You will not abandon my soul…

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Christ never abandons you or gives you up as a lost cause.
This is my take-away from the gospel today about Christ’s appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. After the gruesome death of their leader, they had been informed that very morning that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb, and that angels had proclaimed him raised from the dead. Yet these two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem…We can see in the way they speak to the “stranger” that they are filled with despair, confusion, and hopelessness; “But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel…” (Luke 24:21) they had already given up.

Many point out that this passage is an example of how Christ is always with us no matter which road in life we’re on. But I want to add that this is an example of how Christ remains especially with those who have fallen away from the faith. We may feel that because we no longer practice or hold similar beliefs that Christ doesn’t care anymore, that we’re a lost cause and shouldn’t even bother thinking about the situation that forced us away from the church. Maybe we think we’re just too far gone and there’s no way Christ would bother with us. But the thing is that even when we find ourselves in this kind of situation Christ will always be there to show us the way. These disciples on the road to Emmaus were in the same boat, and yet not only was Christ there walking with them, he sought them out. They had their backs to Jerusalem, the place they should have been, yet Jesus found them and forced them to think differently about their situation, eventually leading to their eyes being opened to the Truth. It is also a wonderful example of God’s mercy for us. These disciples had turned away, yet after a small chastising and telling it how it is (“Oh how foolish you are!” Luke 24:25), Christ explains everything and still breaks bread with them.
Don’t be afraid to see Christ in the stranger that touches your life in such a way that forces you to rethink the road that is taking you so far from home. It is when we open our hearts and minds to Jesus working through these people that we are finally able to see what has been missing from our lives all this time. The beauty comes about when we finally come back to church and our eyes are opened to see him in the Blessed Sacrament.
God doesn’t give up on us; he will seek us out even when we offend and turn our backs to him. Not only this, but he loves us so much that he forgives us for it.
Who in your life is Christ working through to bring you closer/back to Him?

Peace be with you,
~Katie K

Jesus, I trust in you!

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Ordinarily extraordinary

How can we relate our lives to Christ? Our ordinary, plain and simple lives, to the King of the heaven and earth?
He, born of a Virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit, performs miracles beyond our wildest dreams. He heals the sick, the mute sing, the deaf hear his Word, the blind behold his greatness, the lame leap with joy; Lazarus, the windows son, and Jairus’ daughter, are all raised from the dead. How can we ever relate our human lives to him? How can we possible follow in his extraordinary footsteps?
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I believe all too often this is the way we think. Whether you view Jesus as the ineffable Sovereign King of the Universe, or the compassionate Friend in a personal relationship (the two versions of Christ I find people associate with most), He performed miracles that were so incredible and unimaginable to us that we find it hard to relay the attitude of doing God’s will into our very ordinary lives. And, in this way, whether he is our King or our Friend, we unknowingly separate our humanity from his. We think to ourselves “Oh Jesus was a special kind of human…human, yes, but he wouldn’t REALLY know what I go through. He wouldn’t really understand my struggles and temptations. He was too filled with the Holy Spirit to understand. He was too extraordinary to understand my plain life struggles.”
It is true that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and always was. His divine nature was constantly guiding his human nature to make the right choices in life.

Yet, “the struggle is real” for Jesus too.

We as Christians tend to focus on three areas of Jesus’ life: His birth, his public ministry, and his death/resurrection.
All three are very extraordinary moments in time. And yet, Jesus only preached and proclaimed the gospel publicly for a short time. From about the time he was 30 to about the time he was 33 is when the gospels tell us all the miracles happened. The first “public appearance” of Jesus is at his baptism, and even then he was not yet a fully public figure. He came, like many other Jews at that time, to be baptized by John (during which the voice of God boomed from heaven declaring satisfaction in His son), and then went into the desert to prepare for his ministry. The first miracle wasn’t  held until the Wedding of Cana.
So what about before his baptism? The only thing we hear is that he “increased in wisdom and in age and in grace with God and men”.
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So wait, he just….grew up? You mean to say he experienced what I experience on a daily basis, an ordinary life?

Think about that for a moment.

No I’m serious, take a minute to think about an “ordinary life”.

Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary and grew up in Nazareth. Joseph was a carpenter, so naturally Jesus would pick up the trade and work as such (if not a carpenter than some form of tradesman).
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So…what do you mean? Jesus worked for a living? Jesus had to deal with customers, both the pleasant and unpleasant?

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My professor mentioned this in class and it blew my mind.
Jesus had to deal with customers! That’s so ordinary! I can totally relate to it!

So if Jesus worked, he probably got hungry and thirsty, so he probably cooked or helped his Mother in the kitchen. Speaking of which, the kitchen probably got dirty often and someone had to clean it and the house too, tracking all those woodchips and sawdust in from the workshop….

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So wait…you mean Jesus did chores around the house?

And don’t forget he was Jewish. Keeping with his people’s traditions and customs, he would go to the Temple to worship and read scripture with his parents regularly (recall the incident of leaving the 12 year old Jesus behind in the temple. How many parents can relate to that?? Image result for cry-laughing meme face)
Working, dealing with all kinds of customers, helping parents, doing chores, keeping Holy the sabbath…Wow what an ordinary life! Sounds kind of like my life if you ask me…
But wait, take it a step further; After Jesus’ baptism he goes into the desert and is tempted by the devil. It wasn’t “Jesus went into the devil where Satan tried to tempt Jesus”, Jesus was indeed tempted! He was tempted by power and pride that Satan was offering him. The only difference between him and us is that Jesus’ temptation didn’t come to fruition. He was tempted and that was all. His divine will kept his human will on track.
So, not only did Christ lead an ordinary life, he was tempted by sin just as we are. The 7 Deadly sins did not spare even Christ from undergoing temptations. He, however, did not surrender to his human weakness.
The point I am trying to make is this: for 30 years Jesus led an ordinary life, a life like you and me. Yet, his entire life was obedient to the Father, both in his ordinary private life and his extraordinary public life.
What makes an ordinary life extraordinary like Jesus’? Being obedient to the will of God in every single aspect of our life.

Don’t be too quick to say that you can’t relate to Jesus (or that he can’t relate to you) because he was too extraordinary. Indeed he was, is, and ever shall be, but in that same word we see that he also shared in our ordinary life as a human. (Extra-“ordinary”).
The next time you hear “What would Jesus do?” or when someone asks you to do something, or when you’re dealing with a particularly difficult customer at work, think of how Jesus, in his everyday ordinary life, acted in an extraordinary way by doing ordinary things in such a way that honored the will of God.

All this said, we want to be careful not to make Christ too human. After all, he did conquer sin and rise again from the dead where he eagerly waits at the right hand of the father to welcome us home.

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Peace be with you,
~Katie K

Jesus, I trust in you!

What are you waiting for?

Yesterday afternoon, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in the small chapel on campus, I was struck by a thought; If God chose you, as you are right now, to represent His greatest creation (the whole human race) before the multitude of Heaven, would you be ready?

Could you stand before the saints and angels and say “I represent God’s greatest creation!”
I know I couldn’t. In fact, I’m sure I would melt into a puddle of mush from all the pressure!
Yet, this is what God calls us to be…Salt of the earth and a light for the world. Every day we are called to represent God’s greatest creation to those around us –To be holy men and women. Day after day we are presented with choices: to speak out or hold our tongue, to act or to wait in silence, to judge or to listen, to comfort or to scorn, to laugh or to cry, love or hate…Which action allows you to be what God created you to be? Why choose otherwise and be anything else?
We are given so many wonderful role models to helps us be who God wants us to be…Mary, mother of God, St. Joan of Ark, St. Paul, St. Mother Teresa, Pope St. John Paul II, Theresa the little flower, St. Thomas Aquinas, and above all else Christ himself.

What are you waiting for? What is preventing you from being the creation that God takes greatest pride in? Are you waiting for a sign? If so, let this be it! In all that you do and all the challenges you face, know that Christ is using these moments and challenges to draw you closer to him. He wants you to succeed! In fact, through those challenges he will be cheering you on! He will provide you with strength (the Eucharist) and crutches to help you up when you fall (Reconciliation), he provides you with comfort (Adoration) and he provides you with a community that supports you (The Church). The people you encounter, those who mistreat and take advantage of you, and those who bring out the best in you and inspire you…God has put them in your life for a reason. It’s up to you to decide what for; to help or to be roadblocks. There is a lesson to be learned from everything in our lives and it’s all to help make us who God calls us to be. It’s not the challenges that define us, but our reactions to them.
In the words of my saint namesake, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” –St. Catherine of Siena
So, what ARE you waiting for?

Peace be with you,
~Katie K.

Jesus, I trust in you!

Trust…Be Not Afraid.

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This is Sir Penington. He used to hold a pen before I gave him a real task: keeping me going!

Now, why does Sir Penington need to remind me to Be Not Afraid? Didn’t I already know not to be afraid?
Well, that’s what I’d thought these past 3 years. But it was easy to say when I was the one making my own life plans, when I was the one paving my own path, when I was the one making the decisions.
“Sure!” I thought. “I won’t be afraid! I’ll trust in God and follow Him wherever he leads me!”
Meanwhile…

 Let me first get comfy and cozy in my own way and then we’ll see what God wants me to do and I’ll just think about it in my comfy little couch with all my comfy stuff and things……siiiiiighhhh….life is goooood.

I was comfortable. I was doing what I wanted because it made me feel good. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, going from job to job and out of a serious relationship IS hard and challenging and emotionally trying, but those were things I brought on myself. It wasn’t hard or challenging on a higher level.

Out of High School and into college I discovered I loved teaching. Mostly the younger grades when kids are still adorable enough to get away with stuff, but I loved it. I didn’t know why I loved it though…It was just something I was good at.
“Oh! I can totally see you as a teacher!” “You’d be a great teacher!” people would say. But I always wondered “Why?”
In my search for that answer I stopped everything to do with teaching. (Seems kind of counterproductive, huh?) and as you know from my blog post “Our Hearts Are Restless” you already know what all that was like. I thought I knew what I was doing because it was what I “wanted”. But as I found out, what I wanted and what I needed were in two separate directions.

In February, after deciding to look back into teaching again, I started volunteering at a Catholic school. Guess what I found out?
I loved it!

Something felt “right” there…assisting the 1st grade teachers with all sorts of random tasks from grading, testing, and crafts (who would have thunk it! Me doing crafts with 24 wild 6/7 year olds?!)….It was pure bliss. It was all worth the 45-50 minute drive I took to get there.
But again, I didn’t know “WHY” it was right. It felt good, but I could never put it into words. Until two weeks ago.
After the school year ended I applied for two of the positions they would be hiring for; assistant teacher and PE teacher. The principle went to Nicaragua for all of July and she said she would contact me about the positions once she got back in August. Well, August 2nd I emailed her, and on August 3rd I got the devastating news that they had already filled the position.
I was angry. More angry than I can ever remember being…even toward God. Why? Why now that I’d found what I loved to do, that I KNEW I needed to do, did God allow the positions to be filled? He knew I wanted them! He knew I prayed for it! He heard my prayers, so why??

Looking back I just shake my head at myself…And still feel shame.
Something in me clicked that night, whether out of anger and spite or from a brick that God cast down at my head, and I randomly started looking at Universities again. First time in 3 years. But not just any Universities, the Universities I never dreamed of applying to because they were out of state or incredibly expensive, or simply “out of my league”.
The first one I looked up was the Franciscan University of Steubanville….An interest was piqued, but since I had a youth retreat starting the next morning that I was to chaperone, I shut off the computer and went to bed thinking, “This is a Catholic conference…The first Catholic overnight event you have ever attended in your life and it sounds pretty awesome. Let’s try opening my heart to God and presenting all my anxieties to Him and see what happens.”
So, I arrived the next day with the words of Thomas Merton going through my head “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going…”

Two days later, after the most beautiful Eucharistic Adoration I have ever attended and crying in the confessional out of first shame and then joy, I can honestly say God knew exactly what he was doing. I feel like such an idiot….Everything was laid out perfectly. He did everything in the order that he did to get me to open my heart to him….to trust in him…to Be Not Afraid. I see it all now. That was the focus for this years Ignite Your Torch youth conference, “Be Not Afraid.”
This is a picture that was taken at the conference, it perfectly sums up what I went through that night. Coming before the Lord, resting in his presence, presenting all your worries and anxieties before him and letting his power and mercy flow over you. Being before Him.

Everything leading up to the conference…It all makes sense, like God was leading me without me knowing, to this thing that would bring me closer to Him. I was broken and he healed me. I was lost and he found me.

No one ever said trusting in God was easy….I don’t know where in the world I got that idea. It’s terrifying, self-denying, go-against-the current of society…It’s “Thy will be done,” it’s “Into your hands I commend my Spirit” it’s “Be it done to me according to your word.”
This conference was life changing, it would be way too much to explain it all, but the main thing that I learned about myself was that  I didn’t trust God.
I really didn’t. I secretly doubted that the plan he had for me was good enough or the best way to go. Whenever I said “Well, I’ll just trust God in this decision.” I was really saying “God, I’m going to do this/go this way.” I was telling him what I was going to do because I didn’t trust him.
And it was at this event that I discovered what it was about teaching that made it seem “right”.
There were workshops at the conference on two of the days, one that I attended was given by a seminarian titled, “Where am I going” (Again, divine providence?!) in which he quoted St. Ignatius of Loyola “When we act in accord with God’s desire we will feel content, peace, joy…” (greatly paraphrased). But as soon as he said it, a billion tons of bricks came hurtling down toward my head from heaven. Peace, joy, contentment, purpose….
That was what I felt when I taught. It wasn’t to make more money, or to impress people, or to be a leader, or to make friends…I did it because it gave me a sense of peace and purpose. Again in my earlier blog post I spoke of how we will never be satisfied with earthly things (Fame, fortune, pleasure, honor….), but it is when we turn our eyes toward Christ that this satisfaction comes. While I wrote about seeking our hearts desire in Christ, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant for myself. But now I know, and when I look back on my life I see it in every moment that I taught. Peace, joy, purpose…The thing that blew me away the most was that when I felt that peace and purpose, it was me acting in accord with God’s desire for my life. AHHHH!!! So incredible!!

I was too caught up in the worldly issues of teaching that I lost track of what was important.
When I say worldly issues, I mean all the trouble that goes on in schools these days, how bad mannered children and parents alike have become, how as a teacher you don’t make that much money so you’ll basically be in debt your whole life, how the secular and relativistic standards have seeped into society causing everyone to question moral judgement….
All of this I kept hearing over and over again…”Oh, you want to be a teacher? Good luck.” “Ugh, teacher’s don’t get paid well at all, good luck with loans.” “Teachers are highly underappreciated and overworked.” “You have to give up some of your beliefs for the sake of the greater good.”
All this terrified me. I thought “How in God’s name am I to do all this? I can’t do this, it’s impossible. There’s got to be something else…”
Meanwhile in heaven…

This path that I’m now following, that brings me the most peace of mind, is the same path I’ve been avoiding for so long. Going back to University (A Catholic one if possible!), discerning my vocation and taking seriously the consideration of a religious life (nun/sister), putting every anxiety and worry before God at daily mass, getting off that stupid comfortable couch and going out into the world!
During all this time, Pope Francis was at World Youth day, and he was quoted saying, “The times we live in do not call for young couch potatoes, but for young people with shoes or, better, boots laced. It only takes players on the first string, and it has no room for bench warmers.”

Could God have been any more obvious about what he was trying to tell me?

While I’ve taken a long time to say it, and used my life as an example, it’s not easy to trust in God. It’s not easy to purposefully get out of your comfort zone and do what God is calling you to do. We become afraid, doubtful, angry, resistant…Yet God always has and always will have our backs.
You might say “I tried trusting in God, he wasn’t there for me and I got hurt.”
I’ve used that excuse and you know what? It’s a bad excuse. What I found from thinking like that was that I didn’t really trust in God. They were empty words on my part.
And trusting in God doesn’t mean getting what you want, it means being okay with what God has planned for you, it means opening your heart to whatever path he leads you down. Who knows? Maybe my call to teach will lead me to a Third World country that suffers from poverty, war, and no education at all. I just pray that I have the strength and courage to continue saying, “Jesus, I trust in you!”
I was reading the Bible a few nights ago and ran into this verse in Matthew (Matthew 6:25-34) how Jesus tells us not to worry about the future, how tomorrow will take care of itself…It’s so true. Let God work in your life, and you will see that He has not left out anything. In fact, you will see that he has been with you even during those times that you chose to go your own way.

So in the words of Christ himself repeated over and over again, “Be Not Afraid!”
He will be with you until the end of the age. (Matt 28:20)

Peace be with you,
~Katie K

Jesus, I trust in you!

Catholic Resource Websites

I haven’t been on lately due to lack of heavenly bricks, or rather a lack of attention to these heavenly bricks. It’s one thing to be hit upside the head by one, it’s another thing altogether to realize that you’ve been hit by one. I may have had a brilliant epiphany but in my ever-growing procrastination I probably put it aside to write about another time, and as a result the epiphany “has left the building.”

However! In the meantime I would like to share several websites that I have found to be so incredibly helpful in my journey to better understand my Catholic faith.
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On an apologetic level, these sites were very helpful in seeking answers to questions not only non-Catholics asked me, but also questions I myself had.

  • I discovered John Martignoni by accident one day, I believe I was frantically researching information to combat a protestant friend of mine when I stumbled upon some kind of Catholic apologetic archive. There were several downloadable audios of John Martignoni talking about the best ways to defend our faith. The website is mainly apologetics, which in our day and age is something somewhat lacking. The audio downloads are there, as well as newsletters and debates, which are very interesting to read!
    http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/home
  • While listening to John Martignoni, he mentioned the name Father Barron, and from that day on my life was changed. I did a little research and discovered Father Barron’s website, Word On Fire, which opened the door to articles, youtube videos, homilies, Scripture…It was like stumbling upon a huge treasure! What is so great about his website is that it opens your eyes to the wonder of the Catholic faith through modern means. His evangelization specializes in the use of Media. As a person who isn’t fond of reading large articles (though I tend to write large articles myself—sorry!) I found the many videos so incredibly helpful! He’s so up to date, very approachable, and rekindles in you that fire that is burning for the Truth.
    What is his website called? The Word on Fire!
    I’ve known about him for about 5 years now, he’s like an old teacher whose students love him, and who treats his students with love in return. Nowadays he’s known as Bishop Barron though, as a year ago (yesterday?!)  he was made auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
    Also! His DVD series “Catholicism” will blow your mind! I HIGHLY recommend it to any and all people!
    http://www.wordonfire.org/
    (Download the Stitcher app on your phone and you can find his new Podcast series, “Word on Fire” which is amaaaaazing!)
  • I discovered this website also while I was debating with my protestant friend. It’s a forum where everyday people go to ask random questions about the faith, dogma, society, culture, history, personal problems all through the eyes of Catholics. There are some non-Catholics on there looking for answers also, so I highly recommend that if you’re not finding good answers on google, it might be time to talk with actual people!
    It does require you to register, but it’s free!
    http://forums.catholic.com/index.php
    (Also, they can get you in contact with an Apologist for prompt help!)
  • The main site for the Catholic Forums is filled with all kinds of goodies. Radio talks, podcasts, articles about everyday life of Christians, as well as hot topics such as politics and society. I recommend the podcast. If you download the “Stitcher” app on your phone you can access TONS of Catholic Answer podcasts which involve real people calling in (no matter your race, age, religion, sexual orientation) to ask real questions to real Apologists!
    http://www.catholic.com/

“Our Hearts are Restless…”

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

This is a very profound idea in my opinion. Time and time again you hear, “God made you.” and “In Christ you will have a more fruitful life.” both true, but I feel like I’ve taken that idea for granted. Yep, God made me, the Bible tells me that, and the Bible and the lives of saints show me that following in the footsteps of Christ will grant me a more successful life. Great! I’ll pray and go to church and witness to the faith and I’ll be golden!

During this time of lent I’ve taken up listening to various speakers from the Lighthouse Catholic Media, as well as talks from Bishop Robert Barron, founder of the Word on Fire organization (both non-profit). The topics I’ve listened to range from “The Influences of Maximillian Kolbe against Free-Masonry” to talks about worship, and Mary’s role in our lives, understanding the Mass and why it’s the greatest prayer you could ever participate in. All of these talks were beautiful and eye-opening for me. Some of the topics I already knew about and grew up hearing over and over again, but to hear it in a new way was inspiring.
Lent is on it’s last leg now, holy week is upon us once again. I was on one of my usual morning walks, listening to Bishop Barron speak on the Word on Fire Show and he mentioned this quote by St. Augustine. As soon as I heard it I couldn’t get it out of my head. How profound it now sounds! It was like a brick being thrown at my head from heaven!

Before Lent started I was going through a dry period in my spiritual life. I was going to church still, I was saying some prayers, I was still inspired by (some) of the homilies given by the priest, but that was it. As soon as Mass ended all thoughts of the readings and homily disappeared from my mind and were replaced with thoughts of what to do that day. It probably didn’t help that at the time I was seeing someone who was not at all interested in growing in his faith. So, I jumped on the bandwagon of “just being a Catholic”.
At the time I couldn’t feel a difference in my life, the spiritual side of me became numb and I didn’t acknowledge that it was still there. As a result I felt something missing in my daily routine of life. I was bored, I wanted to do things I’d never had the courage or interest to do before. I wanted to be “cool” and “independent”. But no matter what I did I always wanted more because I didn’t feel it satisfied my desire to “live”.

Now don’t get me wrong, doing new things is great! It gives you experience and stories to tell, and it helps you grow, especially if in the end it brings you closer to Christ! But when they these other “new experiences” become the only thing you rely on in life to feel alive, well, something’s wrong.
Nothing I did was “extreme” compared to today’s society. There was no wild drunken partying, no one-night-stands, no intense sports that risk your life, no disobeying the law. I’ve always been a quiet and reserved person so naturally the things I consider “extreme” are quite mellow. However, I started looking forward to being at a bar more than being at church. I start thinking things like “But this football game is only going to happen once this year! Mass will be here next week…” I spent less time with my family and good friends, and more time with people who didn’t have any sort of religious life and just want to have a good time in life.

You’re probably thinking, “Well that’s fine, that’s how life should be! Focus on yourself, live the way you want! You only live once!” Great!!
But here’s the problem: Your life isn’t about you. No matter who you are, how you grew up and what you believe, whether you choose to believe it or not, your life is not about you.
What. That can’t be right.
Today’s society clearly shows that if I want to feel confident about myself I need to serve only myself. I need to build a reputation for myself, I need to put my name out there, I need to be recognized for how great I am!  I need to make more money so I can buy more things for myself. I need more clothes to impress people and so people can see how attractive I am. I need the latest electronic device to show that I’m up to date with the times. I have to prove to the world that I’m important!

I need, I want….
Me, me, me.

Staaaaaahp. It’s not about you! And I don’t mean that in an mean way! I mean it in an informative and exciting way.
Let me bring St. Augustine’s quote back into the picture to better explain,
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

The Lord made us for himself. He created us to claim us as his own. That sounds harsh, almost like we’re slaves, until you remember that God is Love, and as such he created us out of the purest of pure Love. He wants us for himself so that we may know the true joys of Love!
Let that sink in a little. “He wants us for himself so that we may experience the truest and most purest sensation in life: Love.”

Now, it’s not easy to get to Him and his Pure Love. Life is full of obstacles and temptations, and because of Original Sin we seek something we don’t fully understand. When God created us he put in us the desire to seek the fullest and greatest “thing”. To Him that means Love. To us that means whatever constitutes as “the fullest and greatest thing on this Earth.” (which is really love, we just don’t see it that way sometimes.)
To some it may mean power, to others that may mean wealth. To a lot of people it means sensual pleasure, and to others it means honor in some form.

As we go through life we have this desire to seek out what is missing in our lives, the search for this great “thing” to fill that emptiness we feel. When we think we’ve found it we quickly look for the next best thing because we’re not satisfied. In extreme cases this can lead down a very dark path full of corruption of the mind, body, and soul. In our case as humans we tend to “look for love in all the wrong places.” as the song goes.
Our hearts, it would seem, will always be restless.

Unless…
What happens when we turn our gaze to the one who put that desire in us? What happens when we pay more attention to His word, His laws, His teachings?
What happens when we take that drive we have to attain power or sensual pleasure and direct it toward knowing Christ?
“…Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
The more we seek out God and his will, the more our hearts will become content. It’s a harder path, though, since we must rely on faith (complete trust or confidence in someone or something) in something we may never fully understand. It can get frustrating since we as humans are always seeking the answer to”why?” and having this faith will require us to sometimes simply say “Because.”

This is what I’ve discovered recently. It didn’t matter what I did in my life to feel alive, the parties, the places I visited, the feelings I experienced…The result I got was always the same, wanting more. There will always be a desire to want “more” in anything we do.

The beginning of my Lent was a bit intense. A relationship fell apart and ended, and I was forced to let go of a life I had come to enjoy. I didn’t want to go back to my regular routine in life, I didn’t think it suited me anymore. The feeling of my spiritual life slowly making it’s way back was very uncomfortable at first and I despised it. I didn’t want to feel it. Why?
Getting back into the rhythm of thinking on a spiritual level, to prayer and serving others rather than myself…I felt content…More content with my life than I had felt for almost 2 years. All that I needed and looked for had always been with me but I decided to pretend it was never there. And honestly, I felt kind of stupid.

Some might argue, “But wouldn’t you still desire more?”
Yes! You will definitely still have that feeling of wanting “more”, but in your search to fill that emptiness in your heart, to find that “something” after turning your focus on God, the emptiness will be filled through scripture, through prayer, from theology, from the Mass, through serving others…all of which ultimately brings you closer in a relationship to Christ.
It might feel weird at first if you haven’t prayed lately or gone to church, but the more you turn toward God the more “right” it feels. After all, it is exactly what you were created to do! The more we seek fulfillment through worldly things the bigger the feeling of something missing from your life will be. It’s like working through one problem after another, but never finding a solution to the problems as you go.
Resolving to fill that emptiness you feel, to find that something “more”, through Christ will feel like a problem that in itself solves itself.

Yikes!!! Try wrapping your brain around that!!  

What I’m simply trying to say (and taking a far more complicated approach to it than need be!) is that in the long run you really and truly will feel more satisfied from seeking your hearts desire in Christ than anything in the entire world. It may seem uncomfortable at first since all the things we thought we knew about “filling the void” in our hearts comes from the society and media of today, but in the long run it is so, so, so much better.
If there was a way to measure happiness I can absolutely guarantee that the happiness and love felt by St. Augustine compared to a celebrity who has just won the Oscars would be far greater and far more sincere.

I hope that wasn’t too complicated. Sometimes I get this epiphany in my head and it sounds great to me, but when I try to explain it it just doesn’t quite make sense to others, I’m terrible with words!

Peace be with you!
~Katie K.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, pray for us!

Called to Perfection, Holiness, and Sainthood

As you know I’m a volunteer teacher for the confirmation class at our parish. I’m excited to be involved in these teenagers lives and help them grow in their faith! I thought this would also be a great opportunity for me to use my blog more often. I will be writing up my take on the lesson we are teaching for that week (every other Wednesdays) and post it here.
Enjoy!

To begin, our first lesson is,

“Called to Perfection, Holiness, and Sainthood”.

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Perfection = to seek him, to know him, to love him with all our strength.
Perfection in holiness = to imitate the example of Christ. To love, to show mercy, and to forgive others just as God loves us, shows us mercy, and forgives us.

Perfection in this world may seem unrealistic, and in all reality it truly is impossible. In the beginning Adam and Eve sinned against their own creator, forever tarnishing humankind with sin. We are imperfect creatures made by a perfect hand.

How can we even think to be perfect when it is truly impossible?
There were only two in our entire race that were created entirely perfect; the Mother of God and Jesus Christ himself. Even in human form God cannot be imperfect, and Mary was chosen and preserved by God from the stain of sin.

Again, what can be accomplished by wasting our time attempting to be perfect when we know we can’t?
But here’s the thing, it isn’t a waste of time. God calls us to perfection, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my life it’s that all things are possible through God. To be perfect means to serve God and others.

Matthew 19:20 Jesus says to the rich man,
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

To be perfect is to be selfless. To think of God and others before yourself.
But, perfection in holiness requires more than just mimicking Christ’s ways and more than obeying the commandments. It requires a true relationship with God, to know him personally and intimately.
There are many ways in which this can be accomplished, some of which are: going to church, setting aside time for prayer, and reading the Bible.

Some may think all this is a waste of time and energy since we know we can’t truly be perfect. But I believe it is in trying that God judges.
For example, if we try to live our lives serving God and others, try with all our being to be selfless, I believe God will see this and say “They are trying to do their best when they know it cannot be accomplished there on earth. I see this and I see that it is good.”
Whereas someone who gives up and just lives life as it comes and doesn’t try to live to serve God and others, someone who does whatever they want may not be seen as well in God’s eyes. “They are not trying to live in my way, and serve only themselves.”

But in trying we can’t say “Oh, I tried at least and it didn’t work out so I’m just going to do whatever.” we have to truly try with all our hearts, and if we notice that we have done well in one instance we must try even harder to go beyond that, always striving to better ourselves.

~*~

Holiness = believing what God has revealed to us and seeking to do his will in all things, loving and serving him and our neighbors in response to the perfect love that he has given.

Holiness is not just reserved for those who are recognized as being great. It is not a title that is won by some kind of deed. It is a journey, or pilgrimage. Holiness is something we are striving for, and again it can’t be found here on earth.

Humans were created not simply for life on earth but for eternal life in heaven. Many people forget about this fact and try to live their earthly life to the extreme, fitting as much exciting things as they can into their lives before they die.
People assume that life ends after we die, that there is nothing else to be done once that final breath leaves us. But there is. Our life on earth is just the beginning, just a trial; A trial we have to pass in order to proceed to something far greater. Our journey toward perfection and holiness ends when we die; it is when God finally embraces us into his arms in heaven that perfect holiness is granted.

Some of us, myself included, are slightly frightened by this thought, that there is something more beyond this life. Our simple human minds can’t comprehend the will of God and therefore the thought that this life on earth is not all that we were meant for is strange and disturbing.

Perfection and holiness are connected in the sense that one is not accomplished without the other. Perfection is to Holiness as Holiness is to Perfection. They go hand in hand, so when we strive to become perfect we strive to become holy.
They both require that we love and serve God and neighbor to the best of our human ability, and they both are attained only in heaven.

~*~

Saint = any member of the faithful who is committed to seeking holiness.
Saint is derived from the Latin word Sanctus, which means Holy. So when we strive to be perfectly holy we are striving to become saints.
The history of the Church is that of Holiness. By the virtue of baptism we all are called to be holy witnesses of Christ in all circumstances.

Over the course of 2,000 years there have been many men and women who have lived such beautiful lives, fully committed to serving and loving God and neighbor.
Some of these men and women are recognized in the Church as saints.

We don’t know who all will be in heaven but those who have been revealed by God to us through miraculous appearances or healings are indeed recognized as saints. Again, the known saints are those God chosen to reveal to us. Who is to say that my grandpa isn’t a saint? Perhaps he is. Unless God chooses to reveal him to me I won’t know for certain. But those he has revealed I believe are worthy of our recognition as people who are perfect in the eyes of God, and to be set aside as people to look up to as examples of Christian living.

The desire for holiness has empowered so many men and women to even die for what they believed and proclaimed (martyrs). It’s an incredible thought, that someone was so confident in their belief that they gave up their life for it, that this truth was more important than their own life.

John 17:14, Jesus says,
“I gave them your word [Father], the world hated them, because they do not belong to this world anymore than I belong to this world.”

For this reason many reject the truth that we proclaim, sometimes in brutal and violent ways. Sometimes we feel we are alone on our journey and the hatred and rejection scars our very souls. But Jesus made a promise to us, and one I hold closest to my heart:

Matthew 28:20,
“…And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Christ expects us to strive for perfection and holiness, to become saints in our very ordinary lives. We are called to live always with the ultimate goal of heaven in our hearts.

“The Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecution and God’s consolation.”
~ Saint Augustine, the convert.

Peace be with you,
~Katie K.

Socias, James Rev. Introduction to Catholicism Illinois: Midwest Theological Forum, 2011.  Print.