Encouragement

I spent last night at a play entitled, “You Can’t Take It With You” where one of my youth was a minor character.  In the last few weeks this is the 2nd High School play (the first one had a girl playing a plant for a few minutes).  I also went to a JV baseball game where the kid wasn’t going to play (he hasn’t all season), but ended up in the outfield for 2 innings and batting once!

These times are the reason I love my job – and how Christ is using me to change lives.  If only I could remember them when the ‘funk’ sets in.  Or when I don’t see any fruit from my efforts on the Lord’s work.

Praise the Lord!

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Beautiful Words of Wisdom

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone-
To have a deep soul relationship with another-
Be loved thoroughly, and exclusively.
But God, to a Christian, says:
I want you to be satisfied, fulfilled, and content
With being loved by Me alone-
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me-
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship
With Me alone.
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the best human relationship
That I have planned for you.

I want you to be united with another after you are united with Me-
Exclusive of anyone or anything else,
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, stop wishing,
And allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing-
One that you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best-
Please allow Me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching Me, trusting Me-
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things I tell you.
You just wait.
That’s all.

Don’t be anxious.
Don’t worry.
Don’t look around at the things
Others have gotten or that I’ve given them.
Don’t look at the things you think you want.
You just keep looking off and up to Me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than any you would dream of.
You see, until you are ready and until the one I have for you is ready,
(I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time),
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with me.
And this is the perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have the most wonderful love.
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me,
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection, and love
That I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
I am God.
Believe and be satisfied.


-Author Unknown

‘The Hunger Games’ Book & Movie Review

I’ve been hearing about The Hunger Games for a while now – and I’m definitely not the first nor the last to jump on the bandwagon.  After hearing all of my middle schoolers talk about how they went to see it as a class field trip I felt compelled to read it.  At the very least I wanted to know the references when they said something about it.  So I borrowed the first book from one of the ym families and read it in one day!

I loved the story – was captured by Katniss and her narration of the story.  She’s detached from her emotions, has no idea how to really love, and is so confused about the direction of her life.  One of the most interesting things is how much hatred she has for The Capitol and how they want to put the Districts in their place. She is so fearful of being chosen in the reaping that she’s decided she will never have children.  The Capitol will never control her future.

Katniss & Gale – the closest thing she has ever experienced to love, but even that, she doesn’t really know how to love him … or anyone else either!

Although the world we live in is nothing like that – our government does not require the sacrifice of our children – we do have some serious issues.  But I digress…  Back to the story.

What is Effie wearing? I think we should definitely add flowers to our hair accessories, but maybe not so big.

One of the hard to grasp issues with the book is the intentional killing – really murdering of each other.  They have to defend themselves in order to survive.  Either defend or die.  Even though each of tributes (except the careers, of course) would never kill a human in their regular lives – put into the arena, things change.  Their motivation to survive trumps everything.

When the time comes, they all acquire the ability to kill.

The concept of killing each other is where my reservations occurred.  Is this something we want to promote among our youth?  I thought I would have a better understanding after I saw the movie – but honestly, I still don’t know.  I’m not sure whether it inspires rebellion and violence or not.

To review the book verses the movie – of course the book was better.  Like ALWAYS – except one time!  The Jane Austen Book Club – the movie was fantastic and the book not so much – way to dark.  The advantage of the movie over the book was twofold.  First, the book was from Katniss’ perspective and so we didn’t get to see what happened back home while she was in the game or how the Gamemakers were creating the problems in the arena.  Second, it was so cool seeing how they portrayed The Capitol.  The crazy outfits they wore, the futuristic home decor, and the technology that they had invented.

The Fashion! Oh M!

So my conclusion is to read the book, love it, find it complete – and then see the movie to take in the amazing visuals that we can’t even imagine!!!

I imagined things to be more primitive rather than more extravagant!

Recovered!

This afternoon I was walking back to my office (up in the corner of the building in the back of the property) from the main office building.  I was still in my ‘funk’ and was trying to scare the devil away by intensely praying the St. Michael prayer and walking with purpose (ie: fast and determined looking).  THEN, I was startled half to death – my short, well-lived life almost ended – by my pastor.  He asked what I was so intently thinking … and we chatted about my ‘spiritual funk’.  Then he gave me a beautiful blessing commanding the spirits to leave.  

Since then,  I’ve felt so much joy.  Removed completely from the funk.  Tomorrow will be a new day!

Struck Down, … practically destroyed

It’s so hard to be faithful to what God wants for us to do.  I’ve been told many times that if you’re doing the Lord’s work and good things are happening, you’d better prepare to be attacked.  And this is not just to be persecuted by the people of the world.  It’s not really other people who persecute anyway – it’s always Satan using them to persecute us.

Imagine spending your life’s energy on something (ie: getting as many people as possible into Hell with you) and then you’ve got someone working against you – wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to keep them from  succeeding?!  Of course – that’s what the devil is doing now.

I started a few prayer quests over the last couple of days … and by a few, I mean probably 4 too many!

  1. Seeking religious communities to pray for the success of parish mission centering on the Enthronement of our homes and parish to the Sacred Heart.  I literally emailed 120 communities asking them to pray for our mission.
  2. On Holy Thursday I began reading Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book Consoling the Heart of Jesus – a book about being with Jesus, consoling His Sacred Heart.  He said to St. Margaret Mary, “Behold this Heart which loves so much yet is so little loved.  Do me the kindness, you at least, of making up for all their ingratitude, as far as you can.”
  3. On Good Friday the Divine Mercy novena began and I am of course participating.
  4. I concluded my participation in the celebration of the Triduum – the most intense time of prayer in the Church.  Without the Paschal Mystery, Christianity is nothing.  If Christ did not suffer for our sins, die, and following rise from the dead – we’ve got nothin’ – a they say!  And with it – we have an entirely completed covenant with our God!
  5. On Easter Sunday I began praying the Prayer of Jabez for an increase in the scope of our Youth Ministry program at St. Thomas.
Well, that’s all – and I don’t write that to boast – I realize today, after 24 hours of attack, that I am CRAZY to have not realized beginning all of these things at one time would mean terribleness for me!
A friend said “Let me know if there’s anything that I can do beyond hard prayers for your bliss…” and to “prepare for personal bliss.”  I know that when great things are going to happen for the Lord, we usually endure some sort of suffering.
Lord, remain with me during this time of trial so as to endure until the beautiful fruit bears through!

under the weather :(

I’ve been pretty under the weather since last Wednesday … everyone around here’s been coming down with this terrible cold, and I had it too.  Spent some time in bed, lots actually, tons of soup, lots of temperature taking, and some good rounds with my old neti-pot, one of the strangest things ever, but boy does it work!  I highly recommend!

Anyway, the readings at Daily Mass lately have been about Jonah – Father’s been calling him a bit of a drama queen, well, King really.  He is being called to preach to the people of Nineveh (modern day Iraq).  They should repent, turn from their evil ways, and follow the God of all gods.  However, he’s a little – well, shall we say – perturbed at God for this.  He refuses to do it and gets on a boat with some other guys, ends up in a terrible storm, and they throw him over (well, he went willingly actually).  He’s then in the belly of the whale, and eventually goes into Nineveh like he was asked in the first place.  Jonah, always taking the long way around!

He preaches his message of repentance and they repent, turn from their evil ways and are all spared by God.

Now, today – the Gospel was about the religious of the community asking Jesus for yet another sign.  He’s been doing miracle after miracle, preaching parable after parable – and they aren’t convinced – but ONE more and they’ll be following Him like there’s no tomorrow.  So He tells them they are of an evil generation, and no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.  This probably had them spinning their heads all over again – saying, what does Jesus being God have ANYTHING to do with Jonah sitting in the belly of a whale? He has LOST his mind!

BUT – even the Ninevites, a pagan people, not the chosen people converted when they were preached the message of repentance.  These were the CHOSEN PEOPLE and they didn’t believe him.  Sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes were getting into Heaven faster than these people.  They needed to repent of their evil ways and follow the Lord.  It took a LOT of time; some of them never ever got it.

So now it is with us.

Are we an evil generation seeking a sign?

Do we want more than what the Lord has already done in us?

I know I can be sometimes.  I want a specific sign from the Lord.  And there are times when I can go into long tangents with Him about not having one so God must not be listening to my prayers.  Which, let’s face it, is ridiculous.  I have SO many things, experiences, people in my life, that are only through a product of God’s grace and his providence.

I can be like the religious in today’s Gospel – always searching, seeking, wondering in the desert voluntarily because I don’t have the ‘thing’ I want most of all.  I can’t even imagine where I’d be if God hadn’t had his hand on me all this time.

So today I remember, not how lucky I am, but how blessed I am to have the grace of God upon me.  And I pray for the ability to always recognize where His hand is working in my life, and to remember that His grace is enough for me!

life is hard

I’ve always wanted to be a youth minister, and I knew that the job required a lot of time, work, and ability.  I saw in my own youth minister (AP) that it was draining on his family, caused him even to adopt a young woman in our youth group when she had absolutely nowhere else to go.  Her mother didn’t really want her and her grandmother decided (1 year after this girl got out of the hospital for an eating disorder) that she was going to get back together with her husband who sexually abused her granddaughter.  So, yeah – drastically changed his life and the life of his wife and two daughters (one who they adopted from an abusive parent situations 10 years earlier).

Even knowing all that, and I’m a little naive, but not really – I didn’t think it was going to be this hard! Or that there would be so many times when I really didn’t know what to do.  Even more than that – knew what should be done, but couldn’t do it because ‘we’re the Church and we can’t do that.’

This morning at Mass was the reading of the Good Samaritan.  The man who was beat up by robbers, broken and practically destroyed – and no one (except the Samaritan) would help him.  He was rejected by his own people and taken in by a man who he was raised to hate and stay away from.  The danger (and father discussed it this morning) when we Christians aren’t the ones who do the rescuing, is that people will follow their rescuer.  If the ‘pagan’ rescues, the broken will pledge their devotion toward them.  And if the Christian does, then we will gain followers for Christ.

Lord, show me the way!

From … a Few Good Men

“God can live without you … He just doesn’t want to” (based on Col. 1:22)


-Mark Hart, aka The Bible Geek

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

~ Jeremiah 29:13


“My morning prayer summed up: ‘O god, Give me the strength to not tell people what I really think of them today. Amen.’ And we’re off!”

-Lino Rulli


“The parable of the Good Samaritan is not only about being kind to strangers but about accepting love from those you have written off.”

-Fr. James Martin, SJ


“The devil loves complacency.”

-Mark Hart

joy and humor

Tonight I spent a lot of time in the car and a lot of time laughing.  I went to another parish in our area to hear one of my favorite authors speak.  Fr. James Martin is hilarious! And he’s so spiritually profound too.  Tonight he was talking on his new book and promoting it, which is about Heavenly laughter.  He told the greatest jokes, we were all rolling with laughter.

One of the things he talks about is that laughter is not only allowed in the spiritual life, but it should be required for it!  We are all being called to laugh more, appropriately of course.  We should laugh at ourselves, laugh at the things God brings us, and enjoy laughter with others.

They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

So, I do this all the time.  Like now, I’ve got great plans in mind for me and AGA … marriage, babies, and a long life together.  However, I’m not sure that’s the Lord’s plan – or really even what I want.  I am also very good at giving God an ultimatum.  Lord, if not AGA then … (and I fill in the blank).  There are obviously only two options, how could he see more when I don’t!  Although, I know this isn’t true – His plan is infinitely better than mine.

So, I digress – always the same thing for me … worried about the future, where this is all headed, whether it’s like the idea in my head – if it’ll ever live up to it.  What is marriage and babies aren’t in His plan for me?  What if in 21 years when I’m 47, we’re still here, looking – just always looking and always waiting…

something others appear to have…

I have a long list of people who are frustrated with me – well, as I can see it from my end – at work.  I need thicker skin, I need to be able to stand firm in my opinion, know the reasons why, and be unwilling to change for any little thing.  But, the problem is, that sounds horrible … very ‘not humble’ and pretty much like a B.  Although, I just had this revelation … those people who are annoyed with me (and I in turn annoyed with them – or at least I would love to just ignore them and forget they exist), the thing is – they are like that.  They have the way they want to do things, they way things HAVE to be done, and then they do them that way and expect everyone else to follow suit.

They are very firm in their decisions, never wavering, never compromising; and what does it get them?  People who are upset with them, but the thing is – they don’t care, not at all.  They would rather have their way then have people like them.  Here’s where we are at a crossroad, I would rather have people like me than do what I want the way I want it.  I can be incredibly assertive about a situation, but only ‘removed’ from it – basically I talk a mean game, but play a pretty kind, nice, and likable one.

The truth is – I would always rather be liked and HATE it when people don’t like me or are upset with me.  I don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, but I do prefer when we’re on good terms.  I once took a quiz to know my love language and it was Words of Affirmation – when positive words need to be heard in order to feel self-worth, and negative comments are like daggers, unforgettable.  I see this as a negative in my life, how I’m always afraid of criticism (although I’m much better than I used to be).

Maybe someday I’ll have thicker skin, more confidence, or just more resolve to ‘do it my way’ instead of letting others change my mind constantly.