Found

I looked under the rocks but found nothing there

I looked beneath the sea and through the ocean air

I searched the tree tops and across the jungle floors

I searched the wheat covered fields and behind wooden doors

I went into new towns and across state lines

I walked for miles and miles and saw no signs

I ran marathons in all different directions

I scoured my memory for any recollection

I rowed across lakes and from river to river

I climbed icy mountains and was filled with shivers

I made it through dark caves and volcanos ready to burst

I crawled through deserts dying of thirst

Then one day I felt hope no longer

My legs gave out, my lungs no stronger

I could not look anymore, time to give up the fight

The world told me I was crazy, maybe they were right

I sat still for the first time in years, and listened to the sound

Of Him who was always with me

And never needed to be found.

-nJb

 

 

 

Confusion Prayer

The confusion which you face is the clarity that you

need to abandon yourself to Christ. For in the turmoil

of the moment, He reaches out and grabs you hand. In

delusion He remains Truth alone. In the fear, He is

security. In the restlessness and trembling, it is a call to

let Him take you under His arm. For we are all just

nomads on this earth when we do not have Him, but

our adventure reaches completion when we are ever

present with Him. Jesus, we give you our turmoil so that

it does not prevent us from walking beside You. The

heaviness and fortress of our fears will turn to dust

when we press forth our drooping eyes and stare at

your Loving Heart.

5 Things Changing My Life

I wanted to talk today about a few things I have started doing that are changing my life for the better.

1.The Practice of the Presence of God

This is based off of the work by Brother Lawrence. Basically, I have constantly been reminding myself in the present moment that God is with me right now. RIGHT HERE AND NOW. All so often we live in the past or the future. Many saints describe this and talk to us about the very fact that God’s grace does not cover our “imagined future” that is why it seems so scary!

My favorite quote:

St. Augustine said,

“Trust the Past to God’s mercy, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence.”

 

2.Inner Mortification

When people talk about mortification they focus on fasting. However, inner mortification can be very powerful in drawing you closer to the will of God. Basically, I have been focusing on imaginal/memory mortification. What this means is when you catch yourself day dreaming or making up scenarios in your head you recognize it and stop yourself. Stop yourself before you get stuck in your own mental hole. This could be about something stressful like a test at school. When you notice yourself getting lost in doubt and confusion, stop, take a breath, and refocus on living in the present moment with God. You can also do mortification with memory. Many people have a past that is filled with fears and sadness. When you catch yourself living that moment over again and again, recognize it, give it to Jesus, and refocus on what you are to be doing in this moment.

3.Morning Prayer

Wake up. Stretch for a second. And then get down on your knees in front of a picture of Christ you admire. Open the Bible up. Pray the Jesus Prayer. Simply talk to your Father. Ask for guidance, protection, courage, trust, all throughout the day. I can assure you even a brief 10 minutes will change you forever. When you feel bored, when you feel like your prayer is futile, stay there longer. Pray even harder.

4. No Phone till later

Don’t touch your phone in the morning. Pray. Shower. Get dressed. Each breakfast with no external stimuli. Sip your coffee with God by your side. We are so prone to distracting ourselves constantly. We are prisoners of our own minds. Use your morning as a foundation for the rest of your day.

5. Notice Sorrow and Smile

When you catch yourself obsessed with the negatives, recognize it. Don’t get upset about it. Then smile. Think of the positives in the moment. Think of what you are grateful for. Think of how you can serve God in the moment. Think of those you love. Think about how you can be a light instead of a darkness for the world. Do this every single time. Every time. Flood your mind with the thoughts of God. This is a major component in your spiritual battle. The enemy wants nothing more than to discourage you on your walk with God.

Try these 5 out over the next few weeks and let me know how it works out for you. I have a feeling, actually I know, God will send you a wave of peace and security. Love you all.

Here is the truth.

Lately, I’ve been praying.

A pretty simple prayer.

“God, allow me to see the truth of who I am. Help me see myself the way You see me.”

Some people may never pray this prayer.

They may fully grasp they are a child of the One True King. They may understand that God died for them. They may see the beauty before they see their scars.

I am not one of those people. I lived in the illusion that I was for a long time. I didn’t see myself in the light of His eyes. I was persuaded by fears and failures to view myself through a clouded lens.

Today, specifically, God answered this prayer. For a moment, though brief, I believe I saw myself as He sees me.

I was sitting on the airport floor. It was in New York. The terminal was hot. There were people everywhere. My blood sugar was for sure low. I felt consumed by anxiety. I felt overwhelmed. I felt drained of everything.

Then out of nowhere came this probably 1.5 year old child. The kid wobbled through all these people. She looked at me and stopped dead in her tracks. All of a sudden her eyes lit up. She smiled from ear to ear and giggled. Time froze for a second for me. In that moment I knew that is exactly how my God views me. Just as that child saw me.

Friends, you may see your faults before your successes. You may feel lost at sea every single day. You may feel overwhelmed and consumed by your negative self talk, anxiety, depression, fears, etc. I encourage you to pray this simple prayer. Allow your current vision of yourself fade. Soon He will send you moments where, even if only for a second, you will see the truth of who you are.

Live.

God did not give you

a sword to chip at

your insecurities

or a shield

to bury yourself in comfort.

You are a man

a woman

with fire in your blood

What you touch turns to purpose

You are composed of Divine scaffolding

A rose blooming through snowfall.

 

Nothing kills me more,

to see a young face,

aged with the wrinkles of apathy

Take what numbs you and bury

your sword into it

Take what seeks to cling to you

and deflect it with your shield.

-nJb

Cause Love

There is someone out there that you love.

Whether that be in a romantic way, familial, or brotherly.

There is someone, who you will sacrifice for every day. A person you are willing to do anything for just because they are who they are.

Here are a few example you might relate to:

-A child who studies really hard day and night because he or she loves his or her parents. 

-A girlfriend who drives hours to surprise her boyfriend.

-A mother who doesn’t sleep in to make sure her children’s clothes are ironed.

-A friend who calls you even though they are having such a busy day

Love makes us do crazy stuff. Crazy awesome stuff.

Love is the energy. Selfless giving fuels us.

Last night, I thought a lot about love. I thought about how easy it was for me to understand what it means to do things out of love for those in my life I care about.

Like my parents, my cousins, or siblings…

 

Then I related this thought to Jesus.

And everything got a little simpler.

Do everything for the love of God.

Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is our best friend. Jesus is our father.

Yet, sometimes we forget we can do everything because we love Him.

If we change our intention, we will change our mindset.

By doing this, I can assure you motivation will take you over.

A great book on this topic is the book, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Highly recommend, it is also super short so it can be read pretty quickly.

In this small book, Brother Lawrence talks about falling in love with God’s Presence and having it take over your life.

By constantly being aware of God’s love, the world changes.

The darkness may still be around us, but we can more easily focus on the light.

This week let us focus on loving God the way we love the important people in our lives.

If we do this, we can do the impossible.

 

 

Why so intense?

The archbishop St. Charles Borromeo once said,

“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.”

I think this quote does a great job explaining the zeal required for a Christian. In order to do the will of God it is necessary that we start again EACH AND EVERY day. This call to “new eagerness” represents growth. St. Charles is stressing the importance of continuously reflecting and asking ourselves why we are doing the things we are doing. Every action must reflect our desire to serve God.

In one of todays readings, 1 Peter 4:7-13 we are reminded about the importance of action

“The end of all things is at hand.
Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins…”

When hearing this passage this morning, I was taken a back by the word “intense.” After looking at other Bible versions, I very much enjoy this wording (other versions use words such as “deeply”, “fervent, etc.)

When I heard intense I think crazy. I think of someone so crazy they would do anything no matter the cost. I see a marine trudging through mud to get to where he or she needs to be. I see a student chugging back buckets of coffee studying their butt off through the late hours of the night. I see focus. I see desire. I most of all, see purpose.

I think something that is lacking in young Christians today is intensity. We allow Christianity to be diluted and do nothing about it. We are so worried about pleasing everybody that we forget to please Our Lord.

In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 11:11-26 Jesus shows us exactly what he means.

As people buy and sell in the temple area, Christ overturned the tables.

He explains in fervor that this is not what the temple is meant for.

Now apply this to your life.

I encourage you today to flip the tables inside your heart. Drive out all that is not meant to be there. Any hatred? Seek forgiveness. Any fear? Seek God’s power and trust. Any shame? Seek God’s love.

At the beginning of this Gospel passage, Christ curses the fig tree.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it.

I don’t know about you but I have told myself many times,

“it is not my time right now…later.”

I have chosen to hide behind my leaves and not bear fruit.

This may look like:

Going on social media instead of loving a family member.

Watching TV instead of doing service. 

Sleeping in instead of working on that project. 

So what must we do to change this?

Be intense.

Follow in the footsteps of Christ so confidently it startles the world just like Christ freaked out the money changers.

Remind yourself, bearing fruit is why you are here on this earth. Nothing else matters.

Later on the story continues,

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.

Here Christ continues with His lesson of intensity.

He proclaims to us to have intense faith. 

If we choose Christ, the impossible becomes just an average day.

Melt your doubts by taking intense action.

Pray hard, work hard, strive to live like Christ.

Go the extra mile and then run a marathon.

Keep persevering for Christ and you will be rewarded in paradise.

 

Let love be your fuel and intensity be your steering wheel. 

 

 

 

 

Praise through Pain

I was sitting in Church today.

Before Mass started I decided to say a quick prayer.

“God, please allow this to be the best Mass of my life. Help me to let go and just dive deep into Your love. Let me be present. Let me feel Your presence. Fill me with courage.”

And naturally, two minutes in my mind started buzzing.

But, this time it was different.

This time it was worse. Much worse. 

Distressing thoughts were filling my head. I felt fear and anger inside of me. I was anxious. I was uncomfortable. Frankly, I felt like a bad person.

This was of no shock to me. Why?

Because I called out to God and evil tried to do all it could to prevent courage. 

I’m sure you have noticed this in your own life. The moment you strive for something good, the world tries to side track you. Evil tries to distract you.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the presence of evil in the world around me. In every situation I have started to ask myself, “Is this fear/doubt/distress/thought bringing me away from God?”

The world is full of trash that the devil places within our neurotransmitters.

Yes, the devil. Denying the devil’s existence does nothing more than give him fuel.

So, lately I’ve been calling the devil out.

I forget which saint said it but I enjoy the quote that goes something like this,  “The only person you can tell to go to hell is the devil.” So yeah, tell the devil to go to hell and scram.

I fought my flesh for the rest of the Mass. Second by second shifting my focus on the Lord not my mind. Rumination does nothing for the soul.

The minute I went up to receive the Eucharist. Everything changed.

I had a simple yet powerful realization.

I asked myself, “Why do I always feel like I am not doing enough?”

The answer I heard was: This is not Heaven. 

I then asked, “Well, how can I make this Heaven?”

The answer I heard was: 1. Receive Him in Communion 2. Praise the Lord Always

Simple yet it knocked the wind out of me and filled me with joy.

Is that not what Heaven is?

Praising God, loving God, and Him loving us FOR ETERNITY. 

Why not bring that here right now?

Bring Heaven to earth.

But how?

Praise Jesus Now and Forever.

Praise Jesus in every single moment.

Praise Jesus when you are anxious.

Praise Jesus when you are filled with joy.

Praise, and Praise, and more praise.

All in all, it was the best Mass of my life.

Because I received the body of my Lord and Savior and praised Him through the pain.

Friends, I encourage you to act as though you are in Heaven.

Filled with nothing but the love of God. 

God told me I was His branch

Before Church yesterday, I saw my Bible chilling on my desk.

I had not touched it in over a week.

Before I opened it, I prayed that a verse would strike my heart.

Immediately, a verse came into my head so I opened my Bible up enthusiastically.

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I was then disappointed because the verse really had nothing to do with my life. It was an OT passage discussing politics. Could not relate to it whatsoever.

After my disappointment, I continued to flip through the Bible and eventually my eyes were caught on John 15:1-8. 

BIBLE VERSE

I encourage you all to read it.

In this Bible passage Christ is explaining to the disciples that he is the vine and we as His followers are the branches. Those who detach themselves from Christ will die just like a branch detached from a vine. Christ explains that those who bear fruit will be pruned to bear more fruit.

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I was really drawn to the pruning part of this passage. For me this is exactly how the past year has felt.  In my undergrad years I thought I did a good job bearing some fruit; however, now it was through God’s love that he continued to trim me (LOTS of trimming) in order to do more of His will.

I reflected on it a bit and then didn’t think much of it as I shut my Bible. I then went about my day. A few hours later my friend texted me to see if I wanted to go to Church with him and his wife.

Why not? I was procrastinating anyway (he caught me midway through a youtube binge).

So, I went and right before the Mass started I had a thought.

“What if the verse I just read is the Gospel passage. That would be pretty crazy!”

I brushed it off and continued singing along to the songs and listening to the first 2 readings.

The priest then went up to the pulpit and sure enough, I heard a story about vines and branches.

And as the priest was finishing the Gospel, I heard the final words of John 15:

 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you”

At this point I was frozen. Was I crazy? Did I really think that thought at the start of Mass? Did I really read that exact verse hours before?

The doubts flooded in, as they do in this human condition.

Yet, peace consumed me. Because I knew God was speaking directly to my soul.

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God spoke to me and reminded me that I am attached to Him. I can bear no fruit, I cannot grow, I can do nothing unless I remember IN CHRIST ALONE I will grow.

We live in a culture so obsessed with control. We want to be our own branch. We want to shout to the world that we deserve this fruit.

We worked for this fruit! We earned it!

God reminded me yesterday that we are all His branches.

By accepting this we must allow God to do His will in our lives.

Whether that be to cut a few of our leaves off or not.

We must allow God to do this. To do everything necessary.

Friends, I encourage you today to reflect on the pruning that has occurred in your life.

How has God trimmed you up so you may bear more fruit?

When in your life have you tried to cut yourself off of God and be your own branch?

Are you so obsessed with bearing your own fruit that you forget only God can do this for you?

God told me I was a branch.

Not just a branch, His branch.

And my friend, so are you.

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Fastball to the Heart

Here is a poem I wrote about suffering, love, pain, and rejoicing.

I pray it resonates with you ❤

 

fastball.

i often pray

that God use me

as a window of His love

yet, whenever He tries to open me

and allow the fresh air to pour out

i choose to remain locked

so in order to answer my prayer

He allows a baseball

to soar right into my core

and shatter me

some are quick to hate God for this

angry at the broken glass

cursing the Windowmaker

but i can’t help but smile up to Heaven

thanking God for the fastball

right to the heart

because now the love is pouring out of me

and i have no lock to stop it.

-n.J.bellacicco

Instagram @n.j.bellacicco

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