Friday, October 28, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

Peace and blessings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ!
The goodness of God never ceases to amaze me! My days have been filled with joys and blessings, as well as the craziness of classes. Through it all, God is so good! Last weekend, on Saturday—October 22—I woke up BRIGHT AND EARLY to attend 6 a.m. Mass before going to the abortion facilities in Pittsburgh. Starting off the day with Our Lord in the Eucharist is so awesome! As we prayed outside of the facilities, there was a heavy, intense feeling of the spiritual warfare that was taking place. But as I prayed, the SUN came out, and I heard God whisper in my ear, “This too shall pass.”

This too shall pass!

The joy that began springing up was beautiful; our joyous songs and prayers flooded the street outside of the abortion facilities, and after our clinic outreach, we all (there were about 120 of us) took bright yellow balloons that said “Life” on the side, and prepared to march to Pitt U. However, we did not have time to go to Pitt U, but instead, had a mini “March for Life” through the streets of Pittsburgh! We celebrated life! We saw some little children with their parents, and we gave balloons to the children. Other people cursed at us. Some people waved as us. In all that we did, whether we were cursed at or blessed, we did it with joy!
I came back to campus after our Pittsburgh excursion, and prepared for my next monumentally huge event on that day: my Intenting.

 Here at Steubenville, we have the “household” system on campus. Households are groups of all-men or all-women, each with a specific charism. Spiritual warfare, evangelization, pro-life ministry, the Divine Mercy—you name it, there is probably a household that has a charism dedicated to whatever you have in mind! Well, the household that I felt called to “Intent” to is Sacrifice of Love. Mmhmm. Yup. Sacrifice of Love. And when was I going to Intent? On Saturday….after I picked the day, I found out that it was also the Feast Day of Blessed JPII!! The man who started me on the whole “Do not be afraid when Love Requires Sacrifice” meditation in my prayer life!!!!! Then, I found out that SOL was having a joint Lord’s Day celebration with our brother household, Conquer Through Love. AND, one of my acquaintances was intenting with CTL! So he and I got to intent together!! What a blessed and joyful time!!!!!

After Lord’s Day, I played soccer with some of my dear sisters in Christ, and had a blast! Then, I went to Trinity to hang out…they were having a party with their “sister dorm,” Marian. And, since I pretty much live at Trinity, I went with my sisters J Later that night, I went to dance at “Casino night,” an event that a men’s household puts on. The Gentile Gallery was transformed into a very classy casino setting, with poker tables and blackjack, and the downstairs lobby of the JC became a floor for swing dancing! I finished up the night with an hour of Adoration and some quality time and prayer with one of my dear brothers!
That one day is just a miniscule sampling of the great blessings of God! With all of the challenges this week—both with schoolwork and the devil—God continues to pour down His overabundance of blessings! And what He is continually teaching me, whenever I go through any struggles or have dear friends who are hurting, is from the abortion clinic: This too shall pass!
Well, I am off to Brooklyn for a Pro-Life retreat with Monsigneour Reilley, a prominent pro-life figure! Have a blessed weekend!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Concerning Certain Happenings in the Shire

I love the Lord of the Rings; the music; the story, the characters, the symbolism....all of it! Well, some of my good friends and I decided to walk to Krogers on Sunday, and one of the men took us on a different route-a route that cut across an old golf course on the edge of campus. Our group decided that this area of land, with its gentle hills, grassy fields, and dirt roads, is the Shire.

Last night, I was over in Trinity celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving Day (one of my friends there is Canadian, and their Thanksgiving was yesterday), when my twin told me to grab my breviary. I jumped up, grabbed my book, and headed outside with him to pray night prayer. We started walking in the beautiful October night (it was a little after 11 p.m.), noticing the glorious moon (its almost a full moon!) and stars. And he suggested that we go to the Shire to pray Night Prayer! So we walked out to the Shire, in the peacefulness and prayerfulness of the night. And as we walked down the dirt road, I looked up into the sky, to look at the bright moon again.
"Look at that," I told him.
The moon was shining, radiant as always. But surrounding the moon was this circular band of light, of radiance. What's the first thing that popped into my mind? The Eucharist. A Monstrance. But before I say anything, Daniel spoke up. "A Monstrance." (this kind of thing happens between the two of us quite frequently. Same brain-connections and all that. On occasion, other people get annoyed with us because we will also have conversations with our eyes. But that's totally another tangent.)

The moon is not bright and beautiful on its own; it is bright and beautiful because it reflects the sun. In fact, I once saw a t-shirt that read "Be the Moon; it reflects the Son." We are not bright and beautiful on our own; we reflect God's radiance and love! Who is the perfect reflection of God's radiance and love in mankind? MARY! So I'm looking at this moon in the sky, thinking of Mary reflecting God. Remember how I said there was this beautiful band of light surrounding the solid moon, making it look like a Monstrance? Mary, as being a reflection of God, leads people to her Son. Jesus is present in the Eucharist! Mary was also the very first Tabernacle, holding Jesus physically within her body. At Mass, we each become a Tabernacle when we receive our Lord. CRAZINESS!! So this image of a Monstrance around the moon showed Mary, reflecting God's light and Truth, bringing people to the Eucharist.

We are called to imitate Mary, for she will lead us to her Son. And because she is simply an incredible model of holiness! Mary points to the Eucharist; as imitators of Mary, we should also direct people to Eucharist (St. Francis of Assisi is known for spreading Eucharistic devotion).

Be the moon; it reflects the Son!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Awkward Starfish Loves You!!!!!

We complain.
Really, have you ever noticed how many times in a conversation, there will be a lull-and to fill that silence, you start compaining. *lull in conversation* "So, such-and-such person drives me crazy! Honestly, this is ridiculous!"~Sound familiar? Yeah, I'm betting most people (definitely myself included) will take part in this activity. Let's face it: We live in a broken world. Honestly, if you think you ever have it tough, let me tell you: You don't. I know, I know. It can be so tempting to throw "pity parties;" trust me, I've thrown myself plenty of those! But really, how satisfying is it to dwell upon all of the things that have gone wrong with our lives?

A few months back, I was discussing this issue with some dear friends of mine. We decided that, whenever we would start complaining about something, we would turn that occasion into a moment of praise and thanksgiving. "I have to go write a paper....but God is so good! He will help me on this paper!" After a while, my friends and I noticed how there was so much more joy in the conversation, when we focused --not on complaining, and pointing out the negative things in life--but on thankfulness and joy in God's amazing works! Every Wednesday, I go to volunteer at Unity Kitchen, in downtown Steubenville. This woman, Pastor Toni, is in charge--and she ALWAYS talks about the need to praise God continually! It is such a fulfilling life, when you spend it praising God! Here at Steubenville, I live in such an enriching environment. Honestly, there is so much joy on campus-because so many people have such a complete dependence on God, and take such joy in His goodness! Going around campus, it is so much fun to eavesdrop on conversations that randomly take place as different people see each other.
"Praise God! I found my (insert item here)!"
"What a beautiful day-God is so good!" ~"All the time!" chimes in a person nearby.

A life of joy and love. Love. Love is so beautiful, so necessary! As I journey through life, God is constantly showing me just HOW necessary love is! For example, on Tuesdays, I go to a nearby homeless shelter to chill out with the people there. Talking to these individuals is so impactful; it helps me to see just how MUCH we need to love others with a deep love of Christ! This past Tuesday, I spent a lot of time talking to one young man, in his twenties, about life. He has faced so many broken relationships, and his mother has not talked to him for four months. When he was 2 years old, he witnessed his grandma commiting suicide. I stood there, listening to this man, loving him as my brother in Christ. Trying to show him, through being there for him, that SOMEONE CARES! There was another man whom I hung out with a lot this past Tuesday. This guy is probably in his late twenties or so. And he lives a very immoral life. Let's just say, he does not have a clear view of his true sexuality. Well, this guy has had a ton of painful experiences in his life, too. His ex-wife refuses to let him see his four children, which breaks his heart. He has been rejected by his very mother. He has so much emptiness in his life, so much sorrow--so he has gone to lengths to try and fill his emptiness in various ways. I just sat there, listening. Being there. When I gave him a hug at the end of my stay at the shelter, I said a prayer that he would find true peace and love. It's everywhere. People NEED to be loved!

Awkward Starfish Loves You!!!!!!!

At swing dancing last Sunday, a bunch of us were demonstrating the various "awkward" hand motions. Awkward Turtle. Awkward Yoda. Awkward Llama. Awkward Snail. You get the idea! And then one of my friends reaches out her hand with fingers spread out, puts it on someone's shoulder, and slightly squeezes, saying "Awkward Starfish loves you!" Well, its definitely spread. Last night in the Caf, we were all parting ways, giving each other Awkward Starfishes. And this random student who I don't know looks at me and said "Oh my gosh, where did that come from? My roommate did that to me earlier!" It was hilarious! The love is spreading around! My friend Maria (the one who introduced all of us to the Starfish) and I were discussing about how this is practically an apostolate. We can offer each starfish that we give for a soul in Purgatory-we can say a quick prayer for the souls who need prayers! We can let all of our actions be filled with love and prayers!

It is so important to bring that love and joy of Christ everywhere you go. So you may not have the opportunity to go into 3rd world countries and love the people there, and help them to know God. So you may not have the opportunity to go hang out with homeless people and show them love. But do you know what? God gives you countless opportunities, EVERY DAY to love those around you! How can you love people in 3rd world countries if you can't love your roommate? How can you love homeless people in a shelter if you can't love your classmates?
Let Love reign triumphant in your life! Always EMBRACE those opportunities each and every day-be that Sacrifice of Love in situations that are large and small-so that all people may be loved! Go beyond all comfort zones; don't just see others as "people." That word is so vague, so impersonal! See others as your BROTHERS and SISTERS! God put each and every person in our lives for a reason; we are not strangers, but we are all interconnected in His love. So let our actions flow forth from our great love for Him who first loved us! Go out, and be a Sacrifice of Love!

Awkward Starfish Loves You!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Frolicking with Franciscan Joy!!

May God's blessings be upon you, my brothers and sisters!

Well, this post is a bit late, but hey-better late than never, right? :)

October 4 was the glorious feast of our Holy Father Francis!! I experienced so many blessings, so much joy. It was glorious! To start off, I went to Psychology class, where I found out that I got a B- on my very first test in there!! While I typically am not too stoked about a B-, I was overjoyed! It was a very tough test, over a bunch of information, and several people in my class did a lot worse than I did. So I'm waiting to get my test back, as people around me are getting Cs and below, and I'm growing nervous. What a blessing from St. Francis! After that class, I went back to Tommy, and ran into a couple of my wonderful sisters, and talked. Then, I briefly worked on homework. My sisters and I met up, and we went to the Mass for the Solemnity (yes, we are a "Franciscan" university, so his feast day is a Solemnity!!), which was so beautiful!! There was a gorgeous sequence before the Gospel reading, all about the beauty and life of St. Francis!

After Mass, I decided to fully embrace the glory of the Solemnity. See, Mass ended at 12:30 p.m. I totally had Intro to Geology at 12:45 p.m. Now, to go from Mass (in the fieldhouse) to Tommy, get my books, and go ALL the way to the basement of Egan in 15 minutes (going both uphill AND downhill) in my Solemnity Hat seemed a bit unrealistic. So what did I do? I went over to Marian with a couple of my sisters who live there. One of them is from Louisiana, and she had been craving her Cajun food. So we made a delicious lunch of red beans, rice, and beignets. Beignets are awesome!! We made them by dropping bits of flattened biscuit dough into oil, until it was golden brown. Then, I covered it in powdered sugar. Then, I put EXTRA powdered sugar on top when I ate it!! Spending time with those dear girls over Cajun food was spectacular!! I loved it! Then I skipped over to Trinity.
I love Trinity for various reasons.
1. Everyone is VERY chill there; the RAs are awesome and laid back.
2. They have a very sketch kitchen, but its in the hubbub of activity, so its really fun to cook in.
3. There is such a community! So many times, men will be playing ping pong in the front lobby!
4. Most importantly, my brothers are there!! The men there are all so weird, and so strangely nerdy in their own special ways. And I love them for it.
5. It is like home. Honestly, I can kick back and be myself. I was washing dishes for my twin on Monday, and one of the men jumped in and started helping me out. Another man started stacking up clean dishes to put them away. I am their sister, and I always feel so at home there!

Well, I go to Trinity and I borrow my twin's St. Jerome Commentary. I honestly didn't feel like taking it (its a gigantic book) back to Tommy, so I sat there, reading and taking notes. One of the men started playing the piano, then started just talking to me about life. Another guy comes in and sits with me, and we're talking. My twin came around, and we start talking. Before you know it, I'm sitting at the kitchen table with about 5 or so guys, and we're passing around the Bible, finding some of our favorite Bible verses (2 Kings 2:23-25 is one of my favorites), which was great. And then I headed to homeless ministry.

I also completely LOVE homeless ministry! We go to downtown Steubenville, to a homeless shelter. And we chill out there for a couple of hours. It is such a wonderful time to bring Christ's love to others!!!! After homeless ministry, I was going to eat dinner at the Caf, then head to Praise and Worship (which started at 9 p.m.). Well....God had other plans! I was enjoying my dinner in the Caf, and various men came up to eat at the table. My wonderful brothers from Trinity! I felt called NOT to go to P & W that night, and I was (still am) so glad! I always love spending time with my brothers, and I got to learn more about men. Seriously, within the past month and a half, I have learned SO MUCH about men, it's crazy! But interesting....anyway.....

I guess here's the main tangent of this post: I love my brothers. And I love the friendship that we share. See, I can't just walk up to any man and suddenly find myself having a heart-to-heart with him at 10:30 at night. But I did just that with one of my brothers on Tuesday. I have only known this man for a few weeks (mainly from our crazy shenanigans at Trinity), but on Tuesday I grew to know him so much better. God really puts people in our lives for a reason, and they are ALL important! Every person who God places in our lives is meant to somehow draw us BOTH closer to Him! This particular man and I had an epic conversation, then prayed the Rosary with two other people. Then our small group sat around and talked until about midnight. And then my "crazy Canadian brother" mentioned Adoration (which I had been meaning to go to, but hadn't gotten around to yet). So I spent some glorious time in Adoration, before going to bed. And the 3 1/2 hours of sleep that followed were glorious! Yes....3 1/2 hours. So my one brother who I had been having such a great conversation with? He convinced me to go to 6:30 a.m. Mass with him the following morning. And it was awesome!

Honestly, as I have gone through various adventures in life, I have grown sad--and continued to be saddened--by people who just don't take the time to actually get to know each other. Ladies will group together in their "safety nets," and never put forth the effort to know other women. Or to know their brothers. I honestly don't even know what I would do without my beloved brothers; my biological brothers, my brothers from high school, and my brothers here with me at Steubenville. They are all amazing men! I believe that God will put these men in the lives of women, but the women will not always see their brothers. I encourage y'all to take the time and actually get to know those men who God has placed in your lives! You never know how God will use these brothers to impact you.

Holy Father Francis and his dear sister, Clare--pray for us!!!