Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Be Loved, To Be Pursued

I have not posted anything in quite some time maybe I haven't felt very inspired, laziness, lack of motivation, or whatever you want to call it. I call it Sloth. I don't think I need to go to Confession for it, because it is not that I have a moral or ethical duty to post something, but in some ways, I do. I have been called into the ranks of the Church Militant through Baptism, and have risen up to confirm my Faith through Confirmation and fight the good fight. (1 Tim 6:12) so without further a due: my post.

You know those moments where you are unsure about something and you let that little demon whisper in your ear and tell you something that is a bold face lie? But you let him continue to tell you because you aren't strong enough to tell him to go away and leave you be. Eventually you start entertaining that thought; maybe even believing it? You crack the door of your heart open to see who it is. Then that little demon police kicks the door of your heart wide open and runs in. But then again, perhaps you haven't been there, or you haven't gotten to that point yet (hopefully never!)

So what am I gettin at here? You know when you hear those Sunday school teachers tell you, "oh my goodness, Jesus loves you!"? It seems kinda hokey. It's even cheesier when people say things like "God is pursuing a relationship with you!"... make you want to throw up in your mouth a little bit huh? (a bit of an exaggeration, but you know the feeling) but it is so true! It is very possible that you have been whispered the lie the God does not love you or that He is not pursuing you. And it is even more likely that you have let that little demon creep into the stronghold of your heart and laid siege to your soul! I have a story for you, well two actually. Can I tell them to you? ...good! :) here goes!

This summer I did a 5 week mission program in Denver working as the men's team leader for Christ in the City (shameless plug, but an amazing ministry www.Christinthecitymissionaries.com do it you won't) This was the second summer I was a missionary and I had an amazing experience and it affected me greatly (post relating to that soon to come!) Before I went to the airport I had a great desire to go to Confession because I am a miserable sinner and am in need of God's infinite mercy...that and the fact that I was in a state of mortal sin. Haha I was not able to go before I went to the airport. :( I was killing time in the airport waiting to fly home and I still wanting to go to Confession, mostly at this point because I'm not a huge fan of flying and I was convinced that the plane was gonna crash... Anyway! I was walking and I saw a man dressed in a black shirt and black pants and he had: oh yup, a white collar! I was like, "gotta be an Anglican or something." So I followed him and caught up and asked if he was a Roman Catholic, he said yes of course. Well I asked him if he could hear my confession and he was delighted! Praise God for him! Well I thought that was just some random encounter(little did I know how random it was), and of course I updated my Facebook status and everyone was like wow that's so cool, etc.

Fast forward to two weekends ago

I was on my way to visit my family in Omaha, and again due to my own weakness and not depending on the Undefeated God, who strengthens me (see Phil 4:13) I was in need of forgiveness and again desired it. I had like almost 2 hours to kill at the international terminal at DFW airport (which is HUGE and amazing!) so I was wandering like I do when I'm at the airport, or at least I thought I was wandering... I hadn't even thought about the occurrence that happened almost 5 months ago, and I do believe it was my Guardian Angel pushing me in a certain direction when I saw a younger looking man in a black short sleeve shirt and a white Roman Collar. I thought no freakin way! I literally looked up and said are you serious?! I had saw a second earlier that it was a British airways flight, and given the fact he looked young I assumed seminarian going to study in Rome...oh well... But he just stood there in the middle of the terminal like he was looking for something...or someone. That someone was me, he just didn't realize it yet! Haha So after the urging of my Angel, I walked up and asked him if he was a priest and he said yes, and we started talking about you know the usual: what parish do you belong to, what do you do, etc. Well I finally mustered up the courage to ask if he would hear my Confession and he said that he would. As we are walking he tells me, "yeah we had to deplane because of a bedbug problem on the plane." I said, "no way, that crazy!" Then I was like "really God? Bedbugs???" He heard my Confession and told me I need to be a Saint, and a lot of other things I really need to hear. On top of that I was during this time reading a book on Mary Magdalene from the visions of Bl. Anne Katherine Emerich which tied in so many things of this experience together. And to make this story even better, I got to receive a special blessing from him because he was a newly ordained priest and I. Their first year they can give special blessings! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! I also got a holy card with his name and ordination date on it! We then parted ways and was left to ponder all that had happened in my heart. (see Luke 2:19)

Maybe you are thinking right now, well that's great! Jesus does love you and God really is pursuing a relationship with you, but I don't think He loves me or whatever that little demon told you. But the truth is is that He DOES love you! And He does want to pursue a relationship with you. You have to make that step, plunge head first into the ocean of His love and mercy and grace! Be willing to be pursued, to pursue. To be loved, and to love.

In the Love of Christ,
Joe

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm Hungry!

Ever heard that saying "out of the mouth of babes"? Well I'm sure there is more to the saying but that's all I ever heard.

I was at Mass one Sunday during Lent and after I had gotten back to my pew and was kneeling to pray I was just kneeling there trying to meditate on the fact that I received Jesus Christ: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity inside me. (Needless to say it truly is a Mystery.) I had my eyes closed, my hands over my eyes, I was really trying to meditate and I look over at the line and there is this very small child walking next to his mom and he looks up at her and says somethingI will never forget

"I'm hungry!"

I would never have thought anything of it if I were any place else, but at that very moment, when I was trying to really think about what I received, some child humbles me. I mean, I'm trying to be all deep and theological and what not and some little kids blurts out the most obvious thing ever! "HELLO?!?! You are making it WAY harder than it has to be!" That's what I felt like God was telling me. I started to smile and laugh just kneeling there. I look up at God and laugh. He is so right! I am to approach His Son with all the humility and reverence possible, but I also NEED to want Him. To be hungry! Hungry for Him. Hungry to receive Him. Hungry to receive His Sanctifying Grace. Hungry for my Daily Bread!!! Why can I not do this? Why is this so difficult to do? It is a very simple concept! It is, as the Catechism says, "The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic Faith".  So why do I go up focused on anything besides the Life Giving Bread, and the Saving Cup?

This Easter has been challenging. I have had this saying ringing in my ears for weeks on end. I know that this is from God. He has sent me a message through the mouth of a child. I must be hungry. But not just at Mass alone. In all things! I must be hungry for Him. Hungry to serve Him! Hungry to preach His Holy Word! Hungry to Love!!!

So I urge you brothers and sisters during the remainder of this Easter Season: Be Hungry!

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."
~ Matthew 5:6

In Christ through Mary,
Joe

St. Josemaria Escriva, Pray for us!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hypostatic Union

So I don't have much to say, but I would like to post my talk I gave to the high school students at my church about Hypostatic Union (Jesus' Divinity & Humanity). Hope you enjoy it!

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


In Christ,
Joe

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top 5 Books

Here is a list of my top 5 most influential books I have read thus far (not including the bible and catechism):

1. Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis De Montfort
2. Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn
3. Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
4. True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort
5. Catholic Warrior by Robert Abel

I've realize 3 out of 5 are about our mother Mary, but to be honest, She is the one who brought me into the fullness of the Church. She, like all good mothers, led me by the hand and brought me to her Son. It is only fair for me to learn more about my loving and gentle mother who, unbeknownst to me, inflamed my heart with love for the Catholic Church by the Holy Spirit! It was first by the Brown Scapular, then by the most holy Rosary that she conquered my heart.

Rediscovering Catholicism was an eye opening book for me. I had already plunged head first into the Faith, but even still I was awakened and deeply moved by this book. Its plain and honest language made it very accessible and I didn't need a phd to understand what he was talking about. It inspired me. To be a better Catholic. To be a better Christian. To be a better version of myself. I am called to holiness! And so are you! One of my favorite books to give to people!

Catholic Warrior was a book I stumbled upon at a Catholic bookstore. I saw the title and the cover with Saint Michael thrusting his sword upon Satan, and I knew I just had to get it. What Catholic man wouldn't, am I right? Well straight away I knew I had something good. Before the book even starts there is a verse from Joel that says
"Declare this among the nations: proclaim war, rouse the warriors to arms! Let all the soldiers report and march! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, 'I AM A WARRIOR!' (Joel 4:9-10)
This verse gives me chills and gets my blood pumping! I get all kinds of fired up when I think about it! So basically it talks about Spiritual Warfare. I consider it a basic course in it, which was good because when people talked about Spiritual Warfare, they'd say things like "it's hard to pray, it must be spiritual warfare." This book was good because it gave me a basic understanding of what it is. Again, it is written so you don't need a decoder ring from a cracker jacks box to figure out what he is saying. I understood it and took everything to heart. I have since gotten another book on spiritual warfare that is thicker and goes into immense depth on the subject taking quotes from Saints, early Church fathers, and Catholic documents on the subject. Pick that up too if you are interested. It's called, Onward Catholic Soldier. The title alone makes my blood rush! (also has a picture of the Saint Michael statue on top of the cathedral in Mexico City.)

So there you have it. The top 5 most influential books I have read thus far.

In the Love of Christ, through our Loving Mother Mary,
Joe

Satin Michael the Archangel, Prince of the Heavenly Host, PRAY FOR US!

*also note, I cannot stand auto-correct on the ipad. ...stupid spelling errors.*