28 December 2011


This morning I was thinking about how absolutely wrecked my life would be without the love of Jesus Christ. He holds it all together and I'm constantly in awe of His goodness! Praise be to the King of kings, who took on lowly flesh and became one of us in the form of an infant. He came to us then, so vulnerable, and He comes to us now, just as vulnerable, in the state of bread and wine. He partakes in our humanity so that we can share in His Divinity.

Today I saw this picture:

This is a beautiful picture of Cardinal Ratzinger giving the Precious Body of Christ to Pope John Paul II. (Since this picture was taken, their titles have changed to Pope Benedict XVI and BLESSED John Paul II!) As I was looking at this picture, I realized that the remarkable thing about it is that both of the men in this picture are just that: men. Sometimes we idealize them, sometimes we act as if they are celebrities, but in reality, they are just men. Saint Catherine of Sienna once said, "If you are who you were meant to be, you will set the world on fire." Isn't that the perfect way to describe these Holy Fathers? They were just who God intended them to be. Sure, they were sinners, just like me, but they persevered in the way of perfection and now, one of them is with the Father and is praying for us! 

Lately, I've been trying to cherish life: to etch into my mind the little things in which I find delight. I suppose this is due to the two fold meaning of the title of this post: two weeks ago I was in a pretty bad car accident. I'll tell you the story if you ask, but suffice it to say, the man who caused the accident and I should both be dead, but we both walked away without a scratch. God performed a HUGE miracle that day, and I've been noticing little miracles ever since. I think they've always been there, but now I'm taking the time to notice them.

Merry Christmas! Fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding Joy! (Luke 19:40)

Holy Innocents, pray for us!

14 December 2011

Answered Prayers

Welcome to my first blog post as a college graduate!!

I once again must apologize for the delay in posting, things have been absolutely hectic with finals and graduation and everything that goes with it. In the new year, I hope to update my blog at least a few times each month, and hopefully on a more consistent time schedule.

I hope each of you is enjoying the third translation of the Roman Missal. I, for one, am loving it, and I particularly enjoy the end of the new Creed where we say "I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

I've been praying about Christ's second coming, as we "wait in joyful hope" for Him to return. I've also been praying about the "one baptism" that we profess. Anyways, that is a whole other blog post.

I wanted to let you, my faithful blog readers, know that I am alive, just busy as ever! Also, last week I was informed that I will be serving FOCUS at Auburn University again during this coming semester. I am beyond thrilled that God has answered my prayer. I knew He would, and that His answer would be "right and just" (more from the new Mass!), but I still had a hard time trusting Him, especially as the days to my possible move drew nearer. I'm learning to trust God with some really big things right now, and I know that He will answer me.

What are you trusting God with?

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

25 November 2011

Thankfulness and Praise

Happy Thanksgiving to my little blog readers (if you actually exist?, sometimes I think I'm the only one who reads what I write!). I hope you have had a day filled with family, friends, food, and football, and most importantly, I hope you set some time aside to offer thanks to the One who provides us with the many gifts with which we are blessed.

This week has been tough for me. I came home encouraged and ready to go, with lofty fundraising goals and a busy schedule set for the week. The first two meetings of my week (one on Saturday and one on Monday morning) were extremely fruitful, edified me so much, and reminded me why I am a Catholic Missionary. After those two appointments, it doesn't seem like much else went right. I think that God is telling me that I need to let go of my goals and form my desires to His. In addition, I need to rely much more heavily on prayer. I need my communication with the Trinity to be comparable to breathing.... just something I do... every single minute of every single day. I want my life to be a prayer.

I love the idea of repentance, and the fact that the Father offers us a clean slate any time we ask, by going to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 I heard this song on the radio today (which I just looked up, and coincidentally is a Matt Maher song), and one line particularly struck me. It said "if you're lost and you need to be found, if you're looking for a Savior, all you gotta do is turn around." I started thinking about how it might not apply to me, because I'm already seeking God, so if I turn around, wouldn't I be going the other way? I quickly dismissed those thoughts because it occurred to me that any time I screw up, or step off the path of righteousness, even just a little, I need to make a complete 180 in my soul. When I fall off, I start seeking myself, my desires, the things that make me happy. It is particularly in those moments when I need to turn around to find the Savior, and the best part is that He's always waiting there with open arms.

The world without the light of Christ is a dark place and being a Christian is so difficult. Eternal salvation will be worth it. Christ will win the battle against sin and death, in my heart and in the world.

Tomorrow I am headed back to Auburn to finish my last semester as a student and my first semester as a missionary. Please pray for me, as I am extremely busy over the next 2 weeks, finishing school, taking finals, team offsite, regional gathering, graduation, etc.

St. Michael, the Archangel, pray for us!

21 November 2011


As usual.

I'm home doing some fundraising and having a little break from the hustle and bustle of school and work, and this song is pretty descriptive of my feelings right now (about both Auburn and Southlake), so have a listen!

Saint Margaret of Scotland, pray for us!

15 November 2011

Life Update

I think I want to start (occasionally) blogging about the ordinary occurrences of my every day life.

Today I had the worst case of the hiccups known to mankind. It was crazy. I think it is my body's way of officially saying "I'm done being sick!" (Or at least that is my interpretation.) The past week, I've been terribly sick, congested and feverish, with a bad cough. I'm learning to embrace suffering!
The weather is awesome (yesterday I wore shorts) and I am eagerly awaiting my trip home to Southlake!

After today, I have two more days of college left. Sometimes I still can't even believe that I'm IN college, and now I'm about to GRADUATE. I'm perpetually in a state of disbelief. This semester has flown by, even faster than the last, and I am SO excited to close this chapter of my life and dive fully into the next. I can't wait to see how much better I will be able to serve the Lord once I'm focusing all of my time and efforts on the mission.

Right now, I am reading Soul of the Apostolate with my teammates. It is forcing me to be radically introspective and helping me to examine my motives in prayer and the causes of my actions. I am praying that I will decrease and He will increase. I highly recommend this read, especially for those committed to the New Evangelization and for those who, by nature of their vocation, do many active works.

I'm also reading (and loving) Come Rack! Come Rope! which is a novel written about the Protestant Reformation in England in the sixteenth century. I have learned that I need fiction in my life. The works of fiction I read always speak so much about the human experience, which I appreciate because I am convinced that you can know God by knowing people to the core.

Saint Edmund Campion, pray for us!

02 November 2011

Beautiful Letdown

I'm sorry for the delay in posting, I've been pretty busy!

I have a ton of ideas floating around in my head for blog posts, so hopefully I'll get some time to put my thoughts into words!

Last week, I meet this sweet man, Joe. Joe owns a t-shirt embroidery company here in Auburn and has been so helpful to FOCUS at Auburn. (Yes, we're getting t-shirts!)
Joe has worked on some things for us before (he did our polo shirts for free!), so when I said I was with FOCUS, he jokingly gave me a hard time. He said, "Oh, so you're with that Saint Michael's crowd, huh?" and I said, "Yes, sir!" And he said, "there are a bunch of crazy folks down there," and I said, "Yes, sir, a bunch of sinners," and he said, "that's why I go there! You know what happens when you get too good, don't you? They nail you to a cross."

I wish you could all meet sweet Joe. I pray that we all have his faith, and the ability to so seamlessly share it with others.

That conversation reminded me of a Switchfoot song that was popular when I was in High School. I always liked the song, but I never took the time to hear the words that I was singing in my car on the way to school, or on my iPod while cleaning my room. One day at a meeting for my youth group's Pure Love Club (sounds cheesy but is actually really cool), one of the girls printed out the lyrics for us and gave us time to think about its meaning.

When I first started thinking about it, I was confused. I thought about how it seemed strange that ANYTHING having to do with Christ could be a letdown. Then I heard the line that talks about the Church of the dropouts and losers and sinners and failures and fools. Isn't that amazing? God became man, took on flesh, and allows a sinner and a failure like me to serve Him. He doesn't ask us to be successful, only faithful, and His Church isn't full of holy people, it's full of sinners who have recognized a lacking in their own hearts that can ONLY be filled with His Presence.

Have a listen for yourself.

All you holy men and women, Angels and Saints of God, pray for us.
Holy souls in Purgatory, pray for us.

21 October 2011

This Side of Heaven

Today, the most amazing thing happened.

Sweet Susan and I were having Discipleship together at Panera Bread. We were catching up on life and talking about our weekends, when whom did we see? None other than Father Jim Morrison.

I want to take a moment to tell you about Father Jim. He was ordained a priest in the summer of 2010, and it has been amazing to see these first few formative years of his priesthood. He comes to us from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he grew up, and he attended the University of South Alabama before entering the seminary. During his time in seminary, he spent a few years in Rome, and he speaks fluent Italian. He also knows how to ride a unicycle and juggle (and yes, he can do these things simultaneously.) He's in his late twenties, and we at Auburn+Catholic are SO BLESSED to have him celebrate masses, hear our confessions, play intramural soccer (he's really good) and even come camping with us! I think his complete surrender to Christ makes a huge impact on the men in AU+Catholic, and on Auburn's campus. (Heck, he even makes ME want to become a priest!) He often plays racquetball with the guys, and I think he occasionally makes an appearance at "Bread and Beer." (B&B, as it is affectionately known) is where the men who are over 21 get together once a week and discuss topics relating to living out the faith/theology/etc. and drink beer and eat bread. (I think... all of these things are speculative, not confirmed, because only men are allowed to go.) (It is also a sort of right of passage for the men in AU+Catholic, and I think the juniors get pretty excited when they turn 21 and get invited to B&B, even if they are too manly to admit it.) Anyways, Father Jim is a great priest.

Being a priest in a small town with an even smaller Catholic population means that everywhere Father Jim goes, he knows someone. (That logic doesn't make sense, but it's true somehow.) Today, he was just stopping in to grab a quick bite (priests are VERY busy people, in case you don't know)(this is not sarcastic, I'm serious... bringing God to His people and His people to God is hard work.) He mentioned that he was on his way to bring Communion to someone, and actually had the Blessed Sacrament with him.


For those of you who don't know:
Catholics read John 6 in it's literal form. When Jesus said during the Last Supper, "This is my Body, which will be given up for you," He actually meant this IS my body. He wasn't speaking in symbolic terms, He was serious. He also said "do this in memory of me." And so, we do! Everyday we remember how much Christ loved us that He became man and died for us, and left us the Mass, so that we could receive the Eucharist (Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.) (Read Scott Hahn's "The Lamb's Supper, or talk to me if you have any questions about this... otherwise I will be here all night writing about how the Eucharist is the "source and summit" of our faith... it's THAT important!)


So... as I mentioned, Father Jim had Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, body, blood, soul, and divinity, with him as he spoke with us. Susan and I asked him if we should genuflect, but quickly decided against it because it would look weird to others who were unaware of the situation.
I think the reason that this event stands out to me is because the only place I usually see Jesus is in the Church or in the Chapel across from our office. Regardless, Susan and I were changed. That's the thing about Jesus: you can never encounter Him, really and truly encounter Him, without being forever changed. Each time we go to Mass, we exit INFINITELY better than we entered, whether we know it or not.

After Father (and Jesus) left, we continued our lunch. But now, we pondered the lives of those around us. What if none of them ever get the opportunity to attend Mass? What if that was the closest they will ever come (this side of Heaven) in contact with Christ? (Will Saint Peter meet them at the Pearly Gates and ask "Remember that time in Panera? That priest had God with him!")

This is why evangelization is the truest identity of the Church, and this is why I am a Catholic Missionary!

Please pray in thanksgiving for men who give their lives to Christ and His Church by discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and pray that Father Jim's priesthood may be blessed with the abundant graces of bringing Christ to places (like Panera) where He has never been before, and to people who have never met Him.

(Once again, my apologies for the obnoxious amount of parentheses.)

Saint Luke, the Evangelist, pray for us!

28 September 2011

Accompanying Jesus

Sometimes I forget that Jesus is God. I often give Him human attributes (impatience, indifference, impracticalness, etc.) in my head.

Sometimes I think that Jesus demands perfection from me. Intellectually, I know that He always invites, never demands, because He loves so perfectly. Emotionally, I get frustrated with myself for my failures and I think He becomes frustrated with me. To some extent, He probably does wish I could get some of the basics right, but I often forget just how well He loves. I forget that His love drove Him to be ridiculed, scourged, crucified, all for me.

A meditation from the Magnificat a few weeks ago really struck me. It will seem ironic to you if you've read my post Humility, Detachment and Other Virtues, because the author of this particular meditation is none other than Saint Teresa of Avila. I guess you could say that we're reconciled.

She writes:

"If we proceed with a pure conscience and obediently, the Lord will never permit the devil to have enough influence to deceive harmfully our souls; on the contrary, the devil himself is the one who is left deceived... I really believe that the devil must be meddling so as to trick us. But I have seen very many, whom the Lord in his goodness has not let out of his hand. Perhaps he wants to exercise them through these deceptions they undergo so that they might gain experience...
Since, my Lord, we see that you often free us from the dangers in which we place ourselves, even in opposition to you, how can one believe that you will fail to free us when we aim after nothing more than to please you and delight in you? Never can I believe this! It could be that because of other secret judgments God might permit some things that must happen anyway. But good never brought about evil. Thus, may what I have said help us strive to walk better along the road so as to please our spouse more and find him sooner, but not make us abandon it; and encourage us to walk with fortitude along a road that has such rugged mountain passes, as does that of this life, but not intimidate us from walking through them. For, in the final analysis, by proceeding with humility, through the mercy of God, we will reach that city of Jerusalem, where all that has been suffered will be little, or nothing, in comparison with what is enjoyed."

I am so excited to read this meditation because it gives me joy and hope. Jesus is NOT against us, He is always for us! God will never allow the devil to fatally harm us, and He will never fail to free us from sin. All that we experience in this life will pass away when we experience the joy of the next.

22 September 2011


As promised in my last post, I want to tell you about one of the things I've been praying about lately.

Last Monday at holy hour (during Spirit and Truth, the Catholic Student Organizations weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), I was praying about Time. 

The reason I was praying about time is because it was on my 22nd birthday, and like every year, I needed to reflect on the years events.

Just a few of the things I did while I was 21:
Lived in my first apartment.
Learned that I'm a pretty good cook.
Re-learned how to play tennis, and won a mixed-doubles tournament!
Read more than 15 books (mostly spiritual).
Finished the New Testament by finally reading Acts of the Apostles and Revelations.
Finished my core finance curriculum and learned that I could graduate early.
Got an "A" in 5 higher level finance courses.
Applied for my first "real" job at SunTrust, and made it to round 3 of interviews.
Realized God was calling me elsewhere and applied for and accepted a position with FOCUS to be a Catholic Missionary.
Went to Nashville several times, including on my 21st birthday.
Wrote a lot of letters. (I'm bringing back snail mail!)
Learned that I prefer a clean house and a clean room.
Realized I'm even more of an extrovert than I thought.
Led two Bible Studies.
Worked at a BBQ restaurant.
Got fired from a BBQ restaurant! (In a text message!) (For not having enough availability!)
Tutored Auburn Athletes.
Nannied for a family of three beautiful little girls in Auburn. 
Watched my Tigers WIN the National Championship!
Spent the summer at the University of Illinois at FOCUS New Staff Training.
Realized that God wants ALL of me, not just the parts I'm willing to give Him.

I digress.

One of the things I don't like about turning another year older is the permanence of the change. Once I became 22, I could never go back to being 21. I don't usually mind the kinds of change that are reversible because if I don't like the new change, I can go back. Unfortunately, as with most changes, I can never go back to being 21. I really liked being 21. I also really liked being 17, and sometimes I still wish I could go back. I think that some days, I love my life so much, that I don't think it could ever get any better. I don't trust that God wants to make it any better because I think it is so good already, and I don't deserve for it to be this good, let alone any better!

 I suppose I have small dreams and hopes for my life, compared to those which are God's dreams and hopes for me. 

New goal: dream bigger. 

Anyways, as I was reflecting and praying, I was asking the Lord about why I have such an aversion to change. He seemed just as perplexed as I was, because He created time. Time is one of the ONLY things that man hasn't messed up. Think of all things natural: weather, vegetation, creation of life, etc. Man has successfully figured out how to majorly mess up all of these things in the name of progress! 

Time has been unaltered by man, and is purely a creation by God! So why do I dread it's passing?! I think it is because of concupiscence (the effect of Adam and Eve's sin on my soul, which causes my desires to be disordered.)

I'm going to try to embrace the passing of time, simply because God ordained it to be so. 

Saint Matthew, the Evangelist, pray for us!

13 September 2011

Twenty Two

Yesterday was my birthday.

If you have known me for a while, especially over the last half decade or so, you will know that I don't particularly like my birthday. I think that this is mostly due to the fact that I always build up in my mind what I think it will be, and then, inevitably, am disappointed.

If you have known me at all, ever, you will know that I don't handle change well. I enjoy my comfort zone, and although my comfort zone is much broader than most, I don't particularly like to leave it. I think this is because I'm human, and we tend to like what we know.

Cue, missionary life!

My job, what I get to do each day, requires me to constantly be in situations which make me uncomfortable. It is quite a blessing, in fact. Detachment asks that we are always growing and changing and being refined.

This year, as my birthday approached, I literally had no expectations. I turned 22, which is not a particularly exciting age, and I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment. Fortunately for me, I have incredible friends, roommates, teammates, etc. who were so generous as to give their time and effort so that I could have a good birthday.

Celebrations began at our Upper Room on Sunday. (Upper Rooms are events we have each month hosted by the missionaries for our student leaders to build them up and encourage them as they grow in their understanding of evangelization and holiness.) In the middle, my teammates brought out an ice cream cake and sang to me. It was great!
Then, we had team dinner (which we have every Sunday night, like a little family!) at my favorite restaurant, where they brought me out a chocolate cake and sang to me again!
Then, after our Student Mass at 8pm, we went over to the Katies' house for drinks and dessert. (This has become a typical after Sunday Mass activity, so therefore I thought nothing of it.) When I got there, everyone was hiding, and jumped out to surprise me. We had cookie cake and they sang to me, again. (Poor teammates!)

I woke up the next morning (my official birthday) to a decorated living room, full of streamers, balloons, and signs! I went to our weekly team meeting and when I got there, my teammates and Michael LaPointe (FOCUS Missionary serving at Georgia Southern University, Auburn Graduate, friend, etc., who was visiting us) had made breakfast!
When I got home from Mass, there were flowers and jewelry waiting for me (thanks, Mom!), and a few cards too!
Later, my roommates (minus Katie who had to work) took me out to dinner where we had a relaxing evening of good food and even better company, along with a thought provoking conversation about education which even got our waiter involved!
Then we went to pray Holy Hour at Spirit & Truth. More on that later in the next blog post. After S&T, everyone there sang to me and ate spice cake cupcakes which my roommates had made.

I am SO BLESSED. Thank you so much to all who participated in the cake making, the cake eating, the singing, and everything else that made my birthday so great!

Mary Most Holy, pray for us!

02 September 2011

Fall Outreach

At the beginning of each Fall Semester, FOCUS teams across the country prepare for some of the most challenging and rewarding weeks of the entire year. This year was no different, and my teammates and I have been hard at work trying to "cast the nets wide" so that the Lord cant plant and sow where He wills.

Some of our Fall Outreach events include:
Bible Study signups at Masses
Catholic Student Organization Fall Kick Off
Organization, or "O"-Days
Ice Cream Chaos Tailgate
Freezy-Pop Tuesdays
and a lot more.

O-Days are usually the second week of classes each semester here at Auburn. It is a week full of all kinds of student organizations. Nearly every single club/team/group on campus gets a table and fills the concourse with posters, flyers, free food and all kinds of ridiculosity.

This week, my team and I were out in the hot Alabama sun from 10am to 2pm on Monday and Tuesday meeting as many people as possible and just having a Catholic presence on Auburn's campus. We were SO blessed and met so many great people and had so many great conversations. We got a bunch Bible Study signups and we're even in the running for best table from the O-Days Committee, because Pope Benedict XVI was handing out popsicles with us!

Here is my team with BXVI:

(Left to Right: Brian, Michael, Me, Pope Benedict, Katie O., Katie S.)

Our Mascot, Aubie, got in on the deal too:

Keep us in your prayers as we continue to do God's work on Auburn's campus!

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us!

16 August 2011

The Beginning of the End

Since I have been back in Auburn, my life has been a whirlwind!

I am back in my room (which once again looks like my room! (see my previous post from when I moved out here)) and nearly (relative term) finished unpacking/reorganizing. I got rid of a lot of the clothes I won't need after I graduate, including FIFTY t-shirts. Why on earth does any human need over fifty t-shirts?! It feels good to purge and get rid of things I don't need, and I feel like I can be a better missionary if I detach from material things and cling to the Lord.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for (most of) the students of Auburn University. (My classes don't begin until Thursday, because I am only taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester.) As this semester at Auburn begins, I just must say: I AM SO BLESSED TO BE ON THIS TEAM! My team (the four other FOCUS Missionaries, plus me) is the coolest. This past Thursday, we piled in Katie O.'s car and drove to Lake Martin for our Offsite. Most FOCUS teams take a few days before the semester to strategically plan the best way to reach the whole campus, and for team bonding time. We had a great time! We were there from Thursday to Saturday and had planning meetings for the semester, a long with mid-afternoon swims across the lake (not even kidding... a team that swims across lakes together stays together, proven fact.)

When we got back, we had the rest of the weekend to finish moving in and to prepare for our Student Leader Workshop, which took place today. The SLW is a time for all of the students we mentor (as well as the students they mentor) to come together to talk and pray about the future of FOCUS at Auburn, specifically this year. We were SO blessed today. My teammates gave inspiring talks to the students, and we talked through our goals for the year, as well as how to accomplish them. Overall, I'd say it was a success. The Holy Spirit was definitely present throughout the day.

I was privileged to give a short talk on Relational Evangelization. (I might post some notes on my talk in the near future.) I really enjoy speaking in front of people, and I hope that our students learned something from what I said.

As tomorrow marks the first day of my last semester as a college student, my team and I will be praying our Holy Hour together at 9am, so I will be praying for each of you, my lovely (anonymous) blog readers. If you have any prayer requests, email them to me at banderson.focusonline.org!

Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us!

09 August 2011

Saint Peter

Last Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Peter's in Montgomery, Alabama. The reason I went to Saint Peter's was to help my friend Michael (who is a FOCUS Missionary at Georgia Southern University) with his Parish Talk, and although I had not previously read the readings, I thought it providential as soon as I heard the Gospel.

Peter is arguably Jesus' most trusted disciple. Jesus gives him the keys to the Kingdom when He says "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). From this verse, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and Christianity began. (This is after Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter responds, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.")

It gives me great hope to see how much Jesus loves Peter, and how faithful our Lord is to him, even after he fails. Matthew 16, where Jesus praises Peter, makes it easy to forget how many times Jesus rebukes Peter in previous chapters. Last Sunday, the Gospel was taken from Matthew 14, where Jesus walks (ON WATER!) to the disciples. Jesus calls to Peter to come to Him, and Peter gets out of the boat and he too, begins to walk on water. Then Peter sees how strong the wind is (he takes his eyes off of the Lord), and he begins to sink, only to have Jesus save him and rebuke his lack of faith. (See the picture at the top of my blog.)

As I said in my first blog post, Peter's accomplishment (trusting Jesus enough to get out of the boat) is followed by a sin of pride (becoming preoccupied with other things and not focusing on the Lord). Jesus believes in Peter, even when Peter does not believe that Jesus is enough for him!!! Isn't that incredibly good news?! The God of all creation, who came down from Heaven to die on a cross because of MY failures, believes in me, even when I turn my back on Him.

Sometimes, all of our senses fail us. We let our emotions take control and they deceive our intellect into thinking that a situation is something that it actually isn't. We want proof that God is working in our lives, and we neglect to look beyond the surface. It is these times when Christ's power is made perfect. When we are weak, He is strong.

My sweet friend CeeCee (FOCUS Missionary at Vanderbilt University) quoted Saint John Chrysostome in her blog post here. Check it out!

Also at Mass, one of the hymns sung was "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." This hymn has been one of my favorites for quite some time, and my favorite verse is the fourth, which boldly proclaims:

At His feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

It blows my mind to think of the Angels (who are in Heaven, at the feet of Jesus, and have been made perfect) as they veil their faces to the holy presence of the Lord. I think that God is SO merciful that He presents Himself to us (veiled) in the form of bread and wine, because He knows how prideful we are. If His presence were not veiled, how many of us would dare to look at Him face to face? My guess is that many people would think that they could withstand the fullness of the Glory of God, and would surely die because of His incomprehensible and eternal love in the face of our own sinfulness.

This reminds me of the fourth verse of Pange Lingua. (Pange Lingua was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, and contains the commonly known "Tantum Ergo" as it's last two verses (where my blog's title, Sensuum Defectui, came from).

The Latin is beautiful:

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

And translated, it means:
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

During the Mass, our feeble senses fail to recognize the change from bread into the very body of the Savior. God knows that we are weak, and everyday when I am able to receive the Blessed Sacrament, I thank Him for allowing me the pleasure, even though I will never fully appreciate His Sacrifice (on this side of Heaven!) I, like Saint Peter, often fail to recognize the Lord's goodness, but I am constantly humbled by His faithfulness and His patience with me!

Saint Peter, pray for us!

28 July 2011

Summer Sickness?

Today (and for the past week or so) I am sick. I have a pretty bad cough and a headache to go with it, and I sneeze very frequently. I have a hard time sleeping and having any willpower to do anything besides lay in bed. It is rare to get sick in the summer, I think, so my only thought is that the air quality here is very bad and is affecting my allergies.

In other news, I am preparing for my Parish Talk, which I will (by God's grace) be giving this weekend at Saint Francis of Assisi in Grapevine, Texas. Please pray for me this weekend, as MPD has slowed down significantly, I really want to inspire these people to learn more about FOCUS and how they can help me change our culture.
After my Parish Talk, I plan on being incredibly busy meeting with all of the people from the parish, so today, I am packing for Auburn. I'm not leaving for a week, but I am packing now so that I can spend all my time and energy having mission partner meetings next week.

The fact that I am packing makes me the happiest little missionary ever. Words can not express my joy. I'm ready to get to campus and get this show on the road!!
(I could go on and on, but I'll spare you the details of why I'm excited for Auburn, I think it suffices to say that I'm most excited about just being a better version of myself!)

Saint Bernardino of Sienna, Patron of Public Speaking, Pray for me!

24 July 2011

In the World

I'm struggling to reconcile some ideas in my head, maybe you can help me out.

As Christians, especially as Catholics, (and for me, most especially as a Catholic missionary,) we have to recognize the privilege of the call we have received and have responded to. God desires to spend eternity with all of His people and His charity always desires to accomplish that goal. At the same time, my specific call (the way the Lord wants me to get to Heaven) is different from the calling of every other one of God's people. This requires my own unique response.

As a missionary, I am required to make my best efforts to live excellence in every way possible. I must admit that I fail very frequently.

It is difficult enough to keep my own mind on God's will and to keep myself from the temptations of Satan,  and the only way I can even begin to show others how to live out holiness is by God's grace.
While I'm desperately trying to live out holiness with charity, there are certain things that I must do and certain things I must not do. Of course, I must avoid sin at all cost, and all temptations to sin. (Nearly impossible, thanks to concupiscence, my own inclination to sin.) Simultaneously, I must go to the darkest places on earth (where the Resurrection of God Incarnate is not known), and bring light.

How do I, as a missionary, let my students (and family, and mission partners) know that I love them exactly how they are? I think that living in the world and being of the Kingdom will be my greatest challenge as a missionary.

Even now, I hear close friends and family say things like: "It was a good movie, but you might be offended," or "you wouldn't want to go (wherever) because of (whatever reason)." The truth is, I've been there, and I'm still there! I sometimes think inappropriate jokes are funny, and I like romantic comedies and reality television. (Sorry, Dr. Sri!) But I try my best to give up the good (or what my feeble senses think is good) for the better (according to God's will). I know that the Lord has a sense of humor, but more importantly I know that He desires for us only what is best.

I desperately want to love people the way God loves them, to meet them where they're at and show them a higher calling (to that of service to the Lord). I also want people to recognize my that my failures do not disqualify me from this calling, but that the Lord works through them for my own sanctification.

I'm not sure, I suppose I'm rambling at this point. How do I avoid sin without coming across as "holier than thou?" If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it!

In other news:

I've been praying and thinking frequently about employing higher faculties. If I want my intellect to rule, I have to exercise it most often. I think I can accomplish this by reading more, but it is difficult to use my brain when I'm not in school and not actively engaged in furthering my education. (I don't want my brain to turn to mush just because it is summer.) I have also been practicing a few daily sacrifices of my emotions and appetites in order to keep them in control. I hope this will help me in my quest for knowledge of the Lord.

Mission Partner Development is going much slower than I expected, but I appreciate all who have prayed for me and offered Mass and rosaries. I have a Parish Talk at St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine next Saturday and Sunday, so keep the prayers coming!

I am eagerly counting down to my Texan departure for the cooler and friendlier Village on the Plains. I have less than two weeks to go and I can't wait for Auburn to be introduced to my sweet teammates, Michael and Brian! Get ready for an incredible year, Auburn!

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

13 July 2011


I used to be terrified of evangelizing. In a Marist study from 2010, 63% of those surveyed said they'd like to know more about their Faith... why am I nervous about giving them the information they've been looking for... information that could bring about Eternal Salvation?!!

This is what JPII has to say on the subject:
“We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize." Blessed John Paul II, Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World)

Once I realized that evangelization must happen by one's life, it made evangelization both easier and more difficult.

It is easier because I recognize that all that is required of me is to live my life and invest my life into others. This means that when I'm meeting new people on campus, all I have to do is strike up conversations and hear people's stories. (Everyone has a story, and everyone wants someone to listen to it, and I LOVE getting to know what makes people tick!)

It is more difficult because it means that I need to be constantly cultivating the virtue of excellence in all things. When there are so many false ideas and bad attitudes about the Church, She desperately needs Catholics to make Catholicism look good! If I am going to evangelize by my life, my life needs to look a lot like Christ's. This is a lofty task, one that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish through me.

And thus, as difficult as it may be, I need to learn to find myself in sharing the Gospel with others. We are a Resurrection People!

Saint Benedict, pray for us!

05 July 2011

Mission Partner Development

One of the most important things that I will be doing for the next few years is Mission Partner Development, or fundraising. A lot of people misunderstand why FOCUS Missionaries raise their salaries, and I am just now beginning to learn the true blessing of being able to rely fully on God's grace.

The truth is that all blessings come from God (James 1:17). This includes money. When someone works for a living, their salary still comes from God, it is just a little bit more difficult to recognize. When we live purely off of the generosity of others, it is easier to see that our financial blessings come directly from (and belong to) the Lord.

The primary purpose of doing Mission Partner Development is not to get money or to put our trust in God alone (although these are necessary effects.) The primary purpose is to be able to share our mission with a team of supporters who can participate in the New Evangelization in radical ways by praying for us and supporting us financially. A lot of people are able to see the need for Jesus' transforming love in our culture, and they want to do something about it, they just don't know where to begin.

I am so excited to invite my team to come with me on my mission to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth by teaching others to teach (2 Timothy 2:2) and by living and communicating the fullness of Truth.

A few weeks ago, I made my first round of phone calls. It was much more difficult (and emotional) than I had anticipated, but I had a few good conversations and I thanked God for the triumphs and the failures.

A few things that I learned about myself on the first official day of MPD:
I am afraid of rejection.
My pride controls too many of my actions.
I do not trust God as much as He's asking me to trust Him, He's asking for complete abandonment.
God picks me up after I fail, over and over again, if I allow Him.
I am determined and resolute, and I know that I am called to be here.
Satan is real, and he doesn't want me to be a missionary.

Now, I am still making phone calls to set up appointments to share my mission with people. It's so exciting to get to give people this hope. God wants so desperately to draw His people back to Himself, and He wants to use me and my mission partners to do it! There IS a future of Christianity, and it begins with people dedicated to the fullness of life in the Church.

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for us!

28 June 2011

The Life of a Missionary...

is CRAZY!!!

There is so much that I want to tell you all, and so little time to do it! I've been wanting to update my blog for a while but I couldn't find time, and now I have so much to say and not enough mental capacity to put it into intelligent sentences!

This weekend, my beautiful friends from Auburn came to visit us at New Staff Training, and I am so grateful. I hope they had a good time, they have been my saving grace this summer.

I can't believe that NST is coming to an end. I am sad to say goodbye, terrified to be a missionary without the support of other first year missionaries here, excited to get home, and fired up to spread the Good News of Christ's Incarnation to college students who will change our culture. How good is God, that He would call me, an irrational sinner, to this mission?!

Some things I have been praying for/about:
Truth (always!) (One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Truth)
Baptismal Graces
Team Auburn, including our newest member, Brian (pray for him!!)
Mission Partners
Auburn Students (especially for a zeal for souls among our Student Leaders)
Trust and reliance on God the Father to protect and provide
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and building an intensely intimate relationship with Him
The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (Consoler)
Evangelization, especially by one's life

I might write more about these specific topics in future posts, in fact, I have some drafts started already.

I feel so free. I guess that's what happens when you become insane and give your whole life for the Lord's service. It is unreal how incredibly amazing it is. I know that I am right where He wants me to be, what more is there?! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! (2 Corinthians 3:17)

What do you want to know about my experiences at NST?

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

10 June 2011

Week Two

This week, all of FOCUS Staff gathered together here in Champaign for Veteran Staff Training. This means that the 200+ people I was busy meeting during week one was increased to over 300 people.

The week went by a lot more quickly than last week. I think they knew that the first year missionaries were in desperate need of a break, because we had yesterday afternoon off from class, and today was casual day in class! We even played Jeopardy, complete with physical challenges such as holding Mountain Dew and Alka-Seltzer in one's mouth, and an egg toss.

In classes this week, we talked about evangelization, discipleship, the dating fast (!!), Bible studies, and of course, "Launching College Students into a Lifetime of Catholic Missions." I am SO excited to get back to Auburn to use the new knowledge I have to be a better discipler and Bible study leader, and I can't wait to strategize with my team and learn more about God's plan to draw our campus back to Himself.

In addition, my Holy Hours have been much better this week. The Lord knows how emotional I am, and I am so thankful for His healing consolation this week. A man's role is to provide and protect, and He has been faithfully fulfilling His promises to me. Prayer is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to my mission, and I have been praying diligently for my future mission partners, students, teammates, family, and fellow missionaries, who have been so encouraging and charitable. (One amazing thing about New Staff Training is the feeling of charity that surrounds me all of the time. Everyone has such great intentions, and love is definitely at the heart of sharing Christ with others.)

As promised, some quotes from the first week:

When answering the question "Why college students?," Curtis Martin said, "College students are future leaders, they live in close proximity, they are in the age which is called the critical decade (age 16-26), and they have time. This is the perfect storm for evangelization."

"If you evangelize every student on campus, but you neglect your family, you will go to Hell." -Bishop Robert Carlson

"If you cannot live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you CANNOT preach it."  -Dr. J. Reyes

"The Lord did not make us to permanently suffer our weaknesses."  -Dr. J. Reyes
This one hits hard, but I haven't fully formulated my thoughts on it so that they can be expressed.

"Moral character in itself, whether good or bad, as exhibited in thought and conduct, surely cannot be duly represented in words."  -Blessed John Henry Newman

There are many more to come from week two, but that's all for now.

Tomorrow I am going on a spiritual impact retreat, so please pray for me and for my mission partners. I will be praying for all of you!

Saint Clare, pray for us!

03 June 2011

One Down, Four to Go!

Week one of FOCUS NST (known unofficially as Purgatory Week) is over, and I am worn out!

As most of you know, I'm fairly outgoing (haha!), and I rarely desire to spend time alone. (I think this is a good quality for a missionary, seeing as my job will be to invite others to live in a radical way for the Lord.) That being said, after a week of New Staff Training, even I could use 24 hours by myself.

One of my goals this summer was to keep in touch with people who I care about, and I have not done too well this week (which has felt like a month). They have nearly every waking hour methodically scheduled so that we can get the formation we need before we hit campus in August.

Last night, the first year missionaries received their placements. The three Auburn graduates who came here with me, Ginny, Michael, and Caralyn, will be missionaries at Ave Maria University, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Louisiana- Lafayette, respectively. I am SO excited that we will all be in the same region, and that they are staying (relatively) close to home.

In addition, Team Auburn has two first year missionaries starting this fall, Michael Senderling (graduate of Arizona State University)... and well... me! I am SO excited to have another first year on the team. Even though I am a student at Auburn, becoming a missionary at Auburn will be a challenge, so I'm glad we will get to experience the ups and downs together. Please pray for Michael, he is coming onto a team with the four of us who already know each other well, and also, we're all ridiculous, so I'm sure he would appreciate your prayers for him.

Please also pray that the Lord will give me opportunities to invite people to join my mission support team. Mission Partner Development is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of missionary life, and I can't wait to give God's people the opportunity to come with me on this crazy adventure to evangelize the South and to win souls for Jesus Christ!

I've been thinking of and praying for you (my blog readers) this week, and although I didn't have time to blog at all, I made you a list of one adjective per day to describe how I was feeling.

Monday- excited
Tuesday- overwhelmed
Wednesday- exhausted
Thursday- emotional
Friday- privileged

When I have time to look through some of my notes, I will add some important quotes I wrote down during class or holy hour. Right now, I need to go to Mass. Please pray for me!

Saint Joseph, the Worker, pray for us!

29 May 2011

Missionary: Day 1


This morning, I began my long trek to FOCUS New Staff Training in Champaign, Illinois. It started with an early morning wake up at 4:30 followed by loading bags into the car and heading to Love Field (Dallas's lesser known airport) to catch a flight. My big bag weighed too much so I had to move 7 pounds into my smaller one. No big deal :)
I flew to St. Louis on an extremely crowded flight, and then took another crowded flight to Midway. The good thing about crowded flights is that you can talk to the people next to you, and they have no where to go! On the second flight I sat next to a gentleman who teaches high school in St. Louis. I told him about FOCUS and about Auburn, and he went to Mizzou, so we talked a lot about football. When he asked where I was originally from, he recognized Southlake as being the hometown of former Mizzou QB, Chase Daniel. More football talk, etc., made for an interesting flight.
Then, at Midway, I met the lovely Ginny Jost for what would become the meat of our adventure. We dragged our baggage (literally hundreds of pounds between the two of us) to the 'L'(Chicago's "subway" named due to it's elevation above street level). We asked a few people for directions to Union Station, and got different answers from everyone, so we took the simplest route, given to us by a very nice man who worked at the subway station. We took the wrong elevator and ended up on the wrong side of the tracks, so we had to backtrack. We rushed to get on because we thought the doors would close on us, but they didn't, and we sat there staring at the open doors for about 15 minutes after we ran through them. We rode the L into the city and got of at Quincy, as we were instructed. The whole ride I seriously thought we were going to get robbed because we are two girls with 8 bags between us who look/act like we obviously don't belong. Thankfully, the people of Chicago had mercy on us and were very kind.
We got off the train and had to get all 8 of our bags down two flights of stairs. This is where it got interesting. We decided to leave our bags at the top and each take one down at a time. That was the plan until Ginny knocked down the bags and they came hurling down the stairs at me. I would have escaped, except I was trapped between this round door thing... it's hard to explain. Anyways, once we made it to the street, we had to walk 4(+) blocks to Union Station with all of our bags. Once we got there, we got our tickets to ride the train to Champaign which didn't leave until 4:05, so we killed a few hours sitting in a bar at Union Station. People kept saying it was hot in there, but we were freezing. It was only 57 degrees in Chicago today.
Once we got on the train (affectionally known (by us) as the Hogwarts Express), we narrowly avoided a disaster. There was a man wearing a football hat with orange and blue on it, and we had an ALMOST War Eagle Moment until we realized that it was an Illinois hat. War Eagle Moment disaster: avoided. Then our lack of sleep kicked in and we started laughing... and couldn't stop. Then we passed out for two hours.
When we arrived in Champaign, CeeCee picked us up and took us to the Newman Center. We ate dinner and got our room assignments and filled out paperwork etc. Then we prayed holy hour with everyone and it was AWESOME! It is so incredible to see how many people are dedicating their time to serving our Lord by spreading the Gospel to college students. I am so blessed! After hh, a lot of people went out, and Ginny and I (along with Brea and Ceec) decided to unpack instead. My FOMO (fear of missing out) almost made me go swing dancing with everyone, but my body said no... I did just haul 100+ pounds of baggage around the country. We got all unpacked, and now we're just waiting for Caralyn to get here tomorrow!

I'm sure that each day of the next five weeks will not be as hectic, and I promise not to give you minute by minute details about the happenings of Summer Training, I just thought you wouldn't want to miss out on the ridiculosity of this day! I am so happy to be here, I can't believe this is a reality, and needless to say, Ginny and I will not be doing arm workouts anytime soon.

Saint Christopher, pray for us!

22 May 2011

You Can't Choose Your Family...

... and thank God for that!!!

Today I got to spend time with both sides of my family. Not everyone was present, but a good time was had by all. First my mom and I drove down to Waco (~ two hours) for my cousin Samantha's graduation party. Sam went to five schools in five years, and changed her major a few times too, but all is well that ends well, because now she has a degree in business administration from Tarleton State (I think....). Congrats to her! Most of my mom's dad's side of the family (my mom's parents were divorced when she was young, both of her parents remarried, it's a long story... my grandmother says we put the "fun" in dysfunctional) was there, including three aunts, two uncles, and four cousins.

After we ate dinner, we drove home from Waco and I drove to Plano (~45 minutes) for my grandmother's (my dad's mom's) 70th birthday. When I got to the party around nine (three hours after it started... not so fashionably late), there were still a ton of people there. (My family LOVES throwing parties.... when I left around midnight, there were still many people there, and I'm sure they will be there for a few more hours). I got to hang out with ALL of my first cousins on my dad's side (my siblings were dearly missed... I love them, a lot) and quite a few extended family members, friends of the family, and of course the occasional "I have no idea who this is but they seem to know me so smile and hug them" person. Today is also my cousin Richie's thirteenth birthday. He is the youngest cousin on that side and it is so hard to believe that he is a teenager!

If I could have chosen my family, chances are that I would not have picked the family members that I have. We're all so different, but that's what makes us awesome. When I am around my family, there is nothing less than 100% reality, there is no one to impress, no point in being anyone but yourself, because they have to love you (and they already know all of your mistakes anyways!)

Tonight as I was driving home I thought, "maybe I should join a convent so that I can pray for my family all day everyday (because trust me, keeping up with them would be a full time job)." I'm fairly certain this is not the best reason to "discern" a religious vocation (haha), but I want to make a better effort to pray for the needs of my family. (It would also be really awesome to have a priest in the family!) Once I asked my sister what we were going to do when we had to bring boys home to meet the entire family and she said "I don't know, they'll leave us!" My future husband (if I'm called to marriage) is going to have his work cut out for him (if he sticks around after meeting everyone!) We really are dysfunctional, and scandy to the max.. but the Lord knows that and of course my future husband will be able to handle it...  he'll probably fit right in.

Saint Eugene de Mazenod, Patron of Dysfunctional Families (not kidding, you can't make this stuff up!), pray for us!

19 May 2011

Humility, Detachment, and Other Virtues

This week, I finished reading Conversations with Christ, by Peter Thomas Rohrbach. This book is about Saint Teresa of Avila's method of meditation and contemplation. Admittedly, Saint Teresa and I have had our differences. (It sounds strange to have differences with a Saint, but I think that just as different people on earth react differently to one another, even holy men and women in Heaven can connect better with some people than others) I read about half of The Way of Perfection before I was so mad that I had to stop reading. I suppose I wasn't spiritually predisposed to read this book. As I was reading, I felt like none of the topics pertained to my state of life and I was upset by just how detached Saint Teresa's writings are. I think if I read it now, I would feel differently... I hope. Anyways, before I read this book, I asked Saint Teresa to pray for me so that I could learn to love her better and understand her point of view, and the Lord has heard her prayers!

Unsurprisingly, Saint Teresa writes about detachment as a hindrance to meditation. Fortunately, the way she describes detachment is very relatable to me. 

Rohrbach (who is summarizing Saint Teresa's writings) writes:
"The principal hindrances to our love for Christ are two- external objects, to which we donate some of the affection due to Christ; and our own selves (self-love), to which we assign a greater or lesser amount of our interest and concern. We can combat the first source of misplaced love- exterior objects- though mortification, and the second source- self-love- through humility of heart." He goes on to write, "Mortification expresses the procedure of killing those affections which hinder our love for Christ."

Reading this, I remembered a homily given by Father Jim Morrison several months ago about giving up what is good to get what is better. When we give things up, we do it because these things are good. When priests and unmarried people remain celibate, they are not doing it because sex is bad. Rather, sex is so good, that offering it up to the Lord can yield much fruit. When I gave up Dr. Pepper for Lent, it wasn't because there is something inherently bad about cokes, but because my offering to God was worth more. If it were easy for Christ to die on the Cross, what sacrifice would it have been?

Luke 6:13 says "No man can serve two masters." Rohrbach comments, "The more we try to divide our love, the less capable we will be of loving any one thing perfectly.... Mortification and love go hand-in-hand; they increase simultaneously and reciprocally... Our exercise of mortification... should be generous and constant." Saint Teresa, in The Way of Perfection, writes, "Prayer can not be accompanied by self-indulgence."

Rohrbach defines humility as "a virtue which gives us a realistic understanding of our position in the universe through an evaluation of our inherent poverty." He writes, "... Humility strikes a lethal blow at self-love by disengaging us from our native fascination with our own excellence. Pride tends to focus one's affective powers inward upon himself; humility creates a dissatisfaction with self and turns the soul's love outward upon God... Humility is truth."

"I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Without Christ, we can do nothing. The only thing we ourselves are capable of is sin. Rohrbach writes, "This appreciation of our utter dependence upon God represents the first of two mental attitudes necessary for humility; the second attitude consists in a recognition of our inferiority in relation to our fellow-men." (Recall Saint Paul's words in Phil 2:3, "In humility, let each esteem others better than themselves.") He goes on, "Saint Thomas Aquinas (in Summa Theologica).. maintains that we may distinguish two separate elements in a human being- that which is of God, and that which we have of ourselves (namely, sin.) By comparing that which we have of ourselves (sin) with that which is from God in others (all their qualities, save sin), we may justly conclude that we are inferior to each person in the world. This habitual attitude of judging ourselves inferior in relation to God and our fellow-men will engender in us the virtue of humility." (Emphasis added)

I am learning to recognize God working in each of His people and to see the good in them. I also must realize that I can do no good, and the only good in me is from God, to whom I owe all praise and adoration. 

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!

18 May 2011

Faith, Hope and Charity

Since I have been home, the Lord has been hard at work trying to prepare me for New Staff Training (in less than two weeks!) I got to hang out with Rob Muzyka (who is AWESOME!!!) and I've been motivated to pray holy hour everyday! (Praise God!!) I have also been learning to love people better. This has been something I have struggled with off and on for a while, and I am so thankful to be making some baby steps toward progress. 

I've been thinking also about the different sides of my personality. Each of us wants to believe that we are the same person all the time, but I am fairly certain that we are kidding ourselves. I think it is human nature to behave differently in different circumstances and around different people. (What do you think?)  Because of this, I have been trying to reconcile the different sides of myself. When I am home, I become a little less mature and slightly more absurd. (My roommates would find this hard to believe!) One of the best things about who I am at home is that I love better and I am less judgmental. In Auburn, I am scandalized by a lot of things that seem so trivial when I come home. When I am here, I can see the good things people do and forgive their faults much easier. I hope to bring this attitude back to Auburn when I return in August.

In today's Gospel, Jesus says "If anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47) Jesus loves us beyond our sins, and I pray that I can learn to love more and more. I also pray that I can be not afraid to leave the ninety-nine to go after those who have wandered far from the Truth.

On Monday, the meditation in the Magnificat was a poem by Charles Peguy, a French poet. I'm not usually a fan of poetry... or the French (haha) but I like this poem.

The Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep

And so that this lost sheep causes so much joy for the shepherd,
For the good shepherd,
That he would leave in the desert, in deserto, in a forsaken place,
The ninety-nine sheep that were not lost.
In what, what then is this mystery,
What does this one have that makes him worth ninety-nine...

Let's use the word unbeliever, you have to admit it, there's no reason to be afraid of the word.
Here is an unbeliever who's worth more than a hundred, more than ninety-nine believers.
What is this mystery.
What is this extraordinary virtue of repentance.
That surpasses a hundred times faithfulness itself...

And it's this one, and no other, it's this sheep, it's this sinner, it's this penitent, it's this soul
That God, that Jesus carries on his shoulders, abandoning the others...

So this sheep was lost, so this sheep was dead,
So this soul was dead and from his own death he is risen from the dead.

He caused the very heart of God to tremble
With the shudder of worry and with the shudder of hope
With the shudder of anxiety.
A mortal anxiety.
And so, and thus, and also
With that which is tied to worry, to fear, to anxiety.
With that which follows worry, fear, anxiety.
With that which walks alongside them, with that which is tied to worry, to fear, to anxiety. 
With an indelible bond, with an unbreakable bond,
With a temporal, eternal, and unbreakable tie
He caused God's heart to tremble
With the very shudder of hope.

Saint John of the Cross, pray for us!

13 May 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

As I have previously mentioned, I strongly dislike change.

My mom said that I've been bad at goodbyes ever since I was little. Apparently, when it was time to leave grandpa's house, I would run away so that I didn't have to kiss him goodbye, and he'd have to come find me and force me to say bye to him before my mom dragged me away crying.

This week has been crazy. Two of my roommates (and a few other friends) graduated from Auburn! (Congratulations!) Their graduation party was a blast from the past with big names like Jenn and Philip (and their little one, Joseph!), Helen HunterRoss, and CeeCee making appearances. We are so blessed!

Yesterday, I said goodbye to Auburn and made the long trek back to Southlake. I cried most of the way to Meridian, Mississippi. I know I'll be back in Auburn in August, and that the summer will surely fly by, but it was still really difficult to leave. When I return in the fall, things will be different. I'll be a FOCUS Missionary!

I got my new FOCUS email address and I can not believe this is really happening! The Lord is allowing me to serve Him through FOCUS and I could not be more excited. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to give up everything that I am in order to follow Christ and allow Him to work in me and through me.

Last night, I was privileged to have a stimulating conversation with a dear friend of the family, Melba, about FOCUS' role in the New Evangelization. We discussed the need for the re-evangelization of our culture and the way that current college students will impact the world. Praise God! I pray for the opportunity to have many more conversations like this one in the next two years.

Being in Southlake for the summer will be difficult in many ways. I do not have people here who will hold me accountable to daily Mass and holy hours. When I'm going to pray for myself, I have a hard time finding motivation, but if you send me your prayer requests (through comments, email or text messages), I will feel obliged to go pray for you, which will be really great, and you can pray for me as well!

Does anyone know if there is a patron saint for making lists?

Saint Anne, grandmother of Jesus, pray for us!

08 May 2011

The Vocation of Women

This weekend has been difficult. I am torn. I am extremely upset about leaving Allison and Caralyn and Kelley and our cozy little apartment, knowing that when I do make my way back to Auburn in the fall, things will not be the same... (I hate change.) I am excited to go home and spend time with my mom (more on that later.)

As I lay in my bed for the last time until August, I should be thankful for this opportunity become more detached from earthly things. As of now, my room is NOT my room anymore. I have moved all of my things out so that my summer sub-leaser can move in, and I feel so weird. For anyone who has ever slept in my bed, you know how ridiculously comfortable it is. I am sad about leaving it for three months. I also just really love my room here... a lot. Detachment is hard for me, especially right now. I am going to miss everyone in Auburn SO much this summer and it is not easy to come to terms with my impending graduation in December.

On the other hand, I finally get to go home to my mommy! I haven't seen her since January, and I can't wait to spend the summer (minus the month of June) with her! God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave her to me to be my mom. She embodies sacrificial love and God was made real to me through her. She taught me to seek Him, and she loves me more than anyone ever could. I hope that (if God blesses me with children) I can love my children as much as she loves me, and that I can lay down my life for them as she has for me.

While I'm on the subject of mothers, I have been attempting to increase my devotion to the Most Holy and Perfect Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary has been hard at work praying for me and my family, and I can see her prayers coming to fruition in real ways. God answers the prayers of His Mother! This month of May is dedicated to Our Lady, and in this Easter season, hope and joy abound!

In Blessed John Paul II's apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women, 15 August 1988), he writes:

"Motherhood has been introduced into the order of the Covenant that God made with humanity in Jesus Christ. Each and every time that motherhood is repeated in human history, it is always related to the Covenant which God established with the human race through the motherhood of the Mother of God...

Does not Jesus bear witness to this reality when he answers the exclamation of that woman in the crowd who blessed him for Mary's motherhood: "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!"? Jesus replies: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it" (Lk 11:27-28). Jesus confirms the meaning of motherhood in reference to the body, but at the same time he indicates an even deeper meaning, which is connected with the order of the spirit: it is a sign of the Covenant with God who "is spirit" (Jn 4:24). This is true above all for the motherhood of the Mother of God. The motherhood of every woman, understood in the light of the Gospel, is similarly not only "of flesh and blood": it expresses a profound "listening to the word of the living God" and a readiness to "safeguard" this Word, which is "the word of eternal life' (cf. Jn 6:68). For it is precisely those born of earthly mothers, the sons and daughters of the human race, who receive from the Son of God the power to become "children of God" (Jn 1:12). A dimension of the New Covenant in Christ's blood enters into human parenthood, making it a reality and a task for "new creatures" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). The history of every human being passes through the threshold of a woman's motherhood; crossing it conditions "the revelation of the children of God" (cf. Rom 8:19)." (Emphasis added)

God calls every woman to be a mother in some way. Selfless love is the fulfillment of our vocation as women, so Happy Mother's Day to ALL Mothers, both spiritual and physical.

Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Intercessor for all Mothers, pray for us, now and at our  hour of death.

05 May 2011

When Senses Fail...

Well, I did it. I made a blog. More accurately, my lovely roomlette, Allison, made it for me. (I'm not very technologically savvy, but I hope to redeem myself in the fall when I take COMP 1000).

I've been thinking about what I would write for the past few days, and even so, I find myself at a loss for words (shocking, isn't it?). I suppose I should start with the purpose for this blog's creation. As most of you know, I will soon depart from my beloved Auburn for the summer. I will be sad to leave my little apartment in the Loveliest Village on the Plains, but the Lord has called me home to Texas for the better part of the next three months. It will be great to be home, to catch up with old friends (who I, admittedly, am very bad at keeping up with), to spend time with my mom and family, and to try my best to be virtuous while away from the community that helped me to become closer to the woman God has created me to be. I want to do a better job of staying in touch with loved ones and to leave behind my "out of sight, out of mind" mentality, and this blog's purpose is to achieve that goal. I want to be a part of all of your lives, and I want you to be a part of mine as well. I also love to write letters, so if you're a letter writer, send me your address and we can communicate via "snail mail." (My apologies to Ross and CeeCee, to whom I owe long overdue letters at the moment.)

Sensuum Defectui is Latin for "when senses fail." Latin is a beautiful language that expresses sentiments that are often difficult to translate into English. I do not know it well, but I have loved to sing it since my middle school choir first performed a version of "Agnus Dei" when I was in the eighth grade. Since I've been in college, I have fallen in love with "Pange Lingua Gloriosi." The lyrics were written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. The last two verses make up the well known Benediction hymn, "Tantum Ergo," which is typically sung as the Blessed Sacrament is reposed after Adoration. The Latin is beautiful, and when I listen to it in English, I prefer Matt Maher's version, called Adoration. This translation is slightly different from the one commonly used, but I relate best to it.

Down in adoration falling,
This great Sacrament, we hail;
Over ancient forms departing,
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son who reigns on high,
With the Spirit, blest, proceeding,
Forth from each eternally;
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

My senses (sight, touch, sound, taste, and hearing, as well as perceptions, emotions, intellect, first impressions, et cetera) fail so often. In a recent placement questionnaire I had to take for FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) I had to write about my favorite saint. What a difficult question! There are so many holy men and women to choose from, and I am so different from most of them.

I thought back to a talk that I listened to called Second Chances, which was originally given at FOCUS Conference 2010 in Orlando. Jim Jansen (Team Director for FOCUS at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) talked about Saint Peter's life, and how he (like me) was often in need of a second chance. Jesus called Peter, an uneducated fisherman, to abandon everything follow Him. Jesus said to him, "You are Peter, the rock upon which I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) All Peter had to do was to get out of his own way, and Christ would work through him to shepherd the Church, and Peter failed so frequently!
Every time Peter did something well, his accomplishments were followed by a sin of pride, and consequently, a rebuke from Jesus. If you will remember, when Peter walked on water, he took his eyes off of Christ, failed to trust and began to sink, at which point Jesus was quick to his rescue. (This is also why I chose the image above.) Jesus told Peter that Satan wanted to sift through him like wheat, and ultimately, doesn't Satan want to do that to each of us? Satan's ultimate goal is death for every soul, but Christ "... came so that man might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) If I can learn to get out of my own way, Christ can work through me for the sake of His Kingdom, just like He worked through Saint Peter.

I will most likely write more about the commonalities I share with Saint Peter, but it is late and I have a Financial Markets and Institutions final in seven hours. Thank you for being patient with me as I strive to develop my blog's "voice" and to learn the ropes of blogging (and for forgiving my obnoxious parenthetical usage). I promise all posts will not be this lengthy... I guess I wasn't at a loss for words after all.

Saint Peter, Pray for us!