“You Are So Calm”

“I recommend calm, and calm all the time.” St. Pio

Being calm is a gift from God.

I have witnessed people who remain calm in the craziest of situations. It amazes me how someone can remain calm when all hope is lost.

When I think of calmness I picture many different people.

The surgeon who remains calm when something goes wrong. 

I think of a paramedic, as they continue chest compressions. 

I envision a brother holding back his temper. 

I see a mother remaing at peace when her newly licensed son is driving her around. 

Calmness, to me, is so powerful because it is a virtue I pray for constantly. 

 

Here’s a little story…

 

Recently, I was in the Emergency Room. I was observing a physician for the day who received a call to check on a patient. We were in the patient’s room listening to his complaints trying our best to figure out what was causing the symptoms. The room had three physicians in it, the wife of the patient, and the patient’s daughter.

It had been a LONG day. The emergency room felt like a sauna. I was hungry. I was feeling extremely anxious. My head was spinning. My to-do list was scrolling along in my brain like an instagram feed. I felt every negative feeling possible in this moment.

I was stuck in my head in complete distress when all of a sudden someone started talking to me.

The daughter of the patient with utmost sincerity and said,

 

“You are so calm.”

 

I thanked her for the compliment and soon we left the patient so they could begin tests.

Calm? Me? What? Was she joking? Am I being punked?

This story is a testament that God is working in you even when you do not notice it yourself.

In that situation I felt everything but calmness; however, this was exactly what the patient’s family was able to see.

Is there a certain virtue or quality you are praying about receiving? Is there a part of yourself you wish would begin to bloom?

I encourage you to keep pursuing the goal, even when you feel like you have nothing to show for it.

In the midst of it all, you may be suprised at how much of that quality you actually demonstrate.

“Never be in a hurry, do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

-St. Frances de Sales

 

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The mind spins, the cross stands firm.

The Carthusian religious order’s motto goes something like this…

As the world spins, the cross stands firm.

Today I am going to change it up a bit.

As your mind spins, the cross stands firm. 

When everything does not make sense.

When you feel like the word confused doesn’t even do it justice.

When you feel like you keep getting hit by waves and can’t come up for air.

When anxiety, depression, fear, and discouragement attack you from all sides.

The cross stands firm.

As Christians, we must lean on this deep and powerful truth.

God is God and we are not.

God is our light and our guide.

In times of deep confusion and fear, we must listen to the still small voice and trust.

St. Pio said,

The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.

You may feel lost right now. You may feel forgotten by God. However, you must realize that in this darkness is where you will find growth. In this uncertainty, you will grow in virtue and character. Do not waste this chance to be who God made you to be.

Your mind may be spinning a thousand miles an hour.

But friends, the cross stands firm. Unshaken.

Fix your eyes on Him who waits eagerly.

The confusion is a time where your faith will grow quicker and quicker.

All you must do is give the effort.

Calm in the Chaos

The theme of my life right now is calm in the chaos. 

We live in a world that constantly puts us on edge.

Text messages, homework, tests, emails, to-do-lists, etc.

It is difficult to stay calm when pulled in a million different directions.

Yet, we are called to calmness.

One of my favorite quotes by St. Padre Pio is

“I recommended calm and calm all the time.”

In order to hear the voice of God and do His will, we must be calm.

Trying to live a life on the narrow path while being pulled in a million directions is about as easy as doing math homework in a crowded subway. Sure, it can be done, but eventually, you are going to miss a calculation and end up with a very wrong answer.

Christ leads us to calmness through His words.

He reminds us that in Him we have the rest we need.

I encourage you all today to continue seeking a calm attitude.

You are called to remain calm in the chaos like Peter walking to Christ on the water.

All you must do is have faith.

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up, Bring Yourself Up

It’s easy.

Looking at all the little things in your life that drag you down.

The procrastination.

The slipped words of anger.

The anxiety of life.

It’s easy.

To hold these insecurities, sins, fears, in your palm.

And clutch onto them like your life depends on it.

It’s easy.

To bring these vices up to eye level and stare at them all. day. long.

Today, I went to confession.

The priest talked to me about refocusing.

He mentioned that focusing on the sins is not going to lead me to holiness.

“Focus on the bigger picture,” he said as he pointed to the crucifix in the confessional.

“He died for you.”

These words were very simple, but moved my heart.

It is true that focusing on our faults is quite easy. It is like an artist focused on that one tiny crack in his or her sculpture and forgetting the masterpiece already created.

Friends, don’t beat yourself up, bring yourself up.

Focus on God. His mercy. His everlasting love for you.

The only way to grow in holiness is letting go of the perfectionism.

“God knows your heart.” said the priest.

He truly does.

So it is time we start living like it.

With hearts not focused on our faults, but aimed at loving God and others.

Surrounded by Darkness

When I was young, my brothers, sister, and I would use our snow days to build snow tunnels.

My dad would get all the snow piled up along the sides of the driveway and we would start digging at one end. We would take turns getting deeper and deeper into the tunnel. We would use little hand shovels and other times we would use or feet to try to kick our way through.

This would take all day long.

I can remember being in the tunnel. Dark, cold, and jammed against the walls. I could barely do anything but slightly move my arm to clear away some snow. Inch by inch we would chip away doing all we could to reach the other end.

The picture is so clear to me. When after hours and hours of work. I would scrape away some snow with my gloved hands, and see a small beam of light. I would dig faster and faster and eventually I would squeeze my body through and make it to the other side.

Then I would go inside and have some hot chocolate. Celebrate the victory.

As I reflect on this I recognize that for most of the tunnel building process, I was surrounded by darkness. All I could do was continue to do what was necessary to finish my mission.

Maybe this is where you are at today?

Life feels hopeless. You feel like you are not making any progress forward. You feel weak. You feel like the tunnel is too long and you are not going to have the strength to continue.

It is okay to have those feelings. It is okay to be upset with where you are at and how little you feel like you are moving forward. It is okay. It is actually quite human.

But I encourage you today to focus on the goal you have. The goal that you are chipping away with day by day.

Focus on a goal, that feeds you with hope.

Hope in God’s plan for your life.

Hope in yourself.

Hope in the impact you will make.

Friend, if today you are surrounded by darkness. If you feel the walls of the tunnel falling in on you. I beg you to keep digging. Even if it is only with a tiny motion of your hand.

I promise you, the light will break through.

And in that moment, there will be no need for hope.

Only thanksgiving.

 

 

You were born for greater things.

The other day I came across a speech from St.John Paul II from November 15, 1978.

In this speech given to the general audience at the Vatican, he talked about the virtue of fortitude.

Specifically, he spoke about a man named St. Stanislaus who was from noble birth and chose to live a life of poverty and service to Christ.

His motto was,

“Ad maiora natus sum” (“I was born for greater things”)

I have really been thinking about this quote a lot recently.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of false humility.

An attitude where we neglect our dignity and worth of children of God.

C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.”

I know I personally can almost use humility as a crutch to not accept my worth and power as a child of God.

Why?

Because I fear disappointing Him. I fear not living up to my potential. I fear the responsibility.

So instead what do I do?

I ruminate. I lament. I complain. I allow my circumstances to toss me about like a row boat out in the middle of a hurricane.

I don’t like being a row boat. That is no fun.

You may feel the same?

Do you recognize and accept the responsibility and power within you to do the work of God?

Does that scare you or fill you with zeal?

A zealous peace through the storm must be the attitude.

If you are in a season of your life where you feel lonely, hopeless, useless, unworthy.

This situation is not the end.

Friend, you were born for greater things.

You were born to shed the light of Christ onto others through love.

You were born to face your fears and be a solider for the King.

You were born to use your talents to heal the world.

You were born to study hard and succeed as a student.

You were born to see the pain in those around you and do something about it.

You were born a child of God, do not throw that attitude away.

Capture the zeal. Bring in the peace. Feel the beating of your heart. Feel the breath fill your lungs.

Now.

Do what is courageous. 

 

Below is the link to the speech.

Fortitude Talk by St.JP2

Don’t Look Back

How many times in your day do you look back?

I’m not talking as you backup out of your parking spot.

How many times in your day, do you think about the past?

It might be the immediate past.

Questioning ourselves like:

Did I say what I needed to say?

Was that weird?

Did I get that question right on the test?

Why did they humiliate me like that?

Scanning the past in such a way is pure rumination.

The majority of the time it does absolutely no good at all.

It solves nothing and just leads to anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion.

In the Gospel of Luke Christ explains what to do about what we have left behind in time.

“Jesus said, No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”-Luke 9:62

 

In this passage Christ tells us that in order to move forward we have but one choice. Stop turning our heads back to our past and focus solely on the work to be done in the future. Uncertainty and fear about the past is a weapon the devil uses very slyly. The enemy is like someone tapping you on the shoulder so you are forced to turn around. You feel the tap and out of instinct begin to ruminate.

The difference rests in the choice. The choice to tighten our grip on the plow and focus on doing everything to reach the kingdom of God.

Not all looking back is bad.

Reflection differs from rumination.

In reflection we are able to look back on what we have done or how we have been hurt in the past and make a choice. In reflection we are looking back to gain a greater understanding, which pushes us forward.

Trench, Twenty One Pilots new album (which is awesome btw), touches a bit on rumination.

In the song “Cut My Lip” we are told,

Though I am bruised, face of contusions
Know I’ll keep movin’, know I’ll keep movin’

We do not need to look back at what has given us the bruises.

We need; however, to keep moving.

The lyrics continue…

I keep on goin’ back

Even though it’s me I abuse

How true is this?

The rumination needs to stop and a surge of zeal for the future needs to be the goal.

So, this week.

As the past creeps up and taps you on the shoulder.

Don’t respond.

Keep your hands on the plow.

Focus on the Kingdom.

Even though the bruises hurt, the cuts are deep, the sweat is stinging your eyes….

Don’t look back.

You Can Run and Bleed at the Same Time

I just started my run.

My test was in a few days.

47 chapters of material.

Yes, 47.

My head was full of a lot besides medical jargon.

Emotions of stress, anger, frustration, flooded my veins.

So, naturally it was time to blow off some steam and run.

Run fast.

Towards the start of my run, I could feel the adrenaline pumping.

Then all of a sudden.

Ouch.

I didn’t know what happened. Did I trip?

Why  was  I on the ground?

I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood. My right elbow was scraped pretty clean. My right knee had a gash as well.

What do I do now?

I had a choice at this point. Should I finish the two mile run, or head back home which would take a minute or two?

Keep going. 

So I did. And I ran the two miles.

As cars passed me, they watched a guy running full speed with blood dripping from each limb.

When I finished the run, I noticed how the blood dripped across the ring on my right hand that is the three theological virtues, “faith, hope, love.” It was a reminder that in order to live a Christ like life we must make sacrifices.

One of the coolest moments I had during this run was the message from God,

You can run and bleed at the same time.”

I have a bad habit.

I seem to notice the blood in my life a lot. The wounds, the scars, the trauma, and the fears become my focus. Because of this I stop running (living presently). I focus so much on the blood in my wounds that I end up not achieving my goal. I allow the suffering (bleeding) of the day to take lead and cause a pause in my pursuit.

I am sure many of you experience the same problem. Our wounds become our identity and our only reality, so we forget the importance of the path we are on. We allow the devil to consume us in an inner dialogue that prevents us from loving those around us in the present moment.

I want to encourage you to not let the suffering of this life deter you from running the race.

Focus on Christ at the end of your journey and the pain will start to disappear.

Sure, the wounds may still be there.B

But these are wounds only Heaven can heal.

When the focus changes…

so does your heart.

Are you giving it your all?

“Are you giving it your all?”

This question comes up during many different times in my day.

When I’m studying…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m working out…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m at Church…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m talking to a family member…am I really giving this my all?

A lot of the times, this question arises because I am not. I notice that I am losing focus and procrastinating. When working out for instance, I notice myself choosing the lighter weight or taking a different path on the run.

To be honest, this question plagues me.

This might be you too?

There are many positives to being bombarded with this question.

Like, the hope of improvement.

Or, the constant search to be like Christ in virtue and love.

However, the flip side is many vices can dwell in this thought.

When giving it your all, is focused solely on you, it may transform into pride.

As usual, the Big Man Upstairs, gives us an answer to the question.

This is what Mark’s Gospel teaches us:

“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12: 41-44

What can we learn from this?

This poor woman, in her poverty, gave all she had. Notice, the Lord mentions her poverty? We too like this women are poor. Maybe not financially, but what about the poverty of our daily life.

The poverty of focus.

The poverty of endurance.

The poverty of zeal.

Christ teaches us that when we give our all in these moments of poverty, we are giving even more than if we had abundance.

We must remember; however, that our “giving” must be aligned towards Christ and not ourselves.

So when you can’t focus and you just want to put that book down, offer the moment up to Christ and continue reading.

When you don’t want to run that extra mile, offer the moment to Christ and continue running.

When you are having trouble focusing in Church, redirect your eyes to Christ and allow Him to fill you even if just for a millisecond.

Friends, you can give it your all, if you give it to Him.

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.