Thursday, December 6, 2012

Crossing at the Corners

Sorry everyone for the delay (Spoiler: my ankle is healing great per my orthopedic doc!)

A couple days ago, I did a silly thing... I stepped off of a curb.

It may not seem like a silly thing, but it ended up being just that-plus a painful experience.  My shoe ended up in a storm drain and I sprained my ankle.  Its funny how these things happen.  You are just going about life, and all of a sudden, you do something you've done probably a trillion times (like stepping off of a curb) and BAM - sprained ankle.

While trying to be a compliant patient these last couple days and doing the good 'ole R.I.C.E acronym for treatment of a sprain, I had time to think.  A LOT of time to think.  My mind began to replay what happened, how I did this or how I could have changed the outcome.  I realized a very small detail that could have saved me to from this.... crossing at the corner.  

You Pittsburghers (or temporary burgher's that go to school around here) know that it is a rarity that someone does actually cross at the corner.  I realized though, this is a lackadaisical practice that has been passed along from person to person.  It becomes a routine of how we walk around a city. The end is the same if you go to the corner or not, you cross the street.  How much harder is it to walk to the corner?  For real.   

I began to then think of this in our spiritual lives as well.  We sometimes get in to the routine of an exterior spiritual life.  We do things a trillion times, but then BAM something in your life isn't going right and you begin to find somewhere to put blame. When truly sometimes, all it would have taken is to walk to the corner this time instead of just crossing in the middle of the street.  It especially hit me in regards to The Holy Mass.  How many times I have gone in my life, as though I was just crossing in the middle of the street, knowing there is a benefit, but not putting the little bit of extra work of walking to the corner to preparing myself properly.  If I would just walk a little extra to the corners of life, I could end up getting where I need to go just the same and maybe with less pain.

However, sometimes its those pains in life that help us realize the great joys!  So take some time to R.I.C.E your soul:
R- Rest: Rest in His Spirit
I - Ice: Ice out those areas of sin.
C- Compression: Compress(ie: decrease) the excess busyness of life
E - Elevation:  Elevate your eyes and heart to the Lord

Peace my friends! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Silent Place

In the beginning of June, I  had the blessing of visiting some dear friends of mine  God seems to always bless me with a beautiful getaway right when my heart needs it the most, with people that truly show me His love.

The blessings of the trip start with a thing called Megabus.  If you don't know about it, get on the bandwagon!  Its awesome.  I arrived in DC and had a splendid time of just being with two friends who are constantly an example of the joy and love that come from a life lived through Christ. After having a peaceful (and long overdue) visit in DC, I made my way to Philly where another lovely friend picked me up.  She lives  in Jersey, about an hour from both Philly and NYC.  Being that I have never been to the Big Apple, we decided to make our way into the city one day.

People. Cars. Signs. Horns. Sirens. Lights. EVERYWHERE!

It is quite a sight to see, the hustle and bustle. I finally understand the song I sang in my high school performance of the musical The World Goes 'Round, "New York, New York".   It is surely a city that never sleeps.  

My friend and I wandered around the Times Square/Broadway area as tourists for quite some time.  Seeing the M&M store, the Hershey's Store, etc.  While searching for a place to eat lunch, we stumbled upon a diamond in the rough, St. Malachy Church.  

St. Malachy is a Catholic Church nestled on 48th between Broadway and 8th Ave.  It is affectionately called "The Actor's Chapel".   We looked at each other and just new that the other was thinking the same thing, lets go in!  As we stepped into the church with its old wooden pews, beautiful statues, and breath-taking murals (a particular one of the Annunciation is ingrained into my memory), I felt as though I entered into an alternate universe from the busy streets of New York.   It was a place of silence in the noise and chaos of the city.  A peace in the midst of a storm.  A place of stillness for my soul. When someone would enter, the wide open door allowed for the noise of the exterior to penetrate the silence in the Chapel.  When the door shut, tranquil silence was restored.

After returning to the streets of the City, my heart held onto those precious moments in the Chapel.  The beauty of the contrast.

Through grace, prayer, and the true reception of Jesus into our very beings in the Eucharist, He creates a strong stillness, a safe haven in our souls.  The place that becomes our interior "St. Malachy", where peace can reside within the walls while the hustle and bustle of the world surrounds it.  Though are exterior may be filled with the chaos and stresses of living in the world,  our hearts must reside within our "St. Malachy", the place where Christ dwells.  Sin disrupts this like the opening of the door, but through the mercy of Confession, a tranquil spirit can be restored. A place where the heart and mind are in awe of Jesus, the great love that He has for you, and the goodness of God that He graces us with at each moment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Looking at the Sky

In the Book of Acts we find this account:
When they had gathered together they asked him,"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasonsthat the Father has established by his own authority.But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,throughout Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth."When he had said this, as they were looking on,he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.They said, "Men of Galilee,why are you standing there looking at the sky?This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heavenwill return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven." 
How often I am like these apostles.  I go to God with some question or a request.  Something that I want, something that I think will satisfy me, in the time frame I want it to play out in.   Seeing a trend?

I. I.... oh and another I.

Being a recent college grad (still getting use to saying that), I have been asking God for a lot of things especially with the many changes.  One request I have been asking for is to find a job in my field, in a setting that will make me an awesome nurse.

Jesus' answer to His apostles is an interesting one, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons".  I don't know about you, but for me, I want to know the time! I want to know the season! Many times I find myself in prayer saying "Lord, just tell me when, so I can be at peace".   My heart begins to flutter like a little child anticipating the parent's answer to be permitted to eat ice cream as a nighttime treat.  But why does waiting causing me to have anxiety?

So often we get this master plan in our minds of what life will be like and by doing so we ignore the Master's plan that HE has for our lives.   I thought that I would have had a job right after graduation especially going to such a highly esteemed nursing program.  (Humility pill, check) This however, was my plan.  I must learn to adapt to His loving intended road map.  The ways in which our Lord asks each of us to trust him and to be patient are different and change at each moment, each decision, and each interaction.  Some moments, it is me being patient with not having a job, trusting that He has the perfect position waiting somewhere.  At other times, it is trusting that a decision to decline a beautiful thing is what will aid you to grow in virtues like patience and charity.  It is sometimes in those moments were you are trusting that God will give you the patient, kind, and loving words in an tough interaction you must have with a friend.

After Jesus finished speaking to the disciples, a cloud took Him from their sight and the men were left there looking into the sky.

Many time we try to tune into what God is trying to tell us by standing and looking into the sky.  There are moments when we are so caught off guard that our plan and God's plan aren't matching up, that we are left standing there gazing into the sky, dumbfounded.  But what are we really looking at?
By just standing looking into the sky, are we doing His will?  Yes, there are moments that we are asked to be still and know that He is God, and this is so important.  But we need to stop looking up and look within.  Look to the gift God has bestowed in us and around us, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, of Himself.

He never leaves us.  In our times of trail, in questioning, in doubt and fear, in our anxieties, He is sitting beside us.  If only we allow ourselves to be loved by Him, to be stoked by the already burning Holy Spirit in our souls.

So I challenge you ----- Stop looking at the sky, and start looking around.  Find God in the simple things.  Like in a beautiful flower or even better, in another person's beautiful soul. Trust in the Patient Heart of God that wherever He has you at this moment, is where He wants you.  Just let Him use YOU!

Patience of the Heart of Jesus, grow not wear of my heart.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Gift of Faith

The gift of faith is something that I have always never really understood. I find myself often wondering why the gift is so overflowing and fruitful for some and yet desolate and lacking for others, yet the love of God for each person is constant because God is Love.

The only thing my feeble finite mind could equate it to is that our souls are like bowls.  We are all born with a large bowl.  God's love and mercy is poured like water on each weary soul, and some, this is all the bowl can hold for the time being because other things are in the bowl.  If anything else were added, the bowl would break.  But some, can hold the precious water in the bowl and have room for the gift of a large root in the center.  The love and mercy surround this gift, this root of faith, and aid it in its growth---for without the water and tender attendance to pruning it would die.

An attentive spirit is key to one growing evermore in faith and virtue, yet one of the hardest things.  If the soul is bombarded with many things, what loving care can be given to the pruning of The Plant of Faith in the bowl?Just like a gardener learns about their plants and how to care properly for them, we too who are given the gift of faith need to learn The Faith.  Take time to learn how to properly care for it. How can we do this?   I first believe it starts (as with all things) in prayer.

The Root of Faith is a GIFT.  A gift is received.  Not taken, not forced, but received.  It is presented before us, but one must open their hands to accept it.  So we, must open our hearts so that this root can take place.  God, in His loving goodness, wants you to take an active part in this, actively opening your heart to receive what He wishes to give.  He is patiently waiting before you.  Waiting in the Eucharist, in the Confessional.  Through confession we can get rid of the extra things in our bowls so that there is more room for faith to grow, more room for waters of Love to come in. GO RECEIVE!

Lord, open our hearts and allow us to receive this gift of faith so that our bowls may become overflowing with Your love, knowledge, mercy and grace as to pour them on all Your precious souls!  Amen!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zeal for Souls

Zeal, as with love, can be manifested in many ways.  One can be a "zealot" without being radical in act or work, but radical is heart and spirit.  I think often in our current day and age, we associate one with great zeal to be a person that is radical in outward expressions of faith.  But, as with the different manifestations of love, one expression is not "better" than another as long the intention and act are pure.  If my zeal be only physical, in the sense of going and showing others Christ - but the intent of my heart is to boast, I have not true zeal.  But if my intention comes from love, the love bestowed on me by God, then it is Zeal as it is meant to be. 

Some of us, I feel, have a natural gift of zeal for souls.  I have been blessed with a heart for souls, but how do I manifest this? How do I act on this?  I, for some time, thought that zeal for souls meant only that my concern be shown by my actions and what I could do for them.  I love God's people, so how can I help them.   

Then I humbly realized...
Me to Souls

Me to Jesus for Souls 

Being a finite being, one who is imperfect, I lack the ability to do good for other souls on my own accord.  I can only give so much; I can only love so much.  I first, must manifest a tie, a bond, to the TRUE Zealous Heart, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the act of Love of Sacrifice on the Cross.  Then, from this, I can become an instrument for love and a warrior for souls.

Lord, provide me with great zeal for your people.  Give me insight into my heart that I may only be your instrument and not act/speak on my own accord.  Let my heartache for souls be so deep that I may agonize with you in the Garden. Allow me to sacrifice as you did on the Cross to show all souls the Truth of Easter Sunday joy. AMEN

Friday, March 2, 2012


Back in 2007, Dashboard Confessional came out with a song called Stolen.  I was, at the time, going through a phase where I listen to a lot of Dashboard, Secondhand Serenade, and the like.  In 2012, I have been listening to a lot of Boyce Avenue.  If you dont know them, check them out, they do a lot of great cover songs.  While I was packing for my long awaited mission trip (yayy!), Boyce's version of Stolen came on and I began to ponder the main lyrics of the song....

"You have Stolen My Heart"

To have your heart stolen is to have it captured: completely captivated.  Its funny the ways and things that can captivate a heart, and that, I believe, is part of the Lord's genius.  There are no two people that will be captivated in the same way by God's amazing love.  Sadly, our hearts can be caught in a whirlwind of societies lies of what love, what happiness is.  Once Jesus has "stolen" your heart, the lies of pseudo-happiness cannot be sustaining because the heart has experienced true love, true joy.

For me, my heart is captivated by service to God's precious people.  It awakens a certain part of my heart that I cant describe.  Tomorrow morning I leave on a very long awaited trip to Jamaica with some beautiful people!  I, at many times, thought this trip would never go off; however, I kept trying to plan it because my stolen heart was being asked to by Love Himself.  But in just a few short hours, my heart will be communicating in the best way it knows how to the one who has captivated it, by loving people.

Precious souls that His heart is stolen by, I have the chance to love.  In that way I can love Him, and get to know Him better. Precious souls like these are His heart in disguise.

St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Little Pleasures of Life

Today was a day full of what I like to call Little Pleasures of Life.  I am trying to challenge myself to see that even in the most routine days, there are things that can bring much joy if I just allow them.
So here's my list for the day...

Daily Mass
Lunch with my Mamarita
Doing Laundry
 Dinner with a dear friend
Seeing a precious elderly couple
Pitt ID
Eating Thin Mint popcorn from  Pittsburgh Popcorn Co.

Waking up to the sunshine makes any day a good day.  Why is this? Because first it means that I get another day to try to be the Best Version of Myself, that is a Daughter of God,  a good daughter to my parents, a good friend, a good student, etc.  Second because I can listen to the song "Walking on Sunshine" and feel that it applies.  Third, it radiates joy!!! Plus it gives me an excuse to wear my sunglasses :)

Each day Jesus gives me the opportunity several times on campus to receive Him in the Eucharist.   Most days this brings me much more than just a little pleasure - it brings me great joy! A day is just plain different when its united with Him in this way.  I'm a different kind of person.  But attending Daily Mass today was extra-special because I got to do so with my beautiful mama, who I then got to have lunch with! Being with family always warms my heart. (shout out to my familia! You guys rock, I love you forever & ever - dont forget it)

Laundry.  Yes it was a pleasure! Think about it, you can do other things when you do laundry.  I think I can thank my parents for this mindset.  My mom & dad will put a load of laundry in on a Saturday morning & then go about doing other things, and then the family just keeps switching it throughout the day.  Today I did laundry and so many other things!  I feel so accomplished. (Confession: I only did two loads)  I did get my clinical uniform all clean for my shifts this weekend, so I chalk it up as an accomplishment & a joy.  I was also thinking how blessed I am to be able to have such a washing/drying system! Technology, you never cease to amaze me!

I also had a great pleasure of meeting with a lovely friend for dinner.  I've been trying to be good about not spending money, but I splurged and we went to Panera! YES! Great food and great company can bring much excitement and warmth to my heart. I think its the Italian in me.

Anyone who has ever met me knows my obsession (yes, I admit, its an obsession) with elderly people.  I absolutely ADORE them!  I dont know what it is, but when I see an older adult, my heart just melts into a puddle.  God has given me a unique soul, and this love for the elderly is one of those little corks He placed on it.  So basically, any older adult sighting brings me joy!

My Pitt ID can work so many wonders.  Seriously though, getting on and off public transportation with a simple pass of my ID = ROCKIN'!!  I hate fumbling to find money, but I don't have to worry about that because, shazam - my ID is there to rescue me from the inconvenience of carrying one dollar bills.  This made me excited today, especially since I took multiple bus rides.

I've never stepped foot into the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company until this evening with one of my lovely residents.  We decided we needed a snack for our adventure we were embarking on - more like I wanted a snack.  Anyway, we went in and got some Thin Mint popcorn.  Never have I ever tasted popcorn like this!   Go get a sample if you live in Oakland!  A little chocolate makes any woman happy (remember that).

And last on my list, but certainly not least, laughter.   How can someone not find joy in the joyful laughter of another?   As one of my favorite people in the world once said "Peace begins with a Smile" (Mother Teresa). I think smiles and laughter to remedy many problems.  I know the bounds it does for my heart when I can laugh or smile about something.  Definitely more than just a "little" pleasure in life.

Ok, I do realize that some of these are quite different or weird. (or as my dear mother would say "unique")  But its what brought me joy, what is bringing you joy?

Find it, embrace it, and share it.