Category Archives: Personal

“A Family Which Shows The Spirit Is Alive And At Work”

Last week, my husband and I traveled with our two kids to the east coast to meet up with my side of the family.  After a day or so of having fun exploring New York City, all 12 adults and 15 kids piled into a bus to attend the Papal Mass in Philadelphia, which concluded the World Meeting of Families.

I had a simple prayer intention for The Holy Father’s visit to the US last week.  Like many others, I prayed that Pope Francis would be led by the Holy Spirit, and allow the Spirit to do His work through the events of the visit.  So I was happy to read that, in the Pope’s final homily of the visit, the Holy Father reminded me that I am called to do just the same thing in my vocation:

Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong!

The joy of my family–the joy of all families– lies in showing that the Holy Spirit is “alive and at work.”  As far as I can tell, the best way to do that is to actively seek and see the will of God in everything.  

This, of course, is easier said than done.  Thankfully, our God is a generous and loving Father, always waiting for us to turn to Him even after we stray from His commands.  May we always seek to praise God in all that we do!

Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!

 

Here are a few pictures from our Papal Mass adventure:

Yes, matching tshirts were made for the occasion.

Yes, matching tshirts were made for the occasion! (Big thanks to our friend, Nate, for making the design for the back!)

 

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I love my husband 🙂

 

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Pope Francis’ biggest fan!

All glory to God in everything!

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Young And Catholic on Life On The Rock!

My interview with Fr. Mark and Doug Barry first aired last Friday on EWTN’s Life On The Rock!  If you missed it on the air, you can catch the whole show online here.

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While in Alabama, my family snuck away for a few hours to check out the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville.  Really a beautiful place.  Here are a few of the photos we were able to snap while we were there:

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Finding Jesus In An Ed Sheeran Song

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“We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing*
Hearts are never broken
Time’s forever frozen still”

Ed Sheeran, Photograph

[*ok, technically our eyes are closed in the picture.  But everything else applies.]

I love that picture.  It was taken while Tyler and I were still dating– long before kids, household chores, and mortgage payments.  Back when we were just a couple of college kids listening to music and taking a goofy (if somewhat mushy) selfie.  It was snapped with an iPhone and stored in a “Pictures” folder, to be looked at countless times in the days, months, and years that followed.

“So you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, holdin’ me closer ’til our eyes meet.  You won’t ever be alone.  Wait for me to come home”

Of course, when Ed Sheeran sings that his beloved can “keep him” in the form of a photograph until they meet again, it is only an analogy; and there is a bittersweetness to it. When Tyler and I were separated by a few states after we graduated from college, I probably looked at the above picture over a hundred times.  While it made me happy to see his face in the picture, it didn’t make me miss him any less—in fact it probably made me miss him even more.

At the end of the day we all know that a picture is only a picture.  And the memories a picture brings with it can only go so far.

You Won’t Ever Be Alone

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Well last week I happened to hear Photograph on the radio after leaving the adoration chapel, only this time it wasn’t so bittersweet.

As I listened to the now familiar melody, I reflected on the lyrics and on a lifetime of visits to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel— visiting Jesus present in the Eucharist in times of joy, in times of pain, and even just out of a desire to get out of the house with the kids—and the song suddenly took on a different meaning.

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.” (Fulton Sheen)

“Loving can hurt.”

All the times I visited the chapel and brought Jesus the pain my heart was feeling: through teenage heartbreaks, feelings of longing, feelings of loneliness.  “You know it can get hard sometimes.”  The Love contained in that tiny white host was there even in the midst of the hurt.

“Loving can heal.”

That tiny white host has brought my life such healing through the years.  I don’t expect to know the full extent I have been healed through Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist until I behold Him face to face in Heaven, but on this side of things, I know that “Loving can heal,” because in my visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I have truly seen how “loving can mend your soul.”

“Time’s forever frozen still.”

The Eucharist that I visit in the adoration chapel on a weekday with my two small children is the same Jesus who died for me on Calvary.  It is the same Jesus the Church’s greatest saints bowed before throughout history.  He is the same Jesus who was present in the tabernacles of the Churches in the Middle Ages, the same Jesus that faithful soldiers during WWII drew their strength from, and the same Jesus my great-great grandparents received throughout their lifetime.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

“You won’t ever be alone.”

Back when Tyler and I had to do the long-distance thing before we got married, the pictures we had from the times we were together were just as the song says: memories frozen in time that we could visit when we missed each other.  But a picture is just a picture.

In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us so much more.  He is able to actually deliver what the song can only dream about.  His Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity–they are all actually contained in the tiny white host.  There we can keep Him closer until our eyes meet in Heaven.  And we won’t ever be alone.

“Good child: see how lovers on earth kiss the flowers, the letters, the mementos of those they love…Then you, how could you ever forget that you have him always at your side–yes, Him?”

– Saint Josemaria Escriva

“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

-Jesus

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Your Routine Won’t Save You – (What I Learned As A Catholic In College, Part 2)

This week, as an answer to a reader question, I am sharing the 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of developing a routine while at college, and about giving your faith first priority in that routine.  This brings me to the second thing I learned as a Catholic in college:

2. Your routine won’t be what saves you.  

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Once you’re in the habit of your routine when it comes to your faith, the challenge will be to make sure it doesn’t become merely a routine.

A word to students heading off to Catholic schools- 

This may actually be harder for you than it is for those heading to secular universities (To whom much is given, much will be expected).  The good news is your school will offer you more opportunity for things like mass and reconciliation.  The bad news is that it’s easier at a Catholic school to hide behind these things and not let them transform your heart.

It is possible to check all the boxes–to go to mass regularly, to be a part of the Catholic club, and to generally keep up appearances of being a “good” Catholic–all the while being closed off to grace because we are unwilling to let God into the darker corners of our life.

The Lord searches the heart.  A prayer routine, however involved, won’t be enough to sustain a faith within you.  Jesus alone can do that.  If you want your faith to be more than a routine or a facade, you need a real relationship with Jesus.

So keep at the routine.  But never forget that the routine is there to foster a living relationship with a real Person.  Otherwise, it just becomes a silly waste of time.

Check back for tomorrow’s post: “Jesus Is Not OK With Lying”

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4 Things I Learned As A Catholic In College (Part 1)

Last week, I received a question from a reader headed for college this fall.  (Thanks to all who shared their advice on my Facebook page!).

When it came time to write the post, I ended up having more to say than I realized.  So rather than give you one long post, instead I am going to be sharing with you all, over the next few days, some things that helped me grow in my faith while I was in college.

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1. Develop a regular routine, and give your faith first priority in it

When you start college, in a lot of ways it’s like your whole world is resetting. You move to a brand new place, with brand new people, and you have an entirely new set of opportunities to fill your time. It’s exciting, but can also be overwhelming. Developing some semblance of a regular routine will help you feel more like a regular human being, and less like a zombie sustained by Top Ramen and midnight excursions to Taco Bell.

You’re a college student, so your routine doesn’t have to look like that of a monastic. You don’t need to announce to your entire dorm that you’re a Catholic upon arrival.  If you’re being an authentic human being, people will discover your faith is important to you through getting to know you and seeing how you carry yourself.

By routine, I mean eat at the dining hall at regular intervals, join a club, go to the gym regularly. Be a college student! And yes, give your faith first priority in that routine.  For starters:

Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day ought to be a given. You’re a Catholic—you go to mass on Sundays. It’s simple.  Find one you like and try to stick to that one.  Attending the same mass at the same church every Sunday will help you feel a sense of belonging.  You’ll need that when you’re away from home.

Usually I recommend confession once every other week. I’d actually recommend confession once a week while in college. If you make confession feel as regular to your schedule as dinner, you’ll be less likely to let time get away from you.  If once a week is just impossible, at the bare minimum go once a month.  If you find yourself headed home for Thanksgiving having not gone to confession even once while at school, you may need to reevaluate some things.

Pray Daily—Let prayer be the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning, and last thing before bed. Print out the Act of Faith, Act of Hope, and Act of Love and tape them on your mirror. Set a daily alarm on your phone for noon to stop what you are doing and pray The Angelus.  Leave your Bible on your nightstand and read a short passage each night before you go to sleep.  Of course talk with God throughout your day, but also have these concrete moments throughout your day when you turn to prayer.

Having a regular habit of prayer is very important. It will help keep you grounded and focused in your faith.  In college, it will be on you to make room for your faith in your daily life.

Check back for tomorrow’s post: “Your Routine Won’t Save You”

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