faith

March 2019 Goals & Lent

March is here and with it the beginning of Lent. I am looking forward to it. Is that strange? I just find this liturgical season such a beautiful opportunity to examine your life and see how you are bringing glory to God. Hubby and I have decided to go meatless for the 40 days. I have a few spiritual books lined up as well. I’m going to read through The Imitation of Christ and Searching for and Maintaing Peace.

The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: charity. This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.

-Pope Benedict XVI

Some years I have been super type A about Lent and had a pretty detailed plan of what I would do. This year I’m trying to lean into choosing the better part and sitting at His feet. I’m setting myself a few goals for the month, but I won’t beat myself over the head if I don’t get them done. I don’t think Christ will care so much about the artwork up on my walls, but rather if I loved well.

  • Gently get back into my stretching exercise routine (I’m post laparoscopy surgery so some stretches are still a little difficult);
  • Go on a romantic getaway with hubby;
  • Drop off donation bag that has been on our bedroom floor for over a month – eek;
  • Hang up new artwork;
  • Plan (depending on mother nature, create) my Spring capsule wardrobe;
  • Find some vegetarian recipes on Pinterest for Lent;
  • Celebrate St Patrick’s feast day;
  • Host an extended family dinner;
  • Continue praying a daily rosary.

INFERTILITY: YOU ARE NOT ALONE

It’s infertility awareness week. It’s something I don’t talk about much, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed. I wrote about my struggles with subfertility last year, and the response I got was overwhelming. There are so many hearts that are breaking over this heavy cross – mine included.

A cloud of darkness has overshadowed me since I was diagnosed with PCOS and my faith has been struggling. Yet I can’t help but see that in the midst of all of this pain, all of this suffering, there is good that has emerged from it. There’s no denying that my faith is being stretched and I am being called to mature in my relationship with God. This is not a season of consolations. God is asking me to seek Him despite the pain, despite unanswered prayers, and I am. I seek Him, because I know that He loves me.

He looks at my heart, as He pours His out, hanging on the cross. The cross is the reminder that He bore the ultimate suffering so that I would never have to buy the lie that I am alone. Whatever pain, whatever struggle you are facing, you are not alone. You are loved by a God who has made you and known you from the womb. He keeps a record of every tear you cry. There is no suffering in which Jesus does not accompany you. The Lord has promised to deliver us from our distress.

I reflect on the sweetness of my honeymoon spent in the Rocky Mountains, and all of the beauty of God’s wilderness I saw during that week. That beauty remains in the depth of my heart.

For the mountains may go away and the hills may totter, but my faithful love will never leave you, my covenant of peace will never totter, says Yahweh who takes pity on you. Isaiah 56:10

I was in need of this verse today, of the truth of His deep, unmoving love. My prayer is that if you are feeling despair, you would know you are not alone.

You are loved.

REASON AND FAITH IN MONTREAL

I went to Montreal this weekend to find some beauty and peace; to rest. I found myself acknowledging that I am struggling in my faith. My intellect is convicted of God’s existence and the truth of the Church, but my heart resists God’s kingship. How do I bring my heart where my head is? I can’t seem to reconcile reason and faith.

I’ve read the apologetics, I don’t need another written explanation of God’s infinite love. I need to encounter it. God’s love is an encounter – a relationship.

As in every relationship, we need to invest time, and be vulnerable with the other, in order for it to grow in love. I’m trying to make more room for God in my life. I may not feel His presence in my life, but I know it is there. I will continue to abandon myself to Him and His will, though my heart hurts, and I do not understand it.

My faith is weak, but I have hope. While visiting St. Joseph’s oratory, hoping for some healing from my health issues, I found myself suprisingly not asking for that intention as I prayed over St. André’s tomb, but rather asking St. André and St. Joseph to help me accept God’s will. It was a supernatural moment. It was the last thing I wanted to pray for, but having just gone to Mass I had the graces to let the Holy Spirit move my heart.

As I walked away from the tomb, my husband commented on how this place was thin. I asked what he meant. He explained that he felt as though there were only a small degree of seperation here between heaven and earth.

Yes, I nodded with tears in my eyes. The Church is thin.

GIVE YOUR DREAMS TO GOD

Here comes the dreamer!

-Genesis 37:19

Ah, the story of Joseph. In reading it this morning, I am struck by the reality that I am Joseph<s evil brothers in my own life. I laugh and brush off my dreams.

Has God placed something upon your heart, but you are too scared to dream about it, and hope in it? I want to be a woman of faith. I don’t want to hide my dream from my Father.

Let us be like Joseph, and turn to our Father, sharing our dream with Him. If our dream is of His will, He will have it grow and bear fruit. It may not happen according to our desired timeline, but God is faithful. The question is “Will we be faithful, and bring our dream to Him in the quiet of prayer, day after day, year after year, with a humble and obedient heart, open to having Him possibly replace our dram for a greater one: His?”.

INFERTILITY: A LONELY AND HEAVY CROSS

Some stories are harder to put down in words. This is one of them.

There’s no pretty way of saying it. It’s dreadfully personal, but God’s been pulling at the strings of my heart to share this story. I want to raise awareness, and shed light on infertility. It’s still a taboo topic, and can feel like a very lonely cross to bear, and yet it’s estimated that one in ten women deal with infertility. In the midst of NFP awareness week, it feels fitting to finally sit down and share my journey through the murky waters of charting biomarkers, and the light it has shed on my health issues.

I’ve always had irregular cycles. Being very athletic in my teenage years, doctors brushed my concerns aside, or simply offered the pill as a band aid to deal with symptoms to what was a very real problem. It’s taken thirteen years for a doctor to listen. I am still dealing with the anger of years of no diagnosis, incredible amounts of pain, and being brushed off by practitioners. Asking grace to forgive and move on has not been an easy feat, and I’m still struggling to do so.

This past year I got engaged to a wonderful man, and in preparing for marriage, we decided we would use a fertility awareness method (also known as FAM or NFP; Natural Family Planning) to track our windows of fertility and infertility. This isn’t your grandparent’s rhythm method. There are many NFP methods, but we practice the Creighton Model Fertility Care.

The effectiveness of the Creighton Model System has been extensively studied and a meta-analysis of the system incorporating the data from five separate studies into a composite which includes 1,876 couples over 17,130 couple months of use has been published. These studies all utilizing life-table analysis and an objective assessment of pregnancies, reported the range of the method-effectiveness to avoid pregnancy at the 12th ordinal month to be 98.7 to 99.8 (with the five-study composite 99.5). The use-effectiveness to avoid pregnancy for the same time period ranged from 94.6 to 97.9 and was shown to continually improve over the 14 years of the studies (the five-study composite was 96.8) (Table 15-28) [i]

creighton

I’ve included this information because the most common remark I receive when I speak of using NFP is “I guess you’re planning on having a large family then”. That’s a faulty assumption. NFP gets a bad rep because of user error, and pharmaceutical propaganda. You see, NFP costs next to nothing. It also is safe. There are no medical side effects to practicing NFP, unlike many contraceptives out there. NFP can also serve to diagnose and detect fertility problems. It did for me.

While I am still working with a wonderful doctor, running blood tests in different phases of my cycle, and just recently undergoing an ultrasound to try and find the cause of my symptoms, I do know that I have anovulatory cycles. I’m still undergoing tests to determine the cause of these cycles, and the cure may be simple, or there may be none, but I know I have cried more times than I care to count over this cross.

I have felt like less of a woman. I have felt broken. My body isn’t working the way it is meant to, and it’s terribly humbling. I want to be a mother one day, and always thought achieving pregnancy would be easy. I was scared to death by teachers and doctors, being told how it’s so EASY to get pregnant and you have to be careful (because in our society pregnancy is viewed as a disease). Never once did someone tell me getting pregnant could be hard. Never once did someone prepare me for the terrible ache and longing for a child.

I have been faced with a two way path: despair or trust God. I choose to trust Him.

I have seen His goodness in this cross. I have felt the grace carrying me through surrendering my desire for a family, and knowing it may not be as easy to achieve, or look the way I have dreamed. I feel peace, and I know it’s of the Comforter. I have had so many wonderful women open up to me, bearing their hearts and sharing in this cross. It’s been quiet conversations over coffee or inside the walls of our homes, but I want these conversations to be heard. I want to be part of a community where we uphold and love women; a community that doesn’t abandon them in their hurt. Suffering is not without meaning. Its end goal is communion. I have a foretaste of the heavenly banquet when I choose to suffer with joy. May we always remember that we are not alone in our crosses. No matter how heavy they may be, God is always knocking at the door of our hearts, seeking to be in communion with us.

[i] Effectiveness of the System; [http://www.creightonmodel.com/effectiveness.htm]

LET THEM EAT CAKE (and how turning 25 makes me feel entitled to monologue on God and beauty)

I’m a sucker for Marie-Antoinette. I still remember walking the grounds of Versailles and exploring where this young Austrian woman came to be Queen of France. My fascination is rooted in a heart moved by beauty. Sure, the opulence was extreme, and led to her demise. No question there. Yet, there is still something to be said for a heart that is seeking beauty.

So often I am satisfied with what is average. Our hearts are restless until we rest in true and perfect beauty. We’re broken and we seek joy in beauty in all the wrong places, but when you find it in the One who makes all things new, all things beautiful… your life will never be the same.

So much of my life I have saught beauty in things of the world that did not satisfy. I find myself now, on my birthday, reflecting how blessed I am to know the source of life; the bread that satisfies; the well that never runs dry: Corpus Christi. I also question why armed with this knowledge, I still stumble and turn to worldly things in hopes of happiness, but I have hope, because the more I seek Him, the less I stumble. I’m far from perfect, but His grace abounds. He more than makes up for what I lack. The more I seek to find the beauty my heart longs for in Him, the more I am aware of His constant presence.

It is well with my soul. I’m blessed I got to celebrate my birthdat this year on the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Happy feast day, and may your hearts be filled with His beauty, goodness, and truth!

Well enough musings, time to go and eat some birthday cake! xoxo

THE FULLNESS OF GOD’S LOVE (and how I found Him in my mailbox today)

I had such a heavy heart this morning all throughout this afternoon. Some health issues regarding my fertility had me frozen in fear and anxiety, but a ray of hope was carrying me through: every morning I start my day by spending some time reading my Bible and my devotional.

This morning convicted me of the great need in my life to let God love me. Not only love me during my morning prayer time, but all throughout the day, come what may.

Boy did it “come what may” today, and yet I knew I could get through it because of His grace. I was glad I had resolved the night before to go to Mass after work. Usually this doesn’t work out for me, because I constantly work later than I am meant to. This is self inflicted, and really unhealthy.

My spiritual director has been encouraging me to be bold, and entrust my “urgent” and incomplete tasks to God at the end of the day; especially at home as to ensure I get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Mass was of course the most beautiful way to be with God and let Him love me, and yet, though my yoke was lightened, I still walked out feeling heavy hearted. I cast my fears unto Him on my way home, willing to trust His plans, and knowing that He knows the desires of my heart.

The fullness of His grace was in my mailbox. I was too blind to see Him in the most precious and holy Eucharist, but Jesus runs after my heart without any reserve.

Shortly after getting engaged, I wrote a letter to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, asking for his prayers for my upcoming wedding. I was certain the letter had gotten lost in the mail, or would be read by some nun who would write my name on some crazy long intentions list, and proceed to shred my letter. Gosh, as I write this I’m floored by my lack of hope and my cynicism. God prooved me wrong.

In my mailbox was a letter sent on behalf of His Holiness Benedict XVI. He assured me of his prayers and his blessing, and also enclosed two beautiful rosaries for me and my fiancé. My heart was overfilled with God’s love and the assurance of His personal and passionate love for me.

If you do one thing today, let it be a small prayer of thanksgiving for a personal way in which God has shown you His love. If you are willing to open your eyes, you may even find it in the most unlikely of places, such as a mailbox.

SELF CARE

I hate the label, because I loathe how it is a lie, and does not truely define who I am, but it’s true; so very often I am a perfectionist. I can’t put things down/away. I keep working and working, and my mind is  constantly thinking of the next task that needs to be accomplished, and when I’m really burning out, I try and accomplish many tasks at once. Like writing this blog post way past my bedtime, because I need to be more consistent. Oh, the irony…

This is usually when my stress levels fuel me to be really productive, but also dangerously close to having an anxiety attack. I don’t like living in such an extreme state; thus comes the importance of self care. I cannot preach enough about it. See, the father of lies, Satan, makes us cringe at the term (at least I do). I so readily believe, and judge those who do, that practicing self care is selfish or lazy. WRONG.

28 One of the scribes who had listened to them debating appreciated that Jesus had given a good answer and put a further question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ 29 Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, only Lord 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’

Mark, Chapter 12

You must love your neighbour as yourself.

You must love (…) yourself.

The love you have for your neighbour is limited to the love you have for yourself.

In order to really love, we need God. Let yourself rest in Him. Resting and taking care of yourself doesn’t mean being lazy, it simply means adopting a changed pace for a little while, in order to let yourself breathe and find the love you have for yourself (that comes from Him), in order to take on the next crosses with a renewed sense of hope, faith, and love.

LAZY SUNDAY MORNING

Happy New Year and thanks for dropping by. I haven’t been very faithful to my little corner of the internet and I want to apologize.

You see, writing brings me joy and I want to be faithful to Him who brings me joy. I want to be faithful to this space He’s given me to create what is utile dulci. I want to write and photograph beautiful things, cultivating and sharing what is useful and agreeable.

I’ve had a rough Fall on all fronts: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I have now entered a season of joy and am so happy to see this season of grief as being behind me.

Last night and this morning I’ve been meditating on Psalm 143:

For the enemy has pursued me; he has crushed my life to the ground.

That is what this Fall has felt like for me. It was a rough season. One I am glad to say is behind me. The enemy does not have the last word. The psalm continues:

I remember the days of old, I meditate on all that thou hast done; (…) I stretch my hands to thee; my soul thirsts for thee like a parched land (…)

Let me hear in the morning of thy steadfast love, for in thee I put my trust.

Here is to trusting His love for me each and every morning. I will be faithful to His love and continue to give Him the first half hour of my day to love me through His Word. I am worthy of this love. I owe it to myself to show up to my time of prayer, just as I owe it to myself to show up on my blog.

Here’s to 2016 and a whole lot more of just showing up, because that’s the battle my friends. It’s not how you feel when you show up. God can work with our feeble hearts, He just needs us to show up and He’ll do the rest. Here’s to showing up and encountering mercy and being amazed by His love.

YOU ARE NOT WEAK BECAUSE YOU SUFFER

I am stoic, stubborn, and struggle with pride. In my world, weakness makes me anything BUT perfect. Thankfully, I am learning to let go of my world and it’s brokenness. I have anxiety and it is the source of a lot of suffering in my life.

And they went to a place which was called Gethsem’ane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

Mark 14:32-36

How that verse speaks to me: He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass for him. How small my cross is in comparison, but He has given us comfort in becoming human and sharing in our struggles. Christ, as true man, had fears and anxieties. He felt the burden of this world, so heavy that He falls to the ground and cries out to His Father. Am I doing the same when I’m suffering? Pride makes me believe that I must control these emotions, that I am weak because I suffer. God sent His Son so we wouldn’t believe in this lie, but be subject to His love and to His truth.

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me.    2 Corinthians 12:9

May I come to believe that His grace is sufficient. I do not need an extra couple of hours in the day, an extra couple of days in my weekend. I want to let grace clear my schedule and fill my life with more Jesus and less of me. If I let God manage my time, He’ll also manage in turn my stress levels. I need to surrender control of my imperfect, but meticulously planned out agenda. I need room to breathe, and to focus on my real goal: sainthood. Not another load of laundry, not another blog post, not another writing gig, not another instagram worthy meal or outfit. How vain I become when I reject Him. I don’t want to be shallow, I want to live for more; in light of eternity. I suffer in letting go of my plans, in not being able to accomplish all of my goals, but in this weakness, He teaches me that I am made perfect.

Let’s embrace our suffering, no matter how little or heavy, let’s embrace the cross.

A NEW CREATION

I’ve been a dangerous flirt in the past.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.

I used to get a malicious pleasure in making heads turn. I was so proud to be considered beautiful, but oh how little I knew about Beauty. I rarely ever got past a first date in university because I was far too interested in the quick, easy and cheap validation I got from dressing immodestly and going clubbing on the weekend with my girlfriends.

Thanks be to God, good seeds had been planted in me when I was in high school. I cannot give sufficient thanks to my father who would drive me every Sunday a half hour each way to Mass/Life Teen, where I was taught Saint John Paul II’s teachings on theology of the body. Those early seeds I buried deep, but were not choked.

As many who are insufficiently catechized do, I spiraled downwards quickly in university, going to Mass only every other month or so.

A ray of sunshine finally made its way to my long forgotten seeds when a friend from high school, now a campus missionary with CCO led me in a faith study over the summer holidays. I was still drinking and partying every weekend at this point, but due to my 9-5 summer job, I stayed relatively tame during the week. Had it not been for the pre-existing friendship and the convenience, I wouldn’t have taken part in this faith study.

My baptismal promises were renewed.

At the end of the study, I was asked to renew my baptismal promises. Our Father is kind and patient, and knew in all His wisdom, that for change to be permanent in me, it had to occur slowly, but I had now given permission once more to the Holy Spirit to dwell in me.

Over the next two years, I continued to be a cafeteria Catholic, but less and less as I found community. I pursued more faith studies on campus and found people who were joyful. I had not known anybody so joyful since I had stopped attending my youth group. I wanted this deep rooted joy, but sin still clouded my vision and judgement until I was made a new creation.

After two years of coaxing from friends to attend an evening of praise and worship, I encountered Christ like a hurricane. Kneeling in adoration, something I had not done for at least six years, I did something perhaps even more frightening than beholding God; I confessed my sins.

I returned into the Church after many years of wandering. The good Father that He is, He let me weep, and pour my heart out. All the shame, all the brokenness, He beheld it, but did not turn away. He took me in with such love, such kindness: I was home.

My journey has not been easy since then, if anything, it has only gotten harder, as I found out after that evening, habitual sin requires a lot of humility and grace to overcome, but with Him, the yoke is light. I have had to return to the Sacraments nearly daily ever since to remain faithful. I had been spiritually starving for so long; I need my daily bread.

Shameless flirting, among many other sins, took some time to eradicate from my life, but He makes all things new. Who knew that a young boy born in a stable could change the whole course of my life? I stopped flirting/dating (imperfectly) and let Him romance me, teaching me real love, until He patched up some of my bigger wounds and was ready to let another man have a chance to love me. Now I know that though the love of men will always fail me, His love endures.

THERAPY IN THE FORM OF BEAUTY

I know what I want this blog to be: a space where I am vulnerable and share beauty. I want whoever falls upon my posts to feel like they’ve found community. It’s easy for me to shy away from posting here because being vulnerable is scary. This morning I woke up out of sorts. My nose was runny and my throat was scratchy. The day before I was incredibly grouchy (sorry sweet coworker, I promise it was me, not you). My soul had been attacked verociously with the lie that I am not beautiful, I am not worthy,

This lie of the devil was well timed. He knew my soul was in a fragile place. I just started reading a book that is making me reconsider so many of my vices and pushing me to grow spiritually. I’ve been opening up my heart to God and offering Him up these faults; asking Him to come and perfect me. As I share what I hate most about myself, it is only natural that my enemy would want me to think I cannot overcome my weaknesses. The devil loves a defeated heart, but you see, hope is a gift of God. By His grace, I know this to not be true. I know He has loved me in such a way that His blood would wash away all evil from me and prepare my place at His banquet table.

As the day goes on, peace and joy swell up in my heart. I burn my tongue on my cup of Earl Grey, reflecting on the beauty of this morning. I gave You my sickness, and went to Mass. You gave me Yourself and I knew that I was beautiful. I am loved. It is a constant battle for me to slow down.

My son, do not busy yourself with many matters; There is another who is slow and needs help, who lacks strength and abounds in poverty; but the eyes of the Lord look upon him for his good; he lifts him out of his low estate and raises up his head, so that many are amazed at him. -Sirach 11:10,12-13

My pride incites me to always perform and load up my plate. I could have tried and accomplished a million things on my sick day, but no, Your wisdom guided me to sit down in a coffee shop. I planned out posts and meals for the upcoming week and trust that You only ask me to do what You give me time to do. I may plan and plan, but I’m ok with You throwing my plans out the window. I want to let life happen. I want to be open to perceiving Beauty. Such as the photographs I had forgotten were in my notebook. Beauty is waiting to heal you. Let yourself seek Beauty and be embraced by it’s goodness.

 

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // DAILY

I am constantly bombarded and saturated with new information, often in the form of articles that appear on my news feed. As all information, some of it is good, uplifting and educating, some of it is heavy and hard to bear, but some are downright untruthful (i.e. heresy).

It’s really tempting for me to use this platform to be holier than though. I even considered taking an article I saw posted this morning and tearing it apart, but a four letter word is inscribed on my heart: love. Above all, daily, I choose to love. I also fail on a daily basis. I cannot love perfectly on my own, I must rely on the Creator of this love. Love Himself.

The world of mass media also has need of Christ’s redemption.

St John Paul II, The Rapid Development 2.4

In this age of mass media, are we choosing to separate ourselves from our faith when we are online? Is my identity rooted in Christ only around my Christian friends when I don’t feel challenged, or am I choosing to live authentically, speaking of the cross to all, in my words and deeds, online and in person? I want to choose love daily. I want to share this love daily.

THE LONG WAY HOME

I crave more time in Your presence. I want more time to be still and to be filled with Your peace, so this morning I prayed for that exactly. I found myself wandering into the cathedral after work to receive Your word and the Word.

Only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

I lingered on and let the storm inside my heart and mind calm down. I entrusted my worries, for myself and for those I love, to You. I can’t deal with it all, so here you go Father. I surrender.

You whispered in my heart: “Take the long way home”. So I stumbled and fumbled and fell into beauty; so much beauty. Thank you Lord. I needed those soft and sweet caresses from the evening breeze along the water. I needed that desolate park bench and those slow drifting clouds.

I found my favourite community piano at City Hall and sat down to say a prayer. My earliest and best prayers always were via those black and white keys. Three strangers stopped me. Three strangers were in desperate need of beauty. I know how that feels. I hope they were inspired to take the long way home.

 

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THE POWER OF PRAYER

Moment of honesty: I still struggle to set aside a regular time each day to be still. There are different types of prayer, two of them being the Mass and Lectio divina. I’m fortunate that my state of life affords me a lot of free time and I can start my day with the readings of the day and my Blessed Is She devotional followed my daily Mass before I head into the office. When I stick to my plan of life, my mornings are awesome. My afternoons, however, are another story. By noon, I’m losing patience and easily distracted. More often than not I’ll have evening plans so I find myself rushing around after work. I’ve forgotten to plan time to pray in the evening. I use the excuse that my evenings are too unpredictable, I don’t have time to pray. I make time in the morning for very structured prayer, but I’m not doing my end of the bargain, I’m not being vulnerable and letting Him love me in stillness.

That’s the beauty of prayer: even if you only make a bit of time for it, but are consistent, your soul will naturally crave more. God wants to be in communion with us. He is not going to make it impossible for us to pray. Let’s be real, we are choosing not to pray. A prayer that has really transformed my life and ultimately led me to my conversion was quite simple: “Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray”. It takes less than 5 seconds, but if you say it with conviction, every single day, be prepared for God to enter your life like an avalanche; a beautiful, terrifying avalanche. That’s the power of prayer.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear. – Isaiah 59:1

He is listening. You may not hear Him. You may be in a period of desolation. You might be in desolation for the rest of your life, Mother Teresa lived out the majority of her life in desolation! This doesn’t change the truth that He is listening and waiting to love you. Be still. Let Him change your heart. Be bold and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray.

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // DISCERNMENT

I had quite a few different drafts for this post, but wasn’t happy with any of them: most likely because I lack the necessary wisdom to offer any good contribution on the topic of discernment. I will however share something I read recently in the wonderful book The Jesuit’s Guide to (Almost) Everything – A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of discernment, I would encourage you to read a book, such as this one, on the Ignatian spirituality. St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. I know one Jesuit that a lot of people like and he also happens to be the Vicar of Christ 😉 Without further ado, here is the passage on discernment from the wonderful book I mentioned:

Try the decision on, like a new sweater. How does it make you feel? Do you feel at peace or agitated? Then, for the nex few days take the opposite tack. How does that make you feel? This is a powerful tool. Normally our minds move restlessly from one alternative to the other, jumping like a nervous grasshoper from one blade of grass to the next, never giving ourselves sufficient time to consider either alternative. But after imaginatively living with the one course of action, and then the other, certain things will come to mind that you may not have noticed before. Advantages and disadvantages become more evident with time. In a sense, you’ll see the consequences of the decision before you make it. At the end of the process, ask yourself which option gave you the most peace? Then trust your feelings and make the decision.”

There was a very specific occasion in my life where this type of discernment was quite useful. After graduating from university, I felt called to apply to NET Ministries. Every fiber of my will wanted to fight it, but I had no peace resisting this call from God. I fought His demand for quite a few months, taking a seriously long time to fill out my application. When I was finally accepted to serve with NET for a year, you can imagine my shock when I suddenly had ZERO peace with the idea of accepting their offer. What kind of joke was God playing on me? He dragged me through this intense process to essentially tell me “I asked you to apply, I never asked you to actually join”. Ends up, I really need to learn to trust God. He was teaching me obedience and humility this entire time. Through the application/interview process, I also met so many godly men working on NET. These were some of the first practicing Catholic men I had ever known personally. After years of worldly living in university and being used and hurt by men, I needed those healing healthy relationships. It was also through this application to NET that I met the mutual friend who would introduce me to my current boyfriend. This is turning out to be a rather lengthy post for a gal who started off saying she didn’t have much to offer. That’s the beauty of His grace. If we surrender what little we have to Him, He will multiply it. Whatever you may be discerning, abandon yourselves to Him; to His will. Our God is a loving Father. He is not a tyrant.

blessed is she link up

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // GOODBYE

This Saturday I am saying goodbye to the man I love. He will be flying out to the other side of the country for work for a little over two months. I always thought I was really good with goodbyes. This was before falling in love with this holy man who has taught me the meaning of vulnerability. To truly open up your heart to someone, to love, requires heartbreak. Our hearts must be broken in order for them to grow.

I’ve been a complete mess these past few weeks leading up to his departure. Crying at work, home, with friends. I even had one of those terribly movie cliché moments where I was laughing with friends, and that laughter turned into tears. I used to think this heartbreak had to be avoided at all costs. I wanted to be strong and not depend on anyone but myself. How foolish I am at times. Sisters, let your heart be broken. Only then can our sweet Father come and teach us humility. These tears have been reminding me of my deep hunger for Love. Real authentic love that does not fade, where distance is not a barrier. I can meet this love every single day in the Eucharist, in prayer. Let this time apart from the man I love teach me to love the Man who first loved me.

blessed is she link up

FLOAT ON BY

Photo source: Bazaar, July 2015 issue

I’m sipping on chai, and trying to keep my mind focused on tasks at hand, but my mind is floating on by. I’ve been feeling spiritually dry for a few months now. I don’t hear His voice, but I am filled with hope. I find hope in the small moments where Beauty captures my heart: the wonderful spices of my chai tea, a picture of Mary on my desk, the absolute silence surrounding me. These are the moments that confirm His presence, His love. I know He is everywhere and more importantly, He is with me. Stay close to Him in the sacraments, this I know is the path to joy. Union with the Father. I may not feel the union, but I know it is real. I pray that if you are reading this and struggling to have faith, you will sit quitely, find something beautiful to contemplate and give Him permission to transform your heart.

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // MAKING TIME

I have no difficulty wasting time. I spend a lot of time doing things that matter very little to me. Yet if I spend so much time on these things, my actions are speaking more loudly than my words.

I want to live a life where I am making time for what matters the most to me: becoming a saint. I want to make time to pray. I want to sit in His silence and let His sweet Word comfort me and bring me the peace that I so desperatly long for. I want to make time in my day to go to Mass, to perhaps meet with less friends, but be more present with the ones that I am seeing. I want to make time to nurture the talents God has given me, and to explore the dreams he has written on my heart. I want to trust that He has placed them there because He can fulfill them, whether on earth or in heaven. I need to have faith that He understands my human constraints on time and that He doesn’t ask me to do anything other than what I can physically do with the time that is given to me. That being said, I pray to have wisdom to discern how my time should be used. I want to live a life so well spent that at the end of it I feel like a squeezed out lemon. I don’t want to waste the time that has been gifted to me.

Good Friday

I stirred from my slumber twice in the night. You asked me to stay and watch with You. Each time I fell back asleep. Forgive me Father. I abandonned You in Your sorrow.

image

 

But he was pierced for our sins,

crushed for our iniquity.

He bore the punishment that makes us whole,

by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

silence in the library

Being a woman is hard. Seriously, no tiny violin here: authentic womanhood is painful, because we’re called to die unto ourselves in order to be who we’re really meant to be. Every day I have to choose to deny my selfishness in order to be kind and gentle. That’s why I cherish little moments like the one above where I escape the constant demands of life and get lost in a good book. I’m really blessed to have access to this amazing library on Parliament Hill. I never understand why I don’t see more employees here, but I’m not complaining. I love how silent it is.

library

I hope you find some silence this Holy Week. That together we can cultivate a bit of interior peace as we prepare our hearts for Triduum. If you’re not celebrating Easter, I still wish you silence and peace of heart, because those are lovely things no matter what you believe in.

Our Spiritual Home

219There’s no such thing as being too flowery in prose when love is authentic. My friend Geneviève wrote this for me quite a few years back. She’s just one of those gems you can’t believe you get to call a friend.

 

Blessed Is She

Have you checked out the devotionals over at Blessed Is She? I started reading them sometime in December. It’s the first thing I do now in the morning. Starting the day with His word and inspiring stories from other women has been such a gift. Go check it out!

there I go

Our Lord will care for the souls belonging to Him; and if we beg His Majesty to do so, by His grace we shall be able to aid them greatly. -Saint Teresa of Avila

As my heart grows more attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, a heaviness has been taking me over. I have a false humility and zeal to bring others to Him. I see the sins of others clearly, but fail to examine my own brokenness. I need to remember that I can’t personally save souls. Only God can. He can work through me, and I should let Him, but all of my good works are not my own, but rather His. I feel God inviting me to travel further into my soul than I ever have before through this heaviness.

Sorrow is better than laughter; when the face is sad, the heart grows wise. Ecclesiastes 7:3

Lord, may I come to accept the winter of my soul for what it is: not a proof that I have failed in being God and making the world around me perfect, but rather my own cross to bear. There is beauty in suffering for love of others. Let me grow closer to Christ in this suffering, not rob Him of His majesty. When I see others sin, I must remember they are not my creation turning away from my love, but rather my brothers and sisters reflecting my own shortcomings and failures. There I go, but for the grace of God.

the union we seek

Communion: our ultimate purpose. You offer it so willingly. You transform Yourself into this tiny white host, into wine, and beckon me. The Creator present in such an unassuming form… You know my struggle with pride and come to me meek and humble. The concept of God in such a tiny vessel is beyond me; a mystery. This is a love that I struggle to understand and accept.
Can the Creator love His creatures? Of course. My mind knows this. He willed us into being, out of love. Now I must open my heart to this romance. You pursue me: heart, soul, and mind. I so often reject Your advances, satisfied by a pale imitation of Your love, rooted in things of this world. I want to sit at Your table and join You in Your feast. You seek to feed my deepest desires and yearnings. In You, my passions need no taming, they are no longer distorted.

temptation

Vatican Radio’s provisional translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Synod Fathers: “Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.”

Lord, guard me from the belief that I am self sufficient. Grant me the humility to acknowledge my brokeness and to seek Your saving. I experienced such a grace filled moment this week. Once more, an old familiar temptation came to me. Demons whispering lies and urging me to sin, but this time was different. I’ve not fallen into this particular sin for several months thanks to Your grace the intercession of Our Lady. However, this time I was tired. I didn’t feel strong. Instead of denying this weakness as I often do, I fell on the ground, to my knees, in despair, and sought You. I asked You for help, to inebriate me with Your most precious blood and to cast these demons into hell.
So often in similar situations I struggle through the temptation by seeking a distraction. I don’t face the struggle, admit defeat, and ask for Your help. I would say a quick empty prayer and occupy my  mind with other things. Pride is at the root of this behaviour. Satan doesn’t want me to long for my Saviour. He would have me believe that it is of my own merit that I did not sin. His attacks are subtle and I thank the Holy Spirit for the clarity to finally recognize this spiritual attack.
I wish to forever be inebriated by Your most precious blood. You came to the rescue, and answered my prayer immediately. I was flooded by Your grace. Filled with joy and peace; giggling like a small child. I am Yours.

give me wisdom


How light and yet how heavy one’s soul can be at once. So many images flash before my eyes all day long, begging for my attention, but my soul can only find peace when my eyes are fixed on You. I can’t run away from the distractions, they are part of my vocation. Yet I must cultivate sufficient interior life so that I carry You with me wherever I may find myself. I need grace. I need You to help me. I forget about Your unending love and my eyes are so quick to turn away from Your loving gaze. I get caught up in making the right choice, so much so that I reduce you to a tyrant. For if there is a right choice, then there never was a choice all along. You have given me freedom. When I try to forgo the responsibility of choosing and put it in Your hands, I am living passively and as a coward. I wish to live my life in such a way that I continue to get a glimmer of heaven, here on earth: consumed by Your love. I want to bring others joy and such joy can only come from You. Give me wisdom so that I may not be fooled by a counterfeit offer. You are enough. I shall not want. You are sufficient. You are with me, all the days of my life. You hold me in the palm of Your hands. When I’m too caught up in what path I ought to take, let me look to the Saints and how they all lived such different lives. They all brought You glory in unique ways. I do not wish to imitate any other, but You. Guard me from the evil that is comparison, so that I do not grow vain or bitter.

vocational dilemmas

I had the strangest feeling last night as I was falling asleep. I suspect I’m overanalyzing, but I’ve been so torn when it comes to my vocation, I’m bound to overthink. As I was falling asleep I got this very sudden real feeling that my future spouse was praying for me right in that moment. I don’t want to accept it. I’m not sure why. I think there’s a part of me that is afraid that if I don’t chose a vocation of celibacy, I’m not loving God as much as I can. It’s not that I don’t see marriage as a sacrament, I do. It’s just that my brain  has heard it so many times: “Celibacy is a greater call”. Not to mention how my heart turns so often to the Dominicans in Summit, New Jersey. Whenever I think of the future, these Sisters come into my mind.

What if my means to sanctification truly is through marriage? The feeling of my future spouse praying for me last night was so vivid, so strong, I can’t shake it off. I’ve always fought the idea of praying for my future spouse because I was afraid I was telling God I was closed to His will and was gung ho on marriage. I’m deciding to put these anxieties on hold until I see my spiritual director next, but I already know what he will tell me because he’s told me numerous times: “God is not a villain. He will not keep your vocation a secret from you”.

I’m going to concern myself with my present obligations and duties of the day. That’s all our Father truly wants of us: to do little acts with great love.

mirror

Each time anyone comes in contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us. We must radiate God’s love.
-Mother Teresa

Do I radiate His love? Or am I so caught up in my own affairs that I forget to see Christ in others?

Sunday

This happy day which passed so quickly had also its touch of melancholy; my happiness was full till Compline, but after that a feeling of sadness took possession of me. I thought of the morrow when one had to begin again the daily life of work and lessons, and my heart, feeling like an exile on this earth, longed for the repose of Heaven—the never ending Sabbath of our true Home.
-St Thérèse of Lisieux

Confessions from a Stoic

Every year it’s the same. I’m a little too good at being stoic, except when my birthday comes around. Then I swing into dangerously emotional territory. I’ve become rather quite good at throwing myself pity parties. On the day of my birthday, I so desperately seek to be loved. My heart burns with desire to be affirmed by those in my life. All those days of the year where I supress that desire, I’m further away from God then when I stumble into this scary vulnerability that creeps up on me this time of year. I acknowledge my desire for love and fear that I could never be worthy of that love.

As I pray and reluctantly accept the desires of my heart, I understand that my natural tendency to forgo asking God to answer my desires comes from a place of false piety, modesty and pride. I don’t want to bother God with my need for love, so I ignore that need of a Saviour. Isn’t it ironic that the love that I so greatly long for, the love that our Father offers us, is the thing I fear most? This is why I dislike my birthday. I desperately search for that fulfilling love everywhere except in Him and thus am never satisfied.

No one can satisfy like He does. The love we experience here on earth from our families, friends and significant others can never fulfill us. They are only meant to be a reflection of His love that directs our hearts towards Him. When we seek to have these people complete us, we let our desires be distorted. Tomorrow, as I turn 23, I want my heart to be wide open and filled with His love. I pray for the humility to acknowledge my total dependence and need for God. Lord, humble me. Help my unbelief. Let my heart rest in You. There, I know all of my desires will be met.

Starbucks and Scruples


I struggle with scruples. So much so that I often complain to my spiritual director that it would be easier for me to be a hermit and just go live in a cave. It’s one of my great weaknesses and something I constantly fight, but this past week was ridiculous. Looking back I can laugh at how ridiculous I was being, but in the moment, I really was heartbroken and convinced I was guilty of mortal sin… because of my Starbucks habit. 
Yup, you heard that right. You can laugh. Here’s the story: I found out this week that Starbucks will often match donations that their employees make. Which lead my scrupulous nature to ponder on the consequence of an employee deciding to make a donation to an organization such as Planned Parenthood. Which then lead me to believe I was responsible for paying for an abortion. Whoa brain, whoaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I’m glad I’m aware of my scrupulous tendencies and before heading over to the confessional, wrote to my spiritual director.
Here was his answer: “If the company was making direct donations to abortions you might consider not buying their products. But even in this case, I do not think it would be absolutely morally obligatory. The way things are in our world, you would almost have to live in a cave to not have some indirect cooperation with evil.”
Cheeky spiritual director. God bless him. Looking back and praying on this, I know that these scruples come from a burning desire that lives in me. A desire for something more. A state of bliss, where corruption and evil are no more and I no longer have to consider if my desires are distorted, but rather have them fulfilled…essentially, I long for heaven. I may struggle with scruples, but my hope in heaven is stronger. I know this desire in me was placed there by God and He longs to fulfill it and have me correspond to His grace. I don’t want my scruples to lead me to spiritually starve myself from His love. A love that I’m already experiencing so strongly here on earth, I can’t even imagine what it will be like when I rest in His presence. That being said, this afternoon I will go and get myself a chai latte at Starbucks 😉

Good Friday

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

penance

This morning, something funny happened during my confession. I was crying may or may not have been a little hard of hearing and the priest had a very thick accent. I was confessing in English (not my mother tongue) and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the priest’s either. Long story short, the priest absolved me of my sins and gave me my penance. Problem is, I didn’t hear what the priest gave me as my penance and before I had a chance to ask him, he left the confessional!

I recited a dozen of Hail Marys immediately after, unsure what to do and then attended Mass, but did not receive communion. I didn’t know at that point whether I was in a state of grace and if I could receive our Lord. After Mass I prayed the Holy Rosary as well (I have a tendency to be scrupulous and was freaking about whether I’d been really absolved of my sins and if my confession was valid pending on the completion of my penance). Then I found this blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and felt SO MUCH BETTER. Here’s an extract from his post:

In normal circumstances, when you are not sure about the penance and you and the confessor are communicating reasonably well. You can always ask for a clarification when in doubt. “Father, I didn’t understand the penance. Could you repeat it, please?”

But that’s water under the bridge at this point.

People will, once in a while, forget the penance that was assigned. This can happen when some well-meaning priest assigns one of those loopy, long, open-ended penances, such as, “Read the seventh chapter of the Second Book of Kings and spend some time under an elm tree counting ladybugs* while you think about the impact your use of fossil fuels has on the environment.”

I’m going to bring this penance incident up in my next confession, but I won’t let my scruples get in the way of me and baby J** being in communion at the next Mass I attend, no sir-y! In another post by Fr. John he makes it quite clear:

The validity of the absolution and the efficacy of the sacrament do not depend on whether you do your assigned penance. (…)  

Can. 959: In the sacrament of penance the faithful who confess their sins to a legitimate minister, are sorry for them, and intend to reform themselves obtain from God through the absolution imparted by the same minister forgiveness for the sins they have committed after baptism and, at the same, time are reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by sinning. 

Can. 981 The confessor is to impose salutary and appropriate penances, in proportion to the kind and number of sins confessed, taking into account, however, the condition of the penitent. The penitent is bound personally to fulfil these penances.

In other words, penances are to be given, and the penitent is to do them, not some one else. You cannot pay another person to do them. But this obligation to give and do penances does not affect the validity of the absolution or the efficacy of the sacrament. If the penitent hasn’t done the assigned penance before going to Communion, he is still forgiven and can still go to Communion.

I have so much to learn about my faith. Catholocism is so incredibly rich and beautiful. I’m certain I’ll be on my death bed and still feeling like I know so little. I give thanks to God for opportunities like this morning to grow in understanding of my faith. If we’re to share the Gospel and the beauty of the Church, then we, as Catholics, need to be well informed!



*This made me laugh so much! DO PRIEST ACTUALLY DO THIS? I know penance is quite a personal matter, but I’m curious to know whether someone has ever really been told by a priest to count ladybugs 😛
**Jesus and I speak gangsta to eachother, deal with it

Virtue Challenge: Week 8

Charity & Service
Ever feel stretched thin? Like you want to stop giving and just take care of your own needs? Charity and service will do that to you. They will draw your selfishness up to the surface. Temptation to put your own needs above those of others arises. This week, I really felt like bailing on some of my charity & service commitments. After spending the day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was to extend my time for others, but I’m glad I shut that little selfish voice inside of me and followed up on my commitments. This is what love is all about. Willing the good of the other. Putting their needs above our own. I know God will keep challenging me to grow in virtue, but that is because He loves me. He also wants me to grow in holiness. How can I ever do so if I don’t extend a hand to my neighbour and love him as much as I love myself? The Gospel today was a bit of a slap in the face (see what I did there? I like to think I’m clever…or good at making terrible jokes, you choose).

To be noted, I always come out of my charity and service time feeling like I get more than I give. That’s how He works.

back to my roots

I’ve gone back to being a brunette. This shade is slightly darker than my natural colour, but my hair stylist promised it would fade into the right colour. I’ve also gone back to being a bit of my hermit self. I’m taking a break from Facebook. After uploading this picture on Facebook and Instagram I got some unpleasant personal messages. Some really creepy messages to be truthful. Words can be scary. I won’t be reactivating my Facebook account until after Easter, if at all. I’m hoping that during this time, I’ll learn to seek God in the moments where I would naturally turn to my phone and check for notifications. If we all turned to God as often as we turned to our phones, maybe there’d be more saints.

On a less sombre note, that novena that I finished on Tuesday and posted about, well I can divulge more details now that I’ve signed the contract. I’ve been enjoying working part time post graduation from university, but the last couple of months I have felt ready to work full time. I came to the realization that I was often complaining in my prayer time about not working full time, but not actually asking God for full time work. I was recently invited to go to Madrid in September for Don Alvaro’s beatification. I’ve been dreaming about Spain for the last few years. Thus, I prayed a novena with Don Alvaro, asking him for his intercession: that I may have full time work and be able to afford to go to Madrid in the fall. On the last day of my novena, as soon as my manager came into work, she proposed a contract for me to work on the days that I hadn’t been working and a raise. Had I not been about to go back to some clients, I would have burst into tears right there. GOD IS SO GOOD. There is nothing better than knowing that God will give you the desires of your heart when your rely entirely on Him and that what you ask of Him is in accordance to His will. Tomorrow is my first day in this new job, please pray for me!

Virtue Challenge: Week 7


Gentle & kind
This week, in my virtue challenge, I gave a friend some tough love. As women, we often associate kindness as the act of pleasing others. Our love of self can trump our love of others. We crave their approval so we don’t always want to tell them they’re wrong. Thankfully, God’s grace precedes us and when we correspond to it, He can do great things through us! Strive to please the Lord, not others.

thanksgiving

This morning I finished a novena and had my petition answered. Never underestimate the power of God. Through prayer, our wants align themselves with His will and God is faithful in giving us what our heart desires. I’m filled with so much thanksgiving, MY HEART COULD BURST Y’ALL.

Virtue Challenge: Week 6


Warning: I’m not a trained theologian or doctor of the Church. If something here seems to contradict teachings of the Church, note that I do not speak on behalf of the Magisterium.
Pure
This past week I focused on the virtue of purity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that: “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person” (CCC 2521). Modesty is something I struggle with. I could blame it on our culture and the media, but let’s be frank, I’m a product of my choices. 

I’m someone who craves clear guidelines. It’s part of my scrupulous nature. However, I didn’t want to just focus on rules this week. I want my choice of modesty to come from a place of love. Here are a few of the following questions I’ve been asking myself this past week:
-Would I wear this if I were going to Mass?
-Would I act like this if I had a husband and he were right beside me?
-Would I want my future husband doing this?
and most importantly:
-Am I reflecting Christ?
-Am I growing in holiness?

Glancing down at my purity ring and asking these questions this past week really helped me in choices that I made. I’m going to keep working on this. Something I want to do in the near future is a second overhaul of my closet. This summer I did a purity purge (I donated some clothing items I deemed immodest). The closer I grow to Christ, the higher my standards become and that includes standards for myself and the way I dress. In moments of vanity, I like to remind myself of this: “Modesty is always beautiful” (G.K. Chesterton). Please keep me in your prayers!

Virtue Challenge: Week 5

 photo joy_zps4ad24cf3.jpg

Warning:I’m not a trained theologian or doctor of the Church. If something here seems to contradict teachings of the Church, note that I do not speak on behalf of the Magisterium.

Note on last week’s challenge: Oooof, the Lord has been answering my Litany of Humility, a little too well if you know what I mean. He keeps drawing my sins to the surface and extracting them like venom from a snake bite. It’s painful, but the Lord is purifying me by having me deal with all this pride I possess. So bring on the pain Lord, if it’s what is needed in order for me to be a Saint!

Joyful & Fun
Now, let’s examine this week’s virtue challenge. I focused on being joyful and fun. I’m going to talk about how I’ve experienced temptation to despair, to let go of being joyful and fun this week. I think it might be the understatement of the year when I say I have a tendency to be scrupulous. I’m a perfectionist. I will start things over until it’s JUST right. I’m learning to let go of this need for perfection, but rather, focus on sainthood.

At times, when I do my examination of conscience, I can find myself reflecting and obsessing on venial sins that happened nearly a decade ago. It’s so important to understand the difference between venial and mortal sins in understanding our transgressions against our Father. I was born with the original sin. I suffer from a fallen human will.

When I focus on these venial sins from my past, that I had forgotten and haven’t had a chance to bring up in Reconciliation, I fear I’m not receiving our Lord in a perfect state of grace during Communion. These thoughts come from the enemy. The devil would have me believe that my sin is greater than the ocean of mercy our Lord has for me. He uses scruples to draw me away from God’s love and tempts me with despair.

I tend to cope with scruples by spending time in personal prayer and fasting to repent from these venial sins. Our Lord knows we are weak and fallen creatures, but He loves us and has so much mercy and justice. If He didn’t, we would never be worthy of receiving the Eucharist. Without His mercy, only Mother Mary would be worthy of Communion, in her immaculate conception.

Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed

Saint Josemaria put it best when he wrote: “Get rid of those scruples that deprive you of peace. What robs you of your peace of soul cannot come from God. When God comes to you, you will realize the truth of those greetings: My peace I give to you… My peace I leave with you… My peace be with you… And this peace you will feel even in the midst of tribulation”.
***

N.B. Do NOT purposefully omit to confess venial sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Do know, that any sins that you honestly forget to confess are forgiven when you receive absolution, but bring them up at your next Confession when you do remember them. It is good to confess these sins in prayer, but why deny yourself the amazing grace our Lord grants you through Reconciliation? The enemy will try to fool you into thinking that your venial sins have a stronger hold on you than God’s grace. Jesus diedfor your sins. Keep these verses in mind:
John 3:22-24 For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weaknesses.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, -in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.

Virtue Challenge: Week 4

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Drama, it’s a major turn off
This week I worked on not creating drama or being involved in it. For the sake of keeping this up, I can’t really write much about how I lived this virtue this week. Let me just say this: praying the Litany of Humility is not easy, but I know it helped me with this week’s virtue challenge. Go and pray it now (until you mean it… I know, it hurts!).

Virtue Challenge: Week 3

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Prudent
This past week in my virtue challenge I focused on the virtue of prudence. Prudence is a “pivotal virtue that disposes us to discern what is good in a real-life situation and to choose the best means for obtaining it. Prudence empowers us to make sound, practical decisions that help us achieve our goals.” (Dear Prudence).

Well, in my quest to grow virtue, life has been kind enough to give me a challenge in the last seven days that would test me in prudence. I was asked by a certain young man to go visit him at Madonna House in Combermere. For you Catholics out there reading this, you might think, ohhhh, that’s nice. A young lad wants to get to know you better in a wholesome Catholic environment. 

Wrong. 

I’m quoting my spiritual director here: “It’s not immoral to go, but is it the best thing?” Bless him. He’s so full of wisdom. He never quite tells me what to do, but has a way of making me realize what it is I ought to do (I guess what I’m saying is that my spiritual director directs me spiritually, bingo). Also, my spiritual director used to live with Saint Josémaria. How cool is that? We often forget that the saints are much closer to us than we realize (go check out 263 of Evangelii Gaudium and then come back here).

Breakdown of the elements of a prudent act according to Leon J. Suprenant:
(1) deliberation—taking account of all the relevant principles, facts, alternatives, etc. 
(2) judgment—coming to a sound decision 
(3) execution—implementing the decision



Here’s why it’s not the best thing for me to go:
1) The facts: This young man has told me he feels called to seminary. He’s also told me he’s attracted to me. I’m attracted to him as well.

2) Judgment: Although Combermere is a safe place to potentially start a courtship, would my going there be of any help in this young man’s discernment? No. A longing for human affection is normal, but God does not call us to be governed by our emotions/feelings. If this young man is truly being called to seminary, spending time with a girl for which he feels attraction is going to make that call harder to accept. I really do not want to be responsible for making someone disobey God’s call. If not only for that reason, I need to guard my heart. I can honestly say that I would be unable to spend a week with this young man and not grow attached and give him part of my heart.

3) I told the Registrar at Madonna House that I wouldn’t be visiting after all. I’m writing a letter to send to the young man explaining why I won’t be visiting (it’ll be quite similar to this post).

Bam. Week 3 of my virtue challenge completed.

Virtue Challenge: Week 2

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Courage, not afraid to confront & help someone

This past week I worked on the virtue of courage. When it comes to courage, I often feel like Edmund in The Chronicles of Narnia. I am so filled with pride, I have selfish tendencies. I can be very far from courageous. This lack of courage in my life comes from being prideful. I want to do it on my own so often, I neglect asking God for His grace. Without Him, I can do nothing. For me to be more brave, I need a miracle. What better miracle than transubstantiation? So this week I made sure to attend mass daily. If I was to challenge myself to grow in this virtue, I was going to need to let some serious grace do it’s work.

God has rewarded me. I have a coworker with whom I’ve been having beautiful discussions about God for the last three months. She’s never been in a Catholic Church. She’s a devout Christian, but not Catholic. I’ve just been asking the Holy Spirit to give me the courage every day to broach touchy topics and share the truth about the Church. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church – which is, of course, a different thing”. On Wednesday of this past week, I confronted my coworker and asked her to join me for daily mass and you know what? She totally came! It was soooooo beautiful to be able to witness her first time at a Catholic mass. She spoke afterwards about how she just felt the Holy Spirit talking to her loud and clear in the mass. Isn’t that lovely? She’s got a heart of gold and I’m glad God gives me the graces needed to be courageous and share my faith, even though I often fear rejection. If you yourself feel like you would like to be a little more courageous, why not ponder on these words from God?

Isaiah 41:10  Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Virtue Challenge: Week 1

Puts others first, before herself
We always have good intentions at the beginning of a New Year, don’t we? Well, one of my good intentions is to continue to seek to grow in virtue. This is why I’ve embarked on Sarah Swafford’s Emotional Virtue Challenge. You can check out her website and what it’s all about here.

This past week I focused on putting others first, before myself. I’m human. I am flawed. I’m selfish. I like to think I’m a nice person, but the truth is, a lot of the things I do are self-motivated. This past week, I really strove to practice putting others before myself. One of the specific ways I wanted to live out this virtue was by being a good hostess. I’m blessed to not have any roommates. I was hosting a friend for a few days over the holidays and I know that during her visit, I definitely had my shortcomings. Us humans are such creatures of habit and comfort! I am guilty of being a hermit and introvert, but God is so good! He never gives us more than we can handle. My guest was the sweetest guest anyone could ask for. She’s also an introvert, soft spoken and a heart of gold. I pray that I was a good hostess and that she felt welcomed in my home. I sometimes wonder if spiritually it’s wiser to have roommates… Any thoughts?

The second way I tried to put others first was by loving the person more than loving the evangelizing. Let me clarify that. I love my brothers so much, but I’m guilty of feeling responsible for their conversion. I constantly need to check myself at the door and tell myself that that’s the Holy Spirit’s job, not mine. I may or may not have an ego problem. Really Pome, you think YOU could convert someone? Woahhhhhh. You can share the Gospel, you can love others, but conversion, that’s between God and the individual. Not up to me. The devil is sneaky. Real sneaky. He can easily trick us into believing we are acting with good intentions, when in reality we are trying to play God.

Last, but not least, the third specific way I wanted to embrace putting others before myself was by appreciating their likes and dislikes. I wanted to show a true appreciation, not just listen kindly and wait to rebuke with why my likes and dislikes are superior. This one played out so well. I won’t elaborate too much because I don’t want any friends reading this feeling judged. After all, their privacy should be placed before my liking of my blog 😉

Next week I’ll update you on how I face the task of practicing the virtue of courage. Please keep this wimp in your prayers!

New Year and New Graces

God has been so good to me in the last year, but more importantly, He is ALWAYS good to me. I’ve gone through some extended spiritually dry periods in 2013 and have often felt as though He was far away…and I let myself be angry with God. In 2013, I struggled to have faith that God has plans for my welfare and not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11). Now, looking back on 2013, I thank God for these spiritually dry periods that have given me the opportunity to grow in holiness. I really have strived this past year to continue believing in the Lord, even if I didn’t feel like it. That is, after all, the meaning of faith. It’s not a feeling. It’s a will to do, to believe and trust in something for which there is no proof. I may not have felt God close to me, but I know that He was, is and ever will be.

My decision to up my frequency of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist in 2013 has done me so much good. I can’t emphasize how much good. If you know me in person and spend time with me, I’m pretty certain you can see the joy that has filled me this last year. God has taught me that that my feelings cannot be left in charge of my spiritual growth.

Three nights ago I was in adoration and as I prayed, I was asking God to help me grow in holiness and continue to help me bring the joy that He gives to others. I filled out an application to NET Canada and NET Ireland in October. NET Ministries entered my life 10 years ago, when an Infuse team was sent to my parish. I reaped the fruits of their work for the next four years with awesome youth ministry while I was in high school. I considered applying to NET right out of high school, but decided against it as I had my heart set out on going to university right away.

This past summer I was a chaperone for a youth group going to Journey to the Father. Witnessing these young adults encountering Christ set me on fire. It was so beautiful. Many of these teens had never heard a simple truth: They are loved by God. Not only does God love us, but He likes us. He wants our good. On my journey of spiritual growth, I am continuing and reaffirming my commitment to give my life to God.


In a month I will be attending a NET interview retreat. I am handing in my application on January 11th. January 11th is the Feast day of St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch. He’s not a much known saint, but he’s one I feel close to. He was a hermit, but before living in solidarity, he sought to obtain discipline for himself. I am an introvert and often seek solidarity. However, fellowship, though I don’t seek it naturally, has helped me grow in discipline and be a better follower of Christ. In applying to NET, I want to give God a chance to teach me discipline if this is His will. Being a missionary for eight months and having to raise your salary is scary, but only if you aren’t convinced of God’s love for you. I am convinced. I have faith.