His Mercy is MORE

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. What has the Lord been teaching me this summer? MERCY. But really. His mercy is so much more than I thought.

I’ve been going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly for awhile, but often when I would examine my conscience I would just think quickly of the things I knew to be sins, confess those, receive mercy, and move on.

But the Lord wants me to see that there is so much MORE. At the beginning of the summer, I was trying to convince someone close to me to go to Reconciliation. I was telling them that the Lord just wants to love them and He wants to give healing where our hearts really need it. I was talking about how it’s a chance to really look at your heart and honestly see what you are choosing instead of the Lord, what is really keeping you from receiving His love, and then take it to Him so He can forgive you. But as I talked, a little flame was ignited in my own heart. In a very humbling moment, I realized that I had fallen into a lazy routine in preparing for Confession, but more than that I knew I wanted the deeper level of mercy and love that I had just been talking about.

And so I broke out of my routine, started to dig deeper into my heart, and went back to the Sacrament.

He didn’t leave me with my brokenness, but in that Confession that day, He loved me right where I needed Him the most, and He does this every single time. This has been rocking my world! His mercy is real. I’m learning anew that Reconciliation is not at all about checking anything off a list, but it’s about bringing my broken heart to the Healer who pours His love into those pieces of my heart that, having been broken through sin, are now open before Him through my vulnerability in the Sacrament.

I love Reconciliation because I love this mercy – this mercy that is not a reward for confessing well – but is a relationship with a God who loves me more than I can fathom. There is Someone who longs to go into the reality of the mess – the daily mess – my mess – and love me there.

The next time you go to Confession, I challenge you to dig deep. Be honest about what’s going on in your heart. Lose the routine and encounter the Person who is waiting with merciful, healing love, and who wants to be with you. We are broken humans, so show those wounds to the Healer. Show them to He who was whole, but who took on our brokenness so we would not be left alone in our pain. You are not too much for Him, He loves you.

Our Sweet Mother

We have a Mother who is waiting to help us. She sees what is going on in our lives right now, she sees the way we are hurting, she sees the way we are struggling, she sees the longing in our hearts. And she wants one thing – for us to find peace. She knows that our hearts are longing for the Lord, but she also knows it is hard for us to come to Him. And so, she is waiting to help us.

maryI invite you to give her a chance. I invite you to welcome her into your heart. Maybe you have in the past, maybe you haven’t, but today I invite you a new to let her love you. There is nothing to be afraid of in our sweet Mother, she only wants our good. She only wants to bring us to the Lord – who is the Love we are longing for.

I tend to be afraid of the Lord’s love for me, yet I desire it more than anything. I want to share a reflection I had in the chapel the other day that very much helped me with this. I was praying the Rosary and meditating on the mystery of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. I usually struggle to enter into this particular mystery, but this time our sweet Mother interceded for me in a special way. I understood that our Lady was telling me that by nature of my Baptism and Confirmation, I have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. And as in Scripture, as Mary presented Jesus to the Temple in accordance with Jewish tradition, I felt that afternoon that she was presenting the Lord to me, to the Temple that I am, in the same way. I was able to receive the Lord, to receive the love He desired to give me. Allowing the Blessed Mother to be the one to present Our Lord to me was a beautiful gift to me. We don’t have to be afraid, because we don’t have to do anything alone.

In invite you again to give Our Blessed Lady a chance. She desires to help you. Allow her to walk you through the mysteries of Christ in the Rosary, you won’t regret it.

A Letter to Seminarians

My dear brothers in Christ:

I want to say thank you.

Thank you for enduring loneliness, pain, and rejection. To love is to will the good of the other and your love for the Church is clear in your willingness to endure all things for the sake of your beloved future Bride. You are willing to allow these current struggles for the sake of your future vocation and the souls that you will encounter. You are making sacrifices now and will continue to make sacrifices in your future priesthood that are never seen by anyone other than God. Yet you press on, for the sake of Jesus Christ. What you are doing looks insane in the eyes of the world. To give up marriage and to live celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, to live in a community of other men for years on end before you are even ordained a priest, to receive much rejection willingly… none of it makes sense without Christ. Don’t forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t forget what’s at stake. What you are doing is not only for the here and now. What you are doing has an eternal purpose. Don’t lose sight of the goal. Christ has called you here and you have responded. Thank you.

And please don’t think you have to wait to love the Church. You are loving Her right now. Every sacrifice, every pain, every difficulty is an opportunity to love Her. As a member of the Church, these sacrifices are huge. We need holy men, we need real men, we need heroes willing to take up their cross. We need you. 

Thank you for your yes.

You are not alone. Christ is strengthening you. Our Blessed Mother is protecting you. Your Bride is praying for you.

Love, the Church

In His Gaze

Eye contact is a funny thing. Sometimes it can be really beautiful, but other times it can be super uncomfortable. There is just something about it. The other day, I ran into one of the TOR sisters on campus. I don’t know this particular sister very well, I’m not even sure if she knows my name, but when she saw me she looked me in the eyes. It didn’t matter who I was, in that small moment, I was known and loved. All she did was look me in the eye.

PopeFrancisLast night we had a mini women’s conference called, “Beloved” here at Franciscan. We heard a couple beautiful talks and then later in the evening we had a holy hour with Adoration. I was so excited for this time of prayer, but when Adoration finally came around, I quickly became frustrated. I was super distracted, couldn’t enter in, and then to add to my frustration, it seemed like everyone around me was having some beautiful and deep prayer experience. And so I did the only thing I know how to do in those moments; I started from the beginning and asked the Lord, “teach me how to pray.”

I heard Him say to my heart, “just look at Me.” And so I looked up at the monstrance, and this time, I saw Him. It still looked like a piece of bread in a pretty gold thing, but for the first time –  maybe ever – I gazed deeply into Our Lord’s eyes, and I allowed Him to gaze deeply into mine. The difference this time, was I didn’t look away when it started to get uncomfortable. A few times I wanted to look away, but His soft voice, “just look at Me,” kept urging me on. We just sat there, gazing into each other’s eyes, as He brought healing and peace to my broken and wounded heart.

What I learned more deeply last night is that there is love, there is understanding, and there is mercy to be found in His gaze. Take the leap, and don’t look away.

God is God and I am not.

God is bigger than my off-days. It is terribly simple, but it is a lesson I am learning as today goes on. This morning I got up for early – way too early – 6:30 am Mass. It’s especially early if you don’t go to bed too early the night before, which was the mistake I made last night. Needless to say, merely keeping my eyes open during Mass was a complete struggle. I. Was. So. Distracted. I kept trying to focus, and then my mind would go off again, and I increasingly got more and more frustrated. But then the Lord reminded me of something.

It’s not about me at all.

I had fallen into a simple trap. I was thinking that God is only present with me, God is only doing work in me, if I am completely focused and feeling His presence. I was only His beloved if I was not distracted at all from the readings, if I was completely loving the sacrifice of getting up early for Mass, if I was basking in His love. My pride had – without my even realizing it – manifested itself in such a way again that my spiritual life was becoming about me. But what He told me in that moment was, “Grace, look at Me. I am here. I am enough. Do not worry or fret about how little and weak you are, I love you. You are distracted and sleepy, but I see you as my little child. I delight in you, especially now.”

blog_newborn

I didn’t miraculously start to focus the rest of Mass, but I had peace in the fact that God is God and I am not. And not only that, but even in that tired and gross state, I was good to Him. A newborn baby is not less pleasing to his parents because he can’t stay awake for long periods of time, because he can’t hold a conversation with his parents, and because he can’t really do anything for them. The parents delight in this child because he is theirs, and because he is beautiful. Sometimes I feel so much like a little newborn when it comes to my relationship with the Lord… I can’t stay awake, I can’t really do much, He doesn’t need me… but He loves me, as parents love their newborn. We can be quite gross at times – like any newborn – but He is quite fond of us.

He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, He doesn’t ask us to show Him we’re worthy of peace and grace… He simply asks for our “yes.” He asks us to say with His beautiful Mother, “Be it done unto me according to Your Word.” He asks us to open our to Him. Why? Because He delights in us without conditions. Have you ever heard of a newborn baby not receiving the love their parents are giving them? It’s not a thing, they receive it all in trust that their parents have their best good in mind. God knows our best good and loves us enough to guide us to it.

The world might tell us to grow up, but don’t. Become a newborn. Receive His love, He delights in you.

Seek Not Your Vocation

surrenderA vocation is a great gift. Each and every one of our hearts have been created in a unique way to receive His love and love Him in return. But there is a huge tendency to get caught up in the vocation itself. We drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out the plan, the details, and everything else.

In the bigger picture, our vocations are preparing us for something bigger. Whether we are called to be a priest, a wife, a sister, a monk, a husband, or anything else, ultimately we are called to be saints in Heaven. We are created for happiness. We are created for God Himself. But I would like to suggest that seeking our vocation is the wrong approach.

Seek a surrendering heart.

That’s right. A surrendering heart. I know, sounds scary. Let me break it down.

Jesus wants to fulfill every desire of our hearts. The big things, the little things, and the “everything in between” things. He desires our hearts. To fulfill those desires, He has designed our hearts in a perfect way, with a perfect plan for each heart. He has a vocation for each of us and that is a great gift. Our very hearts are treasures to Him and even the sight of our hearts is a delight to Him. Through our vocation we are in our individual way able to give Him the gift of our hearts either through our spouse or directly to Him.

For my last birthday, my friend gave me a little box with a lock and key. It is a beautifully decorated blue box and you can tell it’s special as soon as you look at it. But if my friend hadn’t also given me the key to the box, it would just be pretty and stop at that. I wouldn’t be able to see inside, I wouldn’t be able to make use of the box for its original purpose, the purpose for which the carpenter made it. Similarly, we might give our hearts to the Lord, but if we don’t give Him an open heart – a surrendered heart – there’s not a whole lot He can do with it. He will always delight in us and see us as beautiful, but He wants so much more for us than that! He wants us to have life to the full!

It’s the scariest thing, but when we give Him our open heart – open with the desires, longings, ugliness, and beauty – He will fill us.

Seek not your vocation. Seek a surrendering heart – surrendering to Him – and allow Him to lay your path of love and life out in front of you.

Hold Still

sic_deus_dilexit_mundum_1Remain in Me.

This has been a theme of my spiritual life for the past month, and I think it will continue to be. I am finding that it’s not about getting this or that prayer in, but it’s continually allowing the Lord to hold my heart. And most of the time that just means He looks at me, and I look at Him. I was praying about this yesterday, and Jesus’s words to me just kept flowing. I decided to put some of those words into song, because it was too beautiful for me not to share. Please pray this song, “Hold Still” along with me.

Lyrics:


Look at Me and hold still. (x3)


Don’t go your own way anymore

All the fears that you hold in your heart

Let it all go, cling only to Me

Here you will find what you seek


Look at Me and hold still. (x3)


Dear child of Mine whom I love

Oh the delight in My Heart

The depths of My thirst, My longing for you

Open your heart to My Love


Look at Me and hold still. (x3)


I delight in you now

Look over at Me

You are Mine

I Thirst

It has been over a year since I have last posted on here, but I am officially bringing it back… It is good to be here again! :)

At the beginning of the Christmas break, I spent a week on a come and see with the Franciscan TOR sisters. During my time there, I read the book, “Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization” by Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S. (Side note: This is a really incredible book and I HIGHLY recommend it.) This quote in particular struck me as I was reflecting one day in chapel:

There is a great thirst among God’s people, but the thirst of Jesus is far greater. (Praying for Priests pg. 103)

Oh the truth and beauty of this statement! As much as we long for the love of the Lord, far greater does He long – does He thirst – for OUR love! I would like to share a reflection I had at the time while meditating on this quote:

I often think about how much I thirst for God, but look in the wrong places to satisfy it, or think about how other people are thirsting for God whether or not they realize it. But I hardly ever think about the fact that You thirst for us, Jesus, in an even greater way. You told us from the cross, “I thirst.” All the addictions and serious sins we passionately pursue – the same thirst we see in St. Mary Magdalene – much greater do You thirst and pursue our hearts. That must kill You to see us like that… and our sins did. Here You are thirsting for us and our souls, and we long for You whether or not we realize it, and we choose other things to fill us that are not You. We look to so many things to fill our void, to ease the ache of our hearts, to find relief: sin, Netflix, music, other people, activities. And You let us choose… You watch us walk away… because You thirst for our love in return. This is mind-blowing because the love that I am able to give You is minuscule, yet You thirst for it… You thirst for me. You thirst for all of me. And so You give us so many ways to come back to You, to encounter You, to recognize You, to see You: people, “coincidences”, sacraments, mercy, priests, religious, new babies, married couples, yet we are so fickle as humans and miss it all. Oh Your Heart, Lord. Oh Your Sacred Heart. Your agony at losing Your children, even for a moment… How You thirst for us, how we long for You. In Your Heart alone will we find rest.

How beautiful is the Lord’s love for each of us, His beloved children! I invite you to pray this prayer with me:

Dear Jesus, I know I have hurt You. I’ve turned from You more times than I’ve been proud of, all the while not recognizing the thirst and love in Your eyes for me. I’m sorry, Lord. If there’s any way I can console You, ease Your pain, bring any relief to Your Sacred Heart, show me. Show me the longing for my soul in Your eyes. If that means being a victim of Your mercy and receiving the mercy others reject, make me that victim. I don’t suffer well, but if it means sharing in Your suffering, then teach me how to suffer. I accept all, in order to console Your suffering Heart. I know, too, I will sin again, Lord… never cease to extend Your mercy to me. I love You, Jesus, please accept this small act of love from my heart and teach me to receive Your love. May it penetrate my very being – everything that I am. May my identity be Your love, I want to be nothing, I want everything to be Your love. Amen.

Beauty in Wisdom Teeth Surgery?

This might be the strangest topic yet, but I had my wisdom teeth removed this morning, and I saw beauty in this experience. I’m not saying it was my favorite thing in the world or that I would want to do it again, but hear me out. 

I believe that everything in our lives can be offered as an act of love to the Lord, including the seemingly negative aspects. Including wisdom teeth surgery. But sometimes we can’t see it on our own at first.

Although I knew tons of people have gone through wisdom teeth surgery, and I know that there are way worse things in the world, but I was pretty nervous about this surgery. I am very attached to having control over every aspect of my life, and so the fact that I would be under anesthesia for the first time and I would be having a surgery and stitches for the first time really made me nervous. I was definitely dreading today for quite a long time. 

However, today I saw the experience as beautiful. I offered my suffering as a gift of love to Jesus and I allowed for His will to be done. I was actually grateful that I could have this little bit of suffering to offer up, because I had His peace in my heart. I was not afraid because I knew He was with me. I was even able to do a little evangelizing to the nurse in the recovery room! It is truly amazing what the Lord can do when we let go and let Him have His way. 

But I never would have seen this beauty, had the Lord not worked through a dear friend and household sister who reached out to me last night. In the past semester, I learned a whole lot about what it means to be a sister in Christ from this particular friend, and last night was no exception. She knew how I was feeling about my surgery and so she gave me a call, and wanted to talk through it with me. Through talking it over with her, I went from feeling anxious to having a deep peace, and seeing that even this surgery is something that I could offer as an act of love to Jesus. And that is because she didn’t only walk through what I was afraid of with me, but took it a step farther and prayed with me about it. It was a simple thing for her to do – to call me up and pray with me – but it was an incredible gift of love. People had told me they were praying for me for the surgery, but it wasn’t until my friend took the time to pray with me that I truly felt the peace of the Lord. 

A small act of love is one of the largest ways the Lord shows His love to us. When we say yes to this, He works through us to those around us to show them His incredible love for them. When we don’t have love to give, He does. Reach out to someone today and allow the Lord to change the world through you. 

 

Home.

Long car rides and breaks from school are funny things, and they very much lend themselves to reflection. Considering the 37 hours I have spent in the car in the last two weeks and the fact that I am finally on Christmas break, reflecting has been something I have been doing a lot of.

As I reflect on the last weekend, the last week, the last month, the last semester, and the last year, there is one idea that comes to mind…

Home.

I usually think of home as the house I have lived in my entire life. But as I reflect on the past 12 months, I realize that I have only spent 2 months (not consecutively) in this place. I have been to 7 countries and 10 states in those 10 months I spent away from this house and that is a crazy reality. I found the Kartause in Austria to be home. I found St. Thomas More hall to be home. I found each host family’s house I visited this summer to be home for the week I was there. And I find this house I have lived in for so long to be home now while i am here. But if all of these places became “home” to me…

What is home?

A place of safety. A place of unconditional love. A place to grow.

But the thing is, I am starting to realize that this is not a physical place. Yes we are safe, are loved, and can grow in physical places and we absolutely have to as a part of our growth as human beings. We put our guards down and grow in our homes and with our families and that is a beautiful thing. In the past year I’ve made quite a few physical places home and grown there beautifully. I always look forward to growing here with my family at my house. But sometimes that isn’t the case. Sometimes we don’t receive unconditional love in our homes, sometimes we don’t feel safe. Sometimes we find our heart is stuck between two places and don’t know where to call home anymore.  And so I would like to go beyond all this.

I would go so far to say that home, in the truest sense, is a relationship. And ultimately this relationship is with He who created us. When we are living in relationship with Christ, we are home. We are safe because He is providing for us no matter where we may be physically. We are loved unconditionally by the only One who is able to love in that way. We grow more and more into who He created us to be – an image of Himself.

This relationship can be lived in a variety of physical places, but these things can pass away. He remains.

And so, this world can never truly be home. The closest we will come to Him is Heaven, and so this world should be seen as a journey towards, or practice even, for that. Heaven, my friends, is our true home. This is what we were created for and our longing hearts will never be satisfied until we are in Him. Enjoy the place you are in, but this is not all there is.

You were made for the eternal. You were made for Him. Put your guard down, let Him make His home in you.

Let us go forward in peace, our eyes fixed on Heaven, the one goal of all our works. – St. Therese of Lisieux