Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows Eve

Happy Halloween!!!

Today is Halloween, a time of dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and eating tons of candy. I am always so excited for this time of the year, everything and everyone is so festive. However, until recently I did not realize that Halloween is actually a very spiritual holiday.

Halloween started out, about 2000 years ago, as a festival celebrated by the Celts to mark the end of the year. October signaled the end of the harvest season, and the start of a long, hard winter, that would kill many animals and even some people. Therefore, during this time of the year, Pagan Celts celebrated death, and believed that the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped, allowing spirits to roam around among the living, playing pranks, scaring people, and ruining crops.

Some Celts dressed up in costumes or left food out to ward away the spirits. It was also believed that fairies roamed the land during Halloween, dressed up as beggars. If you gave food to the fairies, you would be rewarded, but if you didn't, then there would be horrible consequences. This sounds oddly familiar to an activity that many kids participate in during modern Halloween...

The Roman empire took over the Celtic land in the first century AD, and over the next several years, Christianity would spread to all of these areas. The Church did not like the Pagan traditions that were being celebrated on Halloween. Pope Boniface IV had designated May 13 as All Saints Day, but in 835 A.D., Pope Gregory IV moved the holiday to November 1 to take away attention from the Pagan traditions. All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows, or All Hallowmas (Hallowmas is Old English for All Saints Day), so the day before was called All Hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween.

Jack-o-lanterns, a Halloween staple, got their name from an old Irish myth. It explains that there was an old man, named 'Stingy Jack,' who was a swindler and a drunk. Jack asked the devil to have a drink with him. He persuaded the devil to turn into a coin so that he could pay for his drink. When the devil transformed, Jack took the coin and put it into his pocket, next to a silver cross, which prevented the devil from changing back. Jack agreed to free the devil as long as he wouldn't bother Jack for the year. The devil agreed, but next year Jack tricked him again. This time, Jack got the devil to climb a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While the devil was up in the tree, Jack quickly carved a cross into the tree, preventing the devil from climbing down. Therefore, the devil agreed to never seek Jack's soul again. When Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven because of his drunkenness and swindling, but he was also not allowed into hell because the devil had kept his word. The devil felt bad for Jack so he gave him an ember that was housed inside a carved out turnip to carry around on his everlasting journey, roaming the earth.

During the mid-1800s, immigration to America had increased, and many of the immigrants were Catholic and Irish, bringing Halloween traditions with them. Catholics and Episcopalians sought to preserve Halloween, so they tried to introduce it to the general population. This obviously worked, for Halloween is currently the second largest commercial holiday in the United States. However, today Halloween is seen more as a family and traditional holiday, rather than a spiritual or religious holiday.

It is amazing how much history there is behind Halloween. Now, if anyone asks, you will know the true meaning behind all the spooky traditions.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beautiful hearts

Reading Kathe's post made me think of a story someone once told me.  This story really left an impact on me and I'd like to share it with you.

There was this young woman who claimed she had the most beautiful heart in the whole world.  It wasn't scratched, cracked, or broken.  Her heart was completely intact and not a single piece of it was missing.  She walked around town boasting of her beautiful heart and challenging anyone to have a heart better than hers.  People silently agreed with her.  Her heart didn't even have one single flaw.

Then one day an old woman spoke up.  She said, "My heart is much more beautiful than yours."  The young woman laughed.  Surely this old woman must be joking.  Her heart was cracked.  There were pieces missing and pieces that didn't fit.  The young woman said, "How can you possibly think that your heart is more beautiful than mine?"  The old woman smiled and said, "The pieces of my heart that are missing I have given to all the people I have loved.  The parts that look like they don't fit were given to me by the people who have loved me.  My heart has been broken by one person and then put back together.  I have loved and been loved, hurt and been healed which is why my heart is more beautiful than your heart."  Then as young know it all girls often do, she realized she was wrong.  She reached down and broke off a piece of her heart and gave it to the old woman.  The old woman broke off a piece of her heart to put in its place.

After my friend told me this story, she continued with her own wisdom: "You can live your life one of two ways.  You can guard your heart to avoid a break or you can give it away and have a life filled with love.  It won't always be pretty but it will always be worth it."

Love can be a scary thing.  Any kind of love.  Any risk.  But you can decide which heart you think is more beautiful.  Kathe's right, put your heart out there.  Of course there's a chance that it might get broken or bruised but maybe that will make room for a piece from another person's heart.

Until next time,

Just Let It Go

“Have you ever put your heart out there, and just let it go?” That was the tag line on a commercial I just saw. Normally I don’t really tune in to commercials, but this one caught my attention. The bluntness of the question reached out to me. It made me think of the times I have “put my heart out there.” The first instance that came to mind was how I’ve given my heart to the organization that I talked about a few posts ago. And my thoughts flew to the hurt I’ve felt, the backstabbing that people have done to me, the betrayal and brokenness I’ve felt. If I hadn’t put my heart out there for them, none of that would have happened. I wouldn’t be trying to get over the anger and bitterness I feel. I wouldn’t be left trying to pick up the scattered pieces, and trying to learn how to trust people again.

But that’s not me. I don’t just do things half-heartedly. If I’m going to be committed to something and give it my time, I believe in giving 110% effort and doing the best I can. That doesn’t exactly work too well if I don’t put my whole heart into whatever organization or cause I’m trying to be involved in.

So that leads me to the current dilemma: give my whole heart again because that’s who I am and risk another heart break, or give a half-hearted effort to everything and not worry about possible painful consequences.

Then I heard that quote, and the last line made me think about it slightly differently. Give your whole heart, and just let it go. Life isn’t easy. I get that. It’s also, to my dismay, not fair. But that doesn’t mean I should give up and let it get me down. I will get hurt along the way, and I could let that get to me. I could stop trying, and hole myself up behind a wall I let no one break down. While that’s what I feel like doing right now, I know it’s not the right choice. Yes, I may get hurt, but if I build up a wall, I will also be keeping all the good out. That line is telling me to let what happens happen. There will be times that it doesn’t work out, but if I get pushed down and hurt, I need to just brush myself off, stand up, and shake it off. I can’t dwell on those times. There will also be times that it pays off, where my hard work is noticed and great things happen. Whatever happens, though, I can’t let myself get too wrapped up in it (either the good or the bad). I just need to be me, and everything will work out as it’s supposed to.

I hope anyone being held back by a grudge or negative feelings or pain can start to let that go. I have realized that while things may not always work out in your favor, God has a plan and He is seeing you through the hard times. Cherish the good, and, as I’m learning, don’t dwell on the bad. Why waste your time, anyway? God will make it all work out. As I’m beginning to chip away at the negative feelings holding me back, I’ll be praying for everyone else who needs some peace and the reminder to just put your heart out there, and let it go.

God bless,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Let the Moment Pass

                Do you ever have a moment where you want to reach out to someone, to give them a compliment or a bit of encouragement, but you let the moment pass? I so often find myself doing this and I have tried over time, especially in college, to reach out to people more and seize the moment.
                I am a person that does not know how to accept compliments well and I am hesitant to give them, especially when I do not know the person. I’m afraid it won’t come across well. For instance, I am a self-proclaimed claw machine pro and usually win little stuffed animals when I make the attempt, and once I won this big pink bear. A little girl walked by with her mom and wanted to try to win something too and her mom said ‘no’ and that it was a waste of money. I really wanted to give her the bear, but I hesitated and was afraid to overstep my bounds and the opportunity passed. Every time I looked at the bear I thought of that little girl. That little act of kindness and step out of my comfort zone would have been so easy for me but made a big deal for that little girl, and maybe even her mom too.
                Or more recently, a cantor at mass lost her place in a song earlier this semester. She had such a beautiful voice and it was obvious that she had practiced and was familiar with the music, her nerves might just have gotten the best of her. During the entire mass, I thought to myself how I was going to go up to her after mass and tell her what a great job she did and how she had a beautiful voice. But as the end drew near, I found myself lingering but giving in after all to my hesitations. I always regret these times because I know that it would be nice for that person to know that she did do a great job. That people noticed what she did well over the one small mistake. That little bit of encouragement would have meant a lot to her, but instead, again, I let the opportunity pass me by.
                As I’m getting older, and seeing  things from a more experienced and (hopefully) more mature perspective, I’ve realized how easy it is to step out of my little comfort zone. To reach out to those in need, even when the need is just a teddy bear or few words of encouragement. In my classes and groups on campus I’ve tried to reach out to people more. I’ve given praise, showed agreement, or even just smiled and nodded when they needed it. I try to include others when I can tell they can’t find their moment to jump in. Validating and encouraging others is something that is, in essence, so easy to do but can mean so much and make a difference to the other person.
                God encourages us and helps us when we need it. Sometimes I have to just smile and appreciate the moment when I know something worked out because God made it happen that way for me and supported  me when I needed it. God wants us to help others in need, even when that need may be small. We can do so much to spread this to others in His name. So I charge you, take a risk. Reach out to that person who calls to you, who you see in need of a smile, encouragement, or inspiration. Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk, don’t let the moment pass.

Go and be God’s support for someone else,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Your Cup Half Full?

Being an engineer, I like to tell a joke. Some people see the glass as half empty, some see it half full, and an engineer knows it's twice as large as it needs to be. Not my best, but it still makes me chuckle.

Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a quote by St. Augustine that was somewhat, if indirectly, related. Of course, I don't remember how it went exactly. However, it had to do with fulfillment in heaven. He describes the fulfillment we will all find in heaven as having a cup that is overflowing. But, not everyone has the same size cup. We all are completely satisfied, but not with the same amount of satisfaction.

Mind blown.

Augustine goes on to discuss the importance of prayer. Prayer, he says, is the way we can increase the size of our cup. We seek, through our conversations with God, His grace and an increase in our capability to accept what He has planned for us. I never in my life considered prayer as a way to increase my ability to accept God's gifts. Prayer is so powerful that it can determine just how eternally happy you are. All the more reason to be taking advantage of our time here.

Til next time,


Friday, October 26, 2012

Carpe Diem

This morning as I was getting up and going through my morning routine of getting ready, checking email, blackboard, and of course face book, I saw one of my friends posted “im glad you woke up this morning :) get excited for life today!!!”

Facebook is such a funny thing.  Sometimes the posts are funny, sometimes, sad, sometimes obnoxious, and others just happy.  I never really know what I am going to see on there.  This just stood out to me because there is just so much of God’s love to be known, lived and experienced.  I am so happy that you are alive and well.  I am so excited that today you get to experience all of the joys and challenges God has in store for you.

I am a planner.  Most weeks I plan every day down to the hour with everything I need to do.  You would think it might be a challenge to get excited when I am just going through my days checking things off of my to-do list.  Sometimes it is.  More often than not though, this is never the case; probably because there are so many unforeseen events that occur.   God gives us so many opportunities throughout our day to show and receive His love, things I could never dream of planning.   How exciting is that?!?

You just never know what kind of surprises God has in store for you =)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Silence is Golden

A couple of days ago I had the chance to sit outside and enjoy this wonderful weather we’ve been having.  In the midst of a couple of busy weeks, this was a much needed break just to sit and think and pray.  In the hustle and bustle of day to day work and school, I often forget how beneficial it is to sit in silence and just to be with my thoughts.  While I was sitting there, I had a great conversation with God.  I’d tell him how I felt about upcoming events in my life, or issues I have or will be facing, and while these concerns of mine used to be troubling, He seemed to be able to speak to me in a way that calmed me down.  Just listening to Him filled me with love and understanding.  Nothing He could tell me came as bad news or increased my anxiety.  It is during moments like this one when I wonder why I ever turn away from the Lord at times or why I refuse to listen to what He has to say. So, while the weather remains nice, which won’t be too much longer, make a point to go outside and listen to what God has to say to you.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Lord, fill me with Your peace.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony Mary Claret, a Spanish archbishop and missionary, who founded the congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known as the Claretians. He was also the confessor of Queen Isabella II of Spain.

St. Anthony was born in Barcelona on December 23, 1807. He became a weaver at the age of twelve, following a path similar to his father, who manufactured wool. Anthony left Barcelona to enter the Seminary at Vic, continuing to study theology for the next ten years. He was very interested in missionary work, traveling to Rome, but he became ill and had to return to Spain.

St. Anthony had a great disposition for serving the needs of the poor, especially through missions. In 1848, he was sent to the Canary Islands, where he gave retreats for fifteen months. Furthermore, when he returned to Spain, he founded Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He did not stop there, he even founded a religious library in Barcelona, which has issued several million copies of ancient and modern Catholic works.

St. Anthony was rewarded for these great works, for Pope Pius IX appointed him as the archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, in 1849. He accomplished many great works as Archbishop of Santiago, including reorganizing the Santiago seminary, erecting a hospital and numerous schools, and validating over 9,000 marriages.

In February 1857, Anthony was appointed as confessor of Queen Isabella II. He continued to serve the poor and teach, while establishing a scientific laboratory, a museum of natural history, a library, college, and schools of music and language. He always focused on living a frugal life and taught the poor the importance of savings.

Today the Claretians have over 450 houses and 3100 members, with missions in five different continents. St. Anthony also formed the rules for many communities of Religious Sisters. Many different schools are named after Claret and run by Claretians, in South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

St. Anthony Mary Claret dedicated his life to serving the poor and helping those in need. He also understood the value of education and the role that it plays in faith. St. Anthony is a great example of true disciple of Christ. We should all realize the talents that God has bestowed up on us, and use these gifts to help other that are in need just like St. Anthony did.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I heard something on the radio last week that just seemed to stick with me: "Acting like a Christian is easy, reacting like a Christian is hard."

As a waitress, my reactions are key.  Every night I work, I have those undesirable customers.  Customers that run me back and forth a hundred times, customers that think it's okay to treat me like their servant and order me around, and customers that leave me a two dollar tip after taking up my table for over an hour.  These are frustrating things.  Usually I can force out a smile and an extra dose of patience when I'm at my customers table, but when I go in the back, all bets are off.  Ashamed to admit, I don't react with the kind of love and patience in which God calls me.

"Acting like a Christian is easy, reacting like a Christian is hard."

Definitely a challenge for me.  I know I'm not perfect and I know I will slip up, but I need to make more of an effort to react like a Christian too.  Because really, the person that I am when I react negatively is not the person I want to be.  My actions and reactions should not clash.  The good news is that I am constantly being presented with opportunities to improve and react in a more Christ like manner.

Maybe take some time today to determine if your reactions match your actions.

Until next time,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Let go and let God

Today, I wanted to take a break from life reflections, and simply let you know how much God loves you. It's slightly past the middle of the semester, and I'm sure some of you are feeling the stress of everything; I know I am. But remember to turn to God during these times. He is always, always there for you and His strength and love will see you through hard times. If you're seeking direction on your life path, remember that He is always guiding you and has the perfect plan for you. Everything will work out in time. Have faith, take a step back, and focus on God. He makes everything okay. I know I often times get caught up in the petty little worries of my life, and I tend to stress out about a lot of things that I shouldn't let get to me. God has a purpose for everything, though, and I am beginning to trust Him more. It's so peaceful and it makes me so happy to put my trust in Him and let go of my worries. I hope that the images below can help you to let go and let God take control of your life. So have a great week everybody! Smile, because you're awesome and God loves you! : )

 God bless, 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wherever You Go, I am Here

So I mentioned last week that I wanted to share a song with you. At the mass, one of the songs we sang was the Covenant Hymn and it really moved me. I love music and I always follow along with the songbooks, although I don’t always sing out loud which I am trying to do more, so the music is a way I connect His messages more during mass. This song really stuck out to me and stayed with me. The main message is that God will be with you no matter what.
It is easy to become separated from God with the busy schedule of college life, and really with the activities of daily life for anyone. Sometimes I feel like God is somewhere other than me, like He is in a Holy place far away watching me and the world; I pray to Him for guidance, but I don’t act like I’m sitting right beside Him, I don’t hear His response in my ear, I don’t see Him. This song says that wherever I live is His home. He’ll never leave me alone. Whatever I dream and clouds mist my future, we are together. When I fall, or am betrayed by others, He will raise me up. He is faithful to me. It is so different for me to think that God is holding my hand along the way, walking beside me all my life. If I ever feel far away or run from His love, He will stay faithful to me. God being faithful to me is a concept I’ve never thought of before. It is such a different way to think about my relationship with God.
The song also says that “wherever you die, [He] will be there to sing you to sleep with a psalm.” He will calm you and soothe you . It is a very comforting way to look at death. It is something that is hard to think about; completely leaving the world and not being a part of people’s lives anymore, but the song really shows what God’s presence does even in an unfamiliar and scary situation. He will relive our journeys and take away my fears and doubts. Our journey. We will be buried together. He will be with me always and forever.
This is such a unique and comforting message of God’s love for us. It is something to think about during your life. Remembering that God isn’t some far off idea and that He is actually walking beside us all through our days will strengthen our relationship with Him and comfort us when we need Him. I encourage you to listen to the song and I hope you reflect upon this and feel His presence with you always.

Link to Covenant Hymn:


Friday, October 19, 2012

Our Personal Best

I had a revelation this week.  I am not perfect.  Wow shocker I know right?  We know we are not perfect but yet we strive so hard to be perfect.  Why is that?  I strive for that 100% on my test to get perfects, but in the end what it comes down to, is knowing how to take care of a patient in need.  I push myself a lot, to get moving in the morning even thought I slept only a good 5 hours.  My knee is killing me but I try so hard to ignore it.  I can’t tell you why that is either.  It is rather ridiculous that I don’t reorganize my day so that I can get to bed earlier or just call my doctor to give me some pain medication for my knees. 

Recently, I have felt my thought process change.  I have now tried the approach of doing/giving things a 110% effort.  We are not made for perfection, and to strive for that is overwhelming, and stressful.   And in some cases, we are only setting ourselves up for failure.  Why do we do that to ourselves? 
If we were perfect, would we know God as well?  If I had perfect knees, I don’t think I would pray to give me strength for the day.  If I had known everything that was taught to me, I don’t think I would be as open to the lessons I am supposed to learn through lived experiences.  If I knew how to approach every situation, I don’t k now if I would be able to see Christ in others as much as I do now. 

Being perfect, kind of seems overrated to me.  But, I do care.  I care a lot about my future patients that depend on my knowledge.  I care about academics.  I care about my love for others and my love for God.  But that doesn’t mean that we need perfection.  It means we have to give it our all.  God knows that we need His help and he doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  He wants us to share the talents that He has given us.  He wants us to just to continue our life journeys by continuously growing in our faith and making ourselves better.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reliable Source of Relaxation

This week has and continues to be a very busy week for me.  It is during weeks like this when I try to find every way to gain a few extra minutes to get some work done.  The thought of maybe cutting back on my time in prayer or time spent on writing this blog also runs through my head during times like these.  I have done this before, cutting back on prayer time, and to say the least, it was not worth it.  It sounds like a good idea in theory, but when it comes to execution the theory falls short.  It seems that when I cut back on my prayer time and other times spent with God, my stress level begins to rise, even though I have more time to do homework.  It is funny how just a few minutes in prayer can relax you and relieve some stress.  When I seem to be very stressed out, I say a quick prayer multiple times throughout the day, and just those little prayers relieve a lot of pressure.  In today’s reading, there is a line that says, “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.”  Little verses like this one provide me with the feeling that everything will work out, because God is on my side and He will see that I am ok. 

My favorite verse to read when times are tough is Philippians 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Medicine of Immortality

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a prominent figure in the history of the Early Catholic Church. As Bishop of Antioch and one of the Early Church Fathers, Ignatius provided a glimpse into the life of a martyr, and he also spoke on the teachings of the Catholic Church when it was still in its infancy.

 The city of Antioch was an epicenter of important events in the history of Catholic church. This is the location where the followers of Jesus were called Christian for the first time. This is also first center of outreach to Gentiles and the city where Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary journeys.

Not much is known about the life of St. Ignatius, but his writings affirmed the values that live on in the Church today. During the reign of Trajan, a persecution broke out in Syria, and Ignatius, being the leader of the capital city, was apprehended and martyred because of his faith. While Ignatius was being transported to Italy for his official martyrdom, he wrote seven very important letters.

Ignatius was centuries ahead of his time, writing on issues that were not resolved until the First Council of Nicaea, which took place 200 years after his death. One such issue is the identity of Jesus Christ. Ignatius taught that Jesus is eternal, above all time and creation, truly God in the fullest sense.

During Ignatius's time, there were heretics called Docetists, who taught that Jesus was not human, but, instead, his body was merely an illusion. Therefore, they also believed that his death was not real but an appearance. Ignatius shot down these lies, and defended Jesus's humanity. While accomplishing this, Ignatius also describes the Early Church's understanding of the Eucharist, which he called "the medicine of immortality." He explained that the Eucharist is at the center of Christianity, one of the most important beliefs in Catholicism. Ignatius did not stop with establishing beliefs of the Church, he also spoke on the nature and the structure of the Church, acknowledging the necessity of hierarchical organization in the Church.

And if none of this exemplifies how amazing Ignatius was, he called the universal assembly of Christians "the Catholic Church," which is one of the very first instances of the phrase in surviving Christian literature. St. Ignatius of Antioch was a great man, who gave his life to laying the foundation of Catholic doctrine, and, today, we celebrate his extraordinary life.

“Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world.”
-St. Ignatius of Antioch