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Monday, May 16, 2011

Be Not Afraid

As many of you may have already known this past Sunday was the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Because with Him there are no coincidences, with the help of the Holy Spirit I had a pretty good conversation with God concerning my vocation after mass.

It was these words from Fr. Mitchel’s homily that got me praying:
It is often said that the moment after receiving the Eucharist is the best moment for discerning one's vocation. For it is at this moment that we are most inclined to hear Jesus' voice not with fear - not as do this because I told you so, or do that, or else - but with trust. We fear Jesus' voice when our pride tells us that Jesus cannot know us as well as we know ourselves, when our selfishness tells us that it would be foolish to turn any decisions over to him. We trust Jesus' voice when we realize he only desires to free us to be what we have always wanted to be, and to live a life of love that is measured by the beauty of his glorious cross. May Jesus then, fully present in the Eucharist, be the gate by which we come and go through life, and arrive at the true discernment of the vocation he has given to us, and to no one else.
I've probably reread that paragraph 24 times in the past 24 hours. It's beautiful. But there was a part that I heard during the homily that resonated with me:  

“ not with fear…”. 

Vocational discernment is a big deal at St.Lawrence and sometimes it seems like everyone under the sun is very actively discerning and getting answers. In fact four of my guy friends will be off to the seminary in the fall and some of my girl friends are confident knowing they are called to marriage. I on the other hand have no idea, no inclination, no compass teetering to one side or the other.

Let's face the facts; sometimes vocational discernment is intimidating. 

I'm a big fan of the dictionary references to drive a point home so here goes this one:

–verb (used with object)
1. to make timid; fill with fear.
2. to overawe or cow, as through the force of personality or by superior display of wealth, talent, etc.
3. to force into or deter from some action by inducing fear 

I'm scared of my discernment. But I'm not scared in the way some people are scared. I'm not terrified of the possibility of the Lord calling me to consecrate my life to Christ and be a religious . I'm not terrified that He may be calling me to the devoted single life. I'm not terrified that God could be calling me to a holy marriage. No that is not it at all. I am terrified of time.

I like to say that I want to know what my vocation is. Oh how simple it would be if He would just spit it out already, let's move on with the show. I pray for Him to reveal to me exactly what it is that He’d like for me. A swift kick in the right direction ought to do me some good. But the more I think about it the more I realize that I’m lying; to myself and to God.

I'm not ready to know my vocation right now! If I know what my vocation is then I’ll be obligated to live it out. I just got to college two years ago! What if my vocation calls me away? I'm proud beyond proud of my friends going to the seminary next year. The day I found out about one of them I was literally beaming. My boss even asked me if there was something different about me that day and then mentioned that it was because she hadn't seen me stop smiling since I walked in the door. But part of me is glad it's them and not me. Because they're leaving, moving on because God has asked them too. They're answering the call. Even if this becoming a priest isn't what God will end up calling them to in the end they're not too intimidated to answer.

If God reaches out to me in prayer tomorrow and tells me ever so obviously that I’m called to be a religious sister than I will have to take the first step in that journey. If he calls out to me and tells me that marriage is the way to go than I'll have to force myself to the vulnerability of being in a relationship. And these are what I fear. The future is a scary scary thing. Hearing the call for me, is a scary thing. Because if God calls than I'll have to pick up.

And what if I don't hear Him right? What if I make the wrong decision and choose the wrong vocation? What if I don't pick up in time and the opportunity passes? What if? What if?

While I was mulling over all of these things after receiving Christ's body in the Eucharist I heard the song Be Not Afraid in my head. Hearing God speak is an amazing feeling, one that I never truly had before St.Lawrence because I'd never taken the time to listen.

As I knelt in the pew after Mass I knew what I was supposed to do. I picked up the book of hymns, turned the page to Be Not Afraid and read the lyrics and Christ comforted me.

Are we certain that this songwriter didn't have vocational discernment in mind when he wrote this?

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side,
Know that I am with you through it all.

And I thought about how even now when it seems like my discernment process is barren and unproductive there is a plan already set in motion and I will not die waiting for it. That I can find comfort following in the safety of God's will even though I don't know where He's leading me. That no matter where He sends me and which vocational direction He pushes me towards there is a difference that only I can make in it. That no matter what, as long as I am following God's will, I will see Him in that life.

It's like that sentence was meant for me that day. Be not afraid. Listen to Jesus "not with fear..." but with trust. He won't lead me down a path that He hasn't first been down Himself. I can find comfort and rest knowing that I can trust Him with my life, with my future.

And when times in my vocation are tougher than I ever imagined they could be and things don't seem like they're gonna hold together I'll get out alive. When there are people around me trying to persuade my choice in vocation out of their own selfishness listening to Christ will keep me on the right path.

He is there, through the whole process. When it feels like God will never reveal your vocation to you He is there, working on you. 

Be not afraid.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank you for reminding me just how lucky I am to be Catholic

Let me preface this post by stating that there are not a lot of things that make me absolutely furious. This was one of them:

Over spring break I was at home and spent a day with one of my best friends. We were chatting away and she mentioned an experience she had with a christian church where they had a guest preacher (who happened to be a convert from Catholicism to a non-denominational christian) give a sermon about False Converts, aka Catholics. A friend from her dorm had asked her to go to a church service with her and she gladly went. Little did either of them know that for the next hour she'd have to sit there and listen to a man lie about the Catholic church, to criticize, deprecate, deride, discredit and belittle the only faith she's ever known.

I believe she handled it much better than I ever would be able to simply because she sat through the entire thing. I probably would've gotten up in the middle of the sermon and walked straight out the doors!

As we sat in her room talking about what the preacher had said, I found myself becoming more and more angry with everything she told me. This was my life, my passion, my faith, my religion that he was badmouthing! I wanted to kick him in the face! (not very Christian I know) Mostly it just hurt, it hurt to know that there are people out there that think this about the Catholic Church. I guess I find a little comfort in how much this hurt me to hear. How outraged I was about the lies that this man was spreading. It only confirmed how solidly I believe in my faith.

Still I had to find out for myself exactly what this man had said, where he was coming from and how he portrayed the Catholic Church to be. Lucky for me the church's website had recorded the sermon and I could listen to it online.

Some common objections he had. That as Catholics we:
 -are not born again.
-are the work of the devil; convincing us that we're saved when we're not
-are sons of the wicked one
-have no desire to follow Jesus
-are self absorbed and self centered - we love ourselves more than we love God
-believe we are saved because we are good people
-added baptism as the means of salvation
-still believe in indulgences
-believe law keeping is an extra requirement as a means to our salvation
-removed the repentance of sinners as essential
-removed the resurrection of Jesus Christ as essential
-removed the righteousness of God as essential
-believe in a false Jesus
-don't confess that we're sinners so we can't be saved (we have a whole sacrament dedicated to this!)
-believe in a God that would never send anyone to hell
-have a fervent zeal for God but seek our own righteousness
-believe that because we were born into the Catholic Church we will go to Heaven

He also mentioned:
-The goal of the Catholic Church is to keep men in their sin and out of the bible.
-He's heard many roman catholics say "I was born a Catholic and I'm gonna die a Catholic" but states his opinion; "not if you wanna be saved!"
-Before denouncing the Catholic faith his purpose was to make as much money as he could. He didn't realize this was a bad thing until he converted away from Catholicism.
-He visited a small town in Texas where 95% of the population was Catholic. The only light in this little town was the one baptist church.
-He knew that Jesus died for the sins of the world but as a Catholic he never knew why Jesus had to die.
-He said imagine that there are suspended monkey bars above hell and as Catholics we cling to the bars as we do to our baptism, good works, sacraments, indulgences, purgatory and law keeping and as long as we cling to those we don't have to fear hell. Imagine Jesus is suspended between us and hell and if we let go of those things that can't save us and trust in Him He promises to save us. If we still cling to those things as we die we'll lose our grip and fall into the eternal fire. Are we ready to let go and trust Jesus to save us?
I think Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen probably says it best:

"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing. These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues;” because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God;” because they “say indulgence is a permission to commit sin;” because the Pope “is a Fascist;” because the Church “is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things, it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against truth. As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do.
If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. ... the Catholic Church is the only Church existing today which goes back to the time of Christ. History is so very clear on this point, it is curious how many miss its obviousness..."
-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

My freshman year of high school I was in debate (nerdy I know) and a sophomore guy that was also in the class who knew I was Catholic confronted me all of a sudden telling me that I wasn't a Christian. I was accused of worshiping Mary, Saints and Idols. He started attacking my faith and telling me that I wasn't saved. I was a freshman! I tried my hardest to explain to Him that the Catholic Church was the first christian church and that if he followed the line of his church back it would lead him to the Catholic Church which would in turn lead him to seeing Jesus Christ as the founder. I tried to tell him that I believed Jesus Christ was God and savior. As he threw bible verse after bible verse in my face it shocked me that he would attack my faith in this way.
Still it shocks me today that this church my friend visited had an entire service dedicated to how awful it must be to be Catholic and how it is their duty to go out into the world and save us all.

After the service my friend emailed the pastor telling him how uncomfortable the service had made her. He efficiently emailed her back explaining that the visiting preacher had no intention to make her feel bad but only wanted to help and everything he said and did was out of love. She received no apology. He did reach out to her saying that she must recognize deep inside that she is missing truth in the Catholic Church or else she would not have come to the service. Again the desire to kick someone in the face arose. This friend is beautiful on the inside and out, always willing to be there for her friends. I'm so proud of the way she handled herself during this whole situation and I'm almost certian that she's grown to be a stronger Catholic because of it.

So thank you Mr.Visiting Preacher Man, for reminding us of how lucky we are to be Catholic.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mmmmm you can find me in St. Louie

So I have this friend. 
His name is Drew
He has been bugging/harrassing me for months to be put in my blog.
He even sent me a flyer demanding he be put in it! 
Since you probably can't read the fine print let me recap it for you.
Drew 2011 Any reproduction without the express consent of Drew or his child company Drew majestic or his non-profit organization AAAHK- Americans Against the Allowance of Home, Kansas is strictly prohibited. Violator will be forced to spend 1 week in Home, Kansas. Sucks."
I may be forced to spend a week in Home, Kansas for sharing this but since I live there it shouldn't be too bad.

I've repeatedly told him that he couldn't be in the blog unless something happened that was blog-worthy and he happened to be involved. He's even been boycotting my blog until he gets in it! Well my friends/family/fellow bloggers, today is that day.

Kirsten, Brigid, Garett, Drew, Sarah, Me, Charlie, Kaitlynn, Lucas, Moe

10 of us from St.Lawrence recently took a little trip to St.Louis to hit up a Cardinals game. I love baseball and I've never been to a Cards game so I just couldn't resist the opportunity, especially the day after we won two intramural softball championships. We piled into the astrovan, 6 girls and 4 guys and hit the road. Our bag of peanuts and $2 tickets kept 5 of us very entertained and dry while it rained. The Cards ended up losing but I'm not actually a Cardinals fan so I wasn't too heartbroken.

Luker, Gare, Moe, Kait, Me, Sarah, Charlie, Drew, Brigid
The most memorable part of the trip happened on our way back to Lawrence. At this point it's important for you to know that of the four guys on the trip Charlie and Lucas are in relationships and Drew and Garett are both entering the seminary. Of the six girls on the trip; Maureen, Kirsten, Brigid, Sarah, Kaitlyn and myself are single. We made for a pretty unique group.

Anyways...there's a priest at St.Lawrence who has the gift of being able to tell some people their vocations. He actually just told one of the girls on the trip that she was called to marriage. Unfortunately this priest doesn't have the gift of matchmaking!

Drew, Gare, Me, Sarah, Kirst, Moe, Luker
Somehow it got brought up that none of us would be very comfortable with Drew, the #futuresem that he is, getting the matchmaking gift. He then proceeded to attempt to use his matchmaking gift on all of the girls. Some girls got matched with multiple guys, so I guess they can have their choice? One girl got the Dominicans while another one received God as her answer.

Fortunately Unfortunately for me I didn't get matched! Not once, not even with a religious community or with God. Drew just couldn't put his finger on that perfect match. What does this mean? Single for life? Young death? I'm not completely sure at this moment. I guess we'll see, but I don't think his gift is that finely tuned yet. 

It really got interesting when Drew became frustrated by not being able to match me and asked me to describe my dream man. Here's the spark notes version:
  1. He has shoulders like Thomas Robinson.
  2. Christian, preferably Catholic
  3. Likes and is knowledgeable about sports
  4. Is more outgoing that I am
  5. A little bantering never hurt anyone either
Then we started going around the van and all of the girls had a few different things on their 'lists'. Some lists had about 20 things. (hey! we have high standards!) Some wanted runners, others blue eyes. Over 6ft tall was in high demand as well. But overwhelmingly the consensus was:
  1. Chivalrous
  2. Has a relationship with God
  3. Gets along with the family
I'll be patiently looking forward to seeing who everyone does end up with. God has a beautiful life planned out for each of us. It will be interesting to see who ends up being a priest, a Dominican, marrying someone exactly like the person on their list and marrying someone who is the exact opposite of their list.

I'm still holding out for those shoulders though!

We’re just having fun
We don’t care who sees
So what we go out
That’s how its supposed to be
Living young and wild and free

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where my Pitches at?

University of Kansas Intramural Champs!
Co-ed Slowpitch Softball
(and Womens Slowpitch Softball)

Lucas, Charlie, Drew, Garett, Cory, Ben
Brigid, Shannon, Dani, Kaitlyn, Me, Melissa, Kirsten

 I'm really lucky to have met such great friends in college. Blessed actually. A lot of people don't get to have the kind of experiences I get to have simply because of the people in their lives. In my case it's the people from the St.Lawrence Community, especially our softball team.

Where my Pitches at? team huddle
We had a whole weekend full of fellowship and fun, giving thanks to God for allowing us to use the talents He gave us for His greater glory. To hit a knee after every game thanking Him and to be a witness to the other teams is a gift.

Our fan base! Even Sr.Elena came out to support us, 
we had some extra holiness on our side!
 What was even more powerful was the St.Lawrence Catholic Campus Center community that came out and supported us. We had a slew of friends/fans there starting cheers for us and just genuinely excited. One girl on the other team even told her teammates before the game that they were going to lose because we have God on our side! So funny!

Check out our fan tunnel after we won the championship!
Future roomies Megan, Dani, Me and Leslie 
plus future neighbor photobomber Curtis.

Future roomies plus Korbi and future seminarian photobomber Garett.

The backs of the shirts are pretty cool!
Ahhhhh....what a great weekend!

Monday, May 2, 2011


If you guys haven't checked out this website yet please please do so! The website's goal is to bring One Billion reversion and conversion stories to those of us in the digital world. You will be inspired, some of these stories you won't even believe they're so moving.

The story begins January 3rd, 2010, the day Seth DeMoor ‘cast into the deep’ on a 2,400-mile bicycle ride across the United States from Florida to Colorado. Armed with his video camera and laptop, Seth interviewed 300 Catholics along his pilgrimage route from anyone willing to share their personal story from within the Catholic faith. Every night, he would sit down and edit down the next day’s story to share on the ‘digital continent’, which has continued on to this present date.
The mission was conceived on the heels of Seth’s graduation from the University of Colorado, where a formative campus ministry at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center challenged him to ‘get out of the boat’ and begin living radically for Jesus Christ and His Church. After four years of encounter with authentic Catholic ‘stories’ from friends and leaders in the parish, he knew that God was calling him to go start a ‘digital continent’ revolution for the Catholic faith by sharing ‘one billion Catholic stories’ with as many people (souls) as possible through the Internet. Fifteen months later, the mission marches onward into the open landscape of online Catholic evangelization in the twenty first century. - One Billion Stories
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