Wednesday, April 17, 2013

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Widely known for his devotion to aesthetic living, St. Benedict Joseph Labre truly exemplified humility. After many disappointments in his life, he would have an epiphany and devote his suffering to the Lord. We can learn much from this amazing man, who inspires us to do more to serve and support the poor and homeless.

Labre was born in France in 1748, the eldest of 18 children. He would study to become a priest under his uncle, who himself was a parish priest. When he turned 16 years of age, Labre inquired about becoming a Trappist monk, but was told he was too young. An epidemic fell upon the city, eventually affecting Labre's uncle, which would halt his education.

Labre was denied entry to many different religious orders, on account of his age, delicacy, and sanity. This would, not stop him, for he would persevere, following God's will for him. This would lead Labre to join the Third Order Franciscans, and live a life of poverty and pilgrimage.

First off, Labre decided to travel to Rome bare-foot, in addition to traveling to many of Europe's most famous shrines. He would sleep in the open, in his dirty clothes, while living off what he received from begging. He even went as far as to share what little he had with the homeless, while silently praying often.

In addition to his great perseverance and humility, many magical characteristics were attributed to Labre, such as levitation and bilocation. Additionally, he was known for having cured the homeless, and multiplied bread for them. In the last years of his life, Labre would live in parts of the Colosseum.

On the last day of his life, Labre dragged himself to a church in Rome, praying for 2 hours before collapsing and dying of malnutrition. People immediately started informally calling him a saint.

Labre did not let his drawbacks affect his determination to fulfill whatever God had in store for him. It may not always be clear as to what God has in store for us. However, the best way to resolve this is to continue to pray fervently. God reveals his ways sometimes in a manner which we might not always expect. What is known is that Labre was truly a great man, a man devoted to the homeless, humility, his faith, devoted to God.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bust those exam blues!

I want to keep this post kind of short today because I'm sure we all have some studying to do with exams coming up this week and next.  So there are just a few things that I think we all need to be reminded of:

1. You are not defined by your grades.  If you receive an F, God will not love you any less.  And really, his opinion is the only one that matters anyways.
2. You can only do so much, so do you best.  If you give it your best shot, there's nothing more you can do, end of story.
3. Pray for God to direct your studying.  Pray to God when you feel completely stressed.  Pray to God when you finish your exams. Just pray, okay?!
4. Keep smiling, watch a funny video, put in your headphones and have a dance party, be a bit dramatic...and then laugh at yourself.  Life's too short to be miserable!

Good luck everyone, I pray that we all pass with flying colors and come out smiling!

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fresh starts

I'm going to start with a Henri Nouwen quote

"God not only says: 'You are my Beloved.'  God also asks: 'Do you love me?' and offers us countless chances to say 'Yes' to our inner truth.  The spiritual life, thus understood, radically changes everything.  Being born and growing up, leaving home and finding a career, being praised and being rejected, walking and resting, praying and playing, becoming ill and being healed - yes, living and dying - they all become expressions of that divine question: 'Do you love me?' And at every point of the journey there is the choice to say 'Yes' and the choice to say 'No.'"

This passage really touched me because I really identify with it.  Especially coming out of Lent.  I'm not sure how your lent was, but mine was...well...let's just say I'm so glad my lent was not taken for a grade and factored into my GPA.  But that's the thing, I felt God's love in my failures and shortcomings and I learned a lot too, so maybe that means it was a success.  My lent was filled with me trying to give myself a fresh start by saying, "Okay, I'm going to do better starting now."  And what a gift from God because every second we live is an opportunity to have a fresh start.  Like that Henri Nouwen quote says, "at every point of the journey" God is giving us chances to say "Yes" and to try again.

I heard this story once on the radio and I think about it often.  A child was playing in a tree in his backyard when all of the sudden his foot slipped and he was dangling by his legs.  Full of fear, he yelled out to his dad for help.  The father, of course, rushed to help his son out of the tree.  He didn't stop and think, "did my son make his bed this morning?" or "Has he been nice to his sister today?"  There were no conditions for helping his son.  Nothing mattered but that his child needed and wanted his father.

God is that way with us, we even catch a glimpse of that in the Easter story when Jesus forgives the sinner on the cross next to his own.  It didn't matter that the man did all of those bad things for his entire life, Jesus gave that man hope and saved him in the very last moments of his life.  It wasn't too late for that crucified man and it certainly isn't too late for us.  So, if you are like me and seem to be in need of motivation, I pray that we find comfort in knowing that we can start over at any point.  It's one of the many blessings that God has given us.  I pray that we all feel called to express our "Yes" to God in every moment of our lives and that God helps us along the way.

Until next time,

P.S. I find this song SUPER inspiring when talking about new beginnings and fresh starts:  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Here's to the Future!

                It’s getting closer and closer to graduation and I’m getting more and more apprehensive. I am ending my fourth year of college and am still unsure of what to pursue. I feel like I should know by now; you should know what you’re planning to do by the time your college graduation is three weeks away. It’s hard to apply to programs and jobs when you don’t know what to apply for.
                I’ve interviewed several professionals during my later years of college, hoping their stories and advice would help me figure things out. It’s funny that the most helpful answers have been the ones with the most unclear future and next steps. We seem to be taught all through schooling that we will find that one thing that we are meant to do for the rest of our lives. That everyone has a special talent or skill that will land them their perfect dream job. Well, my new-found advice is that this is not true. Yes, there are those people that know what they want to do from day one or figure it out through some awesome experience or moment of realization. For the most part, we find our way over time. Most of the people I talked to started in a way different place than where they ended up.
                In your career, sometimes you have to start smaller and somewhere different than you once expected; but that’s part of finding your way. And sometimes you won’t find that ‘perfect job’ that you just love and think about all the time. Sometimes your career is not that perfect thing in your life. For some people, it’s their family, volunteering, a hobby; it could be so many things and your career could be supporting what you truly care about in life. Of course it is necessary to love what you are doing, or at least like your job. Otherwise a person could be very unhappy.
                If it is hard to focus in on your talents and skills (because not all of us are going to cure cancer, release a hit album, unveil a master painting, or score the most points in football) try thinking about the little things that seem easy or normal to you. Ask your friends or family something special about you or a skill they admire in you. Your talents might not be loud and bright; instead they might be humble and natural. For instance, I play the trumpet but I wouldn’t say I could make a living from it, but I am a great listener, I easily empathize with others and help them help themselves, and I remain calm and my normal self under stressful circumstances. These are great talents and skills that often go unrecognized when I should put them in the spotlight.
                Figuring out your life, what you are good at and what you value and care about, doesn’t happen for everyone in the same way. Don’t put yourself down for not having everything figured out by a certain date. People are constantly changing and adapting. There are things you may not know about yourself for a long time; you might find you have a talent in writing poetry when you enter your 60’s. You never know. Just reflect on how God made you the perfect you and what special talents and skills He gave you. You’ll help people and change the world. You just have to look at it from the right perspective. Be excited for what's to come; they say the journey is better than the destination so here's to the future!

Good luck as you constantly discover something new about yourself,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blessed Francis Faà di Bruno

Many famous scientists, leaders, and thinkers have been practicing Catholics, including Blessed Francis Faa di Bruno. He is known not only for his great devotion to his faith but also to the study of mathematics. He is a great example of what people are capable of when they put their trust in God.

Francis was born in Italy in 1825 as the last of twelve children to Marchese Luigi Faà di Bruno and the Lady Carolina Sappa de' Milanesi. When Francis was born, there was a lot of anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiments going around. It was a very turbulent time, which would have tested even the most fervent Catholic. However, Francis stayed true to his faith.

At first, Francis joined the Royal Army, rising through the ranks. However, he would resign to travel to Paris, where he pursued doctoral studies in mathematics and astronomy. Studying under the discoverers of Neptune, he would become a math professor at the University of Turin. Even though he was advancing his status in the scholarly realm, Francis also cared deeply about religion and asceticism. While he was pursuing his career aspects, Francis, who was friends with St. John Bosco, would establish refuges for the poor and elderly.

To further dedicate his life to religion, Francis decided to study theology, but the Archbishop would not approve of his ordination, since he was older than many of the other seminarians. It was not uncommon for younger men or boys to begin studies for the priesthood. Nevertheless, after appealing to the Pope, Francis was ordained at the age of 51.

After being ordained, Francis founded the Society of St. Zita, to provide support for maids and domestic servants, although it would eventually expand to included unmarried women. Later on in his life, he would establish another refuge, this time for prostitutes.

In mathematics, Francis's main contribution was Faà di Bruno's formula on derivatives of composite functions. He also published 40 articles in many different mathematics journals around the world.

It amazes me that one man can do so many great things. Francis definitely exemplified not only his Catholic faith, but the true essence of a Renaissance man, for he was gifted in many different areas. It just goes to show that not all great minds reject religion, but instead some of the greatest minds that have roamed this earth are the most profound examples of faith.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Salvator of Horta

Holiness is an amazing characteristic to have, but in some cases it can cause some unneeded public attention. Public attention is not usually a desire of very many saints, especially St. Salvador, who would actually suffer because of it.

Salvador Pladevall i Bien was born to parents who were servants, during the Golden Age of Spain, which was flourishing in arts, politics, wealth, and even religion. Orphaned at the age of 14, Salvador and his sister would move to Barcelona, where he would take a job as a shoemaker to support the both of them.

After his sister had married, Salvador felt free to enter the religious life. At first, he entered the local Benedictine monastery, tin order to explore monastic life, but would seek a more humble experience. Therefore, at 21 years old, he entered the Fransiscans as a lay brother, where he would be known for his humility and simple ways.

He worked as cook, a porter, and eventually the official beggar for the Franciscans at  a friar in Tortosa, Spain. While there, he became known for his charity and he would often heal people simply by making the sign of the cross. It was estimated that at one point 2000 people would come to Tortosa to see Salvador each week so that he could heal them. His superiors would become suspicious of him, continually transferring him to new friars. This would cause Salvador great gried throughout his life. Nevertheless, the sick kept following him wherever he went.

The public attention that Salvador received was relentless. It was said that people would tear off pieces of Salvador's habit to keep as relics. Salvador would eventually move to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia, where he died in 1567. 

It is great that saints are able to influence so many people, but sometimes all of the attention can detract from God's will for them. God has a plan for all of us, some people might atract more attention, but we are all important in God's eyes, and we should all strive to live as God wills us. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trust in God

                Sorry, I’m infringing onto Mel’s day here. I wanted to write for Kathe’s day yesterday, but I ended up being busier than I thought with a doctor’s appointment and going home for our spring break. I promise I won’t write as much J

                Kathe has taken a class every year that ends with a trip to Africa. It’s a great experience getting to learn a lot about public health and culture as well as helping with sustainable projects for the people there. Although she has a fantastic teacher and travels with her class, I worry since it’s so far away and such a huge trip. Going to a different continent and not having email or a phone is hard. It’s scary to me to not be able to hear from her or know what’s going on and I worry a lot. Last week before she left, Kathe told me that whenever I’m feeling worried or sad that I should pray. I kind of brushed it off thinking that it wouldn’t help me feel any better. It didn’t change not knowing if she’s okay. She told me to do it and trust in God because it really would help. So I have been praying when I’m worried and it really has helped. It’s funny to me that I’ve never really thought that maybe I had a trust issue and needed to strengthen my faith in that way, but letting go and trusting Him more has helped me a lot. I prayed just walking to class and I’ve been praying when I’m lying in bed falling asleep. It really has been calming and comforting and I feel like I am less worried because I am being more trusting in Him to take care of things. I think it was a good lesson to learn and I wanted to share it with you.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1