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To be His Sheep

Honestly just chose this photo because I thought you would click the link if the photo was less boring haha.

This past Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday and it has me thinking a lot about the relationship between the Shepherd and His flock. Many of the Gospel readings this week have been centered around this theme of Jesus being the shepherd and we are the flock. To give you a snippet of what’s been on my mind I’m going to give a brief summary of the super awesome homily my priest, Fr. Chuck, gave this past Sunday.

My home parish priest was a Nebraska farm boy, so he knows quite a bit about sheep, and he’s a priest so obviously he knows a lot about the theology behind this Gospel. He talked about how during the time of the Jews, the sheep were kept in one common holding pen, with stone walls around it and how the Shepherds would sleep at the gate.And the sheep knew their shepherd by the sound of his voice. Don’t belive me? Look it up. Fr. Chuck also said that if a sheep falls on its back it will suffocate. So that’s why the shepherd’s staff has a hook or what we call a crozier at the end of it. Just like the staff of a pope or bishop, and hold onto that because I’m going ot come back to it . Any ways the shepherd would use the crozier to flip the sheep back over. It made me think how sometimes we suffocate in our own sin and Jesus comes and flips us back over. He flips us over because He loves us so dearly. 

Fr. Chuck described his own experience with catching sheep to be sheered and how the sheep would run, but as soon as you got ahold of them they were calm, they didn’t fight it. And then they would bring the sheep over to be sheered and it would lay their calmly. That’s where we get the saying like a lamb before its shearers.It amazes me how Jesus used this perfect analogy to describe His love for us. Sometimes in life we are scared. We do not know what lies ahead, but the good Lord scoops us up into His bosom, and carries us off to the shearers. Because amidst our thick wool, that has been blemished by sin, He sees us, and knows who we are. He calls us by name, we recognize His voice and we know we are His. He sheers away the wool and the rubbish we have dragged, and looks upon us with tender love and compassion. Then he releases us back into the flock of the faithful community, the Church. 

At the gate post He sleeps and He will lay down His life again and again for the salvation of His flock. Which brings me back to the crozier on the staff of the Pope and Bishops. These are the shepherds He has called to care for His flock. It says it very clearly in the Gospel. Remember? Jesus came to his disciple Peter, His “rock” on which He wanted to build His Church, and tells him tend my Sheep. This role was passed down through apostolic succession and rests in the hands of the Bishops and Pope who have authority of the priests who work as one to protect the flock, and nurture and cleanse them with scripture and the sacraments. They are the ones who sleep at the gate. They are the front of the line! That is why it is so important to pray for them. The devil can climb over the gate and try to steal a few, but he knows he can have the whole flock if he takes down the shepherds. That is why are priests are under constant spiritual battle. I think even more so during times like these, so please keep them in your prayers, and thank God for their beautiful sacrifice. And to all my priest Friends who read this , THANK YOU for all that you do, you have served as a spiritual Father to me and impacted my life and others in countless ways.You are always in my prayers and I mean that sincerely!

Back to the sheep though. Another common practice that was used for run away sheep was to break their legs, and carry them over your shoulders. This seems cruel, but it was what was best for the sheep. A run away sheep is a dead sheep. I firmly belive Jesus does this to us as well. I experienced this in my own conversion, and even though it was hard, and painful, the Good Shepherd carried me. I was the run away, and he broke my legs and carried me intimately close to Him. He did not act out of rage or anger, but rather out of a deep unsurpassable heart of compassion. I think people often overlook or under appreciate Jesus’s words when He describes us as His flock, and uses this analogy to describe a beyond awesome relationship. Seriously, think about it, Jesus was the son of a carpenter, He never tended sheep in His life. But His knowledge of shepherding runs deep, and his understanding of the exact words we truly need to hear, even today, illustrate fully that Jesus is Lord. The one true Messiah, the all knowing, powerful God. The One who has beckoned our hearts. The One whom we should be following whole heartedly. The One who laid down His life for His flock, so that they could have everlasting life. He deserves all of our love, praise and worship. 

Yet so often we fall short of that, we stray away. We think “I’m just one in a billion sheep”. But to Him you are so much more. When you stray He knows it, when you cry out amongst the crowd He hears it, when you have blemishes He cleanses you, when you’re broken He heals, and if you’re pride is too big He will break it, for nothing shall separate us from the love of the Father. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows it all, sees over all and endures every pain. He knows that when they strike the shepherd the flock will scatter. His flock scattered in His darkest hour, and scattered when Luther nailed the 95 thesis to His door, and when bombs were dropped, scandals were revealed, and when air planes crashed through towers, and when a virus shut down the whole world. The sheep scattered. They ran into places of refuge, they cried, they mourned, and Jesus came to them, even with doors locked. He came into their midst and He said “Peace be with You” (John 20:19). The sheep rejoiced at the sound of His voice. For sheep have no home, they are home in the presence of their shepherd. So they rejoice because they know they are home, and that they are going to be okay. They thought everything was lost when they lost their shepherd, but He rose up from the grave, and conquered death for the salvation of His people. And they do not worry about the future, not all, because their one simple task is to follow and to trust that He is indeed the Good Shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want”

So be at peace my sweet beloved child. The World may have broken your heart, but they have crucified me. And remember you do not belong to the world, you belong to me. If you thirst for running waters, I will lead you there. If you long for greener pastures, I will lead you there. The earth under your feet has no hold on you and nothing that sprouts up from it shall have govern over you. For indeed you shall see greener pastures, and water that looks pure. But sheep do not follow the world, they follow the shepherd because he knows what is good for them. Wise are the sheep who do not follow other sheep, but rather the shepherd himself, for these sheep will not be scattered. 

Do not forget how deeply He loves you. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are. He looks upon you with great delight, and takes notice to your every move. Even though you may feel broken right now or lost, He is with you. And if you are feeling extra broken, He’s carrying you through. Find rest upon His shoulders, and let your heart be consoled by the sound of His heart beating only inches from yours. And if you’re feeling like a failure in the eyes of the world, remember He never asked for anything more, than to be His sheep.

Much love to you all, let the Holy Spirit rest upon you and your household

~Mikayla

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Come Fill My Joy

I was really struggling to come up with something heartfelt to write to you all about without trying to cut into my own personal secret garden of my prayer life. These past week has been pretty simple, lots of school work, prayer time, and fellowship with my roommates. I’ve really been trying to keep my heart at peace and just enjoy this time of simplicity and not much to do times. Never have I had the time to eat every meal with my roommates, and go on walks, and call people, so I’ve really started to enjoy it despite the circumstances and the huge itch I have to travel.

I’ve also had a lot of time to read some scripture, and I ‘ve recently read the wedding feast of Cana, and John 21 where our resurrected Lord appears to the disciples and feeds them fish. What stuck out to me is how the Lord not only provided for a lack thereof but He provided it in an overabundance so that their joy might be complete. Like who needs 153 fish, or 150 gallons of wine. Nobody, but God loves you that much. No, He’s not saying get wasted, or be fat, but rather be joyful. And I think God provided a great example of that this week, and it really stuck with me. 

Earlier this week a buddy of mine from NYC face timed me, and his brother was with him. They were outside getting some fresh air (and YES still minding their social distance, so hop off.) His brother’s name is Paul, and Paul has autism, so all of this chaos has messed up his routine, and canceled a lot of his plans, yet Paul was the most joyful face I had seen in a long time. This man was just so happy to be outside walking on Staten Island’s beautiful boardwalk, listening to his music on his CD player, not a care in the world. He doesn’t understand this corona virus or why he can not go do the normal things he does, and why there are all these rules that were not there before, and I’m sure he’s had his moments, but he doesn’t let it ruin his day. He dusts it off and moves forward with the smile that all of NYC needs to see (from the comfort of home of course) because a smile like that is contagious. 

I know a lot of you out there are frustrated, sad, bored, annoyed, ready to just break free, but Jesus has so much He wants to give you right now. Right in this very moment, but you are far too focused on the big change, we want the doors to swing wide open, but there’s a reason that God has us in this place right now. Do I know why? No. But do I trust him anyway? Absolutely. We need to be like my buddy Paul, and even though we don’t understand, we have to keep seeking that joy. We have to trust that when someone tells us to quarantine it’s for our own good. And even though we are not always going to get along with those we are living with, and our temper might get the best of us, we are going to forgive, and love others unconditionally.  Live simple, stay hopeful, worry less.

Yeah, I’ve had little quarrels with my roommate for the first time ever, and I really want to go mass, but none of this is worth dumping out my 150 gallons of joy and saying screw it. And if I didn’t bring this point home last week maybe this week, I will….. God has not abandoned you!!

Also, this whole be joyful, forgive, and love unconditionally, is not just a stupid corona thing, it’s an EVERYDAY THING!! And my biggest prayer is that God will give you all the grace to do just that. So we can fulfill the greatest commandment, and be one with Him. Our eyes will be open and we will realize that God is closer to us then we could’ve ever imagined.

So keep looking for God in the little things. Become childlike, and do not leave any stone unturned. Keep on smiling y’all.

Also please email me, text me, call me, and tell me the joy that God has been putting in your life. Who knows maybe it’ll make the blog. But even if it doesn’t I just want y’all to know that everything you guys share with me from your hearts really helps me to know Christ more, and helps me to help others to know Christ….. So I encourage y’all to keep sharing, not only with me but with the world. Tell them the good news, the son of God has risen from the dead……. 

“Be the joy you want to see in the world”

On a final note….Also please, please, please pray for political and religious leaders everywhere. Praying does so much more than complaining, 100% guaranteed. They are under constant stress and criticism, and they don’t need your criticism. Everyone wants to be a critic, but nobody wants to give them the compassion they need. They are human, they aren’t perfect, but they are trying their best. Everyone is trying to back seat drive, but really I don’t think anyone wants to be the one driving. It’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of backlash, and it’s not fun, but choices still need to be made. So pray for them, and be compassionate. Love you all and God bless.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C.S. Lewis
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Ignorance is Bliss

Imagine this. There’s a giant rolling stone, and it’s going to smash millions of people. The people do not see it coming, and by the time they do, it will be too late. You have been told, and are 100% certain that if you can spread the word, and get everyone to move out of the path of destruction, then everyone can be saved. But you decide that it’s much to difficult and nobody is going to listen to you because they can not see the rolling stone. So instead you spend all your time building a giant contraption to stop the rolling stone. Meanwhile, everyone else just keeps on doing whatever makes them happy, and they dance along the path of destruction without a care in the world. Then the big rolling stone comes crashing in, and then boom, your contraption stops it. Everyone is so grateful for you, you saved them. You allowed them to remain where they were within the comfort of their homes, they were not inconvenienced by you ever trying to convince them to believe you. No, you just did your thing, and they did theirs. Wow, what a hero. Then boom your contraption breaks, the stone rolls, and everyone dies. They could’ve been saved, but they weren’t and now it’s too late.

Sad story, but this folks is reality. We live in a world, where there are people who know the absolute Gospel truth but refuse to share it. They rather be loved by the world. They want to be the hero, they want to be the god who stops the whole dang world from turning and somehow saves us all. There are people out there who see God, but refuse to tell anyone, because why would anyone believe in some God that not everyone sees? 

So what do they do? They start making bandages because ignorance is bliss, but eventually the wounds become so big you can’t cover it. I mean take a look around everyone wants to be happy, and so many people claim to have the answer. Oh, you got pregnant at 16? Well here have an abortion. Oh, you’re sad about it now, sorry but could you move along you’re scaring our other patients? Oh, you want to be with your mistress? Here file for divorce, I’m sure your wife won’t mind. Oh, you want to have sex but never have kids? Here’s some medicine. Oh, it failed again, oh well here have an abortion. Quit having sex? No…. pshhh… how could you be chaste and happy? Ha, have all the sex you want. Oh, you feel like you don’t matter, here have this 18 pack, don’t let yourself run sober. Oh, you want to feel loved, well show a little more and don’t be so shy. Oh, he mistreats you? Here’s a book about how to be better in bed. Watch this porn, you’ll feel better. Oh, you want to do this as part of your satanic ritual? Yeah, let’s just make late-term abortion legal, ha freedom of expression am I right? Do what you want, be who you want, even if it comes at the cost of someone else’s freedom and joy. And research, Nah, rest at ease, our media has got your back, they’ll tell you all the truth you need to know. This what our world tries to tell us.

It’s sick, but it’s reality. People in this world trust anything and anyone to make them happy, but nobody wants to do the real work to solve the problem. We figure what they don’t know can’t hurt them. If they are ignorant they can live happily with all the money and bandages the world has to offer. If they stay ignorant, they don’t have to know the truth about the consequences of their actions. We can just keep the warnings in fine print. We don’t want to scare them, we just want them to be happy. Ignorance means they can’t blame us when they get cancer from the medicine we gave them, and they can’t blame us when things go wrong. If they remain ignorant they don’t ever have to know that they are being used. They will never have to know that there’s a God who loves them, who made them for so much more than this. They will never know their true worth, so they will just grow numb to the pain. Then bam their dead and gone, and we all have to face God. The God who loved them.  Then what? Spoiler alert, it’s too late to run to Mars at this point. These are His beloved children and you have kept them in the dark. You refused to be a light to the world, and have allowed many souls to be handed over to evil.

We are called to be a light to the world. We cannot stop people from dying, and perfect happiness is not obtainable in this world. For some even if you tell them the truth they are going to quite literally spit in your face. The world will hate you, but to be a true disciple we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. We need to rip off these band-aids of today’s society and let God heal our gaping wounds. There is so much evil going on in this world and it becomes completely blanketed by our rummaging for worldly pleasure and happiness. Don’t believe me, look up some up the sick satanic rituals out there (beware though, that its disgusting, and not for the faint of heart to read). But seriously though, do not be selfish. Don’t try to be a hero, because this World already has one and His name is Jesus Christ. But go ahead and spread the message, they will loathe you, but shall not die. For Christ has promised eternal life for all who believe in His name. Keep in mind also that He has warned if you deny him before others, He will deny you before His heavenly Father. 

Jesus loves you, God bless. 

P.S Also please read Isaiah 43, the whole chapter!

When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you. For I, the LORD, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.

Isaiah 43:2-3
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My Brother’s Keeper

11 years ago as of the 17th, I would have first held my little brother in my arms for the first time. It was my 3rd sibling I had welcomed into the world, but my first brother, and I was much older so it was very memorable. I remember standing at the end of the hall waiting for them to bring him out of the OR. Finally, my dad came down the hall beaming with joy with the sweetest most precious baby I’d ever laid eyes on. My dad looked at me and said here hold him, and looking down at the tile floor and back at him I was terrified, like no way can you just trust a 10-year-old girl to hold something so fragile. But I held him, and instantly fell in love. Only moments ago he was in my mother’s womb, and now he was lying in my arms and from that day forth I was my brother’s keeper. I realized not only did my earthy father trust me to hold him and protect him, but so did my heavenly father.

But today the scariest thing is not the hard tile floor beneath him, it’s what lies beyond my control. My brother has outgrown my arms, but he has not outgrown my heart, and I still desire the very best for him, but I cannot protect him from this world. It breaks my heart to think he’s now at the average age of when a boy views pornography for the first time. 

Pornography is a sick thing that sucks the life out of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The statistics are scary……

(conquerseries.com)

Our overly sexualized culture is breaking apart families and tearing apart what it means to be human. As Pope John Paul II says, it’s not that porn shows too much, it’s that it shows far too little. This world tells us that our bodies are the only thing we have to offer, but that is so far from the truth. We are to be loved body and soul, and we are so much more than the desires of our flesh. Pornography objectifies human beings, it takes someone made in the image and likeness of God and completely destroys it. Yet we think since it happens behind closed doors that it does not affect us, but that is such a lie. Just look at the standard women have for how they need to dress and act to feel loved, look at how commercials sell everything with sex, and how there’s such negativity wrapped around sex that it’s seen as something scandalous rather than something true, good, and beautiful. I could go on and on about why porn is evil, and how much it destroys our humanity, but I think we know that. I think most of us have seen with our own two eyes the effect porn has on us. But what we need to know is there is hope. We are not called to be slaves to despair, but rather children of God.

First, start praying that we can overcome our shame and our pride, and with humble hearts return to the Father. Let’s stop pretending we don’t see it. Let us be our brother’s keeper, let’s let the whole world know they are not alone. We are forgiven, and we have nothing left to boast, but the cross of our savior. Let us speak about our actions. Ladies, let’s call men higher, call them to the Lord, with our modesty we speak truth about the goodness and sacredness of the body. Temptation will always come knock and it will knock hard. The devil is prowling, but we are NOT alone. Together we will hold on to what we were made for, and strive to give Christ like love every single day. We will frequent the sacrament (especially confession and the Eucharist). We will cling to the rosary, and scourge the devil through our trust in the Blessed Mother’s intercession. No matter how many times we fall and mess up, we will keep on fighting.

“For God did not call us to impurity, but to Holiness”

1 Thessalonians 4:7

Are you going to answer that call?

If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your sibling, for your future spouse, and for your future children. Do it for Christ who lives in them.

So to all my Brother’s in Christ (in particular my little hero back home),

I’m praying for you always. If you fall I hope you get right back and up and remember whose son you are. You belong to the one true King. And with every lady you see I hope you remember she is a beloved daughter of God, she’s a princess, treat her as such. I hope you remember you are never alone and I hope you remember you can always find Christ in the church, talk to your priest, find an accountability partner. Pray for the porn industry, and for the conversion of souls and remember this…

“”If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”

Matthew 18:6

Basically Jesus wants to kick the devil’s butt, so don’t get in the way of that or you’ll go down with him. Keep up the good fight and remember God loves you recklessly. There’s a lot of doubt in my heart right now that this is even going to strike a single person’s heart, but I am going to go against that doubt and trust that Jesus has something in store. The devil is probably telling you no to give up and not even bother fighting this fight. I know he’s telling me that right now, but I also know I don’t belong to him I belong to God. And when I think about my brother and when I first held him in my arms, I remember this fight is worth fighting, because I am called to be my brother’s keeper, and so are you. I will not let the purity of my brothers and sisters be handed over to Satan when they were made for a Love so much greater. A love so great that in order to receive it we must completely empty ourselves of our worldly desires, and come to Him with arms wide open. He must increase, I must decrease.

Thank you so much for reading, and God bless!

Also would love your feedback, comments, and questions.

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Too Busy to Care

300 years from now what will our descendants think? They will have so much information on us, it’s truly endless. But when they look back at what remains will they be able to explain what they find. Will it actually make sense? When they find more black babies were aborted than born each year in America, while we meanwhile claimed to be the generation that fights for equality. What will they conclude? Will they wonder why we argued over the best way to protect our soldiers while we completely ignored that there are more of them dying out on the home front from suicide than on the battlefield itself? What will they conclude from a society that clearly wants liberty and justice for all, yet is so divided on what that looks like? What will they say about those who screamed women’s rights, but only for the women who want to be exactly like men? Will they be able to piece together what led to the American dream to becoming a bunch of broken homes? Will they look at our posts and see our smiling faces and think we had it all? Will they wonder why billionaires died of drug overdoses? 

Who will be the heroes of our time? Who will be the brave who stood up for what’s right? I hope to God our descendants are not like the media of today who overlook who the true heroes of this generation are. Maybe it’s because they stand with God, or because they actually stand for what this country was founded on…. But the heroes of this era are hundreds of thousands of people who march for the respect and dignity of ALL human life, and the millions of others who stand behind them. There I said it. And to all of you out there fighting the fight, I love you. I know it’s hard to be hated, but I promise Heaven is worth it.

I’m not done though…..

Every story seems to focus on the villains and the heroes, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about the bystanders. The ones who were too busy to choose what side they were on so the world chose for them. The ones who walked right over the hopeless every single day, without an ounce of themselves to give. And what’s their overwhelmingly, disgusting excuse? “I’m too busy” 

Busy doing what?

They’re all in a rush to get nowhere, make another dollar, get another adrenaline rush, get another follow, another like, or earn some shiny gold medal. And you do all this for what? So you can go home and have sex with a screen instead of your spouse, so you can brag about your daughter on Facebook while she sits unknown to you in the other room crying because she feels like she’s never enough, so you can go on another vacation and scroll through your phones, or maybe cry alone in the night because you’ve come to realize that the rush of this world does nothing, but take. Then when it all fails you scream, “why, God? Why?” 

Then He looks upon with mercy and says, “where have you been? Don’t you know that I love you?”

To which one might look back and realize “I guess I was lost. I was too busy to notice the little graces, the good morning texts, the friendly coworker, the sunset in the traffic jams, the blue jay in my window, to notice how beautiful my family is. I was too busy to blame the good things on you, yet when my world is shaken I blame it all on you without hesitation. Who am I? Who have I become?”

Or for most people they won’t even bother to acknowledge God, they will open the door to blame Him and then swing it right back in His face. They will keep on being busy and pretending they are okay.

Each and every day God wishes to bestow so much grace into our hearts and to do good works through us, but we have forgotten. We have forgotten that we have a free will, a choice. And that choice has to be made every single day. To chose Him. To claim He is the way, the truth, and the life. Yet so many of us say “I’m busy”, I’ll take care of that when I have more time….. God gave you that time and what do you have to show for it. And I hate to burst your bubble, but nobody is too busy. Your life is full, yes, but busy is a choice. We all have 24 hours in a day and you choose how to use them. Your life is just go, go, go and it emptied you of everything except that last little piece of pride that says, “I don’t need God, I got this.” But don’t forget this. The Devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for souls to devour (1 peter 5:8). And we are called to resist him steadfast in faith. So start praying. And pray hard. Pray for the humility it takes to say Lord I need you. 

Yeah, there are millions of future saints out there, but God still wants you. He sees you. And unlike the world, He doesn’t love you for your looks, or your abilities, or to use you, or only when it’s convenient, or when you’re happy. No, He loves every square inch of you, body and soul. 

I know there’s some of you out there right now who are thinking, “well I would pray, but I never feel anything, or I never get anything out of it.” If you say that let me kindly point out that you are saying The Bible is a lie, and you are also missing the point. Let me show you. I am sure many of you have heard of Mother Theresa. The cute Holy lady that people remember because she was such a God-loving soul. Would you look at that woman and think she had any trouble praying? Well she did, she’s called the patron saint of darkness for a reason. She suffered from desolation, and for over 50 years felt no spiritual consolation or anything in prayer. Yet she committed herself to Christ. In those 50 years, she prayed for hours every day, and still served others and showed them the reckless love of God. Nobody else has ever recorded in their life such a long period of dryness in prayer. So if she can pray from the pit of darkness for years, you can pray too. Your life may be crazy and hectic, but what are you here for? What would you do differently if you knew your life ended tomorrow? I hate to tell you this, but even busy people at some point in time die. “Busy” people one day have to meet their maker and what’s their excuse then. “Sorry, God I was too busy”?

 So I leave you with this, start reading the bible every night, pray, keep his commandments and live out moral authority every single day. And KEEP the sabbath day holy folks, and stop putting false God’s like money and porn before Him. Wake up America, stop letting the devil take the innocent. Quit being hypocrites, quit saying tomorrow. Be His hands and be His feet. Be that someone who’s not to busy to tell someone “I am here for you.” If we continue to build up a culture of death, abortion will continue, sex trafficking will continue, child abuse will continue, anything violent and cruel will continue because guess what? When we stop caring for the human dignity of a single soul, we stop caring for any human soul, and when we stop seeing dignity in each other, we stop seeing the God who lives in them. We no longer will see the God who loved us so much that He died an agonizing death or the cross. We will run out of hope, faith, and love, and I don’t know about you, but that’s not a world I want to live in. The most important moments and right now and your death, do something because this world does not wait. You can fight for the culture of life or you can drown yourself in the culture of death, it’s your choice. God bless, and do not let your heart forget He loves you.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch to wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.”

John 15:5-6

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Loved into existence

Nobody has ever earned the right to exist. It’s impossible, for to earn anything one must exist. So prior to you existing, you had no dignity, no worth, nothing. Life itself and everything we are and ever will be is a gift. Loved into existence, conceived and bore form your mother’s womb, you have been chosen. That itself is a beautiful thing. Yet so often we forget that. The gift of our existence, and the joy of being called His beloved slips our minds because we become to “busy” existing. We forget who we are and what we were made for, and therefore we have forgotten our Father.

Fortunately for us God not only gives life, but he loves us enough to give us grace and mercy. Therefore we are able to return to Him and His arms will be wide open ready for a sweet embrace. Then what… did God make us just so we could fall and come running to Him…. Certainly not. No He made us for so much more than that, but to simply put it we were made for relationship with Him, and with others, so that all may know Him and all can be one with Him in His Kingdom.

This all either sounds super basic or super far fetched depending on where you are at in life. Either way though, think about this. An orchestra is not an orchestra without all of the instruments, and then even with all the instruments the volume does not increase unless the number of them increases. The orchestra led by their conductor can play the sweetest of songs, and the more they play the better they get. Then let’s say we take out the cello, and the violins, and slowly they fade to nothing, but a conductor. How sad it would be to no longer hear something so beautiful. That’s the church without you, one less instrument conducted, one less decibel reached, and one less person who’s to far away to hear of the song of the Lord’s glory and salvation. Each one of us is loved and chosen to spread the good news, that there is a place where all of our sorrows end, that there is hope, that you are loved.

I was recently in New York, and I’ll admit it I love people watching. So naturally I loved Times Square, even though it was a vastly different scene then a mid-western girl like me was used to. Being catholic I was also a huge fan of the statue of the priest. Besides my point though. My point is this. As I stood amidst the most populated city in the U.S, my mind began to wonder and think about how many of these people feel unseen, unloved, and unknown among all the millions of other people. How many of these people actually know their worth? How many of them know their loved? How many of them know what they deserve? Oh how I wish I could tell every single soul how much God loves them, and how he thirsts for them. Everyday around the world people rush to make another dollar, make another amazon purchase, fall in love, break up, take their first breath or maybe their last, yet how many of them turn to God in the stillness and the silence. When they do not know how to lift up their hearts to him, do they just crumble or become numb? Do they even know who they are?

Now I’m just one person, but I hope till the day I die I can live a life that glorifies Him and tells everyone I love that my redeemer lives. My hope and prayer is that we can all do that, because nobody earned their existence, but by love alone they do exist and therefore just as much as you and I they deserve to be loved. Now I will end with this. There was a prayer on the last column at ground zero in NY, from a priest by the name of Father Mychal who died on 9/11 giving people their last rites. The prayer read as follows: “Lord, Take me where you want me to go. Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say, and Keep me out of your way!” This prayer really touched me because it speaks the truth. If we want people to know their loved by God we need to be willing to be lead, and be willing to let go of ourselves completely. God loved you into existence, and He is calling you. Will you go?

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

St. Augustine

Inside Out

In the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, there lies a great danger. A danger in the fact that people start to close their hearts and become selfish. In a society like this, people are incapable of authentic joy because they become incapable of having any kind of relationship.

God made us for relationship. A relationship with Him and others. His greatest commandment is to love Him with all your heart, mind and soul. And His second commands is to love one another as He has loved us. This becomes difficult in a society that is hyper fixated on pleasure, comfort, and independence. A society like this is comparable to a game of Hungry Hungry Hippo. People grasp and grasp at what they think will satisfy them. But their stomach for pleasure is like a bottomless pit. They pride themselves in taking their fill and not having to rely on others. They console themselves with the comforts of this world. The numbers of views, likes, swipes and follows tells them they’ll never be alone, but in reality they’ve never been so lonely. 

Instead of crying out, they lather themselves in pleasure. Smothering every square inch of their body and soul. They lather themselves in layers so thick that they can’t feel how naked they are. 

How does one set himself apart from this? Where can one find freedom from the idols they serve? 

They must encounter the one true King. And one must continue to encounter Him again and again. One must clear their table of all idols and come to the feast. They must come to the supper of the lamb.

For alas they can have their fill in one bite. For the bread that He breaks is true food and His wine true drink. For this is His flesh and blood, His body and soul, which He has given up for you, an undeserving recipient. He lays down His life for you to show you the true authentic love you were made for. He turns you from your inwardness by entering into you. He unfolds the coils of your heart. He enters into the darkest places and illuminates our hearts with an abundance of radiant blessings. He takes all that has been turned inward outward. He teaches the selfish how to be selfless. With Him, all that is done can be undone. For the King of all Kings is making all things new. 

Ugh Why Did I Do That?

PC: Hannah Ousley

This Friday my students and I got to talking, and at one point I said something about how I like working with high school kids and how I really liked working at this school. Instantly the entire class was repulsed. “Why us?” 

“Wouldn’t you rather work with little kids?”

“You have a biology degree, and you use it to be with us?”

I replied “Yes I genuinely love you guys, and I like being your teacher”

Another kid replies “But we ain’t good kids”

Others added on saying “Yeah we fight, we don’t do our work, and we ain’t smart”

Then I told them that I saw their goodness, and yeah you all are not perfect, but that does not change the fact that I still want what’s best for you and for you to succeed. 

As I reflected on this it was another one of those moments where my students have taught me about the immense love of the Father. I look at these students, some who refuse to do their work, and the rest  have to fight tooth and nail to convince them to do their assignment. Yet I love them. I love them a lot. I find myself tearing up over the things that they have going on in their lives, excited to see them again, and sad to have to leave them at the end of the semester. Even the ones who have basically told me to screw off, I still find myself fighting for their good.

Does Christ  not do the same for me? No matter how bad I am, He looks at me and sees what is good. Even when I hurt him and betray him, He still wants me. He still loves me. Yet just like those kids I find myself saying, but why me? Especially in those moments where I let pride tell me I’m past falling into the same sins. I find myself believing the lies of a toxic conversion culture that says “You found Jesus, you’re a leader, you’re not allowed to make those mistakes anymore”

And I know I’m not the only one who falls for this. I’m not the only one who struggles to be patient with myself. I’m not the only one striving, but expecting perfection. I’m not the only one who battles in their head with the thoughts of well if I just did this or wasn’t so this then I wouldn’t do that. The problem with this mindset is it focuses on you being the solution and not Christ. It builds up this toxic attitude that I have to carry my cross on my own, I have to do everything on my own. Jesus is to busy, or would be too burdened to hear that I have fallen again. 

This my friends is the voice of pride. The voice that sounds like it’s building you up, when really it’s tearing you down. And it leaves you feeling stupid and inadequate. Like you’re not enough, that you are not worth loving. Yet somehow it let’s us believe that we are so close to Christ, so close that we would literally follow him unto death. When in reality it pushes us away from Christ. Our pride prevents us from even giving Him even a fragment of our cross. He can hold and cherish every other part of us, but not our cross.

It reminds me of St. Peter. He loved Jesus, and Jesus loved Him. Peter was given the keys to heaven, and he is considered the first pope. He lead men back to Christ, and now he is a Saint in heaven where his love is united to our Lord’s forever. Yet let me remind you that Peter biggest fall happened after his conversion. After he left his livelihood behind, after he saw Christ transfigured before him, and over and over said “Truly you are the Messiah.” The fall happened after, and not once, but three times. And Jesus even knew He was going to do it. He told Peter that before the cock crows you will deny me three times. Imagine Jesus looking at you right now, and saying hey I know you love me, but you will deny me three times. Not just once, but three times. In your heart you think no I won’t. I’m strong and I love you. But yet just like Peter who stood there warming himself over the fire while Christ took a beating, we deny him. We jump into these small pools of self pleasure and we deny Him. As wrong as it is to deny Christ, it’s worse to continue to deny Him by not accepting his love and mercy. When Peter denied Jesus, Jesus continued His journey to calvary. He didn’t quit because one of His best friends denied Him. No he fought for him and died for him, along with each and everyone of us. Why?

Because even though, we think we are bad, and don’t do the work we should. He still loves us and that will never change. Forgive yourself and turn to Him with arms open wide.

(If this is something you really struggle with I strongly recommend mediating on John 21:7-25) 

Outweighed

Fun fact about me is I never weigh myself. Yes I get weighed at the doctors office, but it’s in kg and I just don’t pay attention to what it says anyways. Why am I telling you this? Because you my friend are more than just numbers on a scale. I quit weighing myself because I got tired of feeling confident only to be insulted by the numbers. I did the same thing with pant sizes, I stopped comparing myself to the sizes I could fit into in high school, and chose to embrace the pants that fit. Or when I’m running for fun I stopped measuring the distance and time. I did this because I wanted to be free of depending upon a number to be happy.

Now maybe the size of your jeans has never mattered to you, nor the numbers on the scale, or how fast you could run but I’m sure there’s a number you are obsessed with. There’s some number that you are constantly measuring and comparing yourself to. Maybe it’s the money in your bank account, the amount of likes she got on her post, the followers, the views, the overwhelming odds, the grades. Or maybe it’s a number you didn’t even notice you were tracking, a number that is not exact, but you can make a rough estimate. Like the number of times you’ve been hurt by someone, how many times you’ve fallen into the same sin, or the number of times you’ve been left behind. There  is a number in your life that you let speak a little too loudly. A number that you have let identify you. A number that you let label you as unlovable, stupid, fat, ugly, unwanted, annoying. 

My friends you were made for so much more than that. You were made in the image of likeness of God. And you can not put a number on a creation that is made in the image of likeness of God. You can’t put a number on a soul that the Lord Himself died for. So I want you to take that number to prayer. And say in the name of Jesus this number does not define me. This number is no longer going to weigh me down, wager in on my decisions, and get in the way of being the Saint  I am called to be. Because there’s is no number out there that is not outweighed by the love and mercy of God.

Whether it’s the number on the scale or the number of times you’ve made the same mistake, turn away and look to Him. Sinning repeatedly or stuffing your face with doughnuts are not good, but we do not need to let that number prevent us from fully trusting in Christ and receiving what He has in store. His heart aches at just the thought of his beloved children refusing to run towards Heaven because they have let a number label them.

He says “Don’t you trust me? You were made for so much more than this. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice you slip out the back? You are more than just a number to me”

Are you going to let a number stop you from being numbered among the Saints in Heaven. The Lord has promised you joy not only in the next life, but also in this life, even amongst the suffering and pain.Joy is to be found, and there’s no time like the present to seek it. Let go of the numbers and let yourself be outweighed by His overabundant love and mercy. Because you my friend are worth it.

P.S. Thanks for reading first off. Secondly sorry it’s kind of brief, but I have some bolder blogs in the making plus a book. So cats out of the bag I am working on book number two! Any guesses as to what it’s about?

If you haven’t checked out my first book check out the link below

What about rape?

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Rape is such a taboo subject unless it comes to arguing about abortion. Rape is an intrinsic evil that is not justifiable in any case. It is an invasive act of violence that leaves lasting scars. Most victims never come forward about it, even in an era that seems to empower both male and female victims to come forward. 

Now in cases where a child is conceived, many women seek an abortion. I still believe that in any circumstance abortion is wrong, but I understand why women in that situation would choose that option. It rids her of ever having to face talking about that moment she was raped, that moment she reasonably would love to be able to forget. It allows her to escape the risk of having to be shamed, not listened to, or not believed. That to me does not sound like women empowerment. That sounds to me like she is hurt. And to take a woman who has been through a traumatic act of violence, and then make her go through another one does not seem helpful to me at all. I believe that abortion in cases of rape puts the focus on the unborn child rather than the mother. It makes pregnancy the only problem in this situation, it blankets over the wounds of the woman who wished she did not have to go through either of these situations. 

If our society truly loved women, then any victim would be confident that she could walk into a hospital and get the actual help she needed. By confident, I do not mean happy and acting like she is okay. By confident, I mean that she knows she will get help, just like someone with a broken leg is confident they are in the right place when they enter a healthcare facility. We can not take away their pain, but proper ethical care standards can give them confidence and hope. 

Now what does that look like? Contrary to what oppositionist would have you believe, the Catholic church states that any victim of rape has the right to defend her body from conception. She has the right to take medication to prevent ovulation or to sperm capacitation, or fertilization. However the church does not allow for the destruction or interference of an already fertilized ovum. Note this is only allowed in instances of sexual assault/rape. 

The focus of the patient’s care cannot be preventing pregnancy. Any healthcare professional would say to start with the most crucial wounds, but few think of the mental wounds. Remarkably in accord with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (no. 36), “the care for the rape victim has four aspects: First, she must receive spiritual and psychological support and counseling to help her deal with the trauma of the attack. Such support and counseling will probably continue for some time after the immediate period.” Notice how the first thing is to embrace and care for the woman and her well being. That, to me, sounds a lot more empowering. Yet many health care facilities and abortion clinics immediately want to focus on giving you a morning-after pill and sending you on your way. Good medical help will also work with local authority to collect evidence in order to prosecute the rapist. This is phase three in treating a rape victim according to Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (no. 36). (to read the phases in more detail, follow this link: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/ethical-treatment-after-rape.html). Abortion facilities don’t provide that, nor can they considering that you have to be pretty far past conception to be getting an abortion. The evidence needed is gone.

If we want a society to stand up for victims of rape, then we need to get rid of the blanket of abortion. Weeds don’t go away unless we pull them up by their roots. Abortion is not the problem here, rape is. It’s not her fault. But when the treatment focuses solely on tampering with the nature of her body, it certainly makes it seem like it is. The focus should be on her mental trauma and healing, along with helping her defend her body before conception occurs. It should be that easy to get help, but when we have people who say, “well then everyone is just going to claim they were raped” we put barriers in the way of these victims. When every woman starts to cry rape, we can talk about it. Right now, that does not seem to be the case. Right now, we need to focus on empowering these women instead of letting the privileged get away with it. Until we start listening to women instead of telling them to man up, women will never walk in with the confidence that their story is believable. Enough is enough.

Rape is wrong. And until our society is dedicated to persecuting these criminals no matter who they are and how much money they have, women don’t stand a chance. Our society offers abortion as a way out, keeping the voices of so many victims silent. We care too much about not ruining one’s reputation, and way too little about ruining someone’s life. Abortion, pornagraphy, sex trafficking, “sex sells”, and everything hypersexual about our culture blankets rape. “Well she asked for it wearing that,” “Well she is a sex worker,” “If it was rape why did she not get help before seeking abortion” and all those other statements are what victims are having to hear, and they shouldn’t have to. It does not matter who she is or what she was wearing, it’s still rape. But if we keep buying into the porn then will never unveil the truth. When we live in a society where it is easier to convict someone of murder than rape, there an issue. Especially when dealing with rape we have a living victim who can tell us in most cases exactly who it was. Pro-woman means believing her cry. It means no more porn because she is not an object. She is not an it. Her reproductive parts are not the problem, they are a gift. Child molesters, pimps, those who blackmail women for sex, porn addicts, and anyone who feeds into the sex sells agenda- they are the problem!! Her body – her choice, right? But when your job, money, and livelihood are on the line, that doesn’t seem like a choice to me. That still sounds to me just like rape. So please tell me again how you care so much about rape victims? Women who have already been through enough trauma, how is abortion their best option? Seems to me they never had a choice. She did not want to be raped, she did not want to conceive. So please tell me what her choices were? Please tell me how you have fought for women’s rights? A woman should never have to submit her body to get a promotion, pay the bills, that’s coercion. If you want equal pay, stop investing in sex, and start investing in her. Because she is worth a whole lot more than pleasure. She is a human with dignity. She is the epiphany of creation and should be treated as such. People can put words in my mouth all they want, but I will not stop fighting for the dignity of all lives. Born and unborn. Male and female.

Abortion minded: Not a what to say, but rather what to do

In the homily last Sunday my priest talked about how Jesus did not want to be known as a healer. Jesus did not want to be this guy that everyone came to in order to have their problems solved. Jesus wanted to do so much more than that, because at the end of the day not having leprosy or being able to walk does not save us from the fires of hell. Jesus came into this world to love and to remind of us our own worth, to remind us that our dignity is something worth fighting for. 

Getting the news that the march for life was cancelled was sad, but I see it as a perfect opportunity to talk about why we march. I don’t need to spit out the stats or give you the spiel, but lets talk about the one thing both pro life and pro choice people often overlook. That being the dignity of the women in crisis pregnancies. We all know how annoying it can be to have everyone try to solve your problems. So how do you think these women feel? We have one side saying chose life and the other saying have an abortion. All the women want is to be heard. If you ever find yourself in the situation with a mother in a crisis pregnancy the first thing you ought to do is listen. That’s what Jesus would have done. Because not only does that child have value, but so does she. Fight for her, and let her voice be heard. I’ve had so many women change their opinion on abortion simply becasue I chose to listen rather then speak. As  a woman let me tell you that every woman in any situation wants to feel heard, chosen, and for once just feel like she is enough. 

I strongly encourage that you listen to their story. Think of Jesus and everytime he encountered women, he spoke little.  I imagine that the way he gazed upon them along with what little he did say penetrated their very being. He looked upon them with love and compassion, and caused them to have to reflect and internally gaze upon their own inherent goodness. Please just listen, and let their story move you and inspire you. This is where women feel empowered. This is where they recognize their own strength. 

Too often we are afraid that if we do not offer the solution first and tell them what we want them to do that she will turn away seeing that we have nothing to offer. The greatest thing you have to offer is your listening ears, because often times nobody not even their loved ones has offered that to them. Now I’m not going to lie. Listening does not always work. Sometimes these women are still going to move forward with their decision. It’s sad and hard to watch, but at the very least by listening to her you have given her a good experience with someone who is pro life. Too  often abortion minded women get screamed at and shamed. That right there is not pro life to me. There are two souls, two lives on the line right here. Listen to the one who can speak for themselves, and kindly speak up for the little ones who can’t. And at the end of the day never give up the fight. I’ve watched woman after woman walk into those clinics and walked home feeling absolutely defeated. But we can’t stop fighting. Even with the most pro choice politicians stepping into power very soon, we can not give up. 

If the only love that unborn child will ever experience is someone praying outside that clinic then make it happen. Lets also continue to make abortion something that is not so hush hush. Stop trying to avoid conflict. Disagreements only turn into conflict when we forget how to respond with charity. Stop trying to change their mind, focus on changing their heart. Pray. Sacrifice. Witness. 

Crying out… and some updates and gratitude

As many of my readers already know I have moved back home for my final semester for student teaching. Along with that I have also been working at my local ski area teaching ski school. Now before I go into my story and main point, I just want to share a simple gratitude. 

My biggest fear about moving back home was losing the awesome faith community, but God has provided. I still haven’t found that community of people my age, but my family has been so helpful. Every night my family and I have been reading the bible with Father Mike Schmitz podcast. That alone has been a game changer. Not only that, but on my way to school I pass right by Creighton’s chapel. Since it’s right along the way I stop there every morning for an hour before school. Even though I have to get up at the crack of dawn to get there and I struggle to stay awake, I am so happy to be there. I was concerned that I would start to fall backwards since I wasn’t living right next door to Newman and living amongst future saints. Yet here I am, the Lord has truly provided and I am so grateful.

Anyways moving on to what I really wanted to talk about. All week I have really been meditating on themes of family, love, father wounds, brokenness, etc. It didn’t all come together and connect though until today when God spoke through the hug of a 4 year old girl. After staying up till 2 am putting ski boots away last night, I was not super excited to drive out this morning. Upon arriving I was told I was going to be working with the little shredders. Little shredders are the 4-6 year old skiers and boarders. Little ones are cute and all, but there’s a reason I want to be a high school teacher haha. It honestly was not all that bad, I was just tired. Anyways I end up with this one girl in the group who is clinging to her mom and sobbing. Eventually I got her to let go of mom and come with me. She cried the whole 20 minutes I was with her, but yet it was such a spirit filled moment for me. Literally there’s a 4 year old crying, I’m exhausted, kids are falling over as they try to balance on their skis, yet that moment resounded with God’s voice and complete and total peace. Here’s why. This 4 year old girl would just be laying on the ground for several minutes, then standing for a brief moment while I moved her feet into position just so she could ski two feet before diving back in my arms screaming “I just want a hug”. It was that scream over and over of “I just want a hug”, and then having that girl come dive towards me and give this deep and sincere hug as if her only relief was to held tightly in my arms. This happened three times by the end of the lesson, and everytime she laid her tired little head upon my shoulder I thought, is this not the most honest vulnerable cry that the whole world is screaming. Does not our every day work, relationships, and existence cry out to be loved? Is that not what we were made for?

Since the beginning of time Satan has whispered lies to convince us that God does not love us. Look at Eve in the garden. The serpent did not try to convince her that God was not real. No, he worked to convince her that God did not love her. He was clever, he knew if he could convince them that they were unloved, he could strip them of everything else. And alas they knew they were naked and they hid from God in shame. Now I really want to wrap my thoughts up on this one, and put this big conclusion, but I want to leave this door open. Because there are a thousand ways I conclude this, and I could go on to explain the common patterns of brokenness and sins in the world, but you already know that. Instead I want you to think about that four year old girl crying out to be hugged by someone she just met. That cry is the cry of the whole world and even your own soul? People are longing for the love of God the Father and they don’t even know it. They don’t need you to save them or solve their life problems, these people simply just want to be loved. What are you going to do about it? 

I have this feeling that this cry for love is going to be a theme for this year, not that it wasn’t there before. Maybe it’s because it’s the year of Saint Joseph and this world is so full of father wounds and abandonment. Or maybe it’s because I am headed into a year full of people who I have yet to meet whom I will be spending a majority of my time with (between NY and student teaching) that everyday I will have the privilege of being able to love. Either way I’m here for it. 

Lastly I just want to take a moment to thank you for reading these. Two years ago at this time I started writing my book that I recently published (“Where Are You Going?”), and this time last year I wrote my first blog, now here we are. I honestly thought I would not publish that book or continue my blog this long, but I did it. I came so close to ending my subscription which would have permanently deleted my blog back in December, but after encouragement from many of you guys I decided to continue. I was reminded why I do what I do, and thought if it so much as leads one single soul closer to God it’s worth it. I am also very excited to share my journey of student teaching, and then moving half way across the country with all of you this year. From the bottom of my heart thank you. I love y’all so much. 

The Straw in the Manger

My family whom I love dearly is far from perfect. And even on Christmas night, sometimes we just fall. Sometimes my pride says, “Oh Mikayla are you really so weak that you still fight with your family” or “Seriously aren’t you beyond this”. But the reality is I’m human. So on Christmas night when my mom makes us go to midnight mass, and it’s way past everyone’s bedtime we become so desperate for His grace. We all scuffle into the pew, glaring at each other, and getting annoyed at any little gesture or sound another makes. Internally we all beg Jesus for the grace to not fall asleep or explode from irritability. As I share this I’m tempted to hide it in fear that I’m the only one whose experienced this. Yet I know that’s highly unlikely. It feels like it happens every year, where after all the Christmas hustle an bustle we end up exhausted and irritated, but eager to receive Jesus as we sit in the pew looking rather cross and weary. I would love to jump to the happy conclusion I have come to as I meditated on what I thought was one of the most unholy dignified moments of my life, but there’s an interesting story as to how I got there.

After we got home from mass, argued some more, said our apologies and finished our last minute wrappings I went to bed. But at 3:00 am I was awakened by the sounds of my sister whimpering outside my door. “What’s the problem Megan?” I said. “Ruby is dying” She sobbed.

Ruby was our rabbit that was 8 years old and had outlived all our other rabbits by miles. Ruby was very special to us. We had shown her at rabbit shows, taken her to school whenever she had babies, and I mean she was pretty cute. Knowing there was nothing that could be done I sent Megan up stairs to hold the poor thing until she passed. I was almost asleep, but thought it’s Christmas I shouldn’t make Megan sit up there by herself. I got out of bed, and my little dog Sophie followed. Now Sophie is a snob. She barks when people argue, controls our other dog, and when it comes to the rabbits she pushes them around and wants them to be her babies. With this in mind you can conclude Ruby and Sophie do not get along. In fact I many videos of Ruby snapping at Sophie or getting distraught because Sophie is trying to take her babies. Yet in Ruby’s last moments you would have thought they had been best friends all along. Now I know some of you might not care for sentimental animal feels, or wanna jump in and theologically explain to me how pets don’t go to Heaven, but that not the point, Just listen to the story, and maybe you’ll  learn something like I did. Sophie peered over the couch where Ruby lay across Megan’s lap. She jumped up smelled her, let out a little whimper then curled up next to her. Sophie remained there for the next 6 hours guarding her from the other dog, and just resting beside her. She did not poke at her, or press her nose against her over and over like she normally does. She just laid there. She didn’t even try to open up the Christmas presents, like she normally would when left unsupervised. Sophie has been there when other pets were dying and she would lick them or nudge them as if she could not accept the fact they were dying.This time was different, she just laid there vigilantly. She was just simply present, and is presence not one the greatest gifts of our time.

It was in reflecting on this that Christ reminded me what a family is for. Family is a school of love. Family is the bond that endures our greatest tribulations. Family is made up of the people who know how to bring you to your wits end, but also know how to love you like no other when the walls come caving in. If a dog by its nature and instinct can bring comfort to a dying rabbit, why can’t I through my free will chose to set aside my wants and needs and love my family to the best of my ability, even if that means falling into desperate need of God’s Mercy. I realized I have let my pride build up shame for needing God’s mercy. I have set myself up for failure thinking if my family can walk in like the Brady bunch into midnight mass, then we will finally reach holiness. But is holiness not found in the ones who suffer and endure the most? I mean were the shepherds not tired and exhausted, when they came to adore our Lord on that starry night. Was Mary not exhausted as she welcomed company to adore the Word Made Flesh? Could Joseph have let his mind exhaust itself fretting over the fact that the best place he could find for his wife to give birth to the son of God was a stable? Yes. Yet despite their exhaustion, concerns and cares, they set it all aside to adore the Lord. The circumstances do not have to be ideal, nor our mindsets and persona perfect. We just need to be there and be present. Like the little drummer boy, just give Him your best. No family is perfect, but one striving for holiness looks to love one another even if, not only if. Stop giving care for what the people in the pew behind you might be thinking. Focus on the one you came for, Jesus. Perhaps thank him that your family still has the faith and goes to mass with you (because not everyone reading this has a family who does). And instead of being upset with your families imperfections, embrace them. When your sister pushes you past your breaking point, turn the other cheek. If you fail to do that then turn to Christ who came to Earth to save sinners like us, with His abundant love and mercy.

If you come to him with an arms load of expectations for your family, you miss out on bringing Him the gift he wants the most. What is that you may ask? Love for your family. Love them as he has loved you. And when you find yourself exhausted and clueless turn to the example of the Holy family. The family who suffered greatly, lived as refugees in a foreign country, and lived every day knowing their Son would be everything Simeon had prophesied.They knew He was going to make many rise, yet others would fall, and He would cause great division. And through it all they chose love. Let them intercede for you and your family. And at the end of the day, forgive yourself. No matter how big of a conversion you go through, you will still face trials and tribulations. I can’t recall which saint it was, but on her death bed she laughed saying, “Even in death I am still in need of His mercy” after she made an impatient comment to her sister. Besides being patient and forgiving with yourself as you learn to love your family, pray for the grace to love them even if. I have fallen so many times into the excuse and desperate prayer of Lord if you would just change their heart you coil spare me the pain. It hit me hard like a load of bricks when one day Jesus looked at me, and said “Why have you never asked for the grace to love them the way that they are?” Yeah, chew on that jerky. Just like each member of the Holy family was called to be there to love and support one another, so are you also called to love your family just as they are.

Thank you for enduring that wild loop around. Also a special greetings to all my regular readers in China! And Merry Christmas to you all. And with that I’ll close with some wise words from Mother Teresa “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

It is you

Today’s Gospel was about Joseph receiving a message from an angel in his sleep that he was to take Mary as his wife, and serve as a father to the child who would be called Emmanual. The reason I bring this up is to highlight the message that the Lord is also speaking to you. Those simple words, “It is you”. 

Joseph being a righteous man most likely believed Mary, that indeed she was pregnant with the son of God. What Joseph more likely struggled with was knowing that God indeed was calling him to raise up His only begotten son. This is probably why Joseph almost walked away, but the Lord called him by name. Affirming in him that “it is you”. It is you whom I have called.

I think we can all relate to St. Joseph in this moment, but so few people are willing to surrender and listen as St. Joseph did. Notice how Joseph was asleep when this message was spoken to him. This is significant. Him being asleep signifies Joseph being willing to lay himself down before the Lord and let him speak to his troubled heart. Joseph did not stay awake trying to find the solution himself, rather he freely went to sleep. This act of surrender to total unity with God is how we find peace in the choices that we discern. We were not made for restlessness and anxieties, we were made for peace.

God wishes to grant us peace. First though we must let Jesus look upon us. I remember at New Years, after the clock struck midnight at the SLS conference, they brought Jesus out in the monstrance. There I was trying to kneel down amidst the thousands of balloons that had fallen, in a crowd of thousands of other people. Everyone was on their knees, and it was silent. All you could here was balloons rubbing together as they were pressed up against us, then a few balloons popping. Then it got really quiet, and out of the silence came, “Salve Regina….” As we joined together singing, I was struck by the gaze of Christ. Even among the thousands of other people surrounding me, the Lord found me. And He called my name. He called me deeper. At the time I didn’t know how, or why. Now maybe it was because I was in the middle of a novena to St. Joseph, but I said yes despite uncertainty. And 2020 continued to be full of similar yeses. Yeses where God met me where I was and called me out on the waters with no idea of where they would lead. Had I known some of the things that lied ahead I might of said no, but Jesus doesn’t offer us the knowledge of every detail of what lies ahead. He does however, offer the full knowledge that He will be with us every step of the way. The knowledge of our unity with him in mission is more than enough. For this union with him brings us peace. This is what Joseph sought in his sleep, it was this peace. The peace of Emmanual, which means God is with us. Follow St. Joseph’s example, and chase peace. Do not let yourself settle for comfort, or feeling of happiness, because these surely will fade. Just surrender like you’re about to fall off a boat and there’s nothing to grab on to 😉 (if you get this reference feel free to laugh).

Let me tell you from experience that saying yes does not mean it will be easy, saying yes means you are one step closer to eternity. I think back to being in NYC directly after that SLS conference, and to what happened in Times Square. As I stood the midst of one of the busiest places in the United States, God said “Mikayla, I want you here.” And that’s all he said, he did not say when or how long, and I prayed with it for months, and I really struggled to say yes. Long story short, and through the grace of having the right people come into my life at the right moment, I ended up saying yes to serving in the Bronx with the Seton Teachings Fellows. Most of you reading this, especially if you know me, have heard this all before. But there’s one thing I want you to see, and it’s not me haha. I want you to see Christ looking at you, calling you by name, each and every day. I want you this Christmas to encounter peace. Because God calls each and everyone of us to a very specific mission, in both big ways and little ways. Like St. Joseph we are called to play a specific role so that others can encounter the face of Christ. Your yes is important. Think about if Joseph had said no. What would have happen to Mary? What would have happened to Jesus?

Do not be afraid to say yes to God. Left the greatest gift you receive this year be the gift of his everlasting peace. Like St. John Paul II said, ““I plead with you–never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” For indeed it is you and it is Christ who wishes to speak to you.

“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living…. It is you who must go…”

-St. John Paul II (Homily given to the youth in Denver on August 15th 1993)

The Beast. The Boy. The Man

This past Sunday I was sitting and watching the Broncos v Chiefs game with a few of my guy friends. As I was sitting there I had this random thought. I thought to myself if a robber came through that door right now I know that anyone of these gentlemen would take a bullet for me. Then I thought, now what of the Devil himself came through that door? Would they do the same? I was not so sure. I did not think this because I thought these men lacked virtue by any means, because honestly the men in that room are some of the most virtuous guys I know. But the Devil is no wee robber, he is the father of lies and deception. There’s a reason Adam backed down from his duty when that serpent came into the garden. And the reality is the Devil comes knocking a lot more than any robber, and he steals something far more valuable then money or material things.

The Devil is literally taking souls, destroying purity, and leading us into sins that destroy the holiest of holies. Everyday the Devil comes knocking on the door, yet so few men are willing to take the bullet. They choose to lose their soul, rather than their flesh. Everyday they fall for the lies of pornography, masturbation, pride, greed, addictions, selfishness, and their family suffers for it. Now I’m not saying ladies don’t do these things because they most certainly do, but today this blog is for the men. These men are not bad men, majority of these men would take a bullet for their wife and kids. But these men in the face of Satan make cowardly and barbaric decisions. One of the saddest parts about it, is most of these sins are directed towards the holiest of holies. It’s  the place where are Lord first came to dwell among us in the flesh, it’s the womb. Men, you have a duty to protect this sacred space and any child it ever bares. If we would take the bullet for someone, then we should be biting the bullet of abortion. If we love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, nothing impure should enter that space. Let it be a space that is nurtured with love, not lust. Let it blossom with life, and not the reek of death.

The perfect role model to be this man of virtue is St. Joseph. St. Joseph is the reason our Blessed Mother was not stoned to death. He is the reason that Jesus did not die in his infancy. Joseph was a man after God’s own heart and because of that he laid down his life for Mary and Jesus. St. Joseph so easily could have been like most men these days who slip out the back door when the duty of fatherhood comes their way. St. Joseph instead listened to the Lord and took Mary in as his own. God chose Joseph knowing he was strong and capable of protecting him at his most vulnerable stages. He gave Joseph the graces he needed and allowed him to realize what true fatherhood is. Fatherhood is not just some biological things and it’s eternal. Fatherhood means being a protector, provider, educator, and these duties last forever. These roles do not end when we put the kids to bed,nor do they start when you have a kid, nor do they end in death. Your daddy is still your daddy. (If the word Daddy makes you cringe, then Satan might have too tight of a grip on you or maybe left you with some wounds). 

Think about this. You all know the story of Beauty and the Beast. Do you recall what made the prince turn into a beast? Yes, it was because of his selfishness and pride. He failed to live in the goodness in which he was made for. His sins turned him into a beast, and the only thing that could turn him back into a man was pure love. Now finding the woman of your dreams is not going to make you a man. But by loving God, and those around you with a pure heart you too and be a real boy Pinocchio, haha. Seriously though, don’t be the world’s version of a man’s man, don’t be a beast. Be a King, be a protector of the most vulnerable, be a man after God’s own heart. 

Gentlemen, I want you to know that even the sins that happen behind closed doors effect those you love most. Every woman is somebody’s daughter, and every woman holds within her the very organ that through Mary brought salvation into the very world. Think about that, and don’t you forget it. Satan is going to come knocking, but don’t let him in. Instead let Joseph and Mary in and let them knock him a little harder. I mean come on, who wouldn’t want the Terror of Demons, and Satan’s skull crusher fighting for their soul. And there’s no better time then advent to let the Holy Family into your life. No guns and nunchucks needed, a simple devil beating rosary will do. This advent I invite you to truly meditate on the holy family, in particular the role of St. Joseph. Meditate on what fatherhood truly means, and who St. Joseph must have been if he was entrusted with protecting the savior. Argue with me all you want, but I haven’t heard of anyone else who was chosen by God to be the FOSTER FATHER of Jesus. Boom, lets slay those demons boys!!

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall she the face of God.” (Mt 5:8)

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Renowned offspring of David, pray for us.
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Diligent protector of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most strong, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of artisans, pray for us.
Glory of home life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Solace of the wretched, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world. And prince over all his possessions.
He made him the lord of his household.
Let us pray, — O God, in your ineffable providence you were pleased to choose Blessed
Joseph to be the spouse of your most holy Mother; grant, we beg you, that we may be worthy
to have him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our Protector: You
who live and reign forever and ever.
Saint Joseph, pray for us. Amen.

Mercy

PC: Abbey Hugo

Imagine you’re on a big cruise ship, and you look out to see someone who has fallen overboard. Any good human is going to grab a life preserver and toss it overboard. By no work or merit of their own do you choose to save that person. You see them struggling and about to drown, so you save them. The only choice they have in this situation is to allow themselves to be saved. It’s not even a matter of whether or not they can see you, or believe in you, it is simply choosing to grab onto the life preserver. Pride may tell them they don’t need help, or sloth may say it’s not worth trying, but the choice is theirs.

Now if we change the story to be Jesus holding out that life preserver to you who is drowning, suddenly many of us think that by our faith or merit, Jesus decided to throw the life preserver out to you. That you some how earned the right to be saved, or that because we know Him or have seen Him that He chose to save us. I am here to tell you this image of Jesus is wrong and it’s a toxic trap. Jesus chooses to save us by His own grace. Did He not die for us while we were still living in sin? People receive mercy, when they choose to surrender. Mercy is for you, mercy is for everyone, as long as we are willing to surrender our entire selves.

His mercy alone will always be enough, yet so few souls believe that. Here we have man who was made and chosen by God to protect all of creation, yet everyday the men in our society are crumbling under the overwhelming odds they face and the constant burden of feeling alone in the battle. So he falls. God does not make mistakes, yet Satan has convinced many men that they are not capable of being good fathers, husbands or brothers. So why bother trying? Therefore they fall into abandoning or abusing these duties.

Then on the other side we have the crown of all creation. The only one not made straight from dirt, the grand finale of creation, woman. Woman was chosen to be the connecting piece, the intuitive one, the bearer of new life. And now woman has put her trust in the wrong places, and because of that, has fallen. Now the crown of creation goes everyday living in the fear of not being enough. Now we have men and women living in fear of the very thing they were made for. And our sins reflect those fears. A woman looks at pornography in search of being enough. A man drinks excessively to blind himself to the odds he faces.

The only way to fix this brokenness is through the perfect sacrifice. God sent His only begotten Son, to die for our sins in perfect love that casts out all fear. Then fearlessly we can fall into His mercy. But we have to want it, we have to trust in it. It’s the like the dirty boy who needs a bath. He will never be clean again unless he takes a bath. And he will never be completely clean unless he places his entire self into the water. Not only that, but this is a choice we must make daily. Getting clean once, does not prevent us from getting dirty later. If only we could see the filth that sin leaves on our souls. We become so dirty we are beyond recognition. Why? Because our sin does not define at all who we are. Yet the world will tell you it does. For our sins, Christ’s body was beaten beyond recognition of the eye, but the hearts of those who knew His soul still recognized Him and still loved Him. And Christ does the same for us, though we are dirty and festering with the wounds of sin. Have you ever seen an animal with dirt caked on it so bad that if you peel it off the flesh comes with it? This is what it’s like to have a dirty soul. This is why the sacrament of confession is so important. We need to be bathed and reminded of who we truly are, and we ought to do it often. Yet here some of us arey, dipping ourselves further into sin. Falling into pleasures, hoping to be understood, to discover who we are, or strive to live up to what we think we should be. Do you really think you were made to be understood in terms of sex? 

Stop letting the fear of the overwhelming odds, or not being enough stand in the way of what you were made for. It is you. It is you that Christ has chosen since the moment God said let there be light. He is not waiting for your perfection. He is waiting for your surrender. Christ stumbled three times on His journey to the throne. Will you not stumble a million times more? And was Christ not God Himself? He humbled himself to take on our wounds. He took on our sins. Instead of being the war hero who was stoic and strong, who could fight any battle with one finger, like we would expect, through His own choice, surrendered His infinite power. So that we, the weaker ones, could crucify Him. Just so that He could be the sacrifice, and in the face of death surrender to it. This is the gift He freely chose to give. To humble Himself, to be a reflection of us, in total lack of comfort or ability to fight back. All of this to simply say the truth to our broken hearts. That there is nothing that could separate us from His reach. And He rose again to show us that He has indeed conquered death. What now is left to fear, but fear itself? This choice seems easy and clear. Yet many, when given the choice, choose death rather than mercy. Mercy freely given and received by our surrender makes a saint. But he who refuses to encounter mercy, ultimately chooses hell. Be a Saint! Be not Afraid!