Posts Tagged With: trust

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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When one door closes, another opens

Saturday May 5th, 2012 – 1:45pm – In the guys’ trailer @ Big Woods Mission Base – Esther, LA

“The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6–

It’s funny how our human concept of love often leaves out pain. Pain? Really? Love is supposed to be, well, happy! But in reality, love is a decision, not always easy, and sometimes painful. But Love is still Love. It will always be worth the sacrifices we have to make. In fact, if Love was so easy to arrive at, if it didn’t require any real sacrifice, if we didn’t have to put our hearts on the line without any guarantee of success, would it really be Love? I don’t think so.

Right before I started writing this journal entry, I was re-reading over my last one. At the end, I was talking about my trip up to Michigan to see my then-girlfriend Nina. Talked alot about being honest and open. That was something I could have done better at. Not that I was dishonest. It’s just that I wasn’t open enough about how I really felt and what was really important to me. I was actually having concerns before I even left Mexico for the St. Lucia trip, but aside from not being open about it, I figured that maybe our visit would clear things up. I needed to give it a chance. And I truly believe that. I knew that in spite of my concerns, that I needed to go through with the visit to Michigan. It’s because visiting in person and getting to know someone up close and personal is way different than doing things long distance. Whether it was a make it or break it visit, there was value to be had in us being together. Needless to say, we figured out that a relationship wasn’t in the cards. Now I could take this time to go over all the potential reasons why things didn’t work out. But I won’t because that’s between me, Nina, and God. I could also look back and lament the things that went wrong, or I could wonder what the purpose of the relationship was if it ended up not working out. What I’m gonna do is hold onto the fact that in spite of the relationship ending, God let this happen for a reason. It taught me more about myself, and helped me to grow closer to God. I pray that Nina derived the same benefit as well. When I look at how plans have changed as a result of this, I can again rejoice. I now have the chance to be with my missionary community at our home base here in Louisiana. I can visit with friends and family before I head back to Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico, I’m still not sure what will happen there either. The theme of my missionary life so far has been A.) Expect the unexpected, and B.) Plans will change. After talking to Joe a couple weeks ago, we came to the conclusion that because there were no major obstacles to me returning to Mexico, that I should do that. Once I arrive in Mexico, the idea is that I’ll stay until Intake 2012 arrives in November to wrap up their training. We recognized that one of my needs is to stay and commit to this mission post for the rest of the year and really put myself into it. Really give myself to these people. I agree with that. There’s nothing illogical about that conclusion. But for some reason, I’m not totally at peace with it. Maybe it’s just the normal hesitancy one experiences when facing the unknown or something new. There are other reasons though. Part of me wonders if that not being at peace is because the mission post is not a good fit for me. Another part of me wonders if I maybe just need to live in community at Big Woods for a few months and help out with Intake. Then there’s the opportunity for travel to Asia. I REALLY want to go to Asia, and FMC has a month long trip to the Phillipines planned for June, and a 3 week trip to India in December. If I stay in Mexico until November, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make either of those trips.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is learning to play the guitar and learning to speak Spanish. At this point I’m having to try and teach myself. Spanish has come to a dead stop. I’m not even trying to study in any way. Guitar is almost at a standstill but I am trying to resurrect it. Practiced last night for the first time in weeks. It’s just that I have such a hard time teaching myself. Having a teacher who pushes me makes it alot easier. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though. Both speaking Spanish and playing guitar will come in handy for missions and other ministries as well. Guitar will be easier for me to stick with. I feel like it’s more useful and I have more of a desire. And even if Spanish is as useful as playing the guitar, it’s just hard for me to stick with it. My heart and my passion is with the french language. The fact that I have to neglect the language that is such a part of me and my culture, in order to learn another, is hard. Maybe one day God will bless me with mission trips to french speaking areas.

Here’s to having faith in God and trusting in his guidance during my missionary journey………………….

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Seems like just yesterday………………………………..

September 19, 2011 – 11:00pm – Near Gate D @ LaGuardia Airport – New York City

Seems like just yesterday I got to St. Lucia to begin my journey as a full-time lay Catholic foreign missionary. And now today I head home after having arrived in St. Lucia exactly 8 months ago. I know it sounds cliche, but it really did go by quite fast. Then this week, and especially today, it didn’t really seem like I was about to leave and things didn’t really seem different. On the surface things were indeed different. Monday of last week I visited the St. Lucy Home and the Adelaide Home for the last time. Tell my friends there good-bye. Tuesday, we went to the beach by Tapion Hospital. Friday our pastor took us to the beach and treated us to lunch. Sunday, we went to Mass and then three different houses that we were invited to for visiting and to eat. We cleaned up the house and gave away all the stuff we couldn’t take with us. Then earlier today I made my last visit to The Marian Home. Not the way things would go in a “typical” week as a missionary.

But between all of these “good-bye” activities, life was normal. We ate, slept, went to Mass, ran errands, prayed, etc….. Sometimes it was slow with not much to do. Sometimes I watched TV or listened to football games on the radio. It just didn’t “feel” like things were coming to an end for Team St. Lucia. It hadn’t “hit” me yet that I was about to leave and might never come back. That was another thing I reflected on as I lay in bed last night. Why hasn’t it hit me? Why am I not feeling something? Why am I not having either a mountain top or bottom of the valley experience? Where is my rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts? Then I realized that I was focusing too much on that “aha” moment in order to make my experience more authentic and alive. Not that the “aha” moment is bad, but it’s only a sign or indicator. Even if it’s not there, the reality of the situation still is. In addition to that, I’m just one of those people that goes through spiritual dryness from time to time. Another way to put it is that when I try to do God’s work, I don’t always feel it. I usually have to remind myself that I’m operating through faith and trust.

Now I’m sitting here by Gate D at the American Airlines terminal. Both of my flights earlier today (St. Lucia to San Juan, and then to here) were safe, smooth, and uneventful. I’m almost surprised at how relatively trouble free and easy everything has been. No trouble with security or customs. Got my bag within 10 minutes of deboarding the plane (a miracle in an airport the size of JFK). Found an airport shuttle to LaGuardia right next to the baggage claim, and after a 10 minute wait, I was on my way here. Didn’t realize how late it was by the time I arrived here. Only place open is some little deli type of place with ridiculously overpriced pastries, salads, and sandwiches. Good thing I had two OJ’s on the plane before I got here. Waiting until tomorrow morning to try and get anything to eat, hopefully more is open.

My other hope for tomorrow is that I get bumped from one or both of my flights. Because of the $250 voucher I got from American Airlines during my trip back to St. Lucia on August 25th, I paid less than $175 for my ticket back home to Louisiana. So if I can get bumped from one or both flights, it means cheaper plane tickets next time around. 🙂 Once I get back home tomorrow, I plan on going to the store to grab a few small things and grabbing some stuff out of my parents attic. For that matter, I plan on getting rid of some stuff too and putting it up in the attic. Compared to your average American, I don’t have much “stuff”. But as a missionary, I have more than I should. Cutting down will make it easier to travel around. Then Wednesday morning, me and Dad are gonna hit up Le Table Francaise at Dwyer’s downtown before heading out to Big Woods to drop me off. Very excited about helping out with Intake, and I can’t wait to see what God’s gonna do. 🙂

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Epiphany in the shower………

10-22-10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods Mission Base

When I was cleaning up after my morning jog, I was doing some reflecting on things I’ve been going through and thinking about lately. It felt like such an amazing epiphany that I praise God that I remembered it until now. Seems like so many times I’ve had great ideas and things to share but I always forget them and forget to write them down. I hope that I can maybe share this with everybody at High Praise tonight.

By now I’m sure you’re thinking “Get to the point!” so here goes. As I stared going to Mission Formation last year, the Intake missionaries told me that no matter who you are, Intake will change your life. They were not lying, I can assure you. I have to admit that I was not even close to being saintly before Intake started and I still am not. However, I thought I was doin ok. Mostly small issues are what I felt I was dealing with. Boy oh boy, how big the small things turn out to be. Since Intake is an intense journey further towards the Lord, you learn alot about yourself. It’s like being under a microscope and REALLY getting to know yourself and your faults.

At this point, I’ve discerned that my 3 primary struggles are 1.) Laziness, 2.) Impatience, or in other words, failing to live in the present moment and receive it’s blessings without being too focused on the future, & 3.) Letting go of relationships and the desire for them. I already knew that laziness and impatience would give me problems, but I really felt like with out one year singles commitment that #3 would not be a struggle. I was wrong. It continues to be a great struggle for me. Besides the whole weakness of “being in love with Being in Love”, the wonderful missionaries I’m surrounded by make it really difficult too. What I mean is that I’m surrounded by amazing married, engaged, and dating couples. I see how the Lord blesses them through that and it makes me really want that. And then I see the amazing females that God called to FMC and it makes me want it even more. I mean, How can you NOT be enamored with a woman whose inner beauty far exceeds her outer beauty? (though to be fair, I should qualify that statement and say that the outer beauty is still TOTALLY righteous) :]

What makes me really ashamed is when my petty insecurity and jealousy raises its ugly head. When I see people that I admire sharing their genuine love and Christ-like affection with others, I don’t know how to handle it, except by maybe keeping silent and bringing it to prayer. It’s as if they owe their affection to me and me alone. I also seem to have a greater desire for human companionship than I do for companionship with Jesus. How could I do this? Why would I want to be this way? In light of the grace that God offers us, I have no answers to these questions and my selfishness is non-sense. Only thing I can say is that somehow/someway God’s grace will get me through this.

Recently, I was reading a book that Mrs. Genie passed on to me. It’s titled “Prison to Praise”, and it’s a pastor’s testimony of God’s saving grace in his life. But beyond that, what really struck me was what he viewed as the solution to our problems. Let me begin with a key bible verse he used to make his point: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the spirit…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

As I’m sure many others have been, I was really confused by this. Sure, praise God for the good, but for the BAD too? That’s ridiculous. That’s insane. That’s being a glutton for punishment. But the more and more I read & thought about it, the more and more it made perfect sense. If I don’t praise God in all things, then I lose my faith and confidence in Him, and start to give power to my circumstances. As soon as I do that, I do exactly what The Bible verse told me not to do. I begin to quench the Spirit. However, if I praise God for everything, it gives him glory, it helps me to realize that he has the power to overcome anything, and thus I begin to unlock his healing power in my life. This is such an amazing revelation to me and I praise God for it.

Another reason I feel blessed to realize this is it will help me to continue to strengthen myself and especially others. If I can’t allow myself to trust God in these “smaller” matters that I’m dealing with, then how can I trust him in bigger things? If HE can’t trust ME  to be faithful to him in these smaller matters, then how will HE be able to trust ME with bigger tasks? What really strikes me is that if I can’t trust God and praise him so that he can get me through this, then how can I possibly go to Mexico next month and minister to God’s children there, whose problems are much worse than mine? I feel like doing that would make me a liar and would diminish the power of my witness.

It would be so much easier to not trust God and not praise him for even the bad circumstances. At least that way things would make a little more sense and I’d at least have a little power I could call my own. But, I know that’s not what I’m called to do. I pray that by God’s grace I can praise him in all things, so that his healing power can flow freely in my soul. I pray that I can humbly receive the grace to “Let Go and Let God”. Lord, walking the straight and narrow path to holiness and salvation isn’t easy, but I know it’s worth it. Praise You Lord Jesus. Amen.

p.s. – It just occurred to me after all this talk of praising and thanking God, that the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”. Thank God I’m Catholic! 🙂

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Coreteam Retreat Journal Reflections……….

Coreteam Retreat – Butte Larose, LA – Saturday September 4th, 2010

Earlier this morning, I was sitting on the porch doing some spiritual reading when i decided to come inside to the prayer room for morning prayer at 8:30. My internal time clock must have been off, because it seemed like I was by myself for quite awhile. My first self-righteous instinct was to find some reason whine about it. But, I then realized that maybe it was a prompting of the Spirit, and by God’s grace my obedience allowed me to have some one-on-one time w/Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament. As I sat in there reading, praying, and reflecting, I was able to faintly hear people in the other parts of the house waking up, talking and visiting with one another. I think I even heard a little bit of music somewhere in background. I feel like God’s grace changed the way I interpreted that situation. Instead of getting annoyed and seeing it as a distraction from prayer I rejoiced at the fellowship and joy that was filling the house.  Then I realized that so far this weekend God has been blessing us with a lot of fellowship, happiness, and joy.  What more could you ask for?!?

Reflection Questions:

1 – What is your personal desire for yourself as a result of being in this Coreteam/community?

My personal desire for myself as a result of being in this community is to have a community I can connect with and be a part of. I want to learn about what it is to be in relationship with one another. I also desire to grow in faith and trust. There’s also an intense desire to learn how to be a faithful minister of God’s love, and really be able to reach people through the work I do.

2 – What specific gifts can you share with this community?

The most prominent gift I can share is my gift of presence. Just being there with someone and knowing that simply being present as someone who carries the Spirit of Christ, and that it can  help to heal someone, is amazing. My ability to be a sheepdawg and follow orders is another gift. Let someone else be the brain, and I can be the muscle. I also have the ability to be early/on-time.

3 – What areas do you  need help with, when it comes to working in a community?

My primary downfalls are my impatience, selfishness, & timidity. I am a  naturally impatient person which hinders my ability to relax and enjoy the moment. It also hinders my ability to be patient with others and put them first. My selfishness causes me to worship time as my own. It’s really hard for me to be comfortable in the present moment. I’m in a perpetual state of unsatisfaction, always waiting for the current moment to pass so that I can get to my future moment where there is a perceived “something” that I have a greater desire for, and where I (keyword: I) can be happier. My timidity is perhaps my greatest shortfall. I lack courage, backbone, and commitment. Simply put, I’m afraid to step out for the Lord and I lack conviction. And when things get tough, I tend to back down and weasel myself into a comfortable little hole where all is OK and confrontation is far away and unnecessary.

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QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM THE 2010 DIVINE MERCY CONFERENCE

4-10-10 Saturday – Divine Mercy Conference @ The Cajundome Convention Center

I’ve decided this entry will be quotable quotes from today.

Fr. Hampton Davis quotes:

“Can’t catch love with a closed heart.” – “You better have some Jesus in You.” – ” Hell…….NO! Heaven……..YES!” – “M-E-R-C-Y. May Easter’s Reality Convert You!” – “We better count ourselves among the sinners, if we ever wanna count ourselves among the saints.” – “If  a soul does not show mercy, it will not obtain my mercy. (Fr. Hampton quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “If we are merciful we choose heaven, if not we choose hell.” – “Divine Mercy is God’s medicine.” – “If we don’t fill our empty hearts with mercy, something worse will come back and fill it up.” – “A fly cannot enter a pressure cooker. Evil cannot enter a heart full of mercy.” – “To have the title ‘Christian’, and not live up to it, THAT is taking the name of the Lord in vain.” – “C-R-E-A-M. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. The world wants CREAM.”

Dr. Bryan Thatcher quotes (involved with Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy):

“If you pray the chaplet of divine mercy at the bedside of a dying person, I will be there as their merciful Savior. (Dr. Bryan quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors.” – “Father, your will be done = Jesus I trust in you.” – “Do what I did; give it up to God, look up to Jesus.”

Imaculee Ilibagiza quotes: (sidenote: She’s a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that claimed 1 million lives, including her WHOLE family, except for one brother and herself)

“We own nothing. We should thank God for everything. It is all a gift.” – “If we grow our brains, but not our hearts, that’s bad.” – “God exists. He can help you. He is Almighty. He can do anything. If you ask him, he can move mountains.” – “At this moment of crisis, I had to decide which voice to listen to.” – “God heard me, he is real.” – “When you are angry, you are very creative.” – “You hating them does not change anything. If you pray for them, maybe there is hope.” – “The rosary is not just for Catholics or Christians. It is for every human being.” – “If I can forgive, anyone can forgive.” – “If you are conflicted between being kind and being right, choose kindness.”

Marcus Grodi quotes (he hosts the EWTN tv show “Journey Home” and is director of Coming Home Network International and is a former Protestant pastor):

“Proverbs 3:5-6. Look it up.” – “No Catholic ever gave me a reason to ever wanna become Catholic.” – “Sometimes we’re not open to an answer until we know there’s a problem.” – “1 Tim. 3:15. Look it up” – “3 biggest obstacles to becoming Catholic were ignorance of Catholic teaching, prejudice about their beliefs, and bad Catholics.” – “2 Thess. 2:15. Look it up” – “If you throw out the Church, you throw out everything.”

Annie Karto quotes (Catholic musician/evangelist):

“The truth can hurt, but it will set you free!”

Fr. Michael Champagne quotes:

“He is communion and he reconciles.” – “Enjoy the experience of your reposessed dignity.” – “When the priest lifts his hand during absolution, he’s washing you with the blood and water of Jesus. Let that inundate you.” – “Having received mercy, we have to, in turn, be merciful.”

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DIVINE APPOINTMENT NAMED MARTIN…………..

Sunday 3/28/10 – 6:10pm @ Ms. Laura Lahaye’s house by Cathedral

I just commented to Ms. Laura how God gives you opportunities to grow when he knows you need to work on something. I was just at CC’s 15 minutes ago, and one of the things I journalled about was being docile to the promptings of the Spirit. Within that area of growth is the need to recognize and fulfill divine appointments, as well as having the courage to pray with others. So, as I’m leaving CC’s, a guy named Martin catches my attention. He very politely asked if I had some money or could buy him some food. I said “Brother, I don’t have any cash, but if you follow me over to Quizno’s I’ll treat you to some dinner. He happily obliged and followed me over. I knew as soon as we started talking that I was staring Jesus in the face, and that this was a divine appointment. How could I possibly say no? I couldn’t, so I didn’t. 🙂 We met up @ Quizno’s, ordered him some food, and chatted things up while waiting for his food. No big details of life were revealed, it was mostly small talk. But I was blessed by his presence and friendliness, and also blessed to have this opportunity. It dawned on me while we were still inside, “Hey! I said I didn’t have any cash, but I’ve got a bowl full of change in my car!” That “bowl” was the cardboard change bowl that CRS (Catholic Relief Services) distributes during Lent to collect money for the poor. So I told Martin, “I got some spare change for you in my car, if you wanna follow me out once you have your food.” He was real nice and thankful at the idea, and followed me out to my car. I handed him my CRS bowl of change, and told him “Just do me a favor man, and say a prayer for me, I need it like everybody else.”

Again, he was nice and agreed and we chatted a bit, and he told me “God Bless You”. But, then I did something that’s hard for me to do and that I rarely do; I asked him if he’d like to pray, and he graciously accomodated me and accepted. I prayed a quick prayer, partially b/c I was nervous, partially because I was embarrassed, and partially because I didn’t want him to think I was trying to beat the Bible into him in 30 seconds or less. While I could have done a better job at the prayer, it was such a blessing anyways. After we prayed, I bid him farewell, and let him know that if he ever saw me again and needed anything, to let me know. He more graciously responded “Maybe next time I see you I can treat YOU to dinner.” My heart just about melted with joy and love when he said that. Why do I mention all this? Because I have to. I can’t witness God’s works and not be a witness. I had just journalled about docility to the Spirit, divine appointments, and praying with others. And then BOOM!, as soon as I walk out of CC’s, he blesses me with that encounter. I guess I don’t want to boast about what I did. I just wanted to witness to the fact that God knows our needs, and he hears and answers our prayers. He knew that I needed an opportunity to do those things, he know that I was struggling with loneliness and lack of trust in his ability to bring me fulfilling relationships, so he blessed me with my encounter with Martin. Praise you Lord for blessing me through my brother Martin. I pray that I sufficiently did your will and that Martin is now able to help bless others that you bring into his life. Amen! Glory!

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FORGIVE ME LORD…………..

Sunday 3/28/10 – 5:00pm @ CC’s Coffee on Johnston St.

I’ve been meaning to write in my journal for the past five days, but God kept presenting me with opportunities so I kept delaying it. I wanted to write about confession. I’ll spare you the details, but Tuesday I was in need of the sacrament of Confession. I couldn’t make it to noon confession @ Wisdom, so I tried going to Fatima after work, but the priest couldn’t make it. I know priests are busy, and he probably had a good reason, but this really frustrated me. It’s happened several times before. If it’s that much of a problem to be there, then don’t advertise that you will have confession at certain times on certain days. Anyhoo, so I pass by Wisdom on the way to Ms. Laura’s to see if I could catch Fr. Chester for a minute, but he was out on the road going to an appt. My chances for going to Confession were not looking too good. After our Coreteam meeting, I go back to Wisdom, catch the end of the Tuesday night Mass. I talk to one of the staff members to see if there was any chance I could pull Fr. Chester aside real quick to hear my confession. Instead of some nice, charitable, generic, non-commital answer that would encourage me to make the decision myself, she came at me with a stiff-necked response of “there are scheduled times when the priest is available.” No Duh!!!!! You think I don’t know that? Again, I didn’t expect her to ask the priest for me, but at least have some kind of decency and compassion in the way you respond to me. For God’s sake, I’m trying to restore a connection of grace between my soul and God.

You better darn well make that more of a priority of yours if you work for the Church. At this point, the disappointment was really starting to set in. Then I get the idea to go to the Community of Jesus Crucified to see if Fr. Frey or Fr. Champagne were there. Surely, they, of all people, would be available. Well, as my luck would have it, neither one was there. They were out and about on other priestly duties. At this point, I had just about resigned (consigned?) myself to not receiving the Sacrament. So I’m headed back home on Pinhook Road and I pass by St. Patrick’s. I see a car at the rectory, so I pull in to see if the lights are on. Sure enough, they are. For a split second, I ponder whether or not to disturb the priest. I decided that a slight inconvenience on his part is worth it, if on my part, my soul is restored to God. So, I knock on his door, and after I explain my situation, he mutters something about the situation being ridiculous (not joking, wish I could say I was) and then talks about how he just heard confessions for 2 and a half hours at a penance service, which was “scheduled to give people the opportunity to receive the Sacrament.” Well you know what, I couldn’t make it. Furthermore, ministry doesn’t always happen neatly on our own schedule. Sometimes *GASP!* you have to answer a knock on the door at night, after you’ve already returned home and become all comfy and relaxed. To the priest’s credit though, he allowed me into his house, heard my confession, and absolved me of my sins. As I finally achieved my goal of restoring my soul to God, I reflected on how I got to that point.

I deliberately chose to separate my soul from God by my selfish action. But I knew right away that I wanted to restore my soul as soon as I could into God’s grace and life. As I was making my attempts to go to confession and failing, I wondered if I was being impatient, and maybe if I should just wait until the next day. However, I realized that I can’t stand it when I’m separated from God. I also realized that we are never guaranteed our next breath, and that I might not live to see another day. That being said, I didn’t want my last day on earth to be one that was marked by giving up on trying to reconcile my soul to God. That’s why I drove all over town and went through all that trouble. And you know what? It was worth it. There’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING like experiencing the burden of sin being lifted from your soul through the sacrament of Confession. I felt like that whole series of events mirrored 2 separate bible passages. One was about the woman who kept after the judge to grant ruling on a decision she was seeking. She kept after him to do it. Finally, even if not because he desired to do it, he granted her a ruling because of her persistence. The other bible passage is Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In other news, I feel like God continues to bless me as I journey towards my vocation as a foreign Catholic lay missionary. Right now I’m trying to live my life by learning to love where God has me at the moment. He is using this time leading up to my missionary training to teach me about patience and obedience.

I believe he’s also teaching me docility to the promptings of the Spirit. There have been so many opportunities in the small, normal, everyday circumstances for me to be a missionary. Sometimes, I’ve responded well, sometimes I haven’t. It feels like I’m doing an ok job in giving of my time and money. I’m not doing a good job of praying with others or having personal prayer time for myself. Being a missionary at work is really hard too. How the heck do I be Christ-like in a place I don’t want to be, and neither do I feel called to be there. However, even if it’s not my permanent calling, it’s where i’m called to be right now. And that means I need to be a missionary there. I know that’s what God wants, and if Jesus can do what he did, then surely I can receive graces his sacrifice to do the difficult things in life that I must do. I praise and I thank God for working slowly but surely in my life and helping me to grow and become a better person. I thank God for the many small victories and countless blessings in my life. I pray for the grace to be able to give my life to God and live on his terms and not mine. I pray for the grace to be able to TRUST him. Gosh, I know this sounds random, but I really do miss the people that were on the trip to Mexico earlier this month. Lord, help me to let friendships and relationships develop under your guidance, according to your plan, and on your timeframe. Thank you Lord for the many blessings of my life that have helped me to grow closer to you. Help me to bring others closer to you. Amen! Glory!

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I’M FULLY ALIVE!

3/10/10 Wednesday – Chapel @ Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Mexico

So I’m sitting here, urgently trying to remember what it is that I wanted to write in my journal today. “Lord help me to remember, Lord help me to remember.” And all of a sudden it dawns on me “I’m fully alive!”. Being on mission again this week has caused me to notice a few things about myself. There’s a certain happiness, joy, and energy. Things that would normally bother me, don’t. Things that I wouldn’t normally do, I do. Certain behaviors and character traits I’ve noticed before in bits and pieces, I’m noticing alot more of.

Does this mean I’m a poser, being someone that’s not really me? Am I being a fake? My answer is no! I don’t think that’s it at all. I think what is happening is that I’m more fully myself. This is who I really am, and I like it. I’m more patient, more charitable, and an all-around better person. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and I’m thrilled. I’m having heartfelt conversations with my fellow missionaries this week, and it energizes me. Everything that has happened this week has given me joy. It almost feels like I’m running out of words and ways to say it. I’M MORE FULLY ALIVE! My prayer now is that God takes this newfound vibrancy and help me to continue doing his will.

Lord Jesus, I ask and pray that this new beginning lead to a greater level of commitment and faithfulness. I pray Lord that it lead me to the knowledge that you love me with an undying love, and that you only want the best for me. Lord, I pray for the grace to trust in you. Thank you Jesus for loving me and helping me to love others. As you have blessed me, help me to bless others. Praise God! Amen!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – REVEAL THE UGLY

12-2-09 (final installment)

The fact that I found the grace, in the midst of foreign missions, to be carefree, patient, and trust in God, was a sign to me that “Hey, maybe this is where God wants me so my faith can flourish”. I left the trip with a firm desire to continue to develop patience along with my missionary zeal. As far as zeal goes, I think we’re good to go. Patience, on the other hand, is another story. I realize that lasting growth is slow and steady, but it just plain sucks that I failed so miserably today. In one discussion at work today with a coworker that started to get heated, not only was I wrong, but to add the proverbial salt to my wound, he acted how I should have, keeping his cool and patience.

In another heated discussion with another co-worker, I was correct in what I was saying, but the way in which I said it negated any good that could have come from the point I was trying to make. And in retrospect, I wasn’t even completely correct, cuz in making my point, I realized I had adopted the very selfish and self-righteous attitude I was railing against. The good thing about all of this is that I knowit’s God’s grace that is allowing me to see these “ugly” areas that I need to work on. If I couldn’t see them and be exposed to the unpleasant truth of how far I have to go, then my bliss would be the absolute epitome of ignorance. At least I’ve got Mission Formation to look forward to tonight! 🙂 It’s the commissioning Mass for this year’s Intake, and will probably be one of the last few times I see any of them for quite awhile. Till next time……..God Bless!

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