In such a world, our lives would be wracked with shame. No one would go outside. No one would interact with each other. Perhaps only those who bore the Scarlet "P" and took pride in their sins. It would be a world of embarrassment, sadness, and despair. A place of darkness and loneliness, it would suck the life out of everything. No longer would people focus on the good and the beautiful, they would be unable to look past the evil and sin that surrounded them. It would be a dwelling place for the devil. The angels would have a hard time helping people overcome their embarrassment and shame. They would have a hard time stopping everyone from judging each other. Judgement would come quick as a knife since the sins of each person were outwardly displayed.
The strange thought about such a world is that it actually exists. Granted, we do not witness it. We cannot see the sins of each person when they walk by us. We cannot, but God can. God pierces the darkness. He sees everything under the sun and throughout the night. He knows each soul and the sins of each soul. If He wanted, He could turn our world into the Scarlet Letter world.
Stop it. Stop doing it. It does not help your cause, of trying to find a guy; and, it is hurting you. Guys respect girls who do not sleep with them. That is the kind of girl they want to find for a wife. The girls who sleep their way to a husband are not attractive to a guy. If that is you; do not worry, just stop doing it. Date guys. Don't sleep with them.
The dating culture is hard to figure out, right? I understand. I date around. But, I do not sleep with the guys. I just date them. They respect me for it; and, in turn, I respect them for respecting me. If a guy does not respect you for it; then, he is a sleaze bag anyway. Trust me. There are plenty of guys out there who want to date a girl and do not expect to sleep with them. I meet them all the time. So, look for those guys. If the ones you have are not like that; go, and find the ones that are. They are the kind of guy you want to end up with any way.
Learn to love yourself (I am speaking emotively). Protect your little, private parts. They are not made to be used by multiple partners. When they are; your heart hurts, your body hurts, your mind becomes disordered because you are going against your natural self (ultimately, inflicting unwanted pain upon your body); and, you contract disease. These are all sad things.
So, love yourself (emotively). Date guys. Don't sleep with them. =)
What the heck are you doing? I do not swear a lot; but, when I saw your article in People's Magazine, it angered me. I saw the photograph of you with your husband, your mother, and your father (or, is it your step-father?). I saw their faces sullen and sad. Stop being so damn selfish! Snap out of it!
Did you know that it is the woman who brings forth life? We, women, have the special privilege of carrying a child in our womb and bearing it into the world. We do not create our children; but, we have the duty of preserving life. We care for life in and with our bodies. We protect it. Our message to the world is a life-giving message. It is a message of hope. It speaks: "Life is worth protecting. It has value and dignity." People hear that message resound in their hearts -- whether they consciously realize it or not -- from women. It is a message that gives their own life comfort, safety, peace, security, encouragement, and hope. Why does it give them these things? Because they are life -- people are life; "alive," if you will. Their own identity is affirmed by women.
I am calling you out -- woman to woman. I am throwing the flag. What you are doing goes against what it means to be woman. Instead of bringing life to the world; you are bringing death. Instead of being a beacon of hope for the world; you are being a beacon of darkness and horror. Instead of affirming the life of every person who witnesses your story; you are devaluing their life. This is your message to the world: "Your life is meaningless. You have no value, dignity, or worth."
I cannot and will not let another woman in the public eye speak this message to the people of the world. People who have heard Brittany's story and message, listen to me. Brittany is not fulfilling her duty of a woman. She is not speaking life to the world. Listen to me. Your life is worth living. So, keep on living it. Live it to the fullest. Your life is meant to be filled with love. You are loved and worthy of life. Your life has value, dignity, and worth. I respect your life.
So, live on. Be happy. Feel loved. <3
Two to three years ago we heard the words, "New Evangelization", except for those who heard it at first mention by St. John Paul II. For many of us though, including myself as I am a re-vert, we just heard it. The Catholic Church has suddenly been tasked with a mission: New Evangelization...all over the world.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) is part of the playing field and since becoming a director of religious education, I have heard everything from "CCD is a failed program" to "let us celebrate St. Pius X on his feast day and be grateful for the program he implemented in the Catholic Church: CCD."
Two years ago my team and I took up the challenge of figuring out what works best in a CCD program for meeting one of the great needs in the New Evangelization: catechizing that age group of 35 to 65, the "lost generations" of good catechesis. A parent catechetical program was implemented that not only works but is producing immediate fruit "found in the confessionals".
What is this parent catechetical program?
But why mandate adult faith formation and call it "parent catechesis"? Our separated brothers and sisters do not do it, they merely evangelize and invite, and they are bringing people in by the droves! Mandating coerces the will. Even Sherry tells us to provide overlapping opportunities where people can meet Jesus, allowing multiple opportunities for conversion at each person's individual pace. "Provide" does not mean "mandate"!
I hear you.
I started providing opportunities of adult faith formation where people can meet Jesus and convert at their own pace. I used Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism DVD series. I had our priests give talks in the Adoration Chapel. I gave talks in the Adoration Chapel. I used Benediction. I made artsy, promotional flyers and promoted series of adult faith events varying speakers, topics, places, structure... but nothing has worked like this parent catechetical program.
Why does a mandatory, parent catechetical program work so well?
A large portion of those who need to be evangelized in the New Evangelization are the people in these lost generations of good catechesis. Why? Because when they were children and went to CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the Church at the time was not teaching the faith in full.
From "we had to teach that way because when I was in CCD the nuns would actually hit me with a ruler" to "we were taught by hippies; it is hard to remember anything but banners and graham crackers," it seems that everyone has an opinion or side. Whichever opinion you have or side you are on does not matter as much as what you are doing today for the generations of people who were in CCD in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It was the Church who taught them what they know, or do not know. It is the responsibility of the Church today, you and me, to teach them what we should have taught them when they were children. In order to teach them, however, we first need to understand where they are coming from.
Here is their perspective:
By year's end, however, they will be overjoyed because they "gained so much from it" and will "wish the year was not over" (direct quotes from parents who went through our program).
Matthew Kelly's latest speaker series explains the need for "game-changers" and asks the question, "why is every parish left to its own devices to figure out every aspect of Catholic ministry? Does that not stretch the staff person's job duties at each parish too thin?" He suggests we figure out what works and then share it. We are a large Catholic Church and if we want to make a change for the good in the New Evangelization, collaboration is key.
I ask you to share this post until every MRE, DRE, CRE, CCD catechist, and parish volunteer in the country reads it. I want to help them implement "what works" for meeting the need of catechizing the lost generations who missed good catechesis.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man in search of a good woman to make his wife. When he finds her, he gives up all other potential prospects and asks her to marry him.
The kingdom of heaven is like a job you have always wanted. When the opportunity comes, you do everything in your power to get that job.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field" (13:44). Again He says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it" (13:45-46).
The kingdom of heaven is something that once discovered on the path of life, we immensely desire and yearn to give up everything for it, and do everything in our power to run after it.
It is something we are all meant to find.
Have you found it yet?
Why is Easter Sunday so important? Besides the fact that we get to eat a lot of chocolate, go hunting for hidden eggs, and no longer have to remember to fast from meat on Fridays?
Easter Sunday is important because it is the greatest feast of the year. Generations (centuries long) of people looked forward to participate in such an event as the Messiah on earth. We are the lucky (a.k.a. blessed) ones that actually get to experience what these generations of people hoped to experience: to live a life in Christ while on earth; to participate in the glory of God the Father before death; and, to be a disciple of the Messiah (of Jesus, Who is the Christ) through the Holy Spirit.
Back before the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, the chosen people of God longed for this opportunity. The very opportunity that we get to live day-in and day-out in this post-modern world, 2,000 years after the Messiah walked its earth.
You will hear the phrase: "Liar, Lunatic, or God." Jesus claimed to be God. If someone walked our streets today claiming to be God, what would we think? Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or He actually is God.
You will also hear the explanation: "Without the Resurrection, our faith is naught." Jesus said He would die and rise on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He then did just that. He died and on the third day, He rose from the dead with over 500 eye witness accounts of His Resurrection. His case would hold up in a court of law today, hands down!
But, you won't really care about any of it beyond your understanding of it until you figure out why Easter Sunday is important to you. So, why is Easter Sunday important to you?
Why is Easter Sunday important to you?
I'll tell you why it is important to me. Then, think about it for yourself. Make sure you have a good reason. It is the greatest feast of the year.
Today is a new day. It is filled with joy, with hope, with wonder. Each moment has yet to be lived. Each minute is a memory in the making. The Lord has made this day. He has made this day for you. What will be done with it?
In a busy world we forget that each moment we are alive. We are living, breathing, creatures sustained by Someone other than ourselves. Our very purpose is to be loved by God and to love Him in return. Our life is to be nothing but lived, enjoyed, and relished in. We are to "be", not to "do". Jesus wants us to give life abundantly, with fullness of grace and hope in Him. Joyously, He wants us walking around on earth living life, being His children: smiling at the sunrise; thanking Him for the new spring; taking courage in the hard times; respectfully obeying His commands; loving Him, ourselves, and others; and, enjoying the time He has given us.
Much of our life is a checkbox. We wake up and live our day checking off the items on our day's list: shower; workout; make breakfast; eat; get the kids ready; drink coffee; drive to the office; work; grocery shop on the way home; pack lunches for the next day; take care of house items; watch a TV show; read on a computer; and, go to bed.
What if today you did all those same things but you did not focus on them? What if today you focused on the world and the environment around you? Notice the little things. While reading on a computer, look up, take in your surroundings, breathe deeply in, sigh it out, relax your shoulders, be at peace in your heart, and thank God for the moment. While driving into work be careful while you rush but look at the world around you. Look at God's creation: the trees, the green patches of land, the people He made and loves, and the sky. Do not think about the office or the job. Breathe deeply in, sigh it out, and think of the world around you. Thank God that you are one of the creations in it. As you are getting your kids ready, watch how they watch you. See how their little minds and bodies keenly reflect your attitude. Notice how they pay attention to you and desire your love even in that little moment of getting ready. Give them a hug. Tell them you love them even if they are teenagers and giving you bad attitudes.
Life is to be lived in the little moments. Holiness is to be grown out of these little moments in ordinary lives. Gratitude is to be had in these little moments. God is to be found in them. Peace is to be received in them.
At that time Jesus said in reply, "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will...Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Matthew 11:25-26;28-30)
He is eternally present. He is eternally here in the here and now. It is in the little moments of life where God is found, where our burdens can be laid to rest by focusing on different things, and where life no longer seems to be a checklist of what needs to be done but instead a life to be joyfully lived.
Thank you, God, for your presence in this moment. In all moments that we live.
Did you know you have a God-shaped hole in your heart? Did you know that nothing will fill it but God?
You were made for God. God is infinite. The God-shaped hole in your heart is infinite also. Nothing finite will fill it.
Cars, superstars, sports, or sex. Cartoons, chemistry, video games, or human love. Emotional highs, money gains, straight A's, or job promotions. Nice abs, vacations, books, or pizza. Good business, sleep, movies, or shoes. Nothing finite will fill it.
The God-shaped hole in your heart can only be filled by your infinite God. When was the last time you visited Him in the Adoration Chapel? If you are not familiar with an Adoration Chapel, it is Eucharistic Adoration. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharistic_adoration. Here is what Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P., says about it: http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-is-the-difference-between-adoring-our-lord-in-the-tabernacle-and-adoring-him-exp. Google search which Catholic Churches in your diocese provide Eucharistic Adoration in an Adoration Chapel. Then, go to it to spend time with Jesus.
The God-shaped hole in your heart will never be filled if you never spend time with Jesus. Said a different way, you will never be satisfied if you never spend time with Jesus. You have a God-placed desire for happiness in your heart. God has placed that desire in you because He wanted it to cause you to search Him out and find Him. He can be found in the Adoration Chapel, fully present. Go. Find Him there.
What is there to hope in?
Love. There is love to hope in. Hope in love.
Maryann wanted a husband. She wanted a husband so bad. She began to hope in love. Soon after, love found her. Augustine was walking in the park. Maryann was sitting on the bench. She hoped in love and love came through for her.
Michael wanted a life. Divorced, he had a successful career, but he wanted a life so bad. He began to hope in love. Soon after, he reconnected with his daughter and her family. Michael hoped in love and love came through for him.
Love came through for Maryann, for Peter, for Michael, and for Mary. Let love come through for you. Hope in love.
How? How can love come through for someone?
Love is a Person. God. God is love. Hope in love and watch how God comes through for you.
You are loved by God. He is love. Hope in love. Hope in God.
"Why do we have to suffer?" is a question often raised in the heart of man. Looking at American society, we witness and attest to much suffering. Blessed Mother Teresa has spoken of this suffering as a great disease that plagues Western culture.
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Loneliness has worked its way into the fabric of our culture. It is our norm. We do not look people in the eye when we pass them on the street. We do not speak to them in grocery lines or at bus stops. We do not greet each other with a welcoming kiss but with a rigid handshake. If 90% of what we say comes from our body language, the message we receive on our daily encounters is the following: "I do not care about your presence; I do not want you next to me; I do not trust you enough to come close to you."
Put rather simply we hear, "I do not care about you; I do not want you around; I do not trust you."
Father Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., wrote a song about suffering. Its message is that everyone has to suffer.
"How do we deal with it?" is the question the heart of man truly is asking when he asks, "Why do we have to suffer?" We know that suffering is a hard reality that will not go away. What we do not know is how to mentally deal with it.
How do we deal with it?
The Church tells us how to mentally deal with it.
First, we must realize one thing. The world is the entity that tells us we can constantly be happy in this life with the allure of glory, fame, physical pleasure, and material things. Not God. God does not tell us this. What is the first thing we see when we look at Him? We see our symbol of Him: the crucifix. He is dead with a mangled, torn, and bloodied body nailed with large, iron nails piercing holes in His hands and feet holding Him stuck to a wood cross. We see horrendous pain and suffering. It is the world that mystifies us with pleasure, comfort, and never-ending happiness. It is God who is real with us and lets us know that we will be in pain, suffer, and die.
It is the world that mystifies us with pleasure, comfort, and never-ending happiness. It is God who is real with us and lets us know that we will be in pain, suffer, and die.
Second, we must accept what God is telling us as truth. God does not lie to us. He IS Truth. He cannot lie to us -- it is not in His nature to do so. We have to realize that the mentality we have that we can be happy all the time and be in comfort all the time is a lie. The lie came from the world and because this is the world we grew up in, we accepted it as true. We have to alter our thinking now. We have to realize that the world is not going to give us happiness and comfort all the time. We have to realize that the world is going to give us pain and suffering.
We have to alter our thinking now. We have to realize that the world is not going to give us happiness and comfort all the time. We have to realize that the world is going to give us pain and suffering.
Third, we must not enter into despair. With this new realization, it is easy to become depressed. We must not become depressed and here are two reasons why. One, we DO experience happiness and comfort at moments during our life. When we experience them, we should thank God for them because they are gifts. Two, our symbol of God is the crucifix. Jesus is hanging on the Cross. This means that we are not alone in our pain and suffering. God is there with us in it. He is as real and present in every moment of pain and suffering you experience in your life. In those moments, He is truly present with you.
We must not enter into despair. We are not alone in our pain and suffering. God is there with us in it. He is as real and present in every moment of pain and suffering you experience in your life.
Why? Well, it is called the Gospel (gospel means "good news") of Suffering and we need to hear it preached more in our broken world. Jesus did not come and say everything was going to be great and grand and you will be fine and then I will take you to Heaven with Me. He said, "I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16); and, "Do not think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword" (Matthew 10:34). He continues, "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:38).
What happens to sheep in the midst of wolves? They are attacked by the wolves. Jesus tells us these things to prepare us for the life we have here on earth. We will be attacked by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our hope is in the Lord. He is our Shepherd. We hope in His Salvation and eternal life. Life after death. He gathers His sheep; warns us about the world, the flesh, and the devil; but also shepherds us where to go. He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead to set us free from the bondage to sin and death. THIS is where the happiness lies. We are freed from our sin and eternal damnation. We can spend eternity with God in Heaven.
Jesus does not want to be quaint with us. He wants to be real with us. He wants us to realize that the world, the flesh, and the devil fight against us every day. We will experience pain, evil, suffering, and death while on this earth. He knows that and He knows what it is like because He experienced it while He was here too. Look to the crucifix and you will see for yourself.
What about the good news?
There is good news, even in the pain and suffering. Here is the good news:
Life is still worth living.
When we unite our suffering to His suffering and ask Him to use it for His glory, He is able to GREATLY use it in the spiritual world to help aid our side of the battle. Until the return of Jesus, Christians are soldiers for Christ in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil for the sake of the salvation of souls (people). Jesus is saving souls (people) and we are His hands and feet.
We are warriors for Christ in our pain and suffering and GREATLY advance the Kingdom of God if we unite our suffering in our minds and hearts to His suffering on the Cross. Our pain and suffering has meaning. It has purpose.
It is now found in Him. He will use it for the good that He wants done in the world. You are His warrior. You are His solider. He is relying on you to unite your suffering to His suffering to use for His purpose -- the salvation of souls and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Will you let your suffering take on such great purpose as this?
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to hope in Love.