit that will last”(Jn 15:16) Work is a fundamental of faith.

5. Win - For the vision still has it’s time, it presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint. It will surely come, it will not be late.(Hab 2:3) Yes, it is true that we must want, wait, withstand and work. But we do not do this to no purpose. We have a cross to carry. But if we carry it with the Lord, we carry it to glory. The end of today’s first reading makes this clear. There is an old Gospel song that says,

Harder yet may be the fight, Right may often yield to might, Wickedness awhile may reign, Satan’s cause may seem to gain, There is a God that rules above, With hand of power and heart of love, If I am right, He’ll fight my battle, I shall have peace some day. I do not know how long ’twill be, Nor what the future holds for me, But this I know, if Jesus leads me, I shall get home some day.

This is what Habakkuk describes, that we will win with Jesus. He describes a victory that is 

1. Future – the vision still has it’s time, it presses on to fulfillment

2. Fantastic – and it will not disappoint

3. Firm – It will surely come

4. Fixed – it will not be late

For all those who walk with Jesus on the way of the Cross, there is victory up ahead. Even here we already enjoy the fruits of crosses past. Our withstanding of the past has given us strength for today. Our waitings of the past have had their fulfillment and are the hope that our current waiting too will have its fruit. Our work by God’s grace has already granted benefits to ourselves and others.

But these are but a small foretaste of a greater glory to come, which waits for us in heaven. Yes, if we want, and wait, withstand and work, we will win! I promise it to you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Refrain of this song says, I do not know how long t’will be nor what the future holds for me. But this I know, If Jesus leads me, I shall get home some day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

From the Pope to Young People

I wanted to post a message from the Pope to the youth of today from his visit to England. I just really enjoyed his speech and insight. (Thanks to GW Catholic Forum for posting first.)


Greeting of Pope Benedict XVI to Young People
Westminster Cathedral
18 September 2010

Dear young friends,

Thank you for your warm welcome! “Heart speaks unto heart” – cor ad cor loquitur – as you know, I chose these words so dear to Cardinal Newman as the theme of my visit. In these few moments that we are together, I wish to speak to you from my own heart, and I ask you to open your hearts to what I have to say.

I ask each of you, first and foremost, to look into your own heart. Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and all the love it is meant to give. After all, we were made for love. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeness of God: we were made to know the God of love, the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to find our supreme fulfilment in that divine love that knows no beginning or end.

We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known, for the love that has made us who we are, the love that has shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realize how precious we are, in their eyes and in the eyes of God.

We were also made to give love, to make love it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realize that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the great Missionary of Charity, reminded us that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Every day we have to choose to love, and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestows on us in the sacraments of his Church.

This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with him and to hear his voice. Deep within your heart, he is calling you to spend time with him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day. Often it means waiting for the Lord to speak. Even amid the “busy-ness” and the stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of his Church and the redemption of our world.

Heart speaks unto heart. With these words from my heart, dear young friends, I assure you of my prayers for you, that your lives will bear abundant fruit for the growth of the civilization of love. I ask you also to pray for me, for my ministry as the Successor of Peter, and for the needs of the Church throughout the world. Upon you, your families and your friends, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.
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