Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday it only seems fitting to focus on the many things that I am thankful for and I have realized through this process that I am often in complaining mode. "Dear God, I don't have this, I need this, why do I lack in this", and forget to truly thank God for the many blessings He has given me. If I were a betting person many of you find yourself in this same situation.

Often it is hard to take a step back when we are immersed in the day to day and recognize the ways that God is working in our lives and blessing us. Many times I forget that He is blessing me in the small ways like a beautiful morning when the sun is shining, or a good cup of hot coffee, or a conversation with a friend. I usually am looking for him to bless me in the "BIG" ways and when I don't see that happening I become discouraged.

This Thanksgiving I will be taking the time to sit in the presence of the Lord and write down all the many ways that He has bestowed His blessing on me. Thanking Him for the times of struggle and of joy. I encourage you to do the same.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Stand with Thomas Peters

As some of you may remember from a few years ago, Thomas Peters, was one of our Keynote speakers at the "Live Out Loud" Frassati Young Adult Conference. This past summer Thomas sustained serious trauma to his neck after a swimming accident that almost left him completely paralyzed. By the many prayers offered and the grace and love of God Thomas is beginning to recover.

This Thursday, November 14th, his family is calling for an "I stand with Thomas Peters" media-thon to help raise awareness to the sanctity of life, marriage and faith that Thomas over the years has been a strong advocate for, but to also help raise money to help with the high costs of his continued treatment.

I know many of us do not have a lot of extra funds laying around that we can always donate to causes that need our help, but I do ask and encourage you to offer up prayers for Thomas and his new wife Natalie as they continue down this tough road of recovery.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tis the Season... Not

Tis the Season…NOT
Alright, I don’t know about you but I am not sure how it all of a sudden got to be November. I feel like this year is flying by. I guess time really does fly when you are having fun!

The other day I was walking through Hobby Lobby and to my surprise (not so surprised) the Christmas d├ęcor was already in full swing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Christmas wreath or statue of the Holy Family and all the lights galore that come with this season, but did I miss memo that Christmas is now celebrated in November and not on December 25th? It seems as though every year the consumer market moves up the Holiday season and we are unable to really enjoy and embrace the season that we are in.

If we begin to give into the well marketed idea that start November 1st we are to start the Christmas Spirit, begin the Christmas shopping, start listening to Christmas music etc… we will be doing ourselves a great disservice spiritually. The church in her wisdom gave us a time of preparation, the season of Advent, to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ. A time to step away from the noise and chaos that comes with this season to reflect on the true gift of the birth of Christ and the impact that has made on our lives.

So as we approach one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, I challenge you not to overlook the great gift it is to offer prayers of thanksgiving to God for the many blessings He has given to us of our family, friends, work, school, a house to live in and food to eat. Let us not get caught up in the buying of material gifts that will come on Dec. 25th under the tree, but take time to embrace this season of Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Give until it hurts... ouch!

This past weekend I had the privilege of chaperoning a High School Mission trip to Prestonsburg, KY. Now, if any of you have been to Prestonsburg you know that it is in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains and it is one of the poorest areas around due to the closing of all the coal factories a few years ago when Obama claimed coal as an unclean source of energy. Not only is this area very poor, but it is also right in the middle of the Bible belt and therefore many of the inhabitants are Baptist. The little Catholic Parish that we visited, St. Martha’s, is the only Catholic Church within miles and believe it or not only has 100 parishioners! The Pastor, who he himself converted from the Baptist faith, said that many of their parishioners are converts. How neat is that?!  

Over the extended weekend that we were there we visited three members of the Parish that are now shut-ins due to various reasons. Our job was to help winterize their homes. When I first heard what we would be doing while down there I had a vague idea that this area was poor and that the houses were probably not all that great, but I was truly not prepared for what I saw.  Down there they do not identify where they live by streets and house numbers but by which holler they live at. What was the most shocking is that you would travel up these mountains and you would see literally shack after shack after shack but then in the middle of these shacks would be this gorgeous home. I was astounded by the poverty and the way that these families were forced to live. These men and women are just trying to get by and do the best they can, but the amount of work available is very limited and so many are only living off of welfare.

The true impoverishment of this area was unbelievable to me and as I returned home from helping these men and women I started to feel weird inside.  As I took some time on Monday to reflect on the weekend I realized how much I have and how often I complain that what I have is not enough. For some time now I have been struggling with getting rid of cable television. I pay an arm and a leg for it, but literally every night I sit down and turn the TV on to find absolutely nothing to watch! So what is holding me back from canceling? As I sat and reflected I realized it is that I can say I have cable, now when I say that out loud I realize how ridiculous that is, but it is the truth.  I realized that my selfishness is holding me back from what God is calling me to do. Yes, I give, but I can’t say I give until it hurts and lately I have felt like the Lord is calling me to give till it hurts. So, maybe your giving until it hurts is not giving up cable television, but where is it that God is calling you to let go for His greater glory in your life?  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Dear Young People, do not be afraid to witness to your faith" PB XVI

As I sit here and read this quote again and again I can't help but think, he is talking to me! So often I find myself fearful of witnessing to the faith, wondering how others will perceive me, will I say the right thing, and so on and so on. I can always come up with an excuse to not confront someone or something when I have to. As young adults we are given many opportunities each day to witness to the faith whether it is at work, at home, with friends or family and how often do we allow those moments to just slip right by us? I know it happens to me more times than I would like for it too. To be a witness to the faith takes great courage and humility. We must first recognize that it is not about us, it is about Christ and bringing others to know His love, and secondly we must pray to the Holy spirit for guidance each day in our words and actions as we encounter others. We live in a world today that is absent of God, and it is our call as the future of the Church to be a witness to others that Christ is still present here and now! How are you being called to witness to the faith this Lenten season? What is holding you back? 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

One week in... and I'm already failing

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I gave up CHEESE for Lent. We are a week in and can I tell you it is one of the hardest sacrifices I have ever made. Even harder than when I gave up coffee, and if you know me I LOVE COFFEE. You could even say I bleed coffee I drink it so much of it. What I did not realize until this past week is that everything I like has cheese on it and if it doesn't have cheese on it there is a pretty good bet that I don't like it. I was three days in and wondered if it were too late to change my Lenten offering. 

This past weekend I had the great privilege of serving the youth at Destination Jesus. It was a wonderful retreat and so many beautiful blessings came out of this past weekend for not only the youth but for myself. It was also quite challenging, you see, everything that we had to eat had cheese on it or in it. I found myself feeling frustrated, annoyed and quite hungry. And there were times when the other youth ministers would tease me with all the delicious cheese they were eating. Now granted it was my own darn fault that I told them what I had given up for lent, but nonetheless it was hard. As I went to prayer with this frustration that night at Adoration, the Lord was very clear in his response to me, "Alle, you asked that this Lent I would give you the opportunity to walk with me in these forty days. I am only giving you what you asked for." Sigh, this was a true statement, and from that moment on I decided I am not complaining anymore about the lack of delicious cheese in my life, but to truly take this opportunity of sacrifice and offer it up for the many intentions and prayers that I know so many need. Christ suffered because of love for us, we are called to suffer for love of Christ and love of neighbor. Don't let this Lent be a time to mourn the loss of our beloved food, drink etc, but a time to truly love one another as Christ loves us. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our German Shepherd

I don't know about you but the news I woke up to on Monday morning about Pope Benedict XVI retiring was quite the shock to me. It was weird, I was experiencing a whole range of emotions. I was sad, upset, concerned, disappointed and honestly just a little confused. I quickly turned on the TV after I read on my Fox News app the breaking story and sent a text to Fr. Adam asking what the heck was going on... his response "Already on it!". My memory quickly took me back to almost 8 years ago when I was still a student at Franciscan University and Pope Benedict was elected. As you can imagine being on a very Catholic campus everyone was a buzz waiting for the great news of a new Pope. Much of the student body gathered in the JC Williams center hovering over the only TV that we all had access too. As we watched the white smoke appear the whole campus burst out into applause and anticipation of who was going to walk out! It was one of the most joyful memories I have as Pope Benedict made his appearance. If I am not mistaken there were not many dry eyes in the building. After the death of such a beautiful man as, Pope John Paul II, that all loved and adored him many of us were worried that we would not love this new Pope, but I believe we all took one look at him and feel instantly in love. 

I read a blog recently that I thought put this great action taken by Pope Benedict into perspective. Pope Benedict is NOT giving up due to the demands of the job, he is seeing the great need for a younger man to lead the Church as he continues to fight the spiritual battle that is at hand. This particular blogger wrote, "you don't retire to the monastery to relax, read and write. You retire to a monastery to take on a greater challenge, the spiritual war between good and evil." When I read this it made perfect sense. I have such great respect and love for Pope Benedict XVI. Let us continue to pray for his health and for the Church as we prepare for a new leader that the Holy Spirit will always guide and protect us!

Lent is upon us!

Believe it or not we enter into Lent today! Where did the time go? I feel like I finally recovered from the Christmas Season and now we enter into preparation for Easter. I will be honest my favorite Catholic Holiday is Easter, but the less anticipated part of my beloved holiday is the 6 weeks leading up to it. Don't get me wrong, there is great joy and beauty in experiencing the 40 days of the desert with Christ as we prepare our hearts for the Resurrection, but my temporal body at times feels differently. The past few years I did small sacrifices, but the main priority was to add some component of prayer into my daily life that had previously been lacking. As I have contemplated and prayed about what to "give up" this year my first thought each time has been CHEESE. Sigh. Now if you know me even in the slightest you know I am a huge lover of cheese. I practically have it with every meal I eat in some capacity so the thought of giving it up brings a little tear to my eye and makes my mouth salivate. But isn't that the point? The purpose behind Lent and the 40 days of sacrifice is not to give up something that is easy for us to, it is a call to die to the body and experience the great suffering Christ did in our own very insignificant way. Sacrifice means to offer. The Church in her wisdom knows that we need a time to remove ourselves from the business of life and temptation to regain joy. Let's not look at this as a curse but as a beautiful opportunity to unite ourselves with Christ.