Posts Tagged With: grace

Drunk in church & reflecting on my fast

Sunday – 9:00am – In the back seat of the old gray missionary van on the way to communion services in the ranchos – middle of nowhere, Coahuila, Mexico

Trying to write a journal entry in this van is like trying to build a house of cards during an earthquake. Very difficult to do. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it is kinda difficult. 🙂 But as you can see from the title of today’s entry, I got some pretty interesting stuff to talk about and didn’t want it to slip my mind. It also felt really strange yesterday not writing in my journal after having written everyday for the past 40 days. I can kinda see now how writing is therapeutic and can help you make sense of things a little better.

Now just to clear things up, I was not drunk in church, at least not on alcohol. But there was a drunk guy that wandered into Mass. I’m assuming he was a by-product of the concert last night at the Presidencia. Thankfully he was a very quiet and respectful drunk. You could definitely tell he was drunk though. His breathing was loud and labored. His walk and stance were a little bit wobbly. He weaved in and out of the pews a couple of times and had a couple of different seats before he finally settled on the same one for the rest of Mass. He also stomped his foot on the kneeler a few times. Oh, and at the end of Mass he walked up to the front pew and did a little dance too. To the credit of everyone there, they didn’t seem bothered or overly curious, with the exception of some stares by a few kids. What I felt kinda bad about was my initial reaction. I was worried that he’d be a distraction and that he shouldn’t be in Church. Wasn’t it Jesus that said he came to save the lost? Isn’t that one stray sheep just as important as the other 99? So for the rest of Mass I tried to pray for him instead of keeping an eye on him. Figured he could use my prayers more than my judgment.

Now that I’m a couple days removed from my fast I can also do a little bit of looking back on the experience. At this point I’m thinkin’ mainly of two things: guarding my growth and following my heart. When I think about the fast and all the graces I got during the fast, I’m amazed. The graces of chastity, patience, and perseverance are just a few that come to mind. I’m also thinking how awesome it was to have that sacrifice (hunger) to offer up. Now I’m realizing that I have to guard those graces. I have to continue to look to develop them. I’ve got to continue to look for sacrifices to offer up so that I have ammo against my weaknesses and temptations. Maintain the momentum. Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

I’m also thinkin’ about the whole clarity thing, in regards to my mission post. When I started my fast, I was under the assumption that “clarity” meant figuring out which country I wanted to go to. Never did I think  when I started my fast that it might actually mean figuring out whether or not I would even go back into the mission field. What does seem clearer is that I don’t think I’m at peace with going back out into the foreign mission field, at least not at this point in my life. Maybe later in life, once I’m married? Who knows…. My heart is ready to pursue friendship and see what develops. That’s alot easier to do if I’m stateside. Plain and simple, it’s what I want for my life. I believe it’s my calling and so not only do I want to pursue it, I HAVE to pursue it. I also don’t think it would be fair to mission partners and people that we’d be serving if I had a heart divided between missions and marriage. It seems wise to pursue the vocation of marriage with a single, undivided heart, and then whatever else is next will fall into place.

That being said, I pray for those of you who are also discerning your vocation in life, that you would be patient, persevere, and receive clarity and peace. Please pray for me too as I pursue friendship and ultimately marriage. Till next time, take care and God Bless!

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 27

Day 27 – Saturday – 10/20/12

You know that Bible verse somewheres in the NT, the one that says basically “I do what I don’t wanna do and don’t do what I wanna do”? Well, most of us know that it’s normally interpreted as “I do the bad stuff that ain’t good for me to do, even though I know it’s bad and don’t really wanna do it, and I don’t behave like I know I should and like I want to and know that I need to”. I actually experienced it in reverse last night: “I do the good stuff that’s hard for me to do, and I don’t do the bad stuff that I kinda want to”. I suspect that alot of you experience that as well. You know, wanting to do what you’re not supposed to, but you sacrifice your personal desires for the sake of doing what’s right. That not so easy or pleasant but oh-so-necessary part of being a Christian.

Last night, the devil was comin’ at me hard. He was tempting me, trying to get me to fall. However, by God’s grace and my cooperation with it, I stood firm. Though I could definitely stand to improve in how efficiently and quickly I cooperate with his grace. And so, while the experience itself obviously was not pleasant, in hindsight I’m very happy that I was victorious in that situation. I truly think it’s yet another sign that I’m turning the proverbial corner in my spiritual life. When I think about how hard the Devil tempted Jesus when he was fasting in the desert, and how Jesus held firm, the parallel is a very striking one. Hunger, the very thing that is exposing my weakness, is also what’s making me strong.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 23

Day 23 – Tuesday – 10/16/12

I think I need to pray more that I would be ready to serve at all times. I need to remember that what I have, including my time, this mission house, and my personal space are not mine. They are God’s, to be used in the service of others. That missionary couple, the one I mentioned before that I always seem to get frustrated with, came over this morning 5 minutes before we were supposed to have morning prayer. They needed to use our phone. No big deal, and they only stayed about 10 minutes anyways. But for some reason it bothered me. Even though they are generous with us, I still see them as a needy couple who always wants stuff for free, or wants to use our phone or computer, or who wants to drink all our coffee. It’s horrible that I think this way about them. I also need to pray for the grace to see Jesus in them, so that it’s easier to serve them by remembering who I ultimately serve through them. Lord I offer up my fast to you so that I can be more generous with them.

Speaking of, I felt the hunger again this morning, so I think I’ve finally found a good balance on the amount of food I need to stay nourished and healthy while still being able to experience hunger and be able to offer it up. Yesterday I had a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, a banana, some cookies, a tomato, 6 thick slices of ham, 3 pieces of bread, some mayo, a chip (yes, a single chip), some gatorade, a cup of water, and a cup of Sprite.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 20

Day 20 – Saturday – 10/13/12

Just a little tidbit from morning prayer I’d like to share. The second psalm had an introductory verse, Luke 21:15, which says “I will inspire you with wisdom which your adversaries will be unable to resist.” When I read it, it really hit me. So I started to think more about why that verse struck me as much as it did, and this is what I came up with. When we talk to others about our faith there are 3 factors that we rely upon. First is the personal, or subjective aspect of our experience. This includes stuff like our individual journey with the Lord and our conversion experience. It could also include specific ministry we support or are involved in, the church parish we attend, or our favorite Christian authors. Also, how we use all of this to talk about God, based on our own personal experience is part of it.

The second factor is the objective. This would include sources/influences such as The Magisterium, The Bible, Sacred Tradition, Church Documents, etc… Basically things that come from outside of ourselves, that will exist after we’re gone, which act as a constant and objective source of God’s truth. The third factor is the Luke 21:15 factor. In my experience the subjective aspect is helpful in some instances when trying to bring others into closer relationship with God, But it is not fail-safe. Inevitably you will run into someone who will not be able to connect with your subjective experience. This highlights the importance of factor two, the objective factor. But even though it’s a more reliable and steady source, neither is it fail-safe. The reason I say that is because also in my personal experience, I’ve seen that you can share all the teachings of the Faith as illustrated in the Bible, Church Documents, classes, books, etc… But if that person is closed-off mentally, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or some other way, all the teachings in the world will not matter.

But, if your relationship with God is a Luke 21:15 type of relationship, where you have wisdom that noone can resist, then you truly have the most important piece. Because even if someone can initially discard your experience & the Church’s wisdom, someone who is truly in love with the Lord and full of God’s wisdom is irresistible.

Thinking back to last night’s missionary community dinner, it was another learning moment. I exhibited great control and restraint not to eat all day in order to observe my fast. But behind all that piousness was a not so pious motivation: I wanted to be REALLY hungry when we had all of that good food so I could eat alot. And eat alot I did. I was partially innocent, because when you’re that hungry it’s hard to pace yourself. For the most part though, mea culpa for sure! I wasn’t painfully full but I definitely felt very full. And because of the amount I ate (which included some sweets) coupled with the soft drinks I consumed then and for a snack later at night, I didn’t get tired until really late. Like 3am late. My sleep was a little restless as well, and I only ended up being able to sleep till about 8:15.

On the flipside, by staying up late I go to enjoy hanging out and chatting with Albert. My saving grace is that today is our weekly free day. So I will be able to take naps if needed. 🙂 Overall though the experience was good, because it gave me a deeper, more personal understanding of hunger, sharing, and self-control. One of the blessings yesterday was that my fast directly impacted my decision to help share food with a lady. I was tempted to say no because I didn’t have alot and was saving what I was preparing for supper. Yet, when she asked me, I could tell that she really wanted it and needed it. My next immediate thoughts were of my own hunger and how unpleasant it was, followed by the thought that there was no way in good conscience that I can send her away empty-handed. So not only did I manage to give her a small amount of my own food but one of my mission partners was able to give quite a bit to her.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 19

Day 19 – Friday – 10/12/12

Chillin’ out at the local graveyard for our weekly Desert Day prayer time. It is very peaceful and serene out here. Beautiful mountain scenery all around. Sunny day. A few wispy clouds is the sky. It’s a great place to come for some peace and quiet. We began our Desert Day quite appropriately by praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as a group before splitting apart. Getting to pray the Chaplet, on a Friday, in a cemetery provides a unique and somber opportunity to meditate on my own physical mortality. The principal thought that is coming to my mind is how little I seem to think about it. It almost seems like at times that I forget that I’m mortal, because I get so wrapped up in life here on earth.

But even if I live to some crazy Biblical age of 900+ years, that’s still a blink of the proverbial eye when compared to how old the universe is, how long it will be around after me, and especially in comparison to eternity. And while it’s good to enjoy the journey I can’t lose sight of my final destination, eternity with God. When I think about leaving behind all of the good stuff one day when God finally calls me home (family, friends, loved ones, cherished places, memories, etc…) it’s a little saddening. But then I think about how much greater eternity with God will be, and it gives me hope. Please Lord give me strength to persevere through this life and especially give me strength and comfort to persevere through the gateway of death so that I can be with you forever.

Today I’m reminded again of the awesome parallel with Jesus that I’m experiencing in my own 40 day fast out here in the desert. The hunger, the temptations, the closeness to God. It’s pretty surreal when I really think about it. If I only experience one IOTA of the grace that Jesus experienced during his 40 day fast, I will consider myself extremely blessed. If hunger is any indication of the level of grace I’m experiencing, I’m definitely receiving more grace as the fast continues. And if battling and subduing my will, inclinations, instincts, feelings, and desires is any indicator, then there too I’m experiencing alot of grace.

To end today’s entry, just a few reflections on the Eucharist, the ultimate fulfiller of the ultimate hunger. My physical hunger today is pretty noticeable, because instead of eating a meal split into two snacks (one at breakfast and one at lunch), i’m waiting until supper to eat because we have our monthly community dinner with the other missionaries. (edit: actually, I have to admit that the hunger pangs are pretty intense today.) I think also now that i’m well into my fast, and i’m taking two smaller snacks instead of a meal, my body’s adjusting and feeling the hunger more. So, I decided to do a communion service for one of the old men at the Comedor, because otherwise he wouldn’t receive the Eucharist. I can’t say no to him receiving the Eucharist, especially when I’m able to bring it to him, and especially when I know he really wants it. So besides the extreme privilege of bringing the Eucharist to him, I was also able to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist as my first solid food nourishment of the day.

To be able to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in The Eucharist when you are feeling strong hunger pangs heightens the experience of the Eucharist. It’s pretty amazing. I was equally astonished as to what he said regarding the Eucharist. Once I got there, it was apparent that he had a little bit of chest congestion and a little bit of a cough. He said he wanted to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Eucharist, but wasn’t sure if he should because of his cough and he didn’t want to disrespect Jesus by possibly coughing him up. I assured him that Jesus wants to be with him in the Eucharist, and that it was ok to receive Jesus anyways. That Jesus understood his situation, and could even heal him. I was just awestruck by this old man’s way of having so much respect for the Eucharist. If only we all had that same respect……..

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 13

Day 13 – Saturday – 10/6/12

Yesterday’s Desert Day and Rancho visits were good. It had been since the 3rd week of September since we visited, due to the fact that finances are tight so we spend even less on gas and because we wanted to do more in town as per father’s advice. We’ll be going again this week for our final visit as a team of singles before the Intake missionaries arrive at the beginning of November. When we got back and I went to buy a few things from the store and then came back to eat supper, I was reminded how even in the midst of fasting God is still allowing me to feast. When I say “fasting” I’m referring to both the “going without” that is experienced by many here in town on many different levels, as well as my own “going without” that I experience in the missionary life (combined with my 40 day fast). I had to carry two huge 5-gallon jugs of fresh drinking water that cost a mere 10 pesos each (less than $1 U.S.) I ended up carrying at least 4 grocery bags heavy with stuff. After my simple supper, I got to eat some inexpensive cookies for  dessert ($17 pesos/$1.25 U.S.) that many people here can’t afford, and one of my mission partners let me have a piece of his Mexican chocolate to make a cup of hot chocolate. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

In morning prayer this morning the reading was from Hebrews 13 & the words that really stuck out to me were “…imitate their faith, Jesus Christ is the same, do not be carried away…”. Simple but powerful. Experienced a very small victory/grace from my fast earlier tonight. I remember that someone told me my fast will be less of a struggle with the hunger feeling and more of a struggle with controlling my desires and will. I wanted to eat a small piece of the Mexican chocolate that Albert gave me (which I had decided to give to one of our missionary families). Almost convinced myself that it was no big deal, then I remembered about how small victories are still victories. Resisted the chocolate. Felt good. Went over to Gallo and Rita’s so she could show me how to make bunuelos, which are thin flour tortillas that are fried and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Apparently they have to dry overnight, and then we’re gonna fry them up tomorrow morning. Told her we were gonna save them to eat when me, Luis, and Albert go over tomorrow night to watch the final episode of one of the telenovelas. Have us some popcorn too. Gonna have a good ole time 🙂

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My 40-day fast – Day 1

Sid’s 40 Day Fast
Day 1 – Monday, 9/24/12

So this is my journal for my 40 day fast. I was inspired to do the fast because one of my missionary brothers recently did one, and said he really got alot from it. He also kept a journal, which is why i’m keeping one. Great way to recall my thoughts and share them. I was also inspired to do this fast when I was listening to someone talk about fasting and how it gives you clarity.

My main prayer intentions are: *for my sister, *for the grace of clarity as I begin to discern my mission post next year, *for growth in humility & grace, *for all the missionaries in Intake 2012.

I’m a little nervous, but not in a bad way. It’s more of a really excited full of anticipation sort of way. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that in my spiritual life, I feel like I’m on the verge of something big, like I’m about to turn a corner. And I think this fast will play a big part in that. Not sure how intense the hunger factor will be, since I’ll only be eating one meal a day. But I hope it’s a big enough factor to challenge me. I also hope that I know a little more what it’s like for these poor people that we serve, to struggle with hunger and a lack of resources at times. I’m gonna eat my one daily meal at supper time. I figure I’ll have more time each day to feel the hunger. Also figure that if I eat at night, I won’t be doing any kind of physical activity to burn off those few precious calories. I’ll allow myself whatever liquids during the day. Coffee in the morning. Gatorade during the day, so that the electrolytes/vitamins/nutrients can supplement some of what I won’t be getting from food. I was already taking a multi-vitamin everyday so I’ll have that too.

I’m kinda surprised though at how I didn’t really feel much hunger today. Maybe it was because I prepared myself with a 2 meal-a-day fast for two and a half weeks prior to this fast. Maybe, since today was my first day my body hasn’t had a chance to feel the hunger yet. We also had some food at the end of a prayer group this afternoon too. I’m thinkin’ too it could be the liter of Gatorade I drank over the course of the day. No it wasn’t good solid food, but it was something to fill my belly. We also ate at Rita &  Gallo’s house tonight. Nopales (cactus), frijoles (beans), arroz (rice), and tortillas. I wasn’t feeling the hunger factor before we ate, but judging by how much I ate, I was definitely hungry. I kinda stuffed myself. Maybe I was also trying to eat a little more than I normally would, knowing that I wouldn’t be eating again for a whole ‘nother day. Not sure if that defeats the purpose of a fast or not. Well, I’ll give my current way of doing things another week or so. If I still don’t feel the hunger, I may cut down to half a liter of Gatorade. We’ll see how it goes.

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Coffee, Contrition, and Clarity

Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 1:10pm – Cafe Central Coffee Haus – Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico

So I’ve been back in General Cepeda for about 2 months now. Earlier this week I realized that even amongst all the down time I’ve had from week to week, I’ve not left town a single time. So I decided to come to Saltillo for a few hours, just to get away. Hopped on the bus, and 35 pesos and 2 hours later I arrived. Having been here many times before, I had no desire to do anything touristy. I just wanted to walk around, explore a tiny bit, and relax.

I’d heard that just down the road from where the bus drops you off, there is a mall. Small, but nice. And the added bonus was stumbling upon this coffee shop. After I walked around the mall, I knew that this was where I’d have my chill time. Spending time at coffee houses is one of my favorite things to do back home. This habit first started during my high school days and cemented itself into my life during my college years. It’s a place and an environment where you can read, study, relax, visit, or people watch.

Did morning prayer from the breviary once I sat down with my frappucino. Also read alot from a book by Ralph Martin, a prominent figure within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. People-watched. Enjoyed the calm, relaxing atmosphere. The soothing hum of the coffee machines, coolers, and various other appliances. Realizing through all of this that we should always have some scheduled down-time, just to relax, refresh, re-energize, and get away for a bit. Also realizing that a key element in living apart from your favorite places and people is to always carry them in your heart. Another key element is to seek out a little taste of home wherever you are. A peaceful coffee shop. A city park. A grocery store. A shopping mall to aimlessly walk around in. These special things and little reminders are a part of who you are and what makes you unique. Embrace them. Rest in the comfort of these little blessings God sends you. They are part of what has made you who you are and gotten you to where you are. I believe in doing this, you will be more genuinely yourself and thus be better able to live and serve where God has you.

Another thing I want to share about is contrition, aka – sorrow for sins. As a Christian the more self-aware I have become, the more I have reflected on this. I feel like I am truly making progress in my spiritual life and that the Lord is helping me to find the proper balance in this area. What follows is a question I posed to several priest friends of mine and their responses. Names have been changed so that you can focus on the answers. And though not worded in exactly the same way, all of the responses essentially and basically say the same thing.

God Bless!
(the following is the question I posed to my priest friends and their responses)

Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation? Another way to phrase the question is, Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?

“My thoughts…Yes. One of the compounding negative effects of sin, especially habitual sin, is despairing emotions/shame. The progress one makes in combating sin is not all lost by a later fall. One truly does get closer to God and grows in his love and grows in trust. A later fall grieves us but our increased trust in God’s mercy dominants our emotional reaction to the sin.” –Fr.K—

“Yes, A healthy fear of sin, is a fear of the distance from God it brings. Being scared of sin means feeling that it’s bigger than God’s Mercy and therefore unforgiveable. count your blessings that you ‘ve been able to move beyond the previous despair. Despair is a trick of the Evil one, to lead you to procrastinate about Confession, to believe less and less in the Mercy of God and more and more of your worthlessness; both are lies. Sin, does not cause you to become worthless in the eyes of God. There’s nothing wrong about you, even if you’ve done something wrong!” –Fr.H—

“I think you are experiencing consolations of seeing some of the progress you’ve made. That is wonderful! I would say: yes, enjoy the good healthy reactions you have but also make sure to guard against the sin of presumption and do not let up in your efforts at self-mastery… Enjoy the consolations AND keep fighting the good fight!” –Fr.S—

“I certainly think so.” –Fr.B—

“I can only give a guess at what’s going on. First, there is a distinction in types of grace. You may have fallen from a state of “sanctifying grace” due to the sin and thus your conscience rightly pricked you making you aware of the fall. Seemingly God has blessed you simultaneously with an “actual grace” of hopefulness and love despite your fallen state. I would guess it was God presenting himself to you through “actual grace” in an attractive manner so that you trust in his future goodness and continue to follow him. You could prayerfully reflect upon this as though you were one of Jesus’ disciples in scripture before his actual death and resurrection. The joy and inspiration they received from his presence would have been more along the lines of “actual grace” (blessings from God) rather than salvific, since he had not yet offered himself in forgiveness of sins. (Of course, Jesus did forgive certain people along the way, but forgiveness was not yet offered to all prior to his death.) [The other alternative interpretation is that the feeling of “being okay” was from another spirit other than God. A way to discern this is reflecting upon whether your impulse at the time was to avoid the things of God (perhaps a subtle sense of joyful passivity and ambivalence to the things of God) or were you being drawn toward God and a deeper awareness of the peace and love that he reveals?]” –Fr.J—

“ the short answer is yes. Feelings are not a necessary part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life resides in “the will,” not “the heart.” And so you ought to have an intellectual fear of the consequence of sin and have the strength of will to avoid sin. If your feelings support those, super good! If they don’t, well that’s not a big deal. It is not necessary to feel sad or even frustrated when you sin. All that is required is contrition – which is an intellectual understanding of the consequence of sin and a disposition of will to make amends. Of course, all that’s very clinical. Unless you’re a robot, your emotions will play a part. Just don’t give them too much power over you. You can be contrite, even when you’re not “feeling it.” And contrition is what you need, not sadness or despair.” –Fr.R—

“Interesting that you ask this because I was talking about it with someone the other day. I think it is possible to have a healthy fear of sin and yet not be given to great sadness or despair in committing sin. Especially with sins that have been habitual to some extent in the past and from which we are trying to purify ourselves, I think we can arrive at a point at which, though we may fall into sin we realize that God is still working with us and trust in His mercy. There’s a book called “Clean of Heart” that is a 50-day meditation on sexual purity. In the introduction it speaks of a similar thing, namely when one falls they ought not too fall into great despair and get overly-consumed with the actions of the past but simply recognize one’s brokenness, bring it before the Lord in confession and continue the battle again. Hopefully that makes some sense.” –Fr.B—

“In a simple answer, it is possible. The more we grow in trust in the Lord the more we also grow in developing a healthy fear of sin. The challenge if one falls though, regardless of the sin, is to never become complacent. In other words, to recognize the seriousness of sin and go to confession as soon as possible, but at the same time not to despair because one has fallen. This comes with developing a healthy fear of the Lord.” –Fr.G—

“First off, I want to congratulate you for cooperating with God’s grace to create ways to protect yourself from sins of impurity. This is the point of confession: not just to shed the guilt of past sins, but (just as importantly) give strength to change these sinful behaviors and to break free from old patterns.

I definitely feel that your new perspective on sin is another a sign of God’s grace affecting your heart and mind.

That “normal” past sense of despair after falling into sin is healthy and necessary in the early stages of spiritual development. As you mentioned, our conscience must be attuned to the evil ugliness of sin and should thrust us into a healthy sense of guilt and remorse as well as compel us to go to confession ASAP. But as we grow and mature in the spiritual life, we should develop a greater sense of confidence in Christ’s victory over our sins.

So… Yes it is possible – and is in fact the goal- “to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation.” That sense of despair that you used to feel was in some way a lack of confidence in Christ’s power over your sins. This transition in thinking that you’ve described is a transition from worry about what you have done (sin) and what you now have to do (discipline) toward a confidence in what Christ has done (died on the cross/forgiven your sins) and what you and HE together now have to do (cooperate).

So… “Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?”… Yes. Because with Christ by your side there is no reason to fear sin. He has already conquered it. 2000 years ago. It’s done.

This is the transformative power of God’s forgiveness given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Hope this helps.”

–Fr.M–

“When we realize that sin is not distasteful to God, but that we have messed up our relationship with Him we are usually moved to fix it as soon as possible. Humility tells us that we have more work to do. It is no longer a childish fear, but an adult understanding of what I have to do. We have hurt the One who loves us most and most perfectly. Sorrow is a condition that comes, but in itself does not necessarily give feelings. Instead, it is the movement to get things right.”

–Fr.B–

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011 – part 2

LINKS TO VIDEOS AND PICS (you might have to copy and paste the link):

Facebook picture album:

Mexico mountaintop scenery – http://youtu.be/CwzRU8me5VQ
Concrete slide – http://youtu.be/1NzAYt7x_pY
Missionaries headed to the rancho – http://youtu.be/aHM5IYweHUw
Missionaries preparing food for the poor – http://youtu.be/dWZYNzunl9Y

 

I figured part 2 would be a good chance to also share some stories about our Mexico trip. The funny thing is that the trip actually started before the group got here last saturday. Monday of last week, me and Luis drove Odilio’s old suburban down to the border to donate it to our Mexican missionary, Raul. Without giving you all the fun details, let’s just say it was quite an adventure. It involved crossing the borders 8 times in 2 days at 2 different locations. Got stopped by border patrol on both sides, and got held at the US Customs and Border Patrol station for an hour and a half. But, in the end, we were able to get the suburban to Raul so that he could get the paperwork completed so that it would be transferred to his ownership. Why not wait until the group came down last Saturday? Well, there was a Mexican law that was about to change that would have raised the cost from $1600 to $6000, and we wanted to beat the deadline.

Since we’ve been here things have been great. This trip has taken on a whole new feel than the previous three times I’ve been here. All those trips were amazing, yes, but this is my first trip here with the knowledge that me and Luis will be living here in January. Yep, you heard right, the Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda will be my mission post next year. So now, instead of just participating in the normal daily activities, I’m also getting to know where things are in town. I’m starting to make connections with our mexican missionaries here. It’s the process of starting to familiarize myself with this place and getting settled in, so that it can feel like home when I come back in 2 months.

Our first week here has been great. I feel like one of the graces I’ve received during my first year of missions is to really grow and progress in my spiritual life and in other aspects too. It seems like God is giving me the grace to really dive deeply into prayer and ministry while here. I’m really loving praying over people, giving alms, doing home visits, welcoming visitors to our mission house, going door to door in the ranchos to invite people to our prayer services, singing praise and worship music, and giving testimonies. I LOVE it! 🙂 Daily life with the other missionaries brings me alotta joy too. Everything from cleaning bathrooms, to washing dishes, to community prayer, personal prayer time, and fellowship with each other.

Next week seems to be quite a busy and blessed week as well. Praise the Lord!

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Epiphanies and Visions

6-24-11

During my morning prayer time, as I was rereading Mrs. Genie’s 1st book, the thought occurred to me “As a missionary it’s hard to see the forest while in the midst of the trees. But the forest is still there.” I sensed that it’s God’s way of telling me that the everyday life of a missionary can seem mundane and unimportant. However, these small moments are important in and of themselves. They’re also part of the bigger picture of salvation history.

I also got this brief moment of genuine happiness and contentment as I walked to my room. Don’t really know how to explain it. I think it’s just a grace that God gave me to realize how blessed and joyful missionary life is.

6-25-11

At praise and worship last night I had a vision. As I was standing there with my eyes closed and hands uplifted, I sense that there were 2 angels above me. They were leaning down towards me and holding my hands. I could almost feel it.

Later on during Praise and Worship, as my legs were getting tired, I wanted to sit down. But I heard God say to me “I will give you strength beyond your strength.” I knew it was specific for that exact moment as well as his way of telling me that he will give me the grace to do what he calls me to do as a missionary.

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