Posts Tagged With: heart

January 2013 Missionary Newsletter

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” –Romans 5:3-5–

Dearest Benefactors,

I just wanted to say how happy I am to be able to write y’all again. Everytime I write, it means that there is more to report on the ways God is working in my life as a missionary. That is ALWAYS an exciting and good thing! 🙂 As y’all already know, last year my full-time mission post was FMC’s Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico. I was there for a total of 8 months with the other 4 months of the year split between visits to friends and family, 2 short term trips to St. Lucia (my mission post from 2011), and some time spent at our Big Woods Mission Base in Abbeville, LA. After my 5th or 6th month in Mexico, I started to feel like it was time for me to come back stateside. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, as my living situation and possible ministry opportunities had not yet been established. But when you know it’s time to move on, you step out in faith knowing that the good Lord will provide.

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fourth name from bottom. I’m official y’all! 🙂

Thanks be to God that in my last month in Mexico, November 2012, things started to clear up, and by the time the Christmas holiday was over, my course was set. Part of what I discerned last year was that I wanted to do stateside mission work.So, I am now living at our Big Woods Mission Base as my full-time mission post. One of my new “jobs” is working as a liaison for our retreat house, Our Lady of the Bayous, and for our retreat ministry. If a group wants to book our facility, I’m the guy they talk to. If a group needs missionaries to put on a retreat, I’m the guy they talk to. And if a group wants to do a service project at our retreat house or mission base, I’m the guy they talk to. I’m also involved in the day to day operations of our retreat house. It can be a very busy but very rewarding ministry at the same time.

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me and my dad wearing the shirts I bought while at language school in Cuernavaca

 

My other main duty is serving as Evangelization/Outreach coordinator at one of the nearby parishes, St. Mary Magdalen. In this role I do alot of follow-up home visits in conjunction with our door-to-door evangelization team, in order to pray, visit, read scripture, and help these people to enter more fully into the sacramental life of the Church. Part of this job also entails doing a weekly Bible study at the Christian Service Center, which is a part of the church parish. Aside from this, I also lend a helping hand with any manual labor that needs to be done at the service center, such as stocking the pantry shelves and unloading food shipments.

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me and Donnie, one of the home visits. Please say a prayer for him, he’s been a bit sick lately

 

As you can see, God is keeping me busy with lots of ministry opportunities. I’m so blessed that y’all continue to journey with me in my missionary vocation. Your support makes it all possible, and without your prayers I would not have the strength I need to do what I do. Thank you so very much. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are having a Happy New Year.

God Bless!

Sid Savoie

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New Year reflections on love and life from a Cajun Catholic missionary

Sunday, January 13, 2013 – Noon thirty pm – Mom and Dad’s house – Lafayette, LA
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a journal entry, and I was startin to feel the itch. My impetus for this particular entry is my friendship with Anne. One of the things I really enjoy about our friendship is that I’m learning so much due to all the talking and discussion that happens between us. While Anne is the only one privy to all of the background stories and discussions, I still want to share these “gems” with y’all.
-“I want the whole truth & nothing but the truth, along with an undivided heart.” Perhaps just as bad as lying is failing to tell the whole truth. Yes, in telling partial truths you can literally say you are not intentionally lying to somebody. You may not even be desiring to lead them astray. But if you don’t give them the whole picture then you bear responsibility for when things go wrong. Related to this would be loving others with an undivided heart. Nothing’s worse than trying to have a discussion with someone who is distracted. If someone does not pay attention to me when I’m trying to have meaningful discussion or interaction with them, if their actions don’t prove to me that I’m important and that they’re focused on me, then I feel gypped. Same thing applies to loving others. If you only seek to fulfill the “minimum requirements of love” (as if such a thing even exists) then you are not going to be able to show that the relationship and the person are important to you. My advice is to do what you have to do, and then do more. The extra effort will be worth it.
-“What’s not a big deal to you may be a big deal to someone else.” We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences in life. Inevitably your outlook on certain issues will be different than that of those whom you love. That’s why you have to be considerate and take into account what your loved one has gone through, in order for you to be sensitive to how things affect them. A simple joke or a seemingly small issue for you could be something that touches upon a very sensitive area for your loved one. And because you love them, you have to be prepared to pay attention to these small things and act accordingly or avoid them if at all possible.
-“A small deal can become a big deal, in both good ways and bad.” As I stated in the last paragraph, small things that are not heeded can create problems. But it also works for good. A simple note, a quick hello, a little hug, or a meaningful compliment can make the day of the one you love.
-“Daily personal prayer time is a must, no matter how many other spiritual things you do.” Imagine trying to run a car on fumes. Or sustaining a friendship when virtually no meaningful communication exists. That’s essentially what you’re do to your relationship with God when you don’t pray. Aside from that relationship suffering, you also won’t be able to get what you need to live your life lovingly for others. The same can be applied to your relationship with your loved one. Without communication, your relationship will wither and die. And if you don’t relate to God daily in prayer, then you won’t be able to relate to your loved one in the way that you need to.
-“The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.” Sometimes we are scared to reveal unpleasant truths about ourselves or our pasts for fear that the other person will stop loving us. If they do stop loving you, then it was not the right kind of relationship. However, chances are that they’ll love you anyways, because they can see through the imperfections. But if you hide truths from them, or if you lie about something (even if it’s in a seemingly innocent or protective sort of way) in order to make yourself look better, then your relationship’s foundation is weakened. A pretty lie is still a lie. But an unpleasant truth honestly and freely revealed, is still the truth. Doing that will help you to build trust with the one you love and it will help you to be vulnerable in a way that is good.
-“Loneliness and stress can be cruel masters or great motivators.” Loneliness and stress are two of the leadings causing of people doing dumb stuff. It’s because they focus so much on the problems of loneliness and stress as well as the by-products of these two things, that they lose sight of the solution. Sure it’s easy to wallow in misery and self-pity when stress and loneliness are knockin’ at your door. But just imagine how much better things could be if you allowed these two things to motivate you instead of torment you. Instead of seeking wordly things that will never fill the hole in your heart, allow loneliness and stress to motivate you to do charitable works, or to pray more, or to seek the company of others. If you do this not only will you grow, but your relationship with your loved one will grow as well.
-“Love is a choice that is worth your time and effort.” Sometimes love feels great, both literally and figuratively. But our modern culture lies to us when we are tricked into believing that love always feels good. Love is sometimes hard. Love is sometimes painful. Love is sometimes confusing. It doesn’t just happen. You have to choose it. Yet it’s always worth it. And what is love? Love is doing right and growing closer to God. If you want to show your loved one that you truly care for them, then do right and help them grow closer to God.
-“Trustworthiness and vulnerability go hand in hand.” You cannot trust someone if they cannot open up and be vulnerable with you. On the other hand, you cannot be vulnerable with someone if you cannot trust them. It’s kinda like the chicken and the egg question. I’m not sure which has to come first. I just know you gotta have both.
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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 26

Day 26 – Friday – 10/19/12

Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own.” Came across this verse in morning prayer. It seems to be a theme that God is trying to teach me during my fast. No explanation needed, because the verse is pretty straight-forward. Just powerful though, and on point.

And look, I realize haters gon’ hate. But I am not afraid to admit that I was listening to Rascal Flatts and Taylor Hicks as I was walking to my Desert Day spot here at the local cemetery. Why? Well, it would have been a long, boring walk without it. I also just wanted to feel mo’ happy, and that kinda music makes me happy. 🙂 Kinda ironic though that I’d wanna play happy music on the way to a cemetery where i’m supposed to quiet myself and be all meditative and listen to the Lord. I’m such a STRANGE creature. Lord, you really did break the mold when you made me. Desert Day was supposed to be in the mountains @ Tejocote today. But late last night Luis was asked to bring some people to Saltillo today in order to take care of some property papers or whatever at the courthouse. So I’m doin’ Desert Day solo. I really hope he gets back early enough so that we can do our rancho chapel visits to Tejocote and Dos de Abril. We’re nearing the end of our “good-bye” week as a team of singles.

Stayed up a little late last night talking to a friend on Skype, but it was worth it. I really enjoyed our conversation. So, naturally this morning I was a little tired, but managed to get up at my normal time for my morning walk and routine. Had that vital daily cup of coffee with me as I started my morning prayer. (I thank the Lord everyday that he invented coffee). I enjoy morning prayer in community, but when I know it’s just me for morning prayer, I enjoy that too. I don’t have a schedule to worry about, and I can take things at a more leisurely pace. Looking forward to some good prayer time here before we hit up the ranchos this afternoon. Pretty cool thing happened on the way here, twice. I passed up two guys and for a split-second, when I looked at them, I saw Jesus. Not literally, because the guys looked the same as I’m sure they always do. But I just had a strong sense, a realization, that I was looking at Jesus. Maybe because these guys looked a little destitute, and Jesus has a heart for the poor. It was an awesome experience. One of my prayer intentions the past couple of months has been to see Jesus when I see the poor. I’m thinking that prayer is being answered because I have this fast and voluntary suffering to offer up. Maybe the fast is what I need to be able to starting opening the eyes of my heart, so that they can control the eyes in my head, so that I can see Jesus reflected in everyone I see, especially the poor and those to whom I’m sent to serve.

Nighttime update: Luis ended up getting back early afternoon, sometime before 1. I had just arrived back at the house from my Desert Day prayer time when I realized he was already home. Second day in a row that I was pleasantly surprised that a Saltillo trip went much quicker than expected. We left for our two rancho chapel visits (Tejocote and 2 de Abril) around 3:30ish. At Tejocote we had a good crowd. As usual no men showed up, but we had at least 15-20 women, and a few kids too. We knew that they might bring a little something for all of us to snack on, but I was surprised at how much they brought. As with everyone else we minister to here, they aren’t rich, and could justifiably save the money spent on the food they brought for a myriad of other legitimate needs. And though the crowd at 2 de Abril was much smaller (5 women), proportionately, they brought just as much. These poor people are putting on a clinic on how to be generous! It’s humbling too, that they’d do it for us. I know God has me here, but I don’t think what we do is all that special. But as insignificant as my work seems to me at times, these people appreciate it. And if these humble and generous people appreciate it, and if God loves these poor people as much as I’m taught that he does, then it follows that whatever we’re doing here as missionaries must be something good

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 24

Day 24 – Wednesday – 10/17/12

Had another opportunity to practice self-control last night and this morning. I continue to explore the cooking side of myself in little ways. Earlier this week I bought some peanuts because I wanted to make homemade peanut butter. Well, besides the fact that it is not as easy as I thought it would be, I also didn’t account for my hunger making it really hard to resist eating it. 🙂 You’d think I would have learned by now. But I did sample a little bit last night and this morning and I’d have to say that I’m very pleased with the outcome. It’s not like what you’d buy in a jar obviously. I simply shelled the peanuts, stuck ’em in a blender, add a few spoonfuls of cooking oil for moisture and creaminess and voila! Only thing i’ll do different next time is maybe add slightly less oil and put some sugar too. And If pecans weren’t so much work to shell, I’d do pecan butter. But I promise you I do not have that kind of patience, especially not when I’m on a fast. It’d either be torture not being able to eat the pecans, or I’d be so dang hungry that I’d eat the pecans as soon as they were shelled. Alas, that’s the biggest dilemma I face in life right now, which means I’m VERY blessed.

To revisit what seems to be a constant theme of my fast, I continue to learn about areas that I need to work on, and I continue to be humbled by the generosity of others. What seems to be most on my heart at this point in my fast, is my somewhat negative tendency towards selfishness and self-preservation. I use things like “fairness” and “being broke” to try and justify my behavior. Seemingly little stuff like not sharing my personal stash of coffee or sugar. But my mission partners, probably unbeknownst to them, continue to humble me and teach me in these small ways. Me asking Luis to hold off on doing his usual email/internet stuff so I could watch a UL Ragin’ Cajuns football game on a live video feed. And he did it! I can’t say with certainty that I would also have done that. Albert, before he left earlier this morning to go to the States for a few weeks to do some fundraising (say a quick prayer for that), bought some Mexican coffee for me since he knew that we were almost out. Again, it seems small, but God is using these small things to powerfully touch and move my heart. And I know Albert will be back in a couple of weeks, but I’ll definitely miss him. We enjoy the energy and friendliness that he adds to the mix here.

And unrelated to the fast, but I just feel like talking about it, is my recent decision to rejoin CatholicMatch.com. It’s basically a relationship/dating oriented website for Catholics. I did it for awhile last year, and was taking a break. But I decided that I needed to give it another chance. It’s a great way for the Lord to be able to introduce me to like-minded Catholic women and to be able to enjoy their company, form friendships, and possibly more. I think too that this time around I’m a little more patient about the whole process, and a little more mature and realistic in my expectations and how I go about doing it. So far I have really enjoyed it. Having great conversations that I really, really enjoy, and I can see for sure that I’ve at least got some new friends already. We’ll give it some time and prayer to see if God blesses it to go any further than that 🙂

Came across an AWESOME quote from Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) an encyclical by Blessed Pope John Paul II that I’m currently reading. “In particular, the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditioned fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, and even in the most difficult situations.”

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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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I know what I want

Saturday, May 19, 2012 – 6:20pm – Adoration Chapel @ Our Lady of Wisdom – Lafayette, LA

Just a few thoughts I had while in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament……

I know what I want. I want it so bad I can almost taste it. I see others who have also wanted the same thing and have received it. I try to be happy for them and not let it turn into envy, jealousy, or covetousness. It seems like the time for it is not far off, but it still isn’t time quite yet. I have to keep journeying towards it though. It’s tough to keep going when things aren’t always certain. It’s tough to keep going when so many times before it hasn’t worked out. It’s tough to keep going when you don’t know if your efforts will be reciprocated. It’s tough, for these and for so many other reasons.

Sometimes I wonder if I want it too much. But then I realize that God would not give me this desire for no reason. I really feel like this is the way that I’ll be able to love as much as possible. It’s the way that I’ll be able to identify most with Jesus and the way that he loves. I will suffer through whatever I have to suffer through. I will risk misunderstanding, humiliation, and heartbreak. I will sell all I have, if that’s what I have to do to gain this beautiful pearl. I will not wait until I’m completely holy, healthy, and capable, because I never will be. I will pursue it as I am now, hoping and praying that God will strengthen me where I am weak

And when I obtain it, my heart will be filled with joy. I will receive as much love as I possibly can, because I will be fulfilling the desire of my heart and soul that God has made me for. I will pour out my love like never before, never having to be afraid that I’ll run out, or that it will not be received. I know because of this that new love will spring forth. At this point, I can only imagine what it will be like. I look forward with faithful and eager anticipation to the day when I will know for myself what it is like.

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How do you really know the Holy Spirit talked to you?

Saturday, May 14, 2011 – 9pm – Marian Home Mission House – Castries, St. Lucia

So, earlier today, we had our annual vocations rally for the diocese and I was on the discussion panel. At the very end, someone asked me the question “How do you really know the Holy Spirit talked to you?”, in regards to the call of missionary life. So I made a few notes and figured I’d expand a little on them and turn it into a blog entry.

#1 – I know the Holy Spirit spoke to me because my decision to become a lay foreign missionary was something I arrived at through prayer, ALOT of prayer. My simple definition of prayer is that it’s conversation with God. So, because I had been talking with God this whole time, that’s how I knew it was him that was talking back to me.

#2 – I know the Holy Spirit spoke to me because the call to lay foreign missions was a deep desire of my heart that never left me. God kept putting it on my heart and kept pursuing me.

#3 – I know the Holy Spirit spoke to me because people in my life confirmed my decision.

#4 – I know the Holy Spirit spoke to me because I am willing to accept the sacrifices and hardships of this calling in order to receive it’s blessings.

#5 – I know the Holy Spirit spoke to me because when I looked back on all the experiences I’ve had, and the pattern my life up to that point, it directed me towards life as a lay foreign missionary.

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My latest FMC newsletter article

Missions Is The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Loved…………..

There’s a common misconception in our world today that Love is synonymous with good feelings and easy times. And while good feelings and easy times can sometimes be indicators of a season of God’s grace in our lives, they are not the be all and end all of the Christian life. When we look in the Bible, from Adam to Moses to Jesus to the Early Church, we see lives of sacrifice. Whether God tests us as he did with Job, or whether we are persecuted for our beliefs as were Jesus and the early Christians, we know that the path to salvation is not an easy one. The first half of Isaiah 49:4 says “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity” I do not mention these things to discourage you. I mention them to encourage you. I don’t want you to lose heart as soon as things get tough. I don’t want you to think all is lost when tough times reappear.

As I sit here in our mission house in St. Lucia, reflecting on my first three and a half months as a foreign missionary, this is what comes to me. As a matter of fact, the title of this very article is a phrase that popped into my mind when reflecting on how to describe life as a missionary. What is so hard about being a missionary? The first thing that comes to mind is family and friends. As good as they are, and as much as they are a blessing in my life, God has called me to the sacrifice of being far, far away from them for the next 2-3 years of my life. Then there are all the small luxuries of life in America. I can’t go down the road to Meche’s donuts. There’s no boiled crawfish readily (or ever) available. Sometimes we don’t have hot water. It’s never cold, which on the flipside, means it’s always hot. On a more serious note, we face a nation that struggles mightily with promiscuity and a breakdown in the family unit. We face churches that are dwindling in numbers. Many of the youth are surrounded by poverty and affected by gang violence and other types of crime.

On a personal level, missions is hard because I actually have to look at myself for who I really am. In this sense, missions is kind of like a cross between a mirror and a microscope. God is stripping away the layers, helping me to get to know the true me, for better or for worse. In a nutshell, I’ve come to discover that I can be a grumpy recluse who is selfish and can’t be bothered.

However, lest you think missions is too hard, I must also mention the amazing things about life as a missionary. The first thing is that God provides. The second half of Isaiah 49:4 says “yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” I experienced this truth in bits and pieces over the years on the many mission trips and pilgrimages that I participated in. Never did I lack for funds or any other necessity. And now, as a full-time missionary I get to experience that all the time. Even if it’s at the 11th hour, God ALWAYS supplies me with the money I need to travel or buy supplies. Many times his providence is not only sufficient but also abundant! Whether it’s through my benefactors back home or the generous people of St. Lucia, I am never lacking anything I need. Never.

Another tremendous blessing of being in missions is seeing how God raises up servants to be our co-workers in the vineyard. With all the difficulties of getting adjusted to being a foreign missionary, living in a foreign country, and coming face to face with all the problems here, I was beginning to get discouraged. I just couldn’t see how there could possibly be anyone who would carry the torch whenever our time here is done. However, God has slowly revealed that there are amazing servants here who are willing and ready to work right along side with us. There’s the lady who feeds the poor and fosters orphans, Our pastor and his driver give us rides since we don’t have a car. Our friends in the community (who oftentimes are poor and in need) bring us food and cook for us. Young adults from the community have become regular visitors at our mission house and are beginning to help us plan bible studies and other ministries. Our Archbishop, Robert Rivas will often take time to serve guests their meals at various diocesan events. If I had more space, I could give you many more examples.

One thing I never realized about missions was that my relationships with my family would actually improve. Kinda seems silly when you think about it. Lemme move thousands of miles away, and not see my family for months and months at a time. Yeah, that’ll work. But it’s so true. In the absence felt both by me and  my family members, God is filling our hearts with a special grace. That grace is to be able to endure the sacrifices so that we can receive the blessings. Never before have I had such a good relationship with my parents.

The last thing I’d like to say is directed towards those out there unsure or discontent. Like some of you, I used to wake up every morning discontent. I would either think “Do I really have to go to class today? or I wish I didn’t have to go to work.” Even when school was good or work was not causing me stress, I always had that thought in the back of my mind that “there’s gotta be more than this”. Though you may think I’m crazy, I want to advise you to hold onto this, Pray about it, meditate upon it, and think about it. Take this discontent, and instead of letting it make you bitter or hopeless, let it motivate you to seek out what God wants for your life. Allow God to use the tragedies in your life, the moments where you are shaken to your very core to draw you closer to him. God’s has given me the grace to be able to do these things, and I do not regret it at all. Since my very first day of missionary training, and every day that I’m in the mission field, never have I woken up with dread or discontent in my heart. I know that I’m where God wants me to be, and that brings a joy and surety to my soul that is almost indescribable.

Brothers and sisters, please keep me in your prayers and be assured of mine.

“The Lord called me from the womb and he said to me ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ ” (take from Isaiah 49:1-6)

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Slight change of direction and other miscellaneity

Friday January 7th, 2011 – Approx. 7:45am – Kitchen Table @ Big House @ Big Woods (Facing Pasture)

Ok, so I don’t even know if “miscellaneity” is a word. I was basically trying to say “other miscellaneous things”. Anyhoo, as the title suggests, things have changed slightly for me. If you refer back to my entry from (date omitted), you become acquainted with my missionary friend (name omitted). Wonderful person and wonderful missionary. You also heard about how we were not honoring our singles commitment and were called out on it. Well, since then, we’ve been striving to follow that commitment, but at least on my behalf, have not totally succeeded. According to the letter of the law, we were doin pretty good. But I noticed that even though I acknowledged that we were not a couple, I was not orienting my thoughts and prayers and will in that direction. It’s like I was living it on the outside and not on the inside. Furthermore, just the sheer speed at which everything happened and the sheer speed at which conclusions were reached and certain feelings expressed SCARED ME! (And it’s not just cuz I’m a guy and afraid of commitment. :p )

I felt like the outcome was already a foregone conclusion and that at least on my part, there was no wiggle room or opportunity to change my mind. Not only that, but I also felt like I was too prepared for the future as opposed to simply embracing my call to missions, rejoicing in where God has me, and putting that as my priority & being faithful to that. I feel like I definitely took things out of God’s hands and put them into mine. Yes, there is a point, and here it is. I’ve decided to take a step back.  And while I do fear that I’ve possibly damaged our friendship in some way, I still feel very much at peace and that I’ve made the right decision.  As excited as I already was to go into missions, I’m now even MORE excited!  I feel like my heart, my intentions, and my prayers are now where they’re supposed to be. And if I’ve gotten to know (name omitted) well enough during our friendship, I think she’ll be OK with it too. It’s just a great feeling to know that I now can be totally open to whatever God brings to me in missions, and to do so with an undivided heart. It’s also exciting to know that anything else God might wanna do in my life is now possible. And in the spirit of fairness, I feel like I should also mention that it was not any kind of one-sided thing. I assume as much responsibility for the situation becoming what it was.

OK. Enough about that. Now onto the “miscellaneity”. We actually leave for St. Lucia on the 19th instead of the 17th. Can’t remember what the change was for, or if maybe I just misunderstood the date. What I can say is that 2 days is like a blink of an eye compared to how long I’ve been waiting to get to St. Lucia. J So I think I can handle it. All in God’s time. I’ve been blessed in a lot of little ways too as I prepare to leave. I was able to shave down the amount of stuff I have quite significantly. The amount of clothes I have now is much more manageable and pretty darn close to what I think I can fit in my bags. Speaking of bags, I sent out an appeal online for anyone that could spare a large duffel bag. I figured that if I had a large duffel bag, I could roll my clothes and pack them really tightly THUS freeing up more space in my other big suitcase for things like books, toiletries, etc….. A good friend of mine from back in da’ day, Catherine Lemoine, pulled through and dropped one off for me to my mom at the trophy shop. Merci Cat pour ton generosite!

I also got a nice little bit of spending money cash given to me earlier in the week. Brother Henry Gaither, of The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, came to visit Big Woods. I met him a few months ago at St. Pius X parish in Lafayette one Sunday at Mass. He was giving a talk about and handing out literature for CNVS (Catholic Network of Volunteer Services). CNVS is a directory/network of volunteer and missions opportunities both stateside and abroad.  We’ve kept in touch since then, and when he was in New Iberia for a lunch meeting we worked it out for him to pass by Big Woods to visit. It was good catching up with him, and me, him, and Mr. Frank chatted for awhile before he had to leave. As he was leaving, he handed me a wad of cash, & I’m sure he emptied his wallet to do so, since religious brothers aren’t exactly rich. Merci a toi aussi pour ton generosite!

I was also blessed to get a few Christmas presents that were much appreciated and needed. My parents gave me two nice bottles of cologne (Cool Water and Dolce & Gabbana). These will come especially in handy if my missionary duties keep me too busy to bathe! 🙂 I also got an MP3 player which has allowed me to take the multitude of CD’s that I have and condense them onto a little tiny device that’s the size of a cellphone. Space comes at a premium in missions, and this will help me save lots of it. I also received a digital camera. Up until recently, I had a film camera that I would use to take and develop pictures and then convert them to digital format so I could share them online. Well, I fell out of love with yesteryear and it’s devices, and was happy to embrace the ease and convenience of a digital camera. It’s a lot easier to use, much less expensive in the long run, and is much more useful to me while in missions. I’ll be able to take pics and video and keep people updated more quickly and easily. And if there are any of the pics that I really want to get developed, I can go to Walgreens or Walmart and some point and get it done.

Oh yeah, one more thing, we have our plane tickets bought, a place to stay, and ministries already lined up in St. Lucia! 🙂 Last but not least, I went to the UL men’s basketball game last night. Me and Beau (Frank and Genie’s son) used my parents tickets since they’re outta town. It was very enjoyable actually. I knew I’d enjoy the game and I also enjoyed hanging out with Beau, and chatting and just having a guys night, you know?

Well I hope all is well with y’all. If you have any prayer requests I can add to my missionary prayer list, please let me know. God Bless!

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