Going on Mission

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20

I first memorized these words of Christ when I was a junior in high school. Today, it remains one of the few verses I know by memory… I’m horrible at that! But it has stuck with me for seven years, stirring in me. I seek to share the Gospel and the love of Christ in my daily life, yet there was that “all nations” part… I wanted to stretch myself, go beyond the backyard I live in. I wanted to go and see and meet people where they are at. So when the opportunity came up to travel to Mexico City on a mission trip, I wanted so badly to go!

For years, I have dreamed of going to the people of Mexico–to know their stories, their culture, their lives. To serve and love them. But even more than that, I’ve dreamed of going to see the Basilica in Mexico City. The one that is home to the tilma of San Juan Diego. The tilma that Our Lady miraculously imprinted her image upon. I wanted to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe myself.

So when I found out that the mission trip to Mexico would be serving the people–the children, the women, the poor–while working along side the Missionaries of Charity and a pilgrimage to the Basilica as well, it sounded like the perfect opportunity. I applied and waited. And I waited. And I waited. Finally, I got the phone call–we’d love for you to come, but we need more men to go. So I prayed. I prayed for men to apply, for God to provide. I placed it in His hands. A few weeks later, I got another call. I was going to Mexico City!

Sept01.09_09

So now I am making preparations to go–fundraising, booking flights… praying! It still seems crazy and surreal to me. It really hasn’t fully hit me that in two and a half months, I will be going to Mexico City.

The last few days, I’ve been focusing especially fundraising. I’ve been raising my funds, with each donor giving what they can, and I greatly appreciate everything my friends and family are doing to support me and join me on this mission trip. I really cannot thank them enough. A number of them have pledged to support me financially. A few have pledged their prayer support. Really, I need both financial and prayer support. But lately, I’ve been thinking just how important that prayer aspect is. St. Therese, patroness of missions, never left the cloister to evangelize. But she went to the ends of the Earth with her prayers for the missions. Right now, I may still need to raise $1,000 dollars, but even more so, I need your prayer support. Will you join me on my mission trip? Will you commit your prayers? Please, let me know what your prayer commitment is. And check back here for more updates on the status of my mission trip–and perhaps some other posts. This is all a part of the abundant life God calls us to, and what a joy it is to do His will!

 

Saint Juan Diego, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King

This is one of my favorite hymns for the Feast of Christ the King:

Now this version has orchestra and choir, but it can also be moving with the organ and a full congregation singing it at the end of mass.

But in the end, what does it mean to have a Sovereign King?

Jesus as King. This is a hard concept I think sometimes for us to understand in modern times, since we no longer have kings that rule lands as they used to. We have leaders, yes, but it simply isn’t the same. And even when we do look at past royalty, there is a mix of good and bad, so what are we to make of Jesus being King?

The King of Kings is not like other Kings. Yes, we may be under His reign, but we must realize He is the perfect King. He is a King who loves us and respects our dignity and free will. He does not sit upon the throne to boss us around and demand things of us. His rule is not one of oppression, but one of service. He sits upon that throne waiting for us to come to Him, to tell Him about our lives, to ask for help. He sits upon the throne waiting for us to approach Him like little children. He invites us to sit upon His lap like the children we are, loving Him, seeking His guidance and assistance in our daily lives. It is to Him we must turn as we seek to reach Eternal Life, the abundant life.

Christ the King, reign over us.
Mary our Queen, pray for us.

Christ the King

A week from today… is one of my favorite feast days of the year that falls during Ordinary Time. The Feast of Christ the King is absolutely fantastic and beautiful! I love it. Okay, I’m a little biased, I’ll admit it. After spending time as a postulant with the School Sisters of Christ the King, I developed a devotion to Christ as King.

“He invites us to accept His reign over our minds, our hearts, and wills and lives,” explains Chris Stefanick. “See having a king means you’re not the king, I’m not the king.”

Having Christ as King over my life has been life changing. When I am able to step off the throne of my heart, my life, and die to myself, I allow Christ to sit upon that throne–I allow God, who is perfect, loving, all knowing, and merciful, to sit upon that throne. I have to choose to do this everyday, but when I do, it is truly freeing. It is truly a beautiful, and abundant life.

Back in June, Chris Stefanick posted the below video on YouTube, and I love it! It so well depicts the greatness, and impact, that having Christ as King in our lives can have. Yes, it is hard, but it is so worth it.

I invite you to join me in praying this novena to Christ the King as we approach the feast day and also the end to the year of faith. EWTN also has a great litany to Christ the King on their site as well.

In honor of the feast of Christ the King, I hope to post another couple videos, songs, or pictures during this week as we prepare for the feast!

May Christ reign in your heart and in the hearts of all those you meet this day. Amen.

Photo a Day, Week 1

This photo a day thing is a bit harder than I was thinking it would be… Mainly I keep forgetting until towards the end of the day. So this week’s are all taken with my phone, minimally edited on my phone, and of simple everyday things.

Day 2: This is a handle on one of our end tables
Cabinet door

Day 3: Crucifix in my room with weaved palm branches

Crucifix with Palm

Day 4: The Lampshade beside my bed, just before turning in for the night

Lamp light

Day 5: Studying the night away

Lumen fidei

Day 6: More studying!
Spiral rings

In Christ.

An Abundant Life is a Life of Prayer

This summer, I had the opportunity to do an internship at  a Catholic parish with their youth minister. I had an abundant of opportunities–learning, growing, getting to know teens. On my first day there, we began plans for a series of nights for the middle and high school students to occur during the same week as their Vacation Bible School program. I knew immediately that one of the topics I wanted to address with the teens was a life of prayer. It is at the heart of a full and abundant life, for it is from Him that we have life. I spent an evening talking to them about my own journey some, then described and demonstrated Lectio Divina to them. I gave them a chance to spend time before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, trying this form of prayer for themselves. I wanted to share this part of my summer with you, to continue to glorify the Lord with the story He has written called my life. I wanted to share what I said about Lectio Divina so that I can remind myself of the steps, but also to help others grow in their prayer life and walk with the Lord.

St. Irenaeus once said, “In the beginning God created Adam, not because he needed man, but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings.”

God didn’t need Adam, or Eve, or St. Irenaeus. He doesn’t need Pope Francis, you, or me. He’s infinite; He’s perfect. Yet God chose to create us, to love us into being. He has chosen to love you. He has chosen to be in relationship with you. He calls to you, asking you to enter into relationship with Him in a unique way. He desires, He thirsts for you and your love. We thirst for Him and His love.

As humans, we might forget or hide from our Creator. We can run after false gods and idols, or claim that God has abandoned us. Yet God calls. He, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer.” When we enter into prayer we respond to God’s call to us.

Think of your relationships. Friends, family, neighbors. What is important to having a relationship, any type, with someone?

In any good, strong relationship, there must be strong communication. Just as in our relationships with friends and family, there are times where we can be with them in a larger group. But those that are closest to us, we spend time with one on one. This applies in our relationship with God as well. We must take time for the one on one time we desire and need to quench the thirst we have for Him and He has for us. In my experience, being able to go to daily mass is fantastic. But if a consistent and regular prayer life is not paired with it, the mass does not bear fruit. If we don’t have this regular prayer life, Sunday mass and daily mass, in which we encounter Christ most intimately in the Blessed Sacrament, can bear little or no fruit in our personal lives.

In my personal life, I had heard numerous times that God loved me and Christ died for me, having been raised Catholic and attending Catholic grade school. I went to mass, and I would even repeat these words to others, but this message hadn’t made the trip from my head to my heart what that really meant. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I encountered Christ in an amazing way at a Steubenville Youth Conference. I heard in a song the words, “And I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon that cross.” It hit me hard that day just what Christ had done. I broke down and cried at this realization and what it meant for me and my life. I begged the Lord that weekend for the gift of faith. Faith in Him and His love.

In high school, I had my ups and downs in trying to follow the Lord. In the last two years, I really tried to deepen my prayer life. I would wake up 5 or 10 minutes early to read Sacred Scripture. The routine was simple and short, but those prayer periods really began to shape me.

In my senior year, I had surgery on my jaw over Christmas break. I was left lying on the couch for a few weeks healing from the whole ordeal. My prayer life began to slip. It was far easier to watch a move or fall asleep than try to pray a rosary or open Scripture. As I slipped, the devil jumped on the chance to get a hold of me. I was weak physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There were many people praying for me, but I was not fighting back very well.

When I went on retreat four months later, God poured out some huge graces that weekend. One of which was to begin to see the lies I’d been believing. I realized how I had slipped in my prayer life, believing that sleeping in over my Monday mass and adoration commitment was better. Or that I didn’t really have to pray every day. Or how I’d come to believe that I was ugly.

See, the surgery I had brought my top jaw forward—doing that changes the structure of one’s face. My self-esteem was low and I’d look in the mirror and no longer see Celina. I dreaded getting ready in the morning or walking into a bathroom, where I’d be forced to look in the mirror. I did not see the beauty God had given me. As I sat in adoration on that retreat, God allowed me to see the lies the devil had been feeding me and I had come to believe. From this experience, I came to realize that when my prayer life slacks, my relationship with God slacks, and it is then that enemy begins to get a better grip on me. This is not because God turns away from me, but because I turn away from Him.

So if prayer is so important, how do we go about it? Where does one start?

“The most important thing is not our thoughts or feelings, but whether we are faithful and persevering.” –Mother Teresa

We have to be faithful and persevering in our prayer life, no matter what form of prayer we choose. There are many forms and ways to pray. As Christians, our prayer is centered on Christ. It should engage our thoughts, imagination, emotions, and our will. One well known and highly encouraged way of praying with Scripture is Lectio Divina.

A follow up post will have the remainder of my talk from that evening, discussing Lectio Divina, and the Scripture we used to meditate on that night.

Veiling in Church

Recently, Jen’s post Notes from beneath the veil : Conversion Diary has been getting some attention from a few blogs I follow, including Fr. Z in his post A woman’s report on wearing a veil in church for the first time. Jen’s post, which I read the day it was posted, and Fr. Z’s has caused me to reflect this morning on my own veiling journey.

I still remember the first young woman I met who veiled. I was headed into my junior year of high school and was a Young Apostle as a part of the Steubenville Youth Conferences. She would pause in the entryway of the church to place her simple white veil on, then proceed with reverence into the Church. This simple gesture peeked my interest, but I soon thought nothing more of it after we went our separate ways at the end of the week.

Then I arrived at a wonderful Catholic college, where I’ve met charismatics, traditionalists, and Eastern rite Catholics as well. So, naturally, this means there are some young women veiling for adoration and Mass. It continued to attract me–why I wasn’t really sure, but it did.

As I began to read about it some on blogs, including how it is no longer in Canon Law, but it is still allowed (and even encouraged), the references to early Church Fathers and other great saints, and also to 1 Corinthians pulled me towards it more. After leaving the postulancy of a religious community nearly eight months ago, I began to ponder it yet again. When I returned to school last fall, I decided to try to wear something on my head–basically, begin transitioning. I began with a headband/headcovering that I had purchased from Garlands of Grace a couple years before. It was simple, plain, and went with a majority of my outfits. Other alternatives included a hat or a scarf pulled up over my head. The days when I would leave my apartment without one of these options for mass or adoration, I would find myself missing it–desiring to make that simple act of pulling on my scarf, acknowledging that the building I was entering was not simply another building on campus, but the House of God. I found it as a way, especially during the week when I would go straight from church to class, to “dress up” a little for Jesus.

As Christmas approached, I wanted to get a nicer veil or headcovering for the wonderful season, and after. I began looking again over at Garlands of Grace, having been pleased with their service and beautiful pieces before. I discovered from their facebook page, thanks to comments and posts from them in the past and one kind person who posted more recently, that these daughters of God who make the beautiful, feminine and modern pieces were protestants (which in all honesty I had suspected), and did not consider Catholics to be Christians. While I understand their concern for my soul, I was no longer comfortable buying from a company that did not see me as a sister in Christ, but as one who was far from the Lord and in need of prayers (although I’m always in need of prayers… but not ones to leave my Catholic faith). So I began looking on etsy for a new alternative. I found the same site that Jen over at Conversion Diary bought hers from – Liturgical Time.

Liturgical Time - Eternity Veil - White - Single loop

Liturgical Time’s white eternity veil, single loop

When I received my vanilla bean eternity veil (single loop), I loved it. I wished I had ordered the white one though. When I wrote my review on the site, the owner contacted me and offered to trade the white for the vanilla bean. The customer service at Liturgical Time is wonderful, and the work beautiful. The veil allows me to slip it on as a scarf before leaving for church. When I arrive, I simply pull it up over my head. Initial worries as I made this switch from scarves and hats to a lacy, feminine veil, included many of the same concerns Jen had. Won’t I just attract more attention? How will I respond when people ask me about it?

I’ve had a total of four comments and discussions about my veiling. My mom was the first, with whom I was able to have a good discussion about why I had decided to wear a veil, and this took place over Christmas break, right around the time when I was switching from the scarf and hat to the veil I bought myself. Another was one of my best friends who was visiting me here on campus recently–she simply asked when I had started. Two other young women here on campus have made comments, complimenting this scarf/veil, but beyond these four women, nothing has been said to me, and I’m fine with that. My fears of people reacting against, or even just a lot of questions why I was suddenly veiling, were unfounded. I would even say thoughts planted by the enemy in my mind, discouraging me from taking this step.

I have just met you and I love you. ... Squirrel!

Yes, this is sums me in up in my prayer some days:
“I love you, Jesus! … oh, look over there! … Is that a spider or a crack in the wall?”

When I get distracted in mass and prayer (and let’s be honest, I’m human, and I get just as distracted as the dog in Up), and I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of the white veil, I remember why I wear it–really why I do anything–for the glorification of God. I quickly realize then how distracted I am and begin to focus again on the words of the priest in mass, on the Sacred Scriptures, on Christ.