Sunday, December 21, 2014

~ Ponderings ~

If I truly lived each day on this earth as my only way to get to Heaven, how would my life-style change?
I cannot try to get into Heaven after I die.
My life here on earth is what I have to get to Heaven.
My life here on earth is not my home, it is how I reach my only home.
If I truly use every moment of every day to fulfill my ultimate purpose - holiness and being in Heaven with God forever - how would every aspect of my life change?

What does it mean to not be of the world?
What does it mean to live a life that will bring me to my true home?

What does it mean to be a Roman Catholic? What do I need to do, and change, in my life in order to fulfill my purpose?

I have a choice to make, today and every day of my life.

Am I going to live the life of a Roman Catholic or am I going to live the life of a human being in the secular world?

"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." 
- Matt. 7:14

Con amore in Cristo,

Some Reflections this Advent

Every Advent and Christmas season, I am reminded of just how incredible it is that the King of Kings, my God and Savior, took on human nature, came down from Heaven to live among us, and died for our sins. It is mind-blowing to think about how much love Jesus has for each of us, to do such a thing. The past few years, whenever I reflect on this topic over the Christmas season, I discover a new connection made between God and I. 

Reflecting on His immense humility and love to do this for each of us individually draws me closer and closer to Him. Think about it, Christ left His beautiful heavenly home to live among humans surrounded by the stench of sin. He was willing to set his visible kingship and glory aside, in order to live on earth. He was willing to suffer with us, work with us, form friendships with us, and teach us. He was willing to accept all our injustices toward Him, all our lack of love, and all our insults, out of pure love for us. What humility! Have you ever heard of a more humble king? 

Each time I think of the powerful mystery of the Nativity, I cannot help but want to love Jesus more in return. Jesus did not enter into the world like the Jews always thought the Messiah would. Christ began His mission as a small, innocent, helpless baby boy, born in a stable. A baby boy! This extraordinary form of humility draws my heart straight to Him with increasing force. Not only did Christ entrust Himself to Mary and Joseph’s care, but He also allowed Himself, our God, to be taught as a young child by His parents and other adults in His life. He was humble, obedient and vulnerable.  Out of love for us, Christ made Himself vulnerable to us. 

The more I ponder on this concept of our beautiful Catholic faith, the more I am put in awe. Have you ever heard of a god doing such a thing? Jesus lowered Himself to take on human nature and be like His creatures. As human beings, we are made from dust, distorted from sin, we are miserable and nothing without our God. Can you imagine our God choosing this in order to save us and prove His love for us? Well He did it, and how undeserving we are. Christ did not end there, for three years of His missionary life, with great humility and love He taught us the Truth of His Heavenly Father. He then did the most perfect act of love for the whole world. He suffered and died from the most excruciating torture in the history of mankind for our sake, that we be saved from the clutches of sin to become His brothers and sisters. 

Lately I have been meditating more on the Sorrowful Mysteries while reciting the rosary. I have become more and more overwhelmed at the amount of humility and love Christ had for us by suffering the passion for our salvation. I highly encourage others to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries and connect with Jesus on a deeper level; it is truly a profound experience. Meditating on the birth of our Lord over the Christmas holiday is also such a beautiful way to connect with Christ personally. By the incarnation of Jesus, the word became flesh, and God’s love was made visible. 

I think St. Alphonsus comments on this subject beautifully, “I think God must have said to Himself: Man does not love Me because he does not see Me; I will show Myself to him and thus make him love Me. God’s love for man was very great, and had been great from all eternity, but this love had not yet become visible…Then, it really appeared; the Son of God let Himself be seen as a tiny Babe in a stable, lying on a little straw.” 

This Advent and Christmas, I hope you will take some time amongst the business of the season to genuinely sit down and think about this topic and reflect on what Christ’s actions of sacrificial love really means. He did this for you, individually, in hope that you might accept His love for you, and love Him back, in order that He can deepen His relationship with you. There is nothing He wants more than that.

Con amore in Cristo,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our mission: Love

"Of course I'll hurt you. Of course you'll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence." 
- The Little Prince

It hurts to love others. When your heart cares so deeply for each and every person you know, you will get hurt. We are all called to love with all that we are, and to love each person. We are all called to have a sacrificial love, like Christ's.

Sin makes getting hurt and hurting others inevitable. However, this does not mean that we should not still be there for people, give of ourselves, and love others.
Loving until it hurts, is part of becoming a saint.

Choosing to love regardless of the hurt, for the sake of the other person, and for the sake of the love of God, helps prevent the inevitable hurt. Giving of ourselves and expanding our hearts to love each person God places in our lives makes us vulnerable to being hurt. Love makes us vulnerable.

It hurts when your heart aches so much for those you love, but no one's heart aches back for you.
It hurts when love is not returned, when we are forgotten or replaced. But, don't we do this to Christ's heart at a daily basis? How lacerated His Sacred Heart must be from our lack of love for Him.
Christ loves us, even though we do not deserve it. He loves us without forcing us to love Him back. If Christ does this for us, how can we not follow His example and not only love Him in return, but love others the way He does?

Being selfish creatures, it is a constant battle to perfect our charity. Charity is not selfish, charity," not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."(1 Cor. 13:5)
The world teaches to love only those who love us, only those who fulfill our needs or do things for us, or those who are worthy of our love. The world teaches that love shouldn't hurt or burden us. To the world, love does not require sacrifice. This is all the exact opposite of true love - the love of God.

Our hearts should model Jesus' most Sacred Heart. His heart loves each and every person with infinite love, but in return what is given? Ingratitude, forgetfulness, and indifference to mention a few. Even from souls closest to Him. He loves without counting the cost; He loves even if love is not given back in return; He loves the unworthy.

We are all called to love with a perfect love centered on Christ.
Our mission is to love.

"Teach me, O Lord, to love my neighbor even when not loved by him, to love him with no concern for my own benefit, but solely because You love me, solely to repay Your gratuitous love. Then I shall fulfill the commandment of the law: to love You above all things, and my neighbor as myself." 
- St. Catherine of Siena 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

~ Autumn Bliss ~

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, a close second to summer.
I simply love sweater weather. Layering, tights, boots, gloves, warm hats, and my one weakness - scarves. You can almost always catch me wearing a scarf during this season. Not only is the fashion extremely cute and classy, but I can be modest without burning up. I love bundling up. Don't get me started on the yummy cider and donuts, my mom's beloved pumpkin rolls, fun filled cidermill trips, pumpkin carving, hot cups of tea, and warm bonfires with star filled nights, unless you want to witness the longest post in blog history.
I love it all.

Aside from the fashion and other delights of autumn, I am captivated by the immense beauty of the vibrant golden nature that surrounds me. Going on walks, breathing in the crisp fall air and the scent of the changing season, brings so much peace and strengthens my spirit. As I watch the autumn season unfold and lay in the fallen leaves, it is impossible for my mind not to want to think deeply about life and ponder on different ideas and thoughts.

Last fall, I wrote a close friend whom I greatly admire, my perception or "analogy "of fall. My simple thoughts on how I interpret fall on a deeper level. My friend told me I should share what I wrote on my blog. I do not usually keep rough drafts of my letters, so I really can't remember each point I made before. Hopefully I haven't forgotten the main points or rewritten it entirely. Regardless, I will do my best to remember what I wrote last year, and share my new thoughts to my "analogy". 

When I watch the trees and see the progression of the season, I cannot help but think of how it represents my beautiful Catholic Faith and the movement and progression of the human soul.

I see the trees as representing the soul of a human person. (I know, weird. Bear with me)

In the season of fall, the trees prepare for the long cold season of winter. The progression of fall represents the growth of maturity in the soul. At the peak of fall, all of the trees are breathtakingly beautiful, at their most glorious moment of the season. Bright oranges, deep reds, and radiant golds can be seen as far as the eye can see. Then, shortly after, they begin to lose their crowning glory, leaf by leaf. The trees slowly begin to lose what they are most proud of, what they love most. In order to make it through the winter season, the trees must let go of their leaves. The faith and love of the soul is tested by God. They go through a period of time bearing the cold, yet in the spring, they bring forth new life - new leaves. They are made anew again.

I am reminded of the virtue of humility as I watch each leaf fall to the ground. As our souls grow closer to God, it is made apparent just how much it is not about ourselves. It is all about loving God entirely, loving others, and doing His will in our lives. Not about us. The trees during autumn always remind me how crucial it is that we die of ourselves. Only when we lay down our lives and give all that we are to God, will He be able to work through us. Only when we lay down our lives for Him, will we find them. This is difficult, and it can sometimes be as cold as winter. But after the hard, frigid and lonely season of winter passes, we are made anew in Christ in the spring.

There will be times when God asks us to let go of everything, what makes our soul beautiful, what makes us happy, or everything perfect in our lives, it is the only way He can transform us into who He wishes for us to be. Autumn always reminds me of the season of transformation our souls experience many times as they travel closer to God. The trees let go of each leaf and bear the winter season without their glorious crowns, trusting in God's love.

The trees display perfect abandonment of self-love and sacrifice of the will and desires as they face the cold winter. But they are not abandoned. After the darkness and cold of winter, they are transformed and made even more beautiful again.

Humility, love, and trust. A beautiful thing.

The trees also remind me of sin in the soul. The trees can also represent what happens to the soul when sin latches on. When the soul becomes dark with sin, we lose the beauty of grace in our soul. Each sin is like losing a radiant leaf. The trees during winter represent the soul in sin, a tree having lost all its leaves, is cold, lacking life, and desolate. Once the soul repents, and receives forgiveness it has life again. The tree is restored and by the grace of God sprouts new beautiful leaves. 

I can't help but feel as though I am missing something... Have had quite the scatter-brain lately! If I have, oh well. Hopefully you have enjoyed these thoughts, and I hope they have impacted you in some way.

When your winter season closes in, remember you are not alone, God is shaping your soul to transform you into a beautiful new creation. Don't let go of Him. 

Con amore in Cristo,


Saturday, November 1, 2014

~ My Heart Finds Rest Only In Thee O Lord ~

"Let us therefore give ourselves to God with a great desire to begin to live thus, and beg Him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish His life within us."
- St. John Eudes

Giving ourselves fully to God is sometimes extremely difficult. Actually, maybe always extremely difficult. It is so hard to remove ourselves from our self-love, and rather love God with our whole hearts and our whole being. It is a daily choice we each have to make in order to grow closer to Him. Are you going to choose to live your life loving God with all that you are, or are you going to choose to love God only as much as you think you need to without having to give up your entire will and give Him all of your love? Sometimes doing God's will means letting go of what makes you happy, or bringing to an end what He previously called you to, in order to bring you to the next path He asks you to take. No matter how hard or painful it is to do His will, it will always be followed by a happiness and joy that comes with uniting our wills to the Holy Will of God. Giving our entire lives to God means picking a part our will day by day in order to replace it with the will of God. This is the only way to grow closer and closer to Him, and the only way to reach eternal life with Him. 

On my adoration day this past week, it was simply a downer day. There was a lot on my mind and heart and I just could not wait for later in the night when I could finally work it out with God. Not long after I made it into the chapel, I couldn't ignore it any longer. I broke down and told God that I was not happy. The tears couldn't be kept from falling. (The poor guys on both sides of me!) I told Jesus I was not happy, and that my heart hurt so much. I told Him I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy, considering how I had been trying to do His will. An explanation was needed.
Then it hit me. 
I was not loving Him with all that I am.
I was not loving Him with every bit of my heart.
I was not loving Him with every ounce of my will.
I was not giving Him all of me.
That is why I was so unhappy.

Well, then my eyes were a waterfall... Okay, not that dramatic, but once my soul realized this, I couldn't help but cry and let the tears cleanse my soul. It was so true. I thought that if things in my life were not going the way I wanted them to, or if struggles were still struggles for me, I couldn't be as happy as I ought. But here's the thing... If I love God with all that I am, none of that matters. The only important thing is if my heart is entirely Christ's and how much love in my heart I have for Him. If my heart is full of love for God, and all I do is out of love for Him, I receive a happiness that can only come from Him - which is true happiness. This has everything to do with surrendering myself completely to God and picking up my precious, individual cross, that Christ has for me. Christ gives each of us our own unique cross(es). One of my favorite parts of The Imitation of Christ is about this topic:

"Christ: My child, as much as you can abandon your self-love, so much will you be able to enter into Me. As the longing for nothing exterior brings you peace, so does the complete surrender of your inmost self unite you with God. You must learn perfect renunciation of your will to Mine, without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the life (John 14:6). Without the way, no human being can go; without the truth, no human being can know; and without life, no human being can live. I am the way you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life you must hope for..."
-Imitation of Christ, Chap. 56 
"That we must deny ourselves and bear the cross with Christ."

Only when Christ is our way, our truth, and our life can we be truly happy. Yet, this requires complete abandonment of self-love, which includes all your will and desires. It also calls for discipline, along with giving all your love to God. Our hearts are restless; always on the quest for happiness and peace. We are constantly searching for it, but are we constantly loving God with all that we are? Every day we find ourselves placing our source of happiness in things of the world, in people, or in our own pleasures instead of in God. Yes, God places special people in our lives and gives us things, talents, and interests that make us happy, but our source of happiness does not stem from them, only from God Himself. He is the only one who can give our hearts rest in this endless quest. 
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” 
- St. Augustine

This is a topic that I have been wanting to write about for months, and I have only scratched the surface of only one portion of it, so I hope to have posts on it in the future as well. It being All Saints Day, I thought the timing was appropriate to get the conversation rolling because one of the vital steps in the journey of becoming a saint is conforming our wills to the will of God and loving Him to our highest capacity. This is where our happiness, and ultimately our holiness is to be found. 
"We are all called to be saints, all of us; do not forget that."
-Saint Katharine Drexel

Con amore in Cristo,


Sunday, September 28, 2014

~A Thought~


On my drive home one night, about a week ago, I was saying the rosary and meditating on the sorrowful mysteries. When I was meditating on the third mystery, the crowning of thorns, a thought came to me that I could not stop thinking about. 

Christ's humility.

Jesus was not overcome with the fear of humiliation. Being striped of His clothes to be scourged and having a crown of thorns forced upon his head to be mocked... I can think of nothing more humiliating. 

Yet, Jesus accepted it. 

How many times do we fear the risk of humiliation or embarrassment to an extent that we are willing to avoid what is truly right? To an extent that we let it control us? 

There are times we are terrified of experiencing embarrassment, even the slightest amount, and do whatever is in our power to stay away from the possibility. We are willing to go through great lengths to do so, even if it means not choosing to do the right thing. 

We avoid humiliation at all costs. 

Or, when we do experience embarrassment we fail to respond humbly. We fail to accept it as Jesus did and waste it rather than offer it up to God with love.  

Jesus is the ultimate example of what it truly means to have humility. What it means to fully accept one's humiliations and embarrassments. 

He did so out of pure love for us. He did so for our sake. 

If Jesus went through all of his humiliations for us, how can we be afraid to do what is right even if it means embarrassment, being judged, losing friends, and not at least try?

(I find it interesting how in this painting Jesus is shown bending down and leaning in so that he can be humiliated and mocked as well as have extreme physical pain)

I thought it was amazing how after thinking all week about this, and how to imitate Christ's humility, the second reading for today's Sunday Mass was all about just that! 

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, 
any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, 
any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, 
having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, 
but also to the interests of others. 
Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, 
who though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
 being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form he humbled himself 
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him 
the name which is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ 
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 
~ Philippians 2:1-11

Wow. That pretty much lays it all out. 

Do we empty ourselves of our self-love, ego, vanity, pride, and have a servant's heart for God's glory? 
Do we choose the path of humility, even if it means accepting our cross and dying to ourselves still more? 

If Jesus, the King of Kings, lowered Himself and accepted the most humiliating things to be done to him for our sake, how can we not strive to accept even the smallest humbling moments, for Him? 

I think now is the perfect time to pull out my handy dandy "The Imitation of Christ":
"Do not be concerned about who is on your side or who is against you; just be sure that God is with you. If your conscience is clear, be sure that He will defend you. The malice of others can never harm you as long as He is by your side. Be silent and endure for a while and you will experience the help of God in your need. No doubt about it, for God knows when and how to deliver you. So put yourself in His care. It is up to God to help and to deliver from all dilemma. However, we should realize that often it is good for others to know our defects and call us to order for them, for it keeps us humble. When you admit your faults, you easily pacify others and reconcile yourself with those you have offended. God never refuses the humble; rather He delivers and comforts them and fills them with His grace. He also opens to them the secrets of His Heart and draws them to himself, raising them to the heights of glory because of their humility. Humble people are always at peace, even when they are put to shame, because they trust in God and not in the world. So, if you wish to reach the height of perfection, never think of yourself as being virtuous until you know sincerely in your heart that you are the least of all." (Book 2, Chapter 2, page 71)

 "Christ: My child, as much as you can abandon your self-love, so much will you be able to enter into Me. As the longing for nothing exterior brings you peace, so does the complete surrender of your inmost self unite you with God. You must learn perfect renunciation of your will to Mine, without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the life (John 14:6). Without the way, no human being can go; without the truth, no human being can know; and without life, no human being can live. I am the way you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life you must hope for... Let us, then, all take courage and go forward together; for Jesus indeed is with us. It is for His sake that we have taken this cross upon us, and it is for His sake that we will persevere to the end. He will help us, for He has gone the way before us. See, how our king marches before us, and He will fight for us. Let us follow Him courageously, fearing no perils. Let us be ready to die for Him in battle; and let us not stain our honor by abandoning the way of the cross."
(Book 3, Chapter 56, page 224)

This is all incredibly powerful and beautiful to think about. 

Think about it. 

Con amore in Cristo,


Friday, September 19, 2014

Twentieth Year - Month Three

What I have learned my twentieth year: Month Three

I thought it would be neat to share a handful of different things that I learn personally in my own life, as I move through my twentieth year. Your twentieth year is the start of a new chapter in life. You are no longer a teenager, and your adult life is beginning to take off. You cannot go back, you can only move forward. These lessons are lessons I will learn again and again throughout my life in different ways, but I have chosen to share them because they have been the most prevalent in my life recently. I hope my lessons learned are just as helpful, thought provoking, and inspiring for you as they are for me.

I have officially been twenty for three months... I can't believe how fast they flew by. So much has happened in my life since then. I have already grown quite a lot since June 19th, and I can hardly wait to see what continues to unfold before me as my adventure into adulthood proceeds.

1. I must let go of things out of my control in order to grow and move forward.
I have heard this advice growing up more times than I can count, but I have never really understood it. The first three months of my 20th year have been a time where I have had to put it into practice more than any other time in my life thus far. I finally understand it. It has never been harder for me either. Throughout the course of my life I am going to have to let go and say goodbye to people I love most. It will happen every now and then. It will always be extremely difficult, it will always be painful. But doing God's will sometimes means letting go of people we love, or plans we aspire to, or dreams and goals we think are in accord with His plan for us. Instead of trying to control these situations and hanging on to what cannot be, I need to give them up and trust. Hanging on to plans or people who cannot be in my life right now keeps my heart from growing and transforming into who God wishes me to become. Hanging onto the past prevents me from realizing the present, and the future God wishes for me to partake in.  

2. There is always a need to grow more in knowledge. 
I sometimes become so overwhelmed just thinking of all the different aspects of knowledge I wish to obtain. There is SO much to learn and so little time. *Problems of a multi-interest nerd* As I continue to grow as a person, and experience new things, I am more and more aware of just how much wisdom and knowledge is out there for me to gain. I want to learn as much as I can, and there will always be a need to grow more in my knowledge of different subjects. Each conversation I have with others, and multiple times throughout the day, I am reminded just how much I have left to learn. I don't know everything, and I never will, there will always be something for me to learn and grow from each day of my life.  

3. Time is a precious thing, and it will not wait for me.
I swear a minute ago it was 4pm and now it's already 6pm. It seems as though hours are minutes and minutes are seconds. I am in a whirlwind of ideas, projects, hobbies and interests, but time is not waiting for me. It is one thing to plan or daydream about ideas. It is another thing entirely to take action on these ideas and thoughts. Time won't wait for me and my ideas. If time will not wait for me, why am I waiting on myself and others? God wishes for us to discern, pray, and think about things, but when He calls us to action will we be ready to jump on board with zeal? How can we waste the precious time God has given us to complete what He asks of us? Time shouldn't be wasted, it should be used to persevere on our God given path, and complete our personal missions set before us. The past few months in particular, I have learned just how vital it is to not waste time. It is a lot easier said than done, but is something I will always strive to perfect myself on.

4. God and my relationship with Him are my top priority.
It is one thing to believe this, and it is another thing to live this belief out in my life. If God is truly the top priority in my life, why do I catch myself making decisions without praying and asking God about it first? If God is truly the top priority in my life, why do I try harder to make time to grow closer to my friends than I do trying to grow closer to God? Why do I forget so easily to spend time each day with Him? How can I go an entire day only talking to Him once, if even that? The past few months I have learned just how important my relationship with God is. During painful, difficult times, I realized how much I need Him, and how He is the only one who can truly bring me comfort. My relationship with God does not begin after death when I am face to face with Him - He won't recognize me as a friend. It begins now, and I must nurture it by His grace each day for the rest of my life. Again, much easier said than done. Like growing in any relationship, it will take work, effort, discipline, determination, and lots and lots of love.

5. It is vital for me to make time to grow closer to those in my family.
The people in my family are very special because God chose for these particular people to be connected to me in a way that no one else can. Recently I have learned in new ways just how important it is to love them with my whole heart, to learn from them, and to strengthen my relationships with them. I want to take advantage of every opportunity I have to grow closer to them and be there for them. Love begins in the home, if I do not love those in my family as I should, how can I truly love others as I should? 

Con amore in Cristo,


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pass it on...

It was my last shift at work for the time being, and I had to cashier. I wasn't quite looking forward to it. Being one of the only cashiers, I was grateful time would fly by and that I would be free soon. It was just one of those days where different unpleasant things, and just life in general, was weighing me down. I would have prefered to just be far far away from everything. 
Toward the end of my shift, after hours of checking guests out, almost in a robotic state of mind, I was awoken by the sound of my name being addressed by the only genuinely kind face I had encountered that night. 
Before I could even utter the usual, "Hello, how are you tonight?" she had already called me by name asking how I was.
"Hello Emily, how are you?" 
Taken by surprise that she actually read and addressed me by the my name on my name tag, I looked at her sweet face, beaming back, and answered,
"Hi, I'm doing pretty well!..This is actually my last shift before school."
"Really?? Well, I am honored to meet you!"
"Haha! It's great to meet you too."
"Where are you going to school?"
"I commute to Madonna."

"Oh how wonderful! What are you studying?"

"Really? Wow, what do you want to do with that?"
"There is a lot I would like to do with it. I love everything about it. I would like to do anything with writing, publishing, speaking, filming, everything!"

"Oh my goodness, that is so amazing!" 
"Awe, thank you. I am really excited!"
As our conversation progressed, she continued to pour out love in each word she spoke to me. Tenderly giving encouragement, praise, and making me feel valued. 
Her joy, love, and kindness toward me, for just 5 minutes gave me something I didn't realize I needed so badly at the time. Her words and conduct toward me, gave my heart a breath of fresh air. Her kindness gave life.
As she was leaving, she wished me all the best and lovingly expressed how proud she was of me for everything I was doing and pursuing. 
I'm pretty sure the smile she got out of me never left my face the rest of the night. 
The kindness and love she radiated out onto me, made it almost impossible for my heart not to cast out the same kindness toward others in return. The woman reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and life motto, 

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
 -Mother Teresa

Through my special interaction with this woman, I witnessed a powerful example of what expressing God's kindness in one's face, eyes, smile, and most of all, words, looks like. I was reminded just how important it is to live this way. Love breathes life into the soul, and being kind to others does just that.  That's just what she did for me. She left leaving me better and happier. She was a stranger whom I will most likely never meet again, however her joyful spirit and kindness toward me caught me. She caught my soul and inspired me to try harder to be kind to others in my actions and words in everything I do. Whether it is with my own family or strangers who cross my path during everyday life. 

"Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls." 
- Mother Teresa

The next night, after a fun swing dancing event, my brother and I drove over with some friends to a cute little donut shop that had 90 cent deep-fried deliciousness. We walked in at midnight, trying to decide on what donuts to devour. I went last and asked the young man for 1 glazed donut, he casually grabbed 2 glazed donuts and put them in my bag. 
Worried that I would be charged more than I was willing to pay, I said, 
"Ummm.. That's two..." 
He looked right at me and simply stated, "I know." and handed them to me. 
Surprised, I thanked him and left with a huge smile. 
That was the first time anyone had ever given me more than I payed for. 
Again, even though it was a simple and small act, I was touched by another stranger's kindness.
Sitting at the table with our donuts I told these stories to my friend, who was just as inspired as I. As my friend got up to go buy another donut for her father, I was looking at my bag that held the extra donut, and realized I should pass on the random act of kindness. I stopped her, gave her the donut and told her to pass it on as well. 

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." 
- Amelia Earhart

St. John of the Cross said, "At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity." It couldn't be more true. We are all called to love others, no matter who they are, in everything we do. It is so easy to forget, to be weak, to be selfish, to be caught up in ourselves, to be cold and not kind... Yet, if we do anything without love, it is worthless. 

Pass on the kindness...

Con amore in Cristo,


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

God's Beauty Photography Video

"My profession is to always find God in nature. " 
- Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm training for a marathon!

I have extremely exciting news! I have decided to run a marathon... and training begins today
I have very little experience with running, let alone running something like a marathon. 
Nevertheless, it is one of my newest, and very important goals. I know it will be one of the most difficult things I've ever tried to accomplish, but it will be one of the best things for me... Training for a marathon begins months, sometimes even years beforehand. It takes perseverance, discipline, focus, dedication, and courage. I am ready for the challenge.

I am always inspired by those I know who have ran marathons. Some of my role models I look up to the most have ran marathons. 
Such as, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles, Mother Teresa, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and all the saints. Even Christ Himself.

We are all called to run our own unique marathons set before us by God. 
Our marathon is not only the life God has given us to live according to His Holy Will, but also our chosen vocation. 

Whether our vocation in life is marriage, religious or consecrated life, our training for our "marathon" begins today
Training for our marathon doesn't begin the day the race starts. It starts now
St. Josemaria explains this in his writings in "The Way". 
"You tell me: when the chance comes to do something big, then!... Then? Are you seriously trying to convince me — and to convince yourself — that you will be able to win in the supernatural Olympics without daily preparation, without training?"

Every day, we should ask ourselves how our supernatural training for our big race is progressing. To think we can finish our race and keep the faith without daily training is simply foolish. 

Our marathon of life is one that takes continuous training and perseverance in everything God puts before us during our journey. 
"And let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." - Hebrews 12:1
Sometimes the mere thought of this can be overwhelming, and we can easily become discouraged. However, by feeling that way we forget that finishing our race successfully doesn't rely on our own strength, but the power and grace of God. We are weak and fall countless times while training and running our race.  Too easily do we forget our strength and progress comes from God alone and that cooperating with His grace is vital. We can only finish our race with the reward of eternal life if we give ourselves completely to God, believe in Him more than ourselves, and trust in Him rather than relying on our own weakness. 
“Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.” 
-Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
There will be times when we are running our race and our faith and endurance will be put to the test. Temptations will challenge us throughout each day we run our marathon. Yet Our Lord, Blessed Mother, our guardian angel, and the saints are all by our side, ready to help us train and continue forward. 
Who could ask for a greater support system while running one's race? 
"A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor..." 
A smooth sea never made a saint either.
"To begin is for everyone, to persevere is for saints..." 
- St. Josemaria Escriva
A sailor lacks experience and the necessary skills essential to becoming a master of the sea if he never has his limits tested, never struggles or faces challenges amidst the dangers of the sea. Only through the lessons learned through rough and difficult times at sea does a sailor become well skilled. He does not obtain expert skills of the sea by only training on land, or having experienced only calm seas. 

The same is true for ourselves. Our marathon will be full of challenges and "rough seas". There will be days where it is difficult to stay afloat. It is important to remember that the difficult times God allows us to experience are to help us grow closer to Himself, sanctify us, and to grow in the "skills" needed to reach sainthood and heaven. 
After we choose to begin our marathon training and run our race, we have another choice to make, a choice that must be made every day. 

Will we choose to persevere on our path toward sainthood and Our Lord? Or will we choose to give in to sin and our own weakness? 

As I continue training and running my marathon, I hope you will begin yours, and not only begin, but persevere in God's grace. 
Con amore in Cristo,

(Photo by Chloe Marie Photography)