Monday, November 24, 2008

A Sincere Thank You..

My mom always taught me to do my thank you notes early, so here is a long thank you to the Blessed Mother on behalf of all the readers of this column and the young people of the Church, written with gratitude and love to the Most Holy Trinity. I am grateful for all of you and the gift I have each week to give you my heart in writing. May the Lord give you his grace and peace throughout this week.

God Bless You,

Mother Mary,

I give you my heart in prayer at this moment and ask the Holy Spirit, your spouse, to come down upon me and all the young people of the Church. At this moment, may they not remain far from you. You are the surest and fastest way to your Son, take away all that keeps us from Him, and lead us to be who He wants us to be.

I pray with a grateful heart to you for the love that you show us, the comfort you give us, and the presence you are in our lives. May your Son be praised for the gift He has given us in you.

I offer this prayer up in thanksgiving to your Son through your most Immaculate Heart. We don’t stop nearly enough to be thankful as we take so much for granted. May Jesus accept these prayers from your heart as sincere and worthy. We know Jesus came through you Mother, and we know when our prayers go back to Him through you, they will be answered.

Today we are thankful for our lives…
In a world where some are not allowed to live and where the dignity of our lives falls somewhere between an opinion and a law, please shower down your graces for the conversion of our culture. May the conversion start with our hearts and lead us to inspire others to respect and defend life by the way we live our own lives.

Today we are thankful for our families…
No matter what happens, God gave us our families. As much as we wish they were perfect, they are not. But in the imperfection the Spirit give us opportunities to love and be loved. May we always act in charity towards our parents and brothers and sisters, and not let the love we have in our hearts for them be overshadowed by selfishness, pride, or other priorities.

Today we thank you for our friends…
Our friends are a gift to us. They share our joys, pick is up when we are down, and make us laugh when we are struggling. Surround us with friends who build us up, challenge us to be who your Son wants us to be, and who are faithful in good times and bad. May all in this time have a friend, someone who is there to show them the love of your Son.

Today we are thankful for the many joys in our lives…
It is those things that make us smile just thinking about them. Or those experiences or opportunities that bring butterflies to our stomachs or a spark of excitement to our lives. It is the joy of Elizabeth as John the Baptist leapt in her womb! It is your joy you had when you held your son in your arms. It is those things that make us want to jump for joy, tell a good friend, or shout intimately that He gives us those things we need to live our lives inspired to be who He created us to be.

Today we are even thankful for the struggles…
The struggles are a gift too as you know Mother. They show us what we are made of. They make us look deep down in our hearts and souls, and force us to look to Heaven and surrender all we have to the one who died for us as you did. You could have said no, but you didn’t. You inspire us to face our struggles with greatn faith and courage. Give us the strength of your heart and the comfort in times of need.

Today we are thankful for the little things…
It is the surprises that amaze us. The presence of you and Sprit in our lives when we least expect it. The smile for a neighbor or friend, the success that was never meant to be, the good night sleep, the hot shower, a fun soccer game, music notes played in harmony, a letter from an old friend, and even the smell of mom’s home cooking. You shower us with graces when we least expect. The little victories in life are often the most profound.

Lastly, today we are thankful for the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Word that inspired us, and the Church they left for us…
We are sons and daughters of God and of you, Mary. We live by the manifold grace of the Spirit and are free because of the Cross of Jesus. The Word is our guide and the Church is our Home. Protect it, inspire it, and give us all we need to one day come home to you forever.

Mary, I love you. We love you. Thank you for the gift of your Motherhood. I entrust the hearts of all young people to your blessed heart. May we come to know the love of Jesus your Son, the purpose He has for us, and receive the grace necessary to follow it through.

This day, may you offer our praise to the most Holy Trinity in thanksgiving for every gift we have been given.

With grateful hearts,

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everybody Has One...

May the Lord give you His peace!

In my experience, there is always something holding us back. We know deep inside our hearts that we should be living differently – there is a certain feeling inside that haunts us at times, challenging us to change, to be converted, to be transformed. Unfortunately, our younger generation always has a way to justify our misery. In fact, we are so good at it that we have convinced ourselves that this is just the way life is.

Our thoughts go like this:

We are bored at school and we make it the schools’ problem.
Mom and dad are too strict so we get annoyed and have a bad attitude towards the whole family.
Work is too hard, so we are lazy and get paid what we do not deserve.
Sports might be a place where we give our all, but our attitude in the other parts of our lives can’t help but affect what goes on in the gym or on the field.

We live our lives looking forward to the next class, activity, game etc. and we find ourselves in a never ending cycle of failed expectations, lukewarm outcomes, lame excuses and bad attitudes. Sorry to be so brash, but unfortunately the reflection is pretty right on not many young people today.

What is holding us back? What is it that keeps us in a place where we keep finding ourselves desiring more? I would like to propose that we truly don’t believe that God wants to use us. For some reason we look at ourselves not worthy of a call from God to do great things. We see our brokenness and weakness and convince ourselves that we could never give to the world and be a part of God’s work in our midst. I have been there and I was pretty darn good and coming up with excuses why God would not want to use me.
I came across this reflection by a Christian author:

Jacob was a liar. Dave was an adulterer. Abraham was too old. Timothy had ulcers. Peter was a coward. Moses was a stuttering murderer. Mark was undependable. Hosea married a prostitute. Naomi was widowed, as was Ruth. Jonah was disobedient. Miriam was a gossip. Thomas doubted. Elijah suffered from depression. Paul was a murderer too. John the Baptist dressed funny. Martha way was a worrywart. Zacchaeus was very short. Mary was only a teenager. Lazarus was dead. What is your excuse?

How does that make you feel? Everyone has an excuse! What is yours?

Here is the great news. God loves you and wants to use you. He has created you with amazing gifts and talents and when you are ready, He will set the world ablaze with all you have to offer. What a great thought! Our lives do not have to be about what we are not good at. Our lives do not have to be about the let downs of high school, work, or our everyday challenges. God wants you to experience what life is like living in Him.

However, we have to stop with the excuses. We have to stop putting off the decisions and movements in our lives that will lead us to Christ. Make today that day when you put the excuses aside and finally come to move in a direction responding to the Lord wanting to do great things in your life.

Have you talked about praying more? Today, go to the chapel and spend some time after school in prayer with our Lord.

How about helping out more around the house and being more joyful around your family? Start when you come home from school, and surprise your family with your joy!

You can also:

Work harder at work
Be an example to your teammates when it comes to how you carry yourself on and off the field.
Strive not to use the bad language you have become accustomed to.
Lend a hand to the person in the hallway who looks lost or lonely.

The Lord wants to do great things with your life! Praise Him for that!

The excuses are holding us back. Are you ready to put them aside? I am too!

God Bless You,


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time To Take It Up...

We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up. —Cardinal Karol Wotyla who became Pope John Paul II two years later; reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal

Grace and peace to you my friends.

There are many people I have talked to over the past week that have expressed their disappointment, anxiety, and even sadness over the results of the presidential election. With these feelings come even more questions about what is going to happen in the future. Last Tuesday was a incredible defeat for the Church and the cause of life and values that most Christians hold dear. Why was it that more than half of the nation’s Catholics voted for and supported the most pro-abortion candidate the U.S. has ever nominated? Why was it when people were asked about why they voted the way they did, abortion and other moral issues were not even in their top five reasons for choosing a particular candidate? To know that Catholics and Christians and a majority of the country didn’t seem to really care about the most defenseless in our society reveals to me the deep poverty we are in as a country and culture.

I am deeply motivated by the words of Pope John Paul II at the beginning of the column. In a very timeless and prophetic way he is inspiring us young people to realize and understand where we find ourselves at this time in history. We often feel helpless and like we do not have a part to play in our cultural battle. We make excuses and pass on the responsibility to someone else. However, this attitude could not be farther from what we are called to do. We need to be “called out” now more than ever. It is time my friends for all of us to grow up, step up, and start living lives that that proclaim Jesus and the Gospel! We can no longer afford to think that a life lived for Christ is something to put off to the future or something that can be done in a mediocre or average way. It is pretty safe to look around and see where living a mediocre faith has gotten us today. Is where we find ourselves really where we want to be? I am guessing that it is not.

Though there are big issues that we deal with as a nation, abortion, war, poverty, the redefining of marriage, unethical research, etc. are all areas in which the battle for our culture is being fought. I would like to propose what I think is the best way we can make a difference in this battle. It all comes down to the words of St. Jose Maria Escriva: “Why don’t you try converting your whole life into the service of God- your work and your rest, your tears and your smiles.” Our battle does not have to be fought in some far off land because the front line of the battle is fought in our families, schools, sports teams, groups of friends, and work places. If we can reorient our lives and convert everything we do for the cause of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, think about how things would change!

Our own personal conversions would have a deep impact on the major issues in our nation.

Our relationships with our parents would be better because we would listen to them, respect them, and love them in the name of Jesus

Our friendships would thrive because they would be centered around things that would build us up, spark deep conversation, and lead to genuine love and fellowship (away from shallow friendship found at the local party near you).

Our effort at school and work would be productive because everything we do would be in the name of the Lord and giving Him glory (how many of us really go to work and school each day to give Jesus glory as we use our gifts and talents?) It would change the way we volunteer, help other students, and be at the service of others.

Our sports teams would be different and the team would be looked as a community united in a single purpose: to be virtuous men and woman striving to serve God in their athletic gifts.

If we want to change our culture and we want to be a part of the renewal that must happen in our Church and country it starts with our everyday lives. Moment by moment we can change hearts, including our own, to win that battle that is before us. I believe that this is a winning strategy, one that could truly heal a culture and change it for the better.

Contribute now to the battle, don’t just let another day go by.

God Bless You,


P.S. Pray for our new president. May his heart be converted to govern and lead to respect life and work for peace and justice for all people, especially the unborn.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

November Rain...

Happy November! We all know what this month brings. Tomorrow is the big day and believe it or not, I am not going to write about the election much this week. Whether you can vote or are not quite old enough, all we can do now is pray that the Lord’s will is done. And also, whoever wins and at whatever cost, may the cause of life, justice, and peace be defended and promoted. I came to the conclusion that there is not much more to say about what will happen the next few days in our country. We will have a new president and regardless of who it is, the Lord will still be our Lord and he still calls us all to be light in the darkness of our times.

November is the month that we in the Church pray for our beloved dead. May the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace! When I was in Mass this morning, while praying for the election in addition to those who have died, all the seminarians we encouraged to realize that we are all on our way to meet the Lord. I was overwhelmed with this notion! My friends, we are on our way to meet the Lord! Take a moment to reflect upon all those in your life who have gone before us. Maybe the thoughts bring up sadness, which is the common feeling for us as we think about those who we miss. This month we pray and remember those who we miss; it is a wonderful time to remember that in God’s great mercy our friends and family are on their way to meet the Lord or have met Him already. What great joy this should bring to your heart! What great longing should well up in our hearts and overflow in anticipation for what is to come. We are on our way to meet the Lord!

Let this be the context in which we live our lives - and let this be the context in which we vote or participate in our society. All of us are on way to meet the one who made us, loves us, and calls us to live according to His way. The genius about Catholics and Christians taking part in civic society and participating in our culture is that we can make decisions and choices that lead us to this noble end. Is this person going to help me save my soul and lead me to meet my Lord? Is this job, school, or relationship going to help save my soul and lead me to meet my Lord? This is the question friends!

Everyday we all get up and whether we realize it or not, are making choices that are leading us to the salvation of our souls or are leading us astray. Everyday we get a step closer to meet our Lord who yearns for us to be with Him. Someone asked me the other day how they should vote, and my only advice was for them to vote as if their LIFE depended on it. In a greater context we should not only vote, but make certain and decisions and choices as if our very lives depended on it. Because they do! The decisions we make at school, home, at work, on Friday and Saturday nights, affect our lives and the direction we are going.

Today, tomorrow, and everyday we should take a moment to remember those who have gone before us. Then remember that we are on our way to be them and be with our Lord. Tomorrow’s election won’t change that. It will effect it, but it will never change the fact that all of us, regardless of race, economic status, or creed are on our way to meet our Lord. What great news that is.
Let that bring a smile to your face today and even tomorrow.

Make choices today as if your LIFE depended on it…
God Bless You,