You Are Flammable

It is both a terrifying reality and a wondrous opportunity when we come to know that we are flammable. Everyday we have the capability of burning with love and kindness or with destruction and hate. We can choose to carry a fire that spreads ferociously into the hearts of those we love. This flame eradicates darkness and showers the world with warmth and light. We are also capable of infecting the world with a fire, which has an end goal of covering everything with a cloud of ash. 

Being on fire hurts. Because when we are on fire, we are allowing ourselves to wither, our pride melts away, and we are transformed into who we are meant to be. St. Catherine said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Yet, it is so easy to seek to be a log our whole lives: safe and hidden. 

There is a holy fire ablaze within each of us. There is no need to harness it.

Let our love be boundless. 

“In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless Love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love. And you have given humankind a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created us.”

St.Catherine of Siena

 

I Don’t Understand

One of life’s most difficult struggles is acceptance without understanding.

There are many things in our lives going on right now that honestly don’t make sense.

Why did I mess up in this class?

Why did he or she break up with me?

Why do I have mental illness?

Why do I have cancer?

The list goes on and on…

Abandoning ourselves to God’s will is the key to the Christian life.

We all seem to wish God’s will aligned with our will.

Basically, we all want understanding.

If I’m going to suffer through x I want to know the reason for it.

As Christian’s we plead to God with anxious prayers.

Show me a sign Lord.

Help me to understand.

Let me see why.

And most times we feel like an answer does not come.

The reason being, God is telling us to trust him.

Like an infant trusts a father to pick them up and carry them, so must we trust Jesus in this way.

It seems so passive, so simple. Yet, I believe abandonment is more active than we realize. We must continuously choose to let go of our will for our life and trust the flow of God’s grace.

This takes some grit.

So keep moving forward without a clear understanding.

That is OKAY.

If you seek His Kingdom above all else, everything will fall into place.

This is a promise.

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.

The Anchor Inside Each of Us

There are situations in life, where fleeing seems ideal.

It may be at the podium, when giving a talk to a giant crowd.

It may be, when flipping over the exam and looking at question 1.

It may be, when sitting in a doctors office waiting for the results.

Everything in our very core shouts at us to flee.

Our earthy vessels demand me pace, internally ruminate, leave the scene, and hide.

However, we are called for something different.

Within each of us their is an Anchor.

This Anchor is Christ Himself.

An anchor holds a ship. Whenever the waves crash and winds do all they can to move the vessel, the anchor holds it into place.

The anchor is the roots that stem from the oak tree.

Without an anchor, the boat is subject to all of the external forces.

The waves carry it where they want. The winds push it where they want.

We are very much like these little boats.

Some days we may feel tossed around. Dunked under. Pushed by the wind.

This is when we must remember the Anchor within ourselves.

We must turn to Christ in our hearts and stand firm. Hold your ground with confidence.

When you step up to the podium, remember Christ has you tied down to the ocean floor.

When you open that exam book, remember Christ is right next to you.

When sitting in the doctors office, remember that Christ is the divine Physician.

Let us all remember the Anchor within our very hearts. Each of us had the ability to look within and shout. I am secure. I am safe. I am confident in God’s mercy and providence.

Life give me a storm. I am not afraid. I am ready.

 

 

Procrastinating by Looking Up How to Not Procrastinate

Motivation. We all are looking for it.

Praying, when we sit down to do our work the Lord will come down and fill us with a zeal for what we are doing.

Sometimes, it happens.

The room temperature is perfect.

The coffee is soothing the soul.

The hum of rain sets the perfect background noise.

However, for me anyway, this is pretty rare.

The motivation to sit down and get done what I need to is more than hard.

It feels like a battle. A constant battle between fidgeting my legs, doing something more fun, eating more food, checking my phone, calling someone, legit anything.

A lot of times when this is the case, I procrastinate by looking up ways to not procrastinate!

All of my procrastination searches, lead to absolutely one thing.

More procrastination, and absolutely nothing else.

Which is kind of unfortunate.

However, if I can sum up my findings it is this.

“Act, and God will act”

-St.Joan of Arc

 

All to often, we allow the difficulty of starting a task prevent us from having an opportunity for God to work in our lives.

God comes to us in times of need and gives us all that we need.

How do we expect Him to give us a zeal to do our work well, when we do not even begin?

Therefore, we have one obligation.

The duty to start.

Then it is not our problem anymore.

God will take care of it.

This “giving of the task” to God is like a ball rolling down a hill.

All we have to do is give the ball (the task) a slight push and God will take it where it needs to go.

God works in our lives like the hill.

Once we let go, and give the slightest push, our task will reach its completion.

Therefore, stop procrastinating by finding ways to stop procrastinating.

ACT. And I promise you, God will act. Trust in His power.

 

 

The Fear Paradox

Fear has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reflecting on how much of my life is not “lived” because I am afraid. The interesting thing about fear is that we may not even notice when we are being fearful. It has us chained and yet we do not even realize that our hands are tied and our feet are bound.

I don’t like that idea and I am sure you don’t either.

What gets me a little bit more worked up is the very fact that fear is not of God.

Constantly in the Bible and by the words of really wise spiritual leaders that fear is in fact from the devil. Fear is preventing us from doing the will of God. It is the devils greatest tool. How many times are we told to “be not afraid.”

We are told constantly.

Of course we are human. We are subject to fearful emotions, battles of the day, pain and misfortune. However, is there a choice to be afraid?

While reflecting on fear I thought of St.Mother Teresa’s quote,

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

 

What about the paradox of fear?

By fearing loneliness, many of us hide away creating our own prison cells.

By fearing hurting others, we avoid those we love and hurt them by mere omission.

By fearing failure in our classes, we are paralyzed and do not study, leading to failure.

The evil in this world is using fear to cause us to create our own downfall. The demons cannot harm us. The devil has no power over us. However, evil is constantly seeking to manipulate our free will. Evil is doing everything it can do to cause us to destroy ourselves.

You will feel afraid. 

Just like Daniel in the lions den.

I am sure the lions did not just leave him alone down there.

I’m sure they still growled, still showed off their shiny teeth.

I’m sure they walked around him and sniffed him pushy him back with their noses.

But through it all, Daniel trusted in God and waited.

I encourage you all today to stare fear in the face. Allow it to growl and shout at you. Let it whisper lies into your ears. Allow it to show you the doom.

And in the midst of it all….puff out your chest.

Smile.

Rise up.

The Lord is here. He is ever present. You are His child.

Be not afraid.

Walk upon the water during the storm, keeping your eyes ALWAYS fixed on him.

 

 

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Hiccups for Jesus

A few morning’s ago I was struck with a tragedy: hiccups that would not go away.

I don’t know what it was about these hiccups, but they were intense.

You know, the kind that like shakes your whole body?

They were obnoxiously loud, and echoed through my house (my sleeping family must not have been happy.)

That morning I decided to go to morning Mass at a Church about a five minute walk from my house.

Being late, I took my car for the 1 minute drive.

As I was driving, a thought came across my mind.

“Maybe, you should not go. Your hiccups will disrupt everyone.”

I imagined all the people in the Church staring at me.

However, I labeled this the voice of the enemy and decided going was more important.

Hiccups and the fear of embarrassment weren’t going to stop me from doing what I wanted.

Doing what I knew was right.

As I made my way up the Church driveway, the hiccups persisted.

“Hold them in. Hold them in. Focus. Hold them in.” I repeated in my mind as I opened the back door of the Church. 

Being late, I walked in right behind the priest.

“Hold them in. HOLD THEM IN. Don’t you dare…”

The minute I genuflected, before going into my seat, I let out the biggest hiccup of all time. 

THE SECOND  my knee hit the ground it was as if all the hiccups of my entire life decided to jump from my throat.

It. Was. So. Loud. 

I was so startled from the hiccup that my hiccups went away!

The Mass continued and I did not hiccup one bit.

This little experience taught me quite a few things I wanted to share with y’all.

The first being to push forward in doing what you know is right regardless of the whispers of the enemy. Humiliation and the fear of being humiliated stop so many of us from pursuing the truth. Fear sucks the perseverance out of us, when instead it can actually propel us. For example, when David faced Goliath. I am sure he had fear as he looked at the giant and all he had was a slingshot. However, David harnessed the fear and used it to show his true faith. In the midst of a thunderstorm of fear, he chose to look up towards Heaven and trust in God. He chose to use the power God had given him.

 

This experience reminded me of the humor of God. Often times, in our suffering world we neglect to look at the humor of truth. When I sent out the giant hiccup, it had me smirking in my seat. The hiccup was so freaking loud. Instead of dwelling on the embarrassment, I thought about how I was cured from my “ailment” by the very ailment itself.

I was reminded that our weaknesses are actually our strength. As seen in 2 Corinthians 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I fought and fought and fought the weakness of my hiccups but in reality through that weakness I saw Christ more and more. As I walked into that Church, I had no choice but to accept my problem and just put it in Christ’s hands. Maybe I would get told to leave because I was being disruptive. Maybe I would be embarrassed. Maybe I would hiccup the entire time. But that did not matter. I knew what to do, and in the moment of weakness I had to place my trust in Him.

Friends, I encourage you this weak to keep moving forward. Put on the armor of God and when you feel inadequate to enter into His house, go anyway. Do not listen to the lies the enemy whispers in your ear. Trust in Him. Listen to the ache in your soul. Put on the armor of God and harness the faith.

So next time you have the hiccups, think of Him.

For in this human weakness, the truth became much clearer.

 

 

Fighting the Prayer Battle

If you read any quotes, books, or stories about the saints you will see a common theme.

    1.Prayer is always the answer.

And also.

    2. Prayer is not easy.

For many of us we understand #1 but we have great difficulty implementing it into our lives #2.

 

Hopefully, my story can give you hope and allow you to keep persevering in prayer.

________________________________________

I remember sitting outside of my university’s science building a few years ago. I was talking to a friend and asking for some guidance on prayer.

Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: I’m having some trouble praying. Like I want to pray, but when I do, I don’t feel right.

Friend: What do you mean?

Me: I want to pray but I almost feel restless whenever I do. I feel this deep unrest, and it makes me not want to pray. 

This was a few years ago and it did not get any better. It got so much worse.

Whenever I prayed, I was restless. I felt uneasy about myself and almost felt more unsafe. I felt intense guilt.  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt like a horrible person for it.

Why when I try to draw close to God do I feel horrible?

My folded hands were almost a stimulus for my anxiety.

This “feeling” took a gun to my prayer life. Over the past few years, I prayed a lot less. My nighttime routine seemed to fade away. Praying the rosary became a less frequent occurrence. Even during Mass, I resisted finding a quite place in my heart to talk to God.

My lack of prayer was not apparent. Looking back, I realize this now; however, it was very camouflaged.

Instead of prayer, I would use other “stimuli” to capture my attention. I would jump into the world of social media. I would post funny things in group chats. I would watch a lot of useless youtube videos.

I was constantly distracting myself from this earthly unrest by not living.

Well, this all took a turn the over the last few weeks.

After much reflecting on God, reading about the lives of the saints, going to Mass often, Christ-centered conversation, and more reflection I realized what was going on.

I lost the fact that I was just a human. A human jailed in the flesh, constantly being attacked by the devil. Prayer would not always come easy. The devil wants nothing more than to take us away from our King. The devil wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

So I decided to prayer. I decided to lose my life in order to save it.

I decided to feel the horrible unrest. I decided to feel the guilt and the lack of peace.

I decided to do this all for Him. I decided to fight this battle against the enemy and praise my Lord Jesus Christ even if it did not “feel” correct.

And you know what happened.

Last night, I was praying the rosary.

And out of nowhere, I was hit by a deep peace.

Whenever, I am hit with despair and distress I am inclined to pray. I am drawn to let the Lord know what is going on in my life.

St. Padre Pio once said,

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.”

And he is right. My soul was gasping for air the past few years. Each time it got a breath,  I allowed “my feelings” to drown me. I let the voice of the devil and the unrest placed in my heart to stop my lungs from working.

If any of you out there have had a similar experience or are going through a similar one, I encourage you to pray.

Pray even when you have insane doubts.

Pray even when you don’t want to.

Pray even when you feel won’t be heard.

Because prayer is a fight.

And the good news is.

Christ has already declared victory.

 

 

 

I Cried for a Different Reason

I am 23.

Jesus has been my Lord and my Savior since my earliest memory.

I was raised in a family that valued going to Mass every Sunday.

Every. Sunday.

And I did.

And when I was younger I was not the most fond of it. I remember my mother telling me, “When you are older, you will appreciate it.”

In college is when the appreciation grew. But first I turned a bit away. The nightly prayers my family fostered in me, which I always said before midnight, seemed to be less important when I was talking to a girl. I still went to Church, but my prayer life suffered. In college I used a lot of excuses. Whether that be my workload, my sleep schedule, etc. I told myself that going to Church on Sunday and reading theological works (which I love to do) was enough.

Over the past year, my prayer life has improved, but not because I necessarily chose it. Circumstances changed, and I was on my own. I hit a lot of walls and Christ was my only hope. I spent a lot of nights crying, hoping my tears would drown out my problems. I never before understood Christ’s experience at the agony in the Garden; however, I was given a little glimpse of it.

As a Christian, I cannot firmly believe in Jesus if I do not acknowledge all the evil.

Last week, as I wrote in the old blog post, I dealt with a spiritual battle.

A battle I had never experienced before.

Doubts about my faith literally were like canon balls to my gut.

My faith felt like it had become a single dew drop in the desert.

I was freaking petrified.

So in this, I continued to do what I thought was necessary.

I went to Mass.

I read and read and read spiritual books.

Hoping to discern an answer to all my woes.

At the end of the week, with the help of my Christ-filled girlfriend, I came across a passage that allowed me to look back and see my issue.

Matthew 10:39 ( a passage I had read tons of times before this moment)

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

All this time.

The past 23 years.

I was doing nothing but try to find my life.

I was doing all I needed to do in school in order to get where I needed to go.

I was talking to all these girls to try to make a future family for myself.

I was trying to find answers to all my anxieties, fears, and dreams to build a secure life.

And all this finding was leading to nothing but loss.

So, what to do next?

Lose my life? What does that look like?

It looks like a whole lot of prayer. Prayer is turning your mind away from your physical body outward. It is an escape through conversation with God.

It looks like a whole lot of trust. Trust that all this bad God is using for my good. Trust that Jesus Christ is mercy itself.

It looks like a whole lot of love. Small daily sacrifices for others. Self-love by forgetting myself. Loving God with a continuous overflowing heart. In every moment loving God for the moment.

Friends, I hope this small post can have a giant impact on your heart.

Let go of YOUR life today and allow God to fill it with His grace and mercy.

Pray, trust, and love.

Cultivate a relationship with Christ.

If you do this, your tears of fear, uncertainty, and doubt will turn into tears of utter joy and love.

You will begin to cry for a different reason.

Feelings and Spiritual Battle

Have you ever found yourself having an amazing week?

You are super at peace with the world?

However, almost immediately desolation strikes.

Out of left field. 

You find yourself on a spiritual battlefield, and you are totally not prepared for it.

________________________

When this happens, you start to grapple with feelings.

When this happens, you start to doubt during prayer.

When you talk to others, you feel no purpose.

When you think about yourself, all you can see is evil.

These moments are difficult. They are waves the devil uses to try to drown us. These moments are storms that seem to never run dry. Rain keep coming. Lightening and thunder keep blazing. You are struggling to stay afloat.

In these times, the devil uses your feelings to consume you.

You Feel scared.

You Feel like you messed up.

You Feel guilt.

You Feel the weight of your own humanity.

It is extremely difficult to not listen our feelings when they are at the forefront of our minds.

So what do you do?

You pray, but the doubts persist.

You keep moving forward, but the sadness keeps striking.

You take action, but you still feel the weight of the water around you.

Evil’s greatest tactic is consuming us with feelings of guilt. We are paralyzed by it. It causes us to only look within. The selflessness we teach as Christian’s is so much more difficult.

This is precisely why you must persist.

No matter how you “feel” keep persisting.

Matthew 7:7…”knock and the door will be opened.”

In this passage Christ did not tell us how long we must knock.

When you start to knock you may feel hopeful that the Lord will open the door.

But after a month of knocking you may start to doubt his mercy.

The Lord and the apostles constantly remind us to persist, persist, persist.

Have hope in the Lord’s plan. Always.

So when you feel like the most unbelieving person ever. Keep praying.

When you feel like you messed up. Keep striving to do good.

When you feel guilty every second. Keep being selfless.

When you talk to others and feel worthless. Keep loving others.

Friends, I encourage you today to keep knocking. Knock until your knuckles bleed. Knock as the world shouts “you are crazy.” Knock when thoughts of doubt, despair, and guilt consume your mind.

For when the door is opened.

It will all be worth it.