All posts by Molly

Enter Light

It’s the week leading up to Christmas Day. The hustle and bustle is apparent; stress vividly displayed on mother’s touting their toddlers in and out of stores while carrying five bags of more needed stuff, pine trees sparkle with tinsel and homemade ornaments, the Christmas carols blast from your radio station. It truly is the “hap-happiest season of all”.

But for many it isn’t.

Last week a family lost their 18 year old son to suicide. It’s somebody else’s first Christmas without their mom or their brother or sister or grandparent. It’s someone’s first Christmas away from their family because they got deployed. It’s someone else’s first Christmas homeless. Or without a job. Or with cancer.

I don’t say these things to bring your spirits down, but rather to see the reality of people’s lives around us. The Christmas season can be the “hap-happiest season” for many, but for many that are suffering or have a void in their lives, it’s a difficult season to navigate.

Leading up to Christmas we have the winter solstice. Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun rises late and sets early. The Christ Child comes to us at the darkest time of the year, just when we need a little bit of light, the light that will illuminate our hearts and lives. 

Spread that light of the Christ Child this year to a stranger, someone you know that is suffering. Give them the gift of your faith through your unending prayers and sacrifices. Visit the homeless. Serve at a soup kitchen. Visit the widow who just lost his/her spouse. Give a gift anonymously to a family that is in need. It’s not too late. It’s never too late. The smallest act of kindness is the lighted candle that will break into the darkness of those who suffer.

What Christmas gift will you give this year? Who will you share the light of Christ with this season?

Open Letter to Life 97.3

The following is an open letter to the radio station that I listen to for most of the year.

Dear Life 97.3,
That time of the year is upon us, the time when I most want to have uplifting music, music that walks with me in my spiritual life, but alas, I not only turn off your station, I give another station that coveted #1 button on my radio dash. Why? Why you ask? Why go to such extremes and throw it all out the window? Why despise the Christian station and harbor ill thoughts throughout the season?

Because that time of the year when you only play Christmas music, is actually a time of penance and preparation for the Christ Child in the long standing Church tradition. Penance, I say, Penance! A time for us to prepare our hearts for the Christ Child. I guess I wouldn”t mind so much if it wasn”t during the ENTIRE Advent season and then, the worst, the absolute worst, causing tears and strife and fists raised to the air as I question my faith and cry out loud, “Why, God, Why?”, is that fateful day of December 26. When Life 97.3 cuts off all Christmas music, just. as. we. actually. start. to. celebrate. Christmas. Yes, it”s true.

Remember the 12 days of Christmas you heard about when you were just a wee little one? Those twelve days are some of the greatest feasting and partying the church has ever seen! It is a time of joy and celebration right up nbso online casino reviews until the feast of Epiphany, January 6, (think frankincense, gold, and myrrh). Hey, wait a minute, January 6 is exactly 12 days – weird. But, alas, it”s taken from us. Our first world problems seem so great in such trials like these. Christmas music during our time of penance. No Christmas music just as we start to celebrate the season. It”s maddening! It”s preposterous, it”s, it”s….ahhhhh!!!!!

So with that, I beg you, I plead, I cry, I pray, that you will hear our cry in the night. If you must play Christmas music during our time of penance, can you please, oh dear one, please give us the pleasure and joy of celebrating the Christ Child during the 12 days of Christmas? I fear I may have asked for too much. How about a compromise? How about half of it? 6 days? No? 3? 3 days is all we ask! December 26, 27 and 28. Oh Life 97.3! Oh! Bring solace to this wandering soul. Bring light to the season. Bring joy to the masses!

7 Websites Every Catholic Should Visit

There are many great Catholic websites on the web, but have you heard of these seven? 

1. Tiny Saints These pocket size little caricatures are the perfect accessory to any Catholic. They”re hip, they”re cool, and they”re “pretty much the coolest saint charms ever.” Wear as a necklace, put on your keychain, tag on your dog”s collar. Wherever you go carry one of them with you!

2. Pray More Novenas John Paul and Annie Deddens over at praymorenovenas.com were inspired a few years ago to bring novenas right to your inbox. How many times have you begun a novena to miss a day or two? Now, with emails delivered each day of the novena, you are bound to remember. Plus, you are praying with thousands of others. Check out this interview!

3. Eye of the Tiber If you don”t already know about this one, you should. Read it. You will understand why. Here is one of my favorites.

4. Vatican On a more serious note. This site provides a plethora of Catholic information, including the Pope”s homilies, audiences, and encyclicals.

5. DecentFilms I just came across this site and think it”s fabulous. As an avid movie goer, I find this site helpful. However, can we get a review for The Goonies, please?!

6. Zenit A Catholic news source based in Rome, bringing you the latest in news regarding Pope Francis, the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

7. Stuart’s Study Looking for a good book to read? Want to buy a great book for your kid? Look no further, Stuart covers everything from fiction to Theology and offers a thorough and thoughtful perspective.

What is one of YOUR favorite Catholic websites?

Apps, Maps, and Shrinky Dinks

Three weeks ago as my phone lay dying in its own pool of battery loss, I had to make a decision. Do I finally upgrade and join my comrades in the Smartphone lifestyle or do I continue with my Stegosaurs model maintaining an old school rap of reading paper maps and checking email on (gasp) a computer?

Most of my family members have iPhones. They live, breathe and rely on them. From playing Candy Crush to the Pee App (an app that tells you the optimal time to go to the bathroom during movies), their iPhones have become an extension of themselves.

I’ve watched five of them in the same room tapping away furiously on their devices, eyes glued, oblivious to the world around them. It left me thinking, What’s the big deal?

Then I bought my first iPhone: now, I understand. I found apps– specifically an app for three handed Pinochle. (It’s a card game, people, and it’s fun!) I found myself, however, pulling off at rest stops so I could finish a game, and curling up with my phone at night, my eyes glazing over.

And that isn’t good.

I deleted the app.

I found the Maps app. Maps that brilliantly show me where I’m going as I pass along the paved streets of Minnesota. Maps that show me my surroundings; and since I don’t actually need to know where I am, I am no longer completely aware of my surroundings. I just follow the path on the iPhone or the lady’s voice telling me which exit to take. I no longer have to figure it out for myself. My quick decision making skills and my knowledge of the surrounding area is now obsolete. I relay on this little device to tell me how to get there.

But I want to rely on me, my brain. I like maps and I really like to know where I am, trying to figure out how to get to my destination.

I’ve compromised and only use the Maps app for emergencies.

My favorite function, of course, is the camera: so accessible, easy to use and significantly less bulk than my Canon 40D. But who really needs 400 photos from one week of life?!

I realized that my iPhone had, in fact, become an extension of myself. It transitioned my life from being present, human interaction and the knowledge of where I am to someone who was living her life attached to a small device that told her how to get somewhere and kept her from more organic relationships. It had only been three weeks, but I saw the effect and realized that something needed to change.

The key is moderation. You rule it; don’t let it rule you.

Thus, I’ve been training myself in the art of discipline. Like forming any habit, it was a little bit more difficult at first so I came up with some ground rules. Don’t take your phone to dinner. Leave it at home when you go to a friend’s or relatives house. Turn it off at 10 p.m.

As a result, I’ve found that I am more present to others, more present to life in the now, and I actually know where I am as I drive. The attachment was becoming less and less, and I was feeling more present and free.

The other day my niece and I made shrinky dinks. It was a time to be present to her and share in a memory. I would post pictures of our plastic art and of her cute smiling face with her big ocean blue eyes, but I can’t. Because I didn’t take any photos. Because I didn’t have my phone.

And for that, I’m glad, because sometimes – yes, sometimes – the memories are worth a thousand times more than any photo could capture.

How do you manage your phone? How do you stay present to others?

The Whisper of the Salve

The whisper of the Salve Regina echoes in my heart, a distant memory of chant at the Benedictine Monastery.

…the January night sky glittered above with the sparkling of lighted stars. The long endless country road that dips and winds to the brothers’ abode. The moonlight shining on the silent fields creating snow crystals waiting to be gathered. And the silence, oh the silence beheld in those jasmine January nights.

Hastening my way up the steps, giving one final glance to the evening stars above, I attest to the quiet serene prayer the monks so willingly disperse. Wooden floors, bare walls, and one sanctuary candle burning incessantly, I take my place in the sanctuary, near the back hiding in the shadows.

Compline has begun. The chant of the monks echoes faithfully. I follow along in heart, not word, listening intently, souls united in harmony, united in truth.

The culmination, the height of it all for this poor soul strikes as one dispels the light and the darkness wraps her like an infant. A moment of silence. Or two moments go by, it does not matter. Waiting.

A flicker of light in the distance. Three distinct chimes ring out. The monks stand and turn to the image of Our Lady and begin their salutation of devotion.

…Salve Regina,
Mater misericordiae,
Vita, dulcedo
et spes nostra salve…

I quietly chant the age old hymn, gazing at the stained glass centered conspicuously in the brick walls of the sanctuary. My longing for this night of ritual, this evening filled with grace, this time of stillness, I venture forth within.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria!

Chin Up!

beach

Last week I spent some time in south Florida. To relax and    unwind I disconnected from my material world and meandered on the beach. There is an incredible amount of interesting shells, birds and critters that span the shoreline. On this rare occasion I witnessed a seagull devour an octopus.

But as I walked past the hundreds of beachcombers, I noticed one common theme; their heads were down. It reminded me of walking through any American city these days; everybody’s heads are down, looking at their devices, texting, playing games, etc. But these beachcombers were not looking at their phones, they were searching for shells.

But while searching for shells, they were missing out on some really great things. Like this:

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As I walked for two hours, I watched three dolphins feeding in the waves. I stopped and talked to a handful of people and mentioned the dolphins. Not one person had seen them. They were too busy looking down, instead of looking around. “I didn’t know there were dolphins out there.” And, “I’ve been so busy looking at shells, I didn’t even look around to see what else there is.” We are spending our lives looking down that we ‘bearly’ see what we are walking into.

I continued to stroll on the beach, taking in the sea air, watching the dolphins swim along and noticing more and more how all of the beachcombers were looking down, so consumed with their shells. And then it hit me, this is how I live my life. I am so consumed with what is happening in the life of Molly, constantly looking down and searching for that one special thing (be it a shell, the perfect job, etc.), that I miss out on the hundreds, no thousands of delightful surprises that pop up in life around me. Dolphins, my nieces wanting to play Candyland (again) or the beautiful blue color of my mother’s eyes.

St. Pope John Paul II said, “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for himself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.” (Gadium et Spes, No. 24).

Let’s learn to go outside of ourselves. Let’s look up. And look around. At others. The sky. Nature. It’s time to take a step out of our little worlds and go beyond ourselves. God has great things waiting for us to witness. But we must step outside of ourselves to see them and we must learn to keep our chin up.

A Simple ‘Yes’

I like to watch things grow. Three pine trees were planted in my front yard when I was a little girl. They were so small we could jump over them. Throughout the years I would watch them grow. They became too tall to jump over. Then taller than my brother. Now they are as tall as the house.

Last year my niece was pregnant. She was one of those really cute pregnant ladies, you know the kind; you can only tell they are pregnant by the little basketball belly sticking out. It was so fun to watch her belly grow and to feel the baby kick. And then last February, after trudging seven blocks through a snowstorm I had the joy of holding my great nephew for the first time.

Growth takes time. It takes watering and feeding. It takes patience. It takes love.

Our interior life is a place that needs to be fed daily, in the quiet recesses of our being. It takes a little bit of watering and a little bit of sunshine. The key is to tend to the garden of our hearts, each and everyday through prayer, daily reflection, spiritual reading, the Sacraments, and acts of service.

Advent is the perfect season for little, quiet growth. There is a stillness as we prepare and await for our Savior’s birth. There is a quietness of Mary’s womb that lights up our hearts. And it all begins with planting one simple seed, the seed of humility, the seed of ‘yes’.

Mary’s yes changed the world.

We each have unique callings in our lives. These callings we hear in our prayer, in the quiet, in the recesses of the garden of our hearts. And our own journey with Christ, as it was with Mary’s, begins with a simple yes. And then it is followed by a lot of time for that yes to grow into something greater, a place where we, too, can bear the Christ Child within our own hearts and after time, share him with the world.

Spend time in prayer this advent season, allow Christ’s love to grow, day by day, quietly within you. Our world needs the light of Christ. Begin with the yes. Yes, I will spend more time in prayer. Yes I will be more patient. Yes, Lord, I will believe.

Mary and Litanies and Titles, Oh My!

My niece sent me a text the other day that said, ‘Thanks auntie.’

Auntie. It’s a title that I carry with such pride. One of the greatest joys in my life is being able to help mold the character of my nieces and nephews. Each of us hold different titles. From mother to father, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend, boss, co-worker, neighbor, etc. And each of those titles has meaning and significance.

When I traveled with NET Ministries, I was opened to a whole new approach to living my life as a Catholic. Before NET, I would faithfully attend Mass on Sunday, CCD on Wednesday and pray before meals. I was wholeheartedly Christian, reading scripture, praying regularly and sharing the gospel with others. My ignorance to my Catholic roots was pressing and during NET I learned that the Catholic faith encompassed so much more than just prayers before meals. Most of the teachings and prayers were so new to me, it was like learning a new prayer language, one in which I didn’t embrace right away and took some time to fumble my way through.

Praying a litany was a strange thing to me. So when my NET Team would find ourselves with a Marian hymn and the Litany of Loreto in hand, I would be confused. Why does Mary hold so many titles? Why is she a mirror of justice? How is she the refuge of sinners?

Mary was one of those teachings that I didn’t embrace right away. My attitude was that she wasn’t Jesus, so why bother? Only Jesus can heal. Only Jesus can forgive. Only Jesus can save me.

Mary Statue by Molly M

But thankfully all of that changed. I grew to the understanding that Mary does not hold these titles because she asked for glory or recognition. She doesn’t hold these titles because she climbed her way up the corporate ladder. Mary’s titles, her vast and detailed titles, stem from God’s grace in her life and her cooperation with that grace. We hold her in such high honor because He does. And it is He who bestows these titles on her.

Each title has significance and meaning. Now when I pray a litany to Mary, I find myself choosing one of the titles to focus on for that week. Some of my favorites are Mary: Queen of Prophets, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, Mystical Rose, Virgin most Venerable, Mother of Divine Grace, Comforter of the Afflicted, and Ark of the Covenant.

Mary is a great model to all of us, but perhaps and more importantly, she truly is all of the titles that have been bestowed upon her. What a great gift this is to the Church.

Each of us is given titles though my titles are vastly different than Mary’s. I imagine them to be something like Molly: Queen of complaining, Sister that is selfish, Daughter most disrespectful, Virgin most impatient.

I am a sinner.

But a sinner with hope and perseverance. I pray that I may cooperate with God’s grace to become worthy of the titles He has bestowed on me: Daughter. Sister. Friend. Campus Minister. Neighbor. Mentor. And perhaps my favorite, Auntie. And with God’s grace, hopefully one day: Saint.

What is one of your favorite Marian titles? Why?

Martyrdom in Mosul

When I heard of the atrocities happening in Mosul this past week, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. This is happening in our world today? I know there are bad things happening all of the time. I know there is evil. But I couldn’t wrap my mind around such brutality, such fierce evil.

After the initial shock and sending up prayers, I kept thinking, “What else can I do about this? How can little, insignificant me help these vulnerable people?” Thankfully The Anchoress already wrote up five ways we can do something. And we should do them, ever single one of them.

But then there was another thing that kept coming back to mind. I read this:

“…Christian man in Syria recently had his head brutally hacked off by Islamic militants after being forced to deny his faith and salute Mohammed as “the messenger of God”.”

Not only was he forced to deny his faith, he still suffered death. And I think of my patron, Joan of Arc, who, agreed to abjure, though she later rescinded.  

When I was younger I was filled with zeal for my faith. In my youth I knew that I would say yes to martyrdom. I might have even prayed for the grace to be a martyr, to prove my love to Christ. I look back at that zeal and though, still faithful to Christ and the Church, I am not as ‘excited’ about the thought of martyrdom as I was years ago. It’s difficult enough for me to hold my tongue when someone cuts in front of me or remain patient when waiting for someone for more than five minutes. So much for martyrdom! What makes me think that I could have the strength, courage and faith to endure what so many Saints have done before us? I believe that there is grace present in martyrdom, but there is also cooperation with that grace.

In my youth I was certain that I would have the strength and faith needed, but now I don’t know what I would do. I would hope that I would not denounce Christ. I pray for the grace and faith to remain steadfast. But I can’t really say. Just like one can’t really say what they would do when they face any trial.

When I was a teenager, I was the first responder to a car accident. I reacted a lot more calmly and systematically than I ever thought I would, especially at the young age of 17. But three weeks ago when a hornet’s nest went ballistic on my two nieces, my nephew, and me, I was in a complete panic, screaming, “Run for your lives, run as fast as you can!” while grabbing the youngest. When I got inside the house I threw the kid down and in a barely coherent manner yelled for my sister’s help. I could have handled the situation a lot better than I did. But it just goes to show, you don’t know what you will do in certain circumstances.

A few years ago a friend of mine told me that Francis Cardinal George, was quoted as saying:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed#ixzz3A7E9YM1o

If martyrdom does not happen in our lifetime, it very well could for our children or grandchildren. It’s a serious thing to consider and makes me want to pray more and grow closer to Christ in the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It also makes me want to teach the children around me and help them to grow in their faith.

Pondering the idea and the possibility of martyrdom also reminds me to die to myself daily. Each day there are ways I can be a little martyr to my selfishness, my pride, my sin that goes before me. Perhaps by learning to do so, if faced with the possibility of martyrdom, we may then have the strength and faith to unequivocally proclaim Christ and die for him.

Read the Anchoress’s post; fast, pray, write and give. But also pray that our brothers in sisters in Christ, those being persecuted mercilessly at the hands of Satan may have the strength and faith to give the supreme witness to the truth of the faith.

St. Anne Novena

I’m going to let you in on a secret. When you type words into a search engine and then click on a link, the owner of that link (blog, ecommerce site, etc.) can see the words in the search that led you to their blog. For instance here are some screen shots from the singlecatholicgirl.com search engine results.

July 8

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July 15

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Did you notice anything on this particular screen shot? Other than the last search, ‘find catholic girls’, haha! It shows the searches from yesterday that led people to my blog and there are a lot of different searches for a St. Anne novena. Apparently a lot of people out there really like this novena.

In just the past 30 days, these searches for a St. Anne novena brought readers to my blog:

st anne novena to find a husband, novena to find husband, st anne novena for a husband, novena for a good husband. catholic novena to find a husband, novena to st. anne prayer for a husband, novena to find a husband, powerful novena to get aspouse, catholic novena prayer for finding a husband. novena prayer for future spouse, novena prayer to find a husband, prayer to st. anne for a husband, novena to st. anne, novena to saint anne for a husband, st. anne prayer for a husband, st anne novena prayer, st anne catholic novenas, prayer st anne husband, when you date a lady on a tuesday, novena for finding a husband, patron saint of women looking for husband, prayer to st anne to find a husband st. anne bring me a man novena st anne prayer novena. novena to saint anne for spouse

‘Whoa!’, said in Joey Lawrence style.

Well don’t you fret, there will be no more scouring about the internet looking for the best of the best of St. Anne Novenas. I brought to you the top five.

The Dundies of St. Anne Novenas

  • Most easily accessible: Praymorenovenas.com a website dedicated to novenas. Sign up now and they will send you the daily novena prayer straight to your inbox. Plus, Annie and John Paul, the founders, have a great St. Anne novena story. Check them out!
  • Most Traditional: EWTN
  • Prettiest: Print this one out from USCCB and take it with you, made especially for you daily Mass goers.
  • Most Marian Focused: Do you like meditations, chaplets, rosaries and the like? Elizabethfoss.com  provides a beautiful layout of the prayers.
  • Shortest and Most Unromantic: “St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man as fast as you can.” It’s quick, simple and quite catchy really.

The novena begins today, Thursday, July 17. Her feast day is shared with her husband Joachim on July 26.

To read more about novenas and why we pray them, visit this excellent OSV articleThe Power of Novenas: While these nine-day prayers, often yield desired results, it is faith in God – not magic – that delivers, by Marge Fenelon.

What are your thoughts on novenas? What is your favorite novena to pray?

Do you have a novena story to share?

Five Books That Changed My Life

Books come into our lives at different times for different purposes, sort of like friends. And like friends, some have a great impact and stay with you forever. Here is a list of five books (aside from Sacred Scripture) that have changed my life. It is not a reflection of the five best books out there, or even the five books that you must read. Just a list of the five that have most influenced my life. I invite you to share five (or at least one) of your own.

1. Feeling Good: This book is a companion to those who suffer from depression or anxiety, but really there is a lot of practical advice in there, which I believe everyone can benefit from.

This book allowed me to see how my thinking patterns were ruling my life and my emotions, especially when I would start to feel down. My thoughts would spiral: “Today is a bad day. That clerk wasn’t nice to me. And that guy didn’t stop for me to cross the street. I guess no one can see me. They don’t care. Nobody cares. I’m a nobody and nobody cares if I’m even around. I should move. To China. Or Anchorage. Or just go to work and live here and not care about anyone else…”

Yes! Hard to believe isn’t it, but that was my mind. And when I would get sad, that’s exactly how my thoughts could turn. Until Feeling Good brought me to a new way of thinking. Extinguishing the lies and replacing them with the truth:

First initial though: “Today is a bad day.” New thoughts: “Is it really? Why? Just because a clerk wasn’t pleasant and some guy didn’t stop for you. That doesn’t have to make it a bad day. You don’t know why the clerk was a jerk or the guy was inconsiderate. Maybe they are suffering. Maybe he didn’t see you because he just wasn’t paying attention. It doesn’t justify their behaviors, but it can help you understand. You didn’t do anything wrong in these instances. You are seen and you are loved. Why just yesterday Jessica called to tell you she was thinking about you. And last week mom sent you that card with the newspaper articles. More importantly, you know you are a child of God and really that’s all you need. Hey! Why don’t I do something nice for someone else now!”

See how that works? And this book helped to teach me that. Amen.

2. How to Talk so Kids will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk. This book came into my life when I was working with youth as a Director of Religious Education. But it really helped me when I moved home and found myself surrounded by fourteen nieces and nephews. It helped even more when I found a position where I was helping a family who had just adopted eight siblings. The children needed to become acclimated to their new life. One of the children that I particularly spent a lot of time with had fetal alcohol syndrome. And he was a handful. The first four short years of his life were troublesome; in and out of shelters, being around adults who did drugs, etc. My little friend would have frequent outbursts and rarely listened to directions. Learning to speak with him with attentive listening was so helpful. There is a way to be firm in discipline with love. I’ve seen it in action and it works! I worked with this child for 1.5 years before moving out east. His mother is an incredible educator and she taught me quite a few techniques in handling disruptive children as well. When I stopped in for a visit three years later, this child was well adjusted, kind and even polite! What a transformation. Thank you Faber for giving us this tool and the very helpful illustrations!

3. Story of a Soul. What can I say about this treasure? It certainly becomes a best friend and every time you read it you come away feeling refreshed, renewed and spiritually energized. And you have gained a little more insight into living a life of service in the everyday activities. Spiritual or not, you can gain wisdom from this book. The author, St. Therese, was proclaimed the greatest Saint of modern times by Pope Pius X. She is also one of three four women to hold the honorary title of Doctor of the Church. Although she didn’t write extensively and spent her years behind a cloistered wall, this little lady still brings fresh roses to our world today.

4. The Life God Wants You to Have. When I was going through yet another episode of ‘What am I supposed to do with my life?’ a dear friend recommended Dr. Popcak. I looked him up, researched his material and stumbled upon this book. There are probably thousands of books out there designed to discover your purpose in life. I’ve probably read a dozen or more of them. But this is the number one that I recommend. And it’s not a guide as to jotting down your passions and finding work that collides with said passions. It’s more of a journey into your own heart, your past, your childhood loves to unveil what is probably right before your eyes. Working my way through the pages, I came to a realization that I somehow missed in my years of desperately trying to figure my life out: I am meant to write. It’s the one thing that I’ve enjoyed doing and have consistently done since I was nine. Now I am on my way to turning my life purpose into a way to keep my financially afloat. Am I good at it? Eh. Will it allow me to generate some income so I can afford my dream house and vacations to Tahiti? Currently it generates about enough to pay my water bill, for a week. But now I finally KNOW what I want and can work towards that goal. I may need to continue working other jobs until one day I am able to sustain myself financially through the words I type. And if I am never a published author, at least I am enjoying the ride.

What are you waiting for? Go and find the life God wants you to have!

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

5. Are You My Mother? Yes, that’s right, the children’s book by P. D. Eastman. I recall reading this as a child at the bank while waiting for my mom back in the 80’s. This book is a basic philosophy of belonging. It’s important to know where we came from and who we are made from. We all need to belong and to know we belong to someone. Our mothers are the ones who first give us life. In this children’s classic, the little bird faces him self and the world around him asking an assortment of animals, ‘Are you my mother?’ The little bird sees that he is not like the others.  They look different. And have different capabilities. He is a bird. He has wings to fly and a beak. He is not a fox who can run or a fish that can swim. He comes to know who he is, what he is made for, how he is different from others and to whom he belongs. Isn’t this true for the spiritual life? Are not these the same questions we ask in life, “Are you really God? Was I really made in YOUR image and likeness? Am I truly made for love?” This is the heart of ‘Are you my Mother?’

What is one book that has changed your life? Why? 

Modern Day Saints

This upcoming Sunday we will celebrate the canonization of two historical Popes, men who not only contributed greatly to the church but have loved with such passion and zeal, they illuminated Christ himself.

As we look to their canonizations, we are reminded that we are all called to be saints. Every single one of us. We are called to be witnesses to the faith in charity and peace. We are called to be light to the world.

Saintsphoto

I just love this reminder when I am driving along the local interstate. 

Last week my sister-in-law, who is a wonderful evangelical Protestant, asked me a simple question: who are the modern day saints in today’s world? I immediately begin to think of three notable figures that have played a great significance in my life.

1. Peter Kreeft. I don’t know him personally, but I have encountered him and his philosophical treaties through his writings and talks. Kreeft has written dozens of books on faith, morals and teachings of the church. His recorded talks also helped me prepare for my first half-marathon, carrying me through the countless miles I logged.

Though I do not know him personally and therefore cannot completely speak on his character, I do know that, for me, he is one of the most thought provoking philosophers and has challenged me in my thinking on the faith. I can’t help but think that he is a patient, kind and charitable man too. That is why I have included him on my list of my modern day saints.

2. Shawn Pauc Chapman. Haven’t heard of her? That’s ok, now you have. Shawn is a prism of faith, one who has illuminated to me the facets of the St. John of the Cross and Carmelite spirituality. Shawn has been given some very heavy crosses to bear in life. She does it with such valiant faith, I would consider her a modern day Joan of Arc in way, not letting anything stop her from carrying out her mission. There is nothing that can shake this woman away from her deep rooted faith in Christ. In the past 25 years Shawn, a once seemingly agnostic punk hippie child, entered the Catholic Church, lost her first husband to a tragic car accident and her second husband to cancer. Through these sufferings, she still manages to walk through the valley with faith and hope.

But it’s not just through her suffering that her faith has shone to me, it’s her way of undeniably accepting all who enter her doors, sometimes for months at a time. I had the privilege of living with Shawn while I attended Texas A&M University. Her home and her heart were a refuge to me in a time when I needed it the most. Shawn is a constant to love and faith and if she isn’t a modern day saint, I don’t know who is.

3. Monica Ashour. Monica Ashour is a leading speaker and author on the Theology of the Body (TOB) and has lived out her faith in a persistent attitude, sharing her love of the church from campus ministry to teaching at a Catholic high school and now is executive director of a wonderful non-profit, TOBET, the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team, Inc. The thing I love about Monica is that she daily practices what she preaches. She speaks of keeping a daily prayer time and attending daily Mass as frequently as possible, and she does it, despite her very busy schedule. Her national organization devotes their time to sharing the TOB and as Monica does this through her words, she most certainly conquers it through her actions, taking time to speak with each person and really trying to connect with them on a personal level. Come to think of it, this was my experience with Christopher West too. Perhaps the study of the TOB brings living it out into fruition.

These are just a couple of modern day saints I can think of who have greatly influenced my life. I also want to give a shout out to Dorothy Polchinski, a hard core Catholic whose patience, charity and steadfast faith has been a light to me, the Carmelite sisters (everywhere, just every single Carmelite sister, ok?!) because their prayers have such a profound effect on the church and a little Irish priest I met once down in south Alabama who was filled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They may not be Saints yet, but I know they are striving wholeheartedly to the throne of grace. 

Each one of us is called to be a Saint. Proverbs 13 reminds us that we become like those whom we spend time with. Who are the modern day saints in your life? Who do you spend your time with? How can you become be a modern day saint?

He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:10