Are You Truly Free to Love?

After the pain we have endured from past heartbreaks and betrayals. After the constant disappointment that comes when another person doesn’t appreciate or doesn’t reciprocate. After being vulnerable time and time again to be crushed right back into our shell- back into our comfort zone where we can no longer get hurt. After the suffering of giving ourselves to someone only to be rejected in some form. We are scared to give our whole selves. We need to avoid pain, betrayal, and deeper feelings all together. 

We play it safe because we want to control our lives and our emotions, but in doing this we lower our capabilities to love and to truly be human.

We play it safe because we need to avoid pain- we need to numb ourselves because rather than feeling hurt, it’s better to feel nothing at all.  In the midst of all the walls we put up in our heart, we forget how we are meant to love. We can’t love with fear.

We want to be like Jesus. We want our words to be His words. Our hands to be His hands. Our feet to be His feet. We want our influence to be His influence. We want to be Jesus in a world that doesn’t know Him.

The way we will be different than any other person, is by the way we love- but, we are too scared to love like Jesus did.  We don’t want to be His heart in a world that needs it because to have His heart means He will have to transform our human heart in a way that will hurt. It will cause a stretch that may bring unasked suffering.  It will cause changes within ourselves and a giving up of things we may not want to give up yet.

Because, to love like Jesus is to love with no self-interest. It is to love in a divine way that doesn’t count but just gives. One that gives it all, but doesn’t expect anything in return.

Only when we are willing to open our heart, to give ourselves. Only when we open ourselves to pain, suffering, and betrayal can we truly love, because love doesn’t care about those things. Love doesn’t measure, it just gives.

No one saw in Christ humanity that he was God, but he proved He was God in the way He gave himself totally and relentlessly to the least and the lowly. In the way He forgave. In the way He never held a grudge. In the way he gave HIS WHOLE SELF. He proved He was God in the way He loved.

We want to live like Christ. We want to be Christ to the world, but we don’t allow ourselves to love like Him.

The only way we can truly be like Christ is when we prove to the world we are His and He is in us. We can only prove this to the world- we can only be Christ to others- when we stop being afraid to love like Christ.

 Only when we love in a way that requires sacrifice. Only when we love in a way that we DIE (to ourselves)- are we like Christ.

He wants us not to be His mouth, not to be His eyes, not to be His hands and feet. HE WANTS US TO BE HIS HEART. He wants us to bring His love to others.

The only way we can give Love is when we know love. We only know TRUE love when we know Christ totally. We need to empty ourselves of our fear, of our hatred, of our doubts, of our numbness, of our safety, and of our comfort so He can fill us with His fearless, all pursuing, all powerful, all transforming, all relentless, all sacrificial LOVE.

Man can only love so much with the heart He is given. Man can love like Christ when He allows Christ to put His own heart within us. Wholehearted, devout Christians have a special capacity to love and that is because they know love.

Friendships and relationships are more fruitful and intentional when you allow yourself to love as Christ did. When love for a person surpasses the fears of betrayal and hurt, it is true.

Jesus loved so much He gave himself knowing that all of us would spit on His face and betray Him each day. Knowing he would get hurt- to the point of DEATH- He still choose to love.

By the Grace of God lets no longer choose isolation.  Let’s no longer choose complacency. Let’s no longer choose fear. By the Grace of God- by his Sacred Heart in the place of our hearts- let us choose to love every day, every hour, every minute, every second.

May the Holy Spirit give us the courage we need to love even in the risk of getting hurt. May the Holy Spirit give us the understanding of God’s unfathomable love for us when He gave himself on the cross. May the Holy Spirit transform our hearts into the Sacred Heart of Jesus so we may always overcome fear and comfort- and instead, choose a radical, earth shaking, transformative love.

Let Him show you what love is. Only then can you model that love, by his Grace.

Only when we are free from fear, do we become free to love.

“Perfect love cast out fear.” -1 John 4:18

 

_________________________________________________________________

Author’s Note:

How can we know Jesus’ love for us?

Through the Eucharist. Many Catholics have life changing experiences before the Eucharist because it is Jesus- who is LOVE- that changes our hearts. Get to know Jesus in the Eucharist, and you will know love. Jesus in the Eucharist is the Summit and SOURCE of the Christian life and it is the perfect depiction of Christ’ perfect love. It is a love so extravagant that it humbles Christ, who is God, to hide Himself in Bread and allow us to consume Him and become like Him. It is a love that pours out inexhaustibly and never stops giving and forgiving. It is a love that is patient, yet relentlessly pursues.  It is a love that is full of life, yet requires death. It is a love without fear. It is a love that is unafraid to give one’s whole self. Love is Jesus- Jesus in the Eucharist is LOVE.

Oh come let us adore Him, know Him, and be Him for others. And in case you didn’t know- you are INFINITELY LOVED (by love Himself. Isn't that cool?)

14 Things You Can Do For Yourself and Your Future Spouse This Valentine's Day!

14 Things You Can Do for You and Your Future Spouse This Valentine’s Day!

Store aisles are overstocked with giant teddy bears, exquisite rose bouquets, and LOTS of chocolate.  Valentine’s Day is near and our consumerist culture wants you to know it! Single or not, there are things you can do this Valentine’s Day for the Valentine that truly matters- the one that will stand, sit, and lay by your side until death brings you apart.

Here are 14 things you can do for you and your future spouse this Valentine’s day!

1. Let yourself be loved! Read through this reflection by St. Anthony of Padua and let it permeate into your heart. Work on allowing yourself to truly be satisfied with your relationship with the Lord. (http://gnm.org/prayers-be-satisfied-with-me/)

2. Pray a Rosary for your future marriage, family, and for the purity of you and your future spouse. End the Rosary with this beautiful prayer to St. Raphael. (http://lordcalls.com/prayers-for-different-people/prayer-to-st-raphael-for-the-wise-choice-of-a-mariage-partner)

3. Write a love letter to God. Include your feelings on discernment and hopes for your future spouse/Vocation.

4. Share the love! Write encouraging and honest messages to your friends!

5. Learn to sacrifice.  Give up something for the sake of your future spouse and family (such as a meal, meat, sweets, coffee, technology- it can be something small or large, just make it meaningful.) Instead of having a petty party when seeing “cute, couple things,” joyfully give up that temporary feeling of sadness or loneliness for someone who needs prayer that day- let our Blessed Mother use that prayer for someone she knows needs it!

6. Learn to love yourself. Ask God to reveal to you all the things He loves about you. Write them down along with a message of encouragement to yourself and read them in times of loneliness or inadequacy throughout the year.

7. Learn something new and share some laughs! Get a group of friends together to learn how to partner dance (it can be swing, salsa- just get those feet moving!)  

8. Learn to give yourself. Perform three charitable acts for people you may not know very well (this can be opening a door, asking someone how they are doing, or saying an encouraging or kind word to somebody.)

9.  Read the section in the Catechism about Chastity, Vocation, and Marriage then read the section on the Wedding Banquet of Bridegroom (Christ) to us, His Bride (The Church)- read about the Eucharist and the Mass.

10. Order your desires towards their intended, ultimate, and heavenly end. If you struggle with any habitual sexual sin (such as pornography or masturbation) meet with a Spiritual Director to start creating a plan to overcome it (also check out the porneffect.com for more resources.)

Focus on removing your wounds and sexual addiction so you can overcome sin and be able to give yourself TOTALLY to your future spouse. Let your Vocation be your motivation!

11. Go to Mass and ask St. Valentine for His intercession through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the intention that you and your future spouse can be prepared for your Vocation.

12. Read Ephesians 5 and Corinthians 13!

13. Watch a Theology of the Body talk with some friends (or a special someone.)               Suggestions? Jason Evert or Christopher West!

14.  Do something that sets your soul on fire! Do you love to dance, write, sing, dance, play a sport, paint? Enjoy your time and glorify God through your talents on this day and every day of your life.

If you are in a relationship this Valentine’s Day,  remember to cherish, and appreciate your significant other, not just today, but every day. Create goals on how to keep Christ as the center of your relationship. Remember how you would want your future spouse to be respected and treated before they are put into your life, and treat your current significant other the same way.

If you are single this Valentine’s Day see this time as a gift! Grow in friendship, grow in who God made you to be, and (more importantly) grow in relationship with Christ.

“You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know YOU.” -Romans 5:8

#Nothxbirthcontrol

The phrase “Thanks, BirthControl!” has been rampant over social media. It’s insane to think that men and women throughout the world are proclaiming they are so very thankful for contraception when it has detrimentally impacted societies’ view on sexuality, relationships, and the value of human life.

Thanks to contraception we have become convinced that we can get off the hook without responsibility or consequences for our actions. Thanks to the recreational uses of birth control we have died to the emotions that are involved in sexual union. Thanks to the contraceptive uses of birth control person’s identities have become deteriorated by participation in today’s hookup culture.

 The “ThxBirthControl” movement is contradicting for many reasons. In fact, we have a lot more to BLAME on birth control than to thank birth control for.

______________________________________________________________________

Contraception has made me an object. Not just me, but you, too.

To many, we are nothing more than a body and “banging” to be pursued.

Contraception has led a majority of society to believe that life has no value.

Our depth as a human person and the sacredness of sexual union has been totally reduced.
And I’m convinced we have become a society of use.

Thanks to the utilization of contraception, women are for many nothing more than floating bodies to be undressed and used.

I won’t stop at the effects of contraception on women but continue with the effects it has on men, too.

Men have become for women nothing, but a means to find comfort and worthiness through. Women are starting to believe that those minutes in bed are the only time men will just maybe be amused.

Bruised confidence and broken consciousness. As if casual sex was liberating - but we know that instead, we have become slaves.

We have become slaves to our own “desires,” slaves to the flesh.

We see biologically what sex does and is supposed to do, but we take it away.
We want the physical pleasure without the physical exchange.


And emotions? What are those? We shut them out- though during this intense physical exchange our souls are their most vulnerable.

The importance of sexuality has been stripped away by the "science" and "technology" of Plan-B and Plan-A.  

Society thinks it has saved us, but the harsh reality is that we are just more chained.

But isn’t birth control for contraception a good thing?

 People say it saves the country from more abortion. But the use of birth control in an effort to not get pregnant is like adding fuel to the fire or adding more water into the tide of waves.

If the condom breaks or 1% chance comes true, we can just abort the "problem."
In the meantime- 3,000 babies are rid of a day, just taking account of abortions in the United States.

Is “unplanned pregnancy” really the problem? Really the deadliest consequence?

No. The problem is that because of contraceptives we have dwindled into a culture of death.

We are not dying to ourselves. True, authentic love is dying instead.

 We still love, though. We love ourselves so much it hurts. We love ourselves so much we would rather get our sex fix, even if it means someone’s feelings will be put in the dirt.

We love ourselves so much; we can't get out of our own head.

We have died to our emotions; we have died even to our own consent.
We have forgotten the personal exchange of sex. We have forgotten the dignity of the body and the whole of the human person.

We have died to our sexuality. We have buried the reality of what makes us who we are.

Truly, we have died.

Thanks, birth control for all that you have done to "save" our society. But, I would rather have more joyful babies roaming around than young adults who have become so numb to their feelings, so numb to their sexuality, they might as well be zombies.

My hope is that society can remember what sexuality really means; And to see the beauty of our sexuality in everything.

Are the contraceptive uses of birth control worth all this damage and self-hate?

This is what I have to say to birth control: No thanks.

*Editor’s note: The author is referring to the damages of the recreational uses of birth control to purposely prevent pregnancy, not the use of it for medical reasons.  

Hands.

His hands reach out, out of the boat to grab the lost soul in the midst of a storm.

                              “Be not afraid.”

His hands press over the eyes of the leper. 

                              “You are healed.”

His hands grasp gently onto the Bread of Life that has become His very self.

                              “This is my Body.”

His hands wipe the blood dripping from His head- He is immersed in deep prayer, grave agony.

His hands are pierced with unbearable pain- right through a nerve, right through a vein.

His hands are weighed down, weighed down by my sin.

He falls- again, and again.

His hands are weighed down by the Cross that should be mine, but became His.  

He is raised in mockery and the earth quakes.

Christ’s pain goes away, but the holes on His hands and feet still remain.

I see Him again. His hands on the Holy Bread.

The Supper of the Lamb. The world’s greatest gift that comes directly from Him.

Rays of healing penetrate from His hand. “Your faith has saved you,” He says.

From bleeding and pain to an out pouring of Grace. The hands of the Lord are upon me.

“Can I be your hands, O Lord?” I say.

“Are you ready to take on the same pain?” He states.

“Are you ready to drink of the cup that I once drank?”

 

O Lord, give me Your hands. May my hands shed grace to every face that I may face.

              Give me withered, wounded hands. 

              Give me hands with the trace of selfless service.

                                 These hands were made to wipe the tear of the abandoned.

                                 These hands were meant to carry the neglected.

                                 These hands were made to put food on plates for those who haven’t got any.

                                 These hands were made to embrace the lonely and far off.

                                 These hands were made to pick up a mess.

                                 These hands were made to press-                                                                    

                                                     press upon the Beads of Blessed Mother that brought me to You.

In each heavenly exchange You remind me that these hands were made.

These hands were made for You, O Lord

                     These hands were made to serve. 

                                               These hands. My life. My everything

                                                                                     Everything is Yours.

New Year, SAME me.

The New Year is a universal sign of hope, a sign of renewal. FINALLY after 365 days we can start fresh from any poor decisions we have made. From choices in food, choices in lifestyle, and choices to stay at the job we’ve always hated and wanted to quit- the New Year is our solution, our escape plan from our problems and imperfections.

“Maybe now I will put a little more effort into my school work. Maybe now I will start hitting the gym. Maybe now I will put effort into dating and make sure to be in a relationship before next holiday season.”

It’s exciting to think that NOW, with the arrival of a New Year,  we can start new and forget about our past mistakes. NOW we can press forward and accomplish our dreams. But the reality is you don’t have to wait for endless months to “start fresh” or diligently go after your goals. Every day is an opportunity to stop having your past dictate your life and to start seizing your future.

I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but the New Year’s holiday is a false hope that has become universally accepted as a “fresh start,” when the reality is this hope, this “fresh start,” is always at our finger tips. Every day that you wake up you can decide to make a great change and accomplish those goals you’ve had for years.

Gym memberships will double in the month of January and decline exponentially with every month that follows- because our motivation burns out soon after the exciting start of the year.

A problem with the “New Year, New Me Mentality” is the FOCUS of our New Year’s goals. Let’s be honest, for a majority of women the top two goals are to get fit/lose weight ("hopefully in time for summer") and to score an attractive and irresistible man… okay a cute guy…. okay a breathing male that can be shown off in pictures. This holiday has become more depressing than hopeful if you ask me. Our culture that obsesses over appearances and superficial things has dictated what should be a joyful occasion.

 You go into the New Year focusing on how many pounds you can lose, and dates you can go on. I challenge you to instead focus on ways to make YOU a better YOU. Not just a hotter you, but a more mature, intellectual, well-rounded, kind, compassionate, you. How can you be a better brother, sister, aunt, uncle, mother, father, friend, and person?

These are the things that truly matter. Our bodies are going to rot in the ground one day, but the memory of who we are, the impact we make on the souls around us, and our eternal destiny is forever.

So take care of your body and hit the gym because it’s HEALTHY, but remember also to put time into bettering other facets of yourself.

You have a purpose, a mission to fulfill this year and it does not just involve your weight or your appearance. It involves your career, your mind, and your heart.

Let’s ring in the New Year with a new perspective of what a fresh start really means.  

Hit the gym. Ask that girl out. Show that guy interest. Pray. Read. Succeed. Not next year. Not next week. Not tomorrow, but today. Because today is the only time we have.

Stop waiting for the right time to “set goals,” and start seizing your goals and the desires of your heart by making opportunities for yourself. Every day you wake up with breath in your lungs is an opportunity to better yourself and to better your life.  May your New Year be filled with many “fresh starts” and many goals- made and met.

As Always,

You are loved!

The Tragic Reminder I Needed To Be Love For All That I Meet

Today my dear acquaintance shared a message about a friend of hers who passed away two years ago. The message included a picture of a charming young man with a bold smile. The young man's smile was radiant as he looked at his friend with authentic joy. 

I had to know the person behind the smile that was once so bright. So I went onto his Profile to see scrolls and scrolls of memories and messages from his friends, family, and acquaintances.

I found out he was once a Chic-Fil-A cashier, talented musician, uniquely kind person, and devoted Christian. 

 At that moment I started to cry, wishing I just had the chance to know this beautiful soul. 

This young man was going to be someone's husband and someone's father. He was already a couple's child and the friend of many.  

He was known for being extraordinarily kind and talented. Though I didn't know him personally, in my heart I knew, his future was bright. Or it was supposed to be until he took it away... 

On average 117 people commit suicide a day. I’m sure at least 20 individuals attempt suicide each day in Florida alone. They feel useless and unloved, overwhelmed with the struggles of life. They are silently calling out for a sense of hope and purpose. 

The young man that I felt like I knew, was certainly created for a particular purpose and mission. He was created to meet particular people and impact their lives in a particular way. Who knows the possibilities for the life of that young man? 

In the grayness of everyday life, even you may forget that you were made out of love, for a unique mission. You weren’t made merely to pay the bills and get by. You were made for your own kind of greatness!  

No matter your circumstances in life- push forward because there is a purpose for your life, and yes there is even a mysterious purpose for your suffering. Something greater will come out of your hardship, and you will be a stronger person for it.  

Don’t give up. Don't allow yourself to be convinced by the lie that you are not loved, cared for, willed, or important.

You are so loved; my heart would burst just trying to explain the love and dignity that was put into the making of every fiber in your being.

This beautiful stranger reminded me of the importance of life and affirmation for the value of others. I wish he could know the beauty I saw in his individuality and authenticity that I had just a taste of.  

Don't let a day go by where you neglect someone who may need the same message that young man desperately needed. There is someone in your path who thirst for the affirmation that there is a meaning for their existence. 

Every day of your life, make it a point to be love for all that you meet. Love is the reason we are here and continue to be. Love is the ultimate destiny that we are inevitably called to.

You were made with love, by love, for love. 

Your very existence has created a positive impact on people you may not even know were impacted. I know this young man certainly made an impact on me.

As always,

You are loved.  

The Problem with Modern-Day Dating

 What’s the Problem with Modern Day Dating?

Today during my hour of cardio at the YMCA I couldn’t help but laugh at the TV screen as it played a new episode of The Bachelorette. Viewers get a sneak peak of a glamorous dating life, and a gorgeous woman has the opportunity to date 15 attractive, successful men at once, and she gets to kiss them too- every girl’s dream right?

 So here I am listening to Drake on the highest level of the elliptical, sweating, and laughing at the five different men’s reactions after kissing the same girl. This show is just another medium to fill our minds with lies about dating.

Not all of us can sign up for a TV show set to find our “perfect half.”

Wait, so what’s the problem with modern-day dating?

Well, no one is really “dating.” People are in relationships (after months of “talking” aka sending unclear messages that try to put on a confident front, when the reality is the person has no idea what they are doing or feeling.)

No one is actually going on dates. We are investing our emotions into a phone screen instead of people. We resort to online dating or Tinder because no one wants to pursue someone face-to-face.

Instead of fantasizing about that mutual friend we barely know, or random person online, we need to remember all the tangible, and compatible potential partners that surround us. Why? Because the best relationships begin with the best friendships.

That girl in your friend group you always thought was a little cute and funny- ask her out on a date. There’s a negative stigma to going on dates when they’re just supposed to be a fun way to get to know someone and to get a sense of the one-on-one dynamic. Going out on a date doesn’t mean you’re signing your name in blood.

I recommend you show interest to the person in your friend group, the person you see around campus, or at work who you would like to get to know more. After going on a date with that person, be clear about your feelings. If there is no interest or compatibility, don’t feel bad. Remember all of the possibilities around you, including those in your friend group. One of your close friends you may not “see that way” right now, just may be the most compatible person for you.

The media distorts authentic dating by using shows like The Bachelorette, which brainwashes us to think that dating means finding the perfect person who has all the qualities we ever wanted and nothing else.

Dating is not a custom bowl made to order from Chipotle- it’s seeing a person for their whole self- choosing to appreciate their qualities, and accept their faults. Technology has instilled a nature of immediate satisfaction where we can edit and filter our lives, but dating isn’t like this.  

A genuine relationship cannot be shared with a person you only know on your phone screen.

When it comes to dating, attraction is important, but isn’t a stable foundation. Being attracted to someone isn’t enough to carry a relationship. No one wants to invest their time or emotions into something that is inauthentic and purposeless.

 If you’re in a relationship, ask yourself; Is your relationship pushing you to be a better person, or helping you expand or learn more? If not, I encourage you to look more deeply into why you are in a relationship with that person. At the end of the day, your relationship will either evolve into a marriage, or diminish into a breakup, and heart ache.

It’s great to have high standards but be realistic. Don’t forget those around you, and be courageous- because dating takes initiative and effort (from both sides.)

Society has fostered an untrustworthy feeling, and fear from the other gender. Fear of rejection. Fear of friend zone. Fear of heartache. Fear of ruining the friendship. Fear of judgement. Some of the greatest things in this world started as a fear, so don’t let fear consume you, and stop you from taking a step into what could be a great conversation, friendship, or relationship.

This journey of dating and marriage is all about becoming the best version of yourself as you see the best in another person. In the end, there is someone for everyone who is called to marriage (which is pretty freakin awesome if you ask me.) There is someone in this world who will love you even with your quirks, and complications. That person can be the friend you’ve never had the courage to show interest in, so don’t fret, and take the chance.

Look up from your phone screen, and look at the possibilities that surround you- not just romantic relationships, but fruitful friendships. 

As always,

You are loved. 

Setting the World on Fire.

I’m that girl who actively shares saint quotes, Bible verses, and photos advocating the pro-life movement. I’m sure more than a handful of people have deleted me from social media because they were just sick and tired of seeing it all. They don’t buy this Jesus thing. Maybe they assume I’m one of those extremists who got the Christian message wrong and thinks everyone else is going to hell.

When many non-Catholics think of the Church, they think of Pedophile Priests, paganist worship of statues, or a Pope that “tries to be God.” Now- I can go on a rant on how completely inaccurate all of this is. I could speak of all the precious history and sacred traditions that make the Church the beauty that it is, standing almost 2000 years strong.  But, I’m gonna tell you how I sense the Catholic Church to be.

I’m gonna tell you how I fell in love with this Church, to the point that I would willingly give my life for it.

I see diverse crowds of people. Different spiritualties, races, backgrounds, pasts. But, division doesn’t exist. There is only unity, created in the image and likeness of God we are. I see a revival of the Spirit upon those who ask. I see great fire aflame those with open hearts and minds, they ready to set the world ablaze. I see a new generation of apostles who are willing to die for Christ and His Church.

I see red and white rays of mercy streaming from Christ’s compassionate heart. Similar rays protrude from His healing hands. His eyes stare into my soul. I see compassion. I see Christ’s blood gushing out from the crucifix at the top of the Church, over the altar. The blood is pouring out over the gifts that have become His own precious Body and Blood. I get to behold Him. We are face to face. I see selflessness. Heaven is kissing earth for a brief moment as I am united with every single Catholic to roam the earth. I see my loved ones who have passed. I see my grandfather who instilled passion and wisdom into my life. I see my great grandmother who was the my first Catholic influence, rosary in hand. There’s a presence of all the great saints and souls. All the Catholics who have ever lived. I see remembrance. I see honor.

 I see a woman destroying the serpent at her feet with a crown of twelve stars over her head. I see courage. Her image transforms and she is altered. Now she is walking with sorrow, weeping. She takes me to the feet of the Cross. I see humility. We adore Him, in disbelief that the most perfect person to roam the earth was beaten and hung on a cross to die. I see sacrifice. My mouth dries similar to him in that moment of death on the cross. I see Him. I see Him and I’m not worthy. I adore Him and I’m not worthy. I love Him and I’m not worthy. Just when I thought I wasn’t worthy enough, He offers His whole self to me. The words seep from His mouth “This will be given up for you.” I am transformed by the great mystery. He changes my heart like never before. The grace, the love of Christ. It’s unfathomable and it sets me free, it sets me on fire. How can He die to set me free? I’m not worthy, God. I’m not worthy. I feel Him grab my hand. He puts me to rest and an overwhelming peace enters my heart. There is not a doubt, or worry, or sin that can change this moment. Every day He draws me in, beckoning me. After the mystery feast, there’s an overcoming silence. He pierces into my soul and with great desire He speaks.

“I thirst.”

Catholic or not, Christ invites you to this great mystery. Christ is thirsting for you on the cross, waiting for you to behold Him on the altar at a Catholic Church near you. Only there will you be able to consume Him and know Him in the most intimate way. If you are Catholic stop missing out on mass. Christ wants to transform you and make him a living saint. As Catherine said, “Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

 All in His glory,

your Sister in Christ.

#LoveWins

First, let me tell you a few things that will never change: God loves you, and I (as a full hearted Christian-Catholic) love you. Whether you’re black, white, gay, straight, disabled or “able.” God loves you so much He sent His son to be beaten and abused til death on a cross for YOU. He died for your sin, no matter who you are, no matter what your beliefs of Him are, no matter when the last time you walked into a church was, no matter if you’ve never walked into a church before. He died for US ALL , in our brokenness, so we may live and be renewed in Him. Is there any greater love than that?

Yesterday, June 26, 2015 same-sex marriage became legal nation-wide and history was made. Social media abounding with rainbow flags, waving with pride. Growing up in the arts and color guard community, many of my friends are gay or an ally to the LGBT community. Being friends with many other fellow Christians and Christian-Catholics, as well,  my social media was filled with post that varied in views on the hot topic. Most post were very joyful ones, some post were more serious as individuals were taken aback on how America could get this far from tradition, from Christ.

I saw a good friend of mine go through his “coming out” in high school. When I first became  friends with him, I had no idea he was gay. Funny thing was everyone thought we were on the verge of a relationship, before he came out. His friendship was dear to me and that friendship is still dear to me. Things changed, but I still love him the same way. I try to love him the same way God does, even when it may be hard to do so because I don’t believe in some of his actions or life-style choices. He is still an amazing, loving person. He is still loved by God and he is still loved by me.

Looking through social media that day I wanted to be happy for my friends, and their future possibilities with the expansion of their civil rights, but part of me died as I realized how far society is moving from truth.

We are endorsing a lie. As each day passes, society cares less and less about God and His law, and more and more about the individual’s happiness and pleasure. Society’s favorite words are  “me” and “I.” What will feel good for me? What do I want?

What we want isn’t always the best thing for us. God’s law was implemented for us to truly live in His love and joy. The love and joy experienced in Christ is much greater than any of our personal desires or tendencies that our human nature could lean us towards. Lust, pride, money, drugs, partying- these are all short time pleasures. Only Jesus’ love and joy is eternal. Even life is temporary, so why bind your life and afterlife to short time pleasures and the word “me?”

All in all, nothing can justify a lie. And nothing can justify a sin. Sin is sin. A commandment is a commandment. Truth and morality will always prevail. It is important to keep the commandments as God teaches, “If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15.)” What many people outside or even inside the Church see as rules chaining us down from life, are actually God’s protection for us from evil, and God’s love for us so we may reach eternal life with Him.

The most important part of our faith, and most important lesson Christ teaches us, is the one thing that overcomes all: love. Christ’ love overcomes our sin, our situations at home, our problems at school, our depression, our sexual orientation, our race, our BEING. Christ’ love cleanses and heals. Christ’ love is the reason for our very existence. One person overcomes all sin and brokenness with great mercy and grace.

The pinnacle of love is Christ. We see the ultimate love of Christ by His sacrifice on the cross. This love was not easy, it required sacrifice and suffering. True love was not rainbows and butterflies for Christ, and will not be that way for us. When raising children, you teach them discipline because it is what’s best for them, there will be growing pains along the way because you can’t give your children what they want all the time. Without that discipline the child wouldn’t grow to be strong. Tough love is necessary. Christ and the Church teach tough love aka true love. True love is not about always getting what you want. It is about self sacrifice, as God sacrificed himself with the ultimate action of love- death on a cross.

The Church is one of love. But just as Christ can’t give us all we want, neither can the Church. If a person or the Church may not agree with you, it does not mean that the person can’t love you or the Church doesn’t love you. We dislike the sin but continue to LOVE the sinner, just as Christ would. It is not the same-sex attraction that is sinful but acting upon that attraction through homosexual sex (because all sex outside of holy matrimony is sinful).

“Gay marriage” is inherently paradoxical to the Church’s teachings as the Church understands marriage to be between one man and one woman. The Church teaches this because a marriage must be love-giving and life-giving. While homosexual relationships may be love-filled, they cannot produce life. The Church believes that holy matrimony is blessed by Christ, that Christ is in the center of that marriage. Here is some further explanation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

ARTICLE 7
THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY

1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”84

1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.90 Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'”91

1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”92 The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.93 “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”94 The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”95

In love, we cannot justify that a lie is truth, as we cannot justify a sin is good. No sin is good. We are all sinners.  We all sin, none of these sins can be justified as right or okay. The act of homosexual relations is one of these sins just as any other sexual act out of the bound of holy matrimony is a sin. Let me share with you a few amazing things the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality, as quoted by The Catechism of the Catholic Church (if you don’t know, the Catechism is an amazing book filled with explanations on the Church’s view, backed up by bible verses, apostolic succession and the quotes of saints and Doctors within the church):

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.

(THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART!!!!!)

They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their same-sex attraction.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

That my friends is love. The Church wants people with same sex attraction to be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Even though the Church disagrees with the act of homosexuality, the Church will treat them with love and tolerance. I know several individuals with same-sex attractions who follow the teachings of the Church because they love Christ. I admire them I know they are carrying such a heavy cross having same-sex attractions and not acting upon them. I admire them as they pursue chastity and Christ whole-heartedly.

And we are all heroically called to chastity, outside marriage and even inside of marriage. The Church believes sexual union must be self-giving, love-giving, and life-giving (meaning sex is sinful even in marriage with the use of contraception because contraception takes away all possibilities of life and takes away one the of main purposes and functions of sex.)

Not everyone will follow this teaching of the Church. Very few people follow this teaching because it requires so much self-sacrifice and suffering, but I know these individuals who strive to stay chaste will be rewarded in heaven. If you are a Catholic with same-sex tendencies, striving to follow the Church’s teaching, please know that I love you and support you on your journey. The Church loves you and Christ, as always, will continue to love you and give you great strength. Give your cross and intentions to God through prayer and He will strengthen you to be His warrior in faith. We all fall into sin and have our own cross tobear. Our cross may be very heavy to carry, and we may fall, but we must always seek Christ and continue walking towards Him.

I may not agree with some of my friends lifestyle but I love them the same. Who am I to judge, when I too am a sinner? We are all in need of God’s mercy. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8.)”

Underneath our identities that we’ve created and the sin we have collected on Earth, we are the same to God. We are His child whom He loves unconditionally. No decision, race or orientation can change that. Our identities are: child of God. 

To all my fellow Catholics, we must treat everyone with Christ’ love and not judge them, for we are all sinners. The Catechism says, “(Homosexuals) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. ”  We are pushing people away from the Church when we judge others or talk poorly of them. We need to be bringing people to Christ’ light and truth, not pushing them away from it. I am not saying to stop defending our faith, but do so lovingly, as Christ would. Be understanding and compassionate to others, as Christ would. As Christians we should strive to imitate God’s’ love. Let’s spread the love and light of Christ in a way that would bring people to His Church.

Matthew 7: 4-6
“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold,  the log is in your own eye? 5“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Romans 2:1
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

Let's stop passing judgment on one another. 

As Mother Teresa says “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I invite you to pray for all children of Christ, so we may know the epitome of true love in heaven. Only then can we fathom the reality of love, in the presence of our Lord. Even in our differences, we must strive to love everyone as Christ does because we are ALL God’s children, made in  His image.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34.)” Remember how unconditional, merciful, and grand that love of Christ is? Let’s also love the same way.

Our God wants us to live in love and break the chains of sin because only then will joy be fulfilled. No matter what your views are on same-sex marriage, please remember that our definition of love on earth is always changing. We can be in a relationship, think we are in love and it turns out terribly. We can end a once joy filled marriage with a tragic divorce. Only one love is never changing, never ending, and true and that is the love of Christ.

Some claim that love won on June 26, 2015 when same-sex marriage became legal in the United States, but love won 2,000 years ago.

Unconditional love is poured out from the cross for ALL. In our sin, in our selfishness, in our distance from God, we are loved by an amazing creator who wants us to let Him into our lives. He wants us to be saved and reach eternal paradise with Him.

Love is being accepted no matter who you are, and no matter what the darkest part of yourself may be. There is only one person I know who is capable of loving that way. Love won and we were set free when Christ so humbly gave himself on the cross.  #Godislove

 

The Pursuit of Happiness

It is in our human condition to go through life searching for one thing.  We spend endless hours in an effort to be part of the crowd, to get the cute guy or girl, to be the best on the team- for what we believe is joy. We’re living as if life is one big maze in a search for happiness. We want to be happy, and no matter where we run to find it, this desire cannot be completely satisfied...Maybe it is because we are looking in the wrong places.

We have felt joy before. We have felt joy when we won that award, when we aced that test, when our team won the big game, after that awesome date, and after a day spent with a group of friends. These are good things, and they are good for us. But, they are not a true source of joy, as they are short term. We keep trying to fill a void that’s within us. How can we keep this void filled?

To truly be happy, we need to give up our sin and immerse ourselves in Christ’ love and joy. This means letting go of an addiction that gives us short time pleasure. This means cutting off that sin that you can’t seem to get rid of. This means running to the confessional and letting go of the darkest part of ourselves. This means not allowing ourselves to fall back into sin. Falling back into sin, and letting it consume us is like running around the same section of the maze over and over again- no progression, no freedom, no joy

We don’t need to give in to the short time pleasure, the temptation, or the peer pressure. Ask Christ to give you the strength to overcome sin. We need to pick up our cross and follow Him. If you fall, get back up and continue in your journey with Christ. God sees our intentions and will bless us for them.

Start chasing Christ wholeheartedly and stop making things of this world another God. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money, (Matthew 6:24.)”

We can only find eternal happiness in God and following His will. This can be the most difficult thing to do because it might mean having to let go of our own passions and desires. Sometimes fulfilling God’s will means letting go of a friendship that might be dear to you, letting go of  an addictive, toxic relationship, or a long time dream. Sometimes this means moving on from a huge part of your life, or literally leaving behind everything, and following Christ.

We are not going to find true happiness in this world because we were not created for this world. We want to believe that what the media tells us is happiness: fame, fortune, materials, and short term pleasures such as sex, drugs, alcohol use, partying, pornography, etc. The reality is: these “bits of joy” are tearing us apart inside and keeping us further from the true source of joy- Jesus Christ.

I’m not saying that life will be easier following Christ. Life will always have it’s sacrifices and sufferings. The difference is, when we are following Christ and submitting to His will, He will give us strength to overcome those hardships.

We need the willingness to submit to God’s will. We may have an exact idea of what we want out of life, and God might have something completely different planned.  He may force us out of our comfort zone. He may force us out of our narrow set of goals and aspirations, but submitting to God’s will is the only way we will find true joy.  When it comes to God’s plan for us, Christ knows what we want, but gives us what we need.

Did you know that God gave us a list of ways to be happy? Some bibles title the section of the Beatitudes  as “True Happiness.” Jesus gave us a list of steps to be happy, to be filled with His joy. This makes sense as Jesus started each line of the beatitudes with “Blessed, ” and blessed is a synonym for the word happy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to about the natural desire for happiness and Christ as the true source of joy.

II. THE DESIRE FOR HAPPINESS (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church):

1718 "The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:

....Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.

God alone satisfies."

In order to obtain true joy on earth we must be submitted fully to Christ. The famous branch and vine passage is from the Gospel of John. I recommend you to read 1 John 15:1-11 for a true understanding of this. It is important to recall that “He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit.” In following Christ’ will, Christ cuts the bad out of our life. In following Christ’ will virtues and spiritual gifts grow, “In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  We remain in Christ by avoiding sin, praying, and growing in faith.

An essential part of this passage is when He says “If you obey my commands you will obey in my love….I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” Complete, true joy comes from loving Christ whole-heartedly and keeping His commandments. We need to understand, when we follow His Commandments and the teachings of the Church, we are as close to the Father than we can ever be. We are closest to legitimate happiness than we can ever be. No, not the type of happiness taught by the media and found within society, but true happiness that we don’t have to constantly go searching for. It is not short time pleasures, or a day with a friend that can make you happy. Jesus is the true source of joy. In our loneliness, in our broken situations, in our failure, we can still experience joy, but only through Christ. He can give us the strength to overcome these hardships, if we ask in His name.

Christ is able to break our chains of sin so we can fully immerse ourselves in His joy. Even in hardship, we must remain in His love, keep His commandments and follow His will. Then, not only will we reach true happiness on earth, but eternal happiness in heaven.

God wants us to live a life of joy. God wants us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. God wants us to live a life for Him and in Him.

 As Pope John II said, “People are made for happiness rightly, then you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours, but He asks for you to trust him.”

May we trust in the Lord with all our soul as we strive to follow His will, only then will we obtain true joy.