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Challenged By A Children’s Book

February 21, 2018
“You Can Do It, Sam!” The book titled, “You can Do It, Sam,” hasn’t won any awards, nor has it been on any best book list for 2018. There is nothing flashy or sparkly about this book. The cover shows a simple winter scene of a little bear named Sam with a red coat and red boots walking in the snow. The premise of the book is as follows: The little bear Sam, and his mother bake some sort of yummy treat for all their close friends who live in town. After the treats are baked, he and his mother bag them up and go out in their green truck to deliver them. As they approach the first house, the young bear excitedly anticipates delivering their gift – with much joy, love, and pride out of what he has made to give to those he loves. Once they arrive at the first house, mother bear instructs her son to go on up to the house by himself as she waits for him in the truck. Initially, Sam responds in a timid and uncertain manner. However, his loving mother reinforces with confidence that he is able to carry out this task himself. Trusting his mother’s confidence in him, he exits the truck and delivers the package. When Sam returns to the truck he arrives and says, “I did it!” His mother responds, “of course.” Furthermore, the book continues and with each delivery Sam becomes more confident in his abilities and no longer needs the reassurance of his mother. Okay Monica…where are you going with this? I think sometimes we are like the Sam. Our hearts exist to love the people around us… in our own special way – by our tasty treats, listening ears, serving hands, and our creative art.   Yes To Love & No To Lies So many opportunities provide unique ways to love those around us. But too often we choose to stop sharing these gifts of love with others.  We hear the lies that, “no one really needs us, no one will appreciate that, or it will take too much time to do that.”  These lies prevent us from freely giving the love Christ calls us to share. They prevent us from knowing who we authentically are. Sam would not have realized how great of a giver HE was if his mother didn’t challenge him. She also supported him though the challenge. As a result (sorry, spoiler alert), Sam reflects with his mother on how special he is. He realizes how significant his love can be to those around him. How many of us struggle accepting the realization that we are special and that others are in need of our love? We could take the easy route, especially during this season of lent, to simply operate on cruise control…letting our promises to God be forgotten, and allowing the people that the Father is calling us to love pass by.   The story of Sam has helped me realize

Valentines Ash Wednesday

February 13, 2018
February 14 th, 2018 is a day when Catholics everywhere will struggle to make sense of the fact that the Valentines holiday famous for chocolate is competing with the holy day of fasting from chocolate. Maybe, rather than a sick joke against all lovers of cocoa, this is a divine conspiracy to teach us the true meaning of love. That sounds like something God would be invested in, given His track record. Why do we need to be taught about loves true meaning? Because sometimes, things get thorny. When we’ve grown up surrounded by thorns, so many times we fail see if these thorns shouldn’t be there in the first place. Thorns that cause us to miss mass because of work, study, or sports; and thorns that are the result of skipping prayer time to spend an hour or two on Netflix. Other thorns shape our self worth based on how much money we earn, the titles we have, or the admiration of other people. So what does Jesus do with these thorns? He humbles Himself and receives them upon His head. The crown of thorns was the Roman soldiers’ attempt to humiliate and mock Jesus, twisting His claim to kingship. Failing to recognize the supreme goodness of Jesus is like adding another thorn to His crown.   The Heart Of Jesus The great mystery is that He bore this suffering and humiliation from us and for us. Through His infinite wisdom and mercy, He focused complete effort to free us from our self-imposed frustrations. He then took upon every thorn, and wrapped them around His heart. Repentance is seeing the heart through the thorns and realizing that they are there because of our choices. It’s rending our heart in contrition and making the choice to put Him first. When we do this, we are washed again in the blood and water, and there flows the flood of mercy and grace that pours forth from His Heart. It says in Scripture,   We are invited this Wednesday to receive not just ashes as our valentine, but also the beautiful heart of Jesus. Remove the thorns and return the humble offering of your own repentant heart. Ask yourself: What thorns in my life are keeping me from fully receiving His heart? How does He want to help me clear those out in this season of lent? I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that over chocolate any day!

New Year True You

January 22, 2018
Happy 2018! It’s about one month into the new year, and consequently, the time when everyone is changing everything. After the lavishness and abundance of Christmastime, everyone is ready to settle down, tighten their budgets, watch their diets, get organized, and make more room in their lives for prayer. “Come the first of the year, things are going to change around here,” is something my dad would always repeat leading up to the new year. This longing for change is best explained below,      We have an inherent desire for this. Why? One name: Jesus. He is the reason every new year we desire MORE for ourselves and others. The reason why our rat-raced autopilot to keep up, get ahead, and accumulate stuff will not completely satisfy.   Imagine yourself at your very best Imagine the person who you strive to be. Way down in your deepest and truest heart. Right now, close your eyes and open your hands. Surrender your imagination to Jesus. Picture how you spend your time, the way you treat others, the choices you make, and the way you honor God. Don’t stop this time of prayer until you have a clear vision of who you would be. Write it down, if possible. Got it? Fantastic. Guess what? THIS IS WHO YOU ARE. Chosen, cherished, handmade child of God, created in His own image and likeness: THIS IS YOU! THIS is your truest most authentic self.   Why Do We Settle?   Here’s the KEY though. If we do fall short of our true selves and who He created us to be, we MUST put on “the courage to commit humbly and patiently to improve.”   This must be our life blood. When we fail, so quickly pride makes it all about us. It is not about us. It’s about God’s mercy and glory. Meanwhile, guilt swoops in to send us on a downward spiral of self-hatred which only causes more falling. If and when we fall short, let us accept the gift of mercy that Christ has already paid for, shed the mask of a false life, and move forward in grace. You are so worthwhile, so precious in the sight God. You are honored,  loved,  created, and chosen for more greatness than you can fathom.   No one can be you.  It’s actually just so urgent that you remember who are; claim who you are, and live the abundant life you were created for. “New Year, New You?” Nah. New Year, True You.

Spiritual Catch Up Before Christmas

December 14, 2017
Oh my, time is flying by. We are only two weeks away from Christmas and I must admit that I am still trying to play a little spiritual catch up. I love this season because while the whole world tends to speed up and rush around, and I have always been able to center my attention elsewhere. More specifically, my attention always seems to narrow in on our mother Mary. Yes, the birth of Jesus is the “prize” at the end of the season, but for me this season is a special time set aside for me and Mary. I’ve found myself looking to her saying, “Okay Mary, what do you have instore for me this year…what are we going to bond about…where are you going to lead me…but this year Mary has been meeting my eye saying, “You lead me.”   The Lord Does Not Delay After I got over my frustration in the change of our relationship dynamic, I began to read the scripture for the second Sunday in Advent where it says, The majority of my waiting during Advent has always been focused on the waiting of Christ or I have aligned my perspective with Mary’s waiting for Jesus. After reading this verse from Peter, my mind went to the Father…specifically to the Father’s heart. Because the truth is that,    Typically, I would have looked at this season as a way to grow in patience. Now patience is still a virtue I need to grow in, however, this Advent I feel as though Mary is saying, “Hey…check out how cool your Father in heaven is. Look how intentional He is in loving you. See how it is not just about growing in patience, but how much He wants you to align yourself with His heart and His plan so that you no longer see delays, but rather see His promises unfold before your eyes.” Okay Mary…good challenge. I accept! I encourage all of you to take time this Advent and allow Mary to set your eyes on the goodness of the Lord. Allow her to take you perhaps on a different path than you have ever been during the Advent season. Ask her to reveal the gentleness and goodness of our Father in Heaven. I hope you enjoy your Advent walk!

Too Good At Goodbyes

November 29, 2017
So often I find myself stumbling into the thought process of thinking that the best way to protect my heart is to anticipate heartbreak.  This anticipation of hurt has become almost instinctual, and is the reason some of my relationships remain swimming on the surface. Sam Smith’s new song titled “Too Good At Goodbyes” explains my usual approach to relationships a little too accurately, More often than not, my relationships start off with a passion to experience authentic love, but I end up loosing sight of loving authentically. When I consider the reasons why I struggle to love 100%, my mind focuses on past relationships. Whether it be with a boyfriend, family, or friend, so often I’m left giving more than I receive, and for this reason I am way too good at keeping my distance and ultimately saying goodbye. I make the excuse that, The truth is that real protection of innocence comes from living life as a child of God, in awe of the perfect love of our Father. True protection of our soul comes from following Christ and seeking to imitate His life and the perfect sacrificial love He has for us. We were not created to have hearts of stone, our hearts were made to be hearts of flesh. This is so much easier said than done, because even when we experience pure and authentic love, fears and doubts still exist. The song goes further by saying, So often I find myself accepting hurt, and being ok with it. But the gospel states that there is no reason to have hearts of stone, because the example has already been set. Our God is a God who loves his people intensely, and who desires us to live a life full of love. St. John tells us in chapter four of his first letter in New Testament what it means to live in God’s love. He writes to us and says,  We do ourselves and those around us a disservice when we live life in anticipation of heartbreak. When we live with hearts of stone, with little to no desire for them to be turned to flesh, we deny what we are created for. We were made for love by love itself. Rather than living life in anticipation of heartbreak and a false idea of what it means to protect our innocence and our souls, live in love. Live life following Jesus’ example of perfect love. Live life holding onto the knowledge and truth that our hearts will be most fulfilled through one thing alone: a true, intimate, real, and full relationship with God. When we enter into a relationship, a friendship with God, our lives will be transformed. Our walls will be broken down and our hearts will begin to return to flesh. God’s love can reshape and mold even the hardest hearts and throw out any fear of heartbreak.