Those Whom He Loves, He Prunes

I love plants. Especially the plants that are simple looking and easy to take care of. So basically succulents, aloe vera, and cactus.

I was reading part of Matthew 13 when I got the inspiration to write this blog post. In Matthew 13, it starts with the Parable of the Sower. If you don’t know, this parable is about how a sower had some seeds that fell in various types of soil, but the seeds that fell in rich soil were the only ones that bore fruit. While reflecting on this parable and after reflecting on the meanings, I started thinking about the plants I have.

The other day, I decided to repot my plants. I went into my dad’s garden and grabbed some bigger pots and used the soil he offered me to repot them. Because I have read this parable before this was in the back of my mind while repotting them. I was wondering if the soil I was using would be good enough for the plants and if they would thrive when I moved them into a new pot, so they had room to grow.

I had been wanting to write a blog post since Mikayla had mentioned it about a week ago. I probably wrote about five different ones but none of them really felt right. When I read part of this chapter, I suddenly knew what I wanted to write about: plants. There are so many good parables and symbolism about plants and seeds in the bible.

On of my favorite use of symbolism of plants is the Vine and the Branches in John 15.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

John 15:2

We read this passage about the in my bible study this year. After reading this passage, we focused a little bit on the word pruning. I learned that pruning basically means to cut off all the dead or dying parts of the plant so that the plant can focus on sustaining the alive parts, rather than focusing on the parts of the plant that are dying. Nearly every time I pick off a dying part of one of my plants, I think about how God can prune us because of what we talked about in bible study.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

John 15:4

I recently started to really like this verse because I started to see the pruning God was doing in my life and how it allows me to be more fruitful.

Almost a year ago, God pruned me out of a habitual sin that I was stuck in and did not think I would be able to break. When I finally had a conversion to completely break this, I started praying more often, reading the bible, and I started attending the occasional daily mass offered at my Newman center, which I realized was my way of remaining in Him while He pruned me. His pruning also allowed me to become more fruitful in my prayer life.

Even more recently, God pruned a guy out of my life that I liked. The guy I liked and had been friends with for a while had asked me on a date, just before spring break. We didn’t have much of a chance to actually date, but we knew each other pretty well since we were friends for a while. Recently, I came to find out something about him that would not be good for me. At this point I was starting to pray the rosary daily and had been having a little bit of dryness in my prayers – probably because I was too focused on other things. God probably allowed me to find out about the thing that happened because I was trying to remain in Him through the rosary and so that He could prune this guy out of my life. After I cut ties with him, I noticed I was starting to become more fruitful in my prayer again.

I think this pandemic also allowed for some pruning in my life so that I could become more focused on prayer and my relationship with God. I now have more time to read the Bible and to spend more time with things like praying the rosary than I would have if those things had not been pruned out.

I like this verse especially because it helps me to understand why things might be happening in my life. None of these prunes were easy, but they happened so that other parts of my life might become more fruitful and so my focus wont be so much on the parts of my life that will never “bear fruit.” I can then be focused on the good that can come into my life instead.

What parts of our lives are bearing fruit? What parts of or lives are not? While there are some things we think we don’t want pruned from our lives, we have to keep in mind that Jesus knows us deeply and knows what we truly want and need. Allow Him to prune the unnecessary things and remain in His love. Trust in Him.

Then the Lord will guide you always

and satisfy your thirst in parched places,

will give you strength to your bones

And you shall be like a watered garden,

like a flowing spring whose waters never fail

Isaiah 58:11

Moving Forward

This past week I moved back home to Iowa for the summer. I have not lived at home for this long in over 3 years and it’s my last summer before I move away to start a life of my own. I had a few concerns about coming home, but I know this is where I am called to be right now. I went to confession the other day and my penance was to be good to my family, and love them. My home priest made me realize that even though my siblings have a hard time adjusting to sharing life and living space with me again, that deep down they look up to me a lot. Little did I know that every Sunday they would come and update Father on my blog, or my mission trips, or adventures. Certainly I have failed to be kind to them in every moment since I’ve been home, but I feel closer to them then ever before. I can feel the Holy Spirit knotting us more tightly together everyday. The last few days the four of us have worked together on re doing my parents back yard not because we had to, but because we wanted to.

Together we have torn apart our old broken picnic table, rabbit hutches, garden beds, and burned them in the fire pit that we replaced. I sat looking at the fire thinking how in that same spot we had burned our old crib that each of us slept in, our old desk, our old doll house, and all the wood that held so many memories for us.It made me realize how far we’ve come and the chapters of our lives that have come to a close. We don’t raise rabbits anymore, we don’t have any babies that need a crib to sleep in, nor do we need a doll house to play with. We’ve grown up,we’ve moved forward, and now here we are in our last summer together putting together a yard for enjoyment for my parents. No longer is our yard dirt pit for our mud pies, or a place for us to raise rabbits and chickens, times have changed. 

It’s been really good to reflect on it, and what’s even better is we’ve ended each day around the fire, and the four of us pray a rosary together. Which is so strange because growing up we never prayed together, now here we are today and my sister is ecstatic to pray a rosary with her siblings. Praise God.

The reason I tell this is because first of all we all need more good news, and I want us all to think about our families right now, and how we could love them better, and how could we better lead them in the faith. For the past several months we’ve had to spend more time then usual with our families. The Good Lord has brought us back to home base where our true work is. And as we move forward, please don’t forget forget this lesson. Don’t forget about the love your family needs and deserves.Don’t forget they need your time an they need your prayers. I’m not saying you can’t leave home, because I know sometimes we are called to far away places, but as you shut this chapter of your life, make sure your family is aware of the truth, and the love that is found in the Father. If you can’t live mission at home, how do you expect to live mission afar. And I know some of you are thinking I don’t live mission at all in general. And that’s the problem. You are not listening. God has told you over and over, and He has sent people into your life to repeat it again. You do not belong to this world, you belong to him, and you were made to go out and proclaim the truth of eternal life. Our Lady of Fatima said “If men knew what eternity was they would live differently.”

Most of us spend more time reading and sharing fake news that spreads chaos and anxiety, and yet won’t lift a finger when it comes to sharing the truth of the Gospel. Who’s side are you on? The father of lies? Or the One who is and is To Come? And maybe you’re thinking it’s my life I’ll do what I want, but I hate to break it to you, but your life is not about you. Little do you know there are people out there watching you and wanting to do exactly what you do. There are people who love you deeply and want you to go to Heaven, and you can’t stop them. 

So often we get caught up fighting ourselves for some Earthly value of goodness, looking for validation. Whether that be work, our grades, our wallets, or our looks. The devil gets us all worked up and riled up, and our followers do the same. They think oh they look happy on their instagram, so I’m going to do it too. Or there’s our family who has the front row seats and sees our every move, and either wants to do the exact same or the exact opposite.No matter who’s watching and how good you look doing it, please don’t do something that you wouldn’t want the one you love most to do.

Our zeal for Christ can’t stop when we walk through the doors. Because the work of the Lord doesn’t end till your home, and the Earth is not your home. I get it sometimes that it is hard, our families do not think the same way as us, or see the world through your eyes, but I beg you don’t give up. All the graces you need in order to endure are right there for you all you have to do is ask. Love your family with a passionate love, the love that hurts, but a love that endures. Be honest, be truthful, and never give up, because the good Lord has never given up on you. This is your family, this is your home base. You can run to all the other bases, but if you forget to touch home, you already lost. I’m not saying convert your family, or change them. They are humans, not a means to an end or your salvation. Love them, even when it hurts. And though it seems like the very least you could do, pray for them, I guarantee its the best thing you could do for them. Look what the prayers of St. Augustine’s mother did for him. I could tell you countless stories of families whose lives were drastically changed because of prayer. I promise the Father up above sees you, and your family. Leave the expectations behind, and surrender it all to Him and wait. If Jesus can feel one hemorrhaging woman touch his garment amidst a pressing crowd, have no doubt that He will be moved to compassion at the weight of your family surrendered at His feet. And He is delighted to answer your plea, for through this the Father is glorified, and the greatest desire of the son is fulfilled. He’s constantly at work because He lives and He reigns, now and forever. 

He loves you, and He call you His. 

Much love and prayers for you all, 

Mikayla

P.S. since I’m home my editor is no longer my roomate Hannah, but my mother. And she does a great job, but she also reads between the lines. So as a disclaimer and a sweet message to her. My childhood was good, and we were raised in the church and my parents always gave us their best. And no I don’t think my parents are bad for burning old stuff, haha. It makes more room for the new chapters of our lives and helps us to remember we ought to store our truest treasures in heaven not on Earth.

P.S.S She also wants you to know we burned the stuff because it was too worn out to donate. Ha I love my mom.

And here’s a good song that I think is relevant lol. And no there are no bad words in this song.

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

Half-Hearted Lover


Just typing that title gave my heart an uncomfortable squeeze. This topic had been on my mind for a while and I have honestly avoided it because it triggers this feeling of agony, and I don’t like it. But for Christ I will suffer with Him. So this week I just want to talk about the battle against relativism.Just to pre-warn you it’s hard to talk about it in a deep heart felt poetic way, but it’s still important. I feel like I need to just be straightforward with this topic, so I apologize if it’s not entertaining.

 Relativism is the idea that you can have your truth and I can have mine, it’s the false belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Which to be honest is complete heresy in the eyes of the Church. I repeat heresy!! It literally says in scripture that if we are look warm, God will spit us right out of His mouth.There is huge spiritual battle going on, a battle for souls and here are all these relativist standing in the middle being of no help to no one!!! What do people not understand. You are going to die and as Fulton Sheen puts it you are going to hear the words “Mine” and before your face you are either going to see Christ or Satan.Your choice, unless you let the world chose for you. (And to clarify purgatory is not for relativist either, that place is for saints in need of extra purification). 

Relativist are the ones who have heard truth over and over and its just never clicked. And it breaks my heart because how can you look at Jesus and say that you love Him yet not acknowledge that He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Nothing hurts my heart more than when I hear people say “I am personally pro life, but I am politically pro-choice.” Excuse me, but that’s like saying in front of Jesus I am christian, but everywhere else I am not. First off Jesus is always watching, second of all the whole point of being pro life is to chose life always!! You can not be both. The reason I bring up abortion is because I believe its the greatest sin against, and it highlights just how half hearted some people are. As I mentioned in my earlier blog “Too busy to Care,” if we do not wake up and recognize the sanctity of life we will stop seeing the image of God that every human is created in. When we stop seeing a particular group as not human and not sacred bad ungodly things happen. God’s rules are not arbitrary, they do not only apply inside the walls of the chapel they apply all the time. Abortion takes the life of the most innocent and most invisible human life on the planet, but satan won’t have it that easy and if you have blood on your hands as a by stander I’m warning you. Now I myself in highschool was a bit relativistic about abortion, but now that I have come to know Christ, I know it is 100% wrong. Abortion is dehumanizing, and we think as long as its not happening to our friends it’s fine, but it’s not. Also reality check there’s a very high chance that someone you know and love has been affected by abortion, but because its such a hush hush topic it’s never been brought up. Break the silence people. We wonder why 60-70% of abortions are done on women who identify as christian. Around 30% specifically Catholic. Relativistic ideas cause confusion and doubt, and builds a culture that says take the easy way out. Relativism says do whatever will make you happy and just try not to be a burden. That’s why so many of us have just become luke warm. We want to be accepted and loved by the people, but we do not look at the cost.It’s literally costing human life, and people are standing there doing nothing about it!

It reminds me of Luke 14 sayings on discipleship. There was large crowds following behind Him, and He turned to them with His loving gaze sensing their partedness, and basically said if you are not willing to risk it all to follow me you cannot be my disciple. If you think you can build up the Kingdom of God on Earth half heartedly, I’m sorry it’s not going to work (especially if you are going to reject the very corner stone). If you are gonna go into battle with only half the number of men, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work. He loves us so deeply, He deserves are all.

I think we all know what it’s like to love someone, and watch them do things behind your back as if you weren’t watching. It hurts. But we still love them, we want what’s best for them. Jesus feels that same way only deeper. He wants you to be His disciple, He wants you by His side. But He also knows you can’t be on His team and the Devil’s. He warns us over and over, and He begs you please do not make me do it. But the axe lies at the foot of the tree now, and if the tree bares no fruit, it has to go. You all have a free will, use it, you are not a slave to Christ. But you can so easily become a slave to the devil, but Jesus has come to break your chains. Are you going to run free or just stand there? 

I know most of you who read this are not relativist, but I encourage you to pray for those who are. Also abortion is probably the biggest issue when it comes to relativism, but the wounds run a lot deeper then abortion alone. Relativist are in such grave danger, and it’s heartbreaking because Jesus loves them so much, and He thirsts so deeply for them. Oh how He grieves for them, but we console His heart greatly when we pray for souls such as these. Also I wrote this on St. Catherine of Siena’s feast day so maybe this is a little message of her that our faith does not stop at politics. She served a good example of that. Sure church and state are separated, but that does not mean man and his faith should be. So I pray that we all reflect on what we are allowing to govern our life? Where are we falling into relativistic ways? Are we doing our will or God’s will?

God loves you, praying for you all!

“Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters” And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Into Your Most Sacred Wounds

Since it is the Easter season still in the Church I’m really gonna try to focus on the resurrection Lord, but I’ll be honest my heart is so entranced with the Passion. Anyways I wanted to point your attention to this past Sunday’s Gospel (John 20:19-31). Jesus appears to His disciples again, but this time Thomas is there. He calls out to Thomas saying “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” This is the story that started the main doubting Thomas, yet I think we are missing something huge here. 

First of all, why would Jesus want Thomas to come feel His wounds? Why does the resurrected Lord still bear His wounds? Like why was He not just healed? Clearly the wounds and touching them is supposed to mean something. Because as we know, scripture is more than just what meets the eye, it’s the living word of God. 

Thomas here is not just doubting just because, and Jesus isn’t calling Him to touch His wounds to belittle him. Furthermore, I think Thomas’s wounds are more deeply touched by this than Christ’s wounds. For within Christ’s wounds Thomas is seeing His own wounds. His wounds of sorrow, regret, and unbelief. Only a week ago he was mourning a loss, and because of this evil, he allowed doubt to enter his heart. A doubt that God is not the Almighty Ever-living God like he thought, because if He is then why would He allow for such an evil thing to happen. On top of all that he is living in this constant fear of persecution. Key context here guys, THE DOORS ARE LOCKED. The disciples are locking themselves up in fear that they are next. Yet Jesus somehow comes through those locked doors, and He comes to Thomas in a time of doubt, and a time of fear. Why? Because Jesus refuses to leave one of His disciples in the dangerous position of unbelief. He looks at Thomas with complete love and says, “Feel my wounds. Feel my wounds so that I can heal yours.” 

Jesus is looking at each and every one of you and saying the same thing. Cast yourself into my most sacred wounds, so that you can be washed, cleansed, redeemed, loved!!

Also, take note of the moment Thomas reveals his wound of unbelief. It’s not in front of the resurrected Lord, no it’s to the disciples, his brothers in Christ. Thomas here shows us what we ought to do when we lose our way and can’t see the light. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Which I think is so important during this time when mental health issues are going through the roof. My friends, it is okay to be not okay. But what’s not okay is to stay in the dark. We all need help carrying our crosses sometimes. Because guess what? We are NOT God. We will stumble and we will fall, and we will have those moments of doubt and fear. And unless we cry out and be honest, and reach out to be healed, we will continue to sit in the dark. Just like Thomas, you are made for so much more! God is not mad at you because you are doubtful or fearful, but His heart is torn that you won’t cry out to Him for help. 

So promise me this: No more stomping up the stairs, taking it out on your spouse, or pretending you’re okay. You maintain your “sanity” on a lie. You console yourself on the lie that you’re okay. So promise me, please, that instead you are going to talk about it. In prayer, and if you’re still in a dark spot please do not hesitate to reach out to a friend, priest, spiritual director, parent, spouse, someone, just please do not walk alone. Judas walked alone, and I do not have to explain that any further. 

Before I wrap this up I want to give another beautiful example of the resurrected Lord at work. Let’s look at Peter. We all know Peter was one of the first disciples. He loved Jesus with His whole heart, but he had his moments, the most painful for him being the passion of Christ where he denied Christ three times while warming himself over a fire. Then Jesus dies and rises again. Flash forward, Peter is still feeling pretty down about himself. Yeah the Lord is risen, but he feels like an awful friend. He feels the affliction of His own sin. So he goes out fishing, and the disciples decide they want to go to (BECAUSE NO ONE SHOULD WALK ALONE)…. Anyways, back to the story. So they go fishing and they fish all night yet they catch nothing. As a person who’s also a huge fan of fishing, I know if you’re out fishing that long and you’re okay with catching nothing, you’re not just fishing to fish. You’re out fishing because you’re hurting, because your heart has this hole that just cannot seem to be healed. Then what happens next? 

Jesus appears on the shore, and calls out to them. Peter jumps out of the boat, goes running to Jesus, and he sees the fire Jesus has prepared, along with some fish and bread. In this moment, Peter is probably having flashbacks. The last time he saw Jesus prepare a meal, his denial was foretold, and the last time he probably sat around a charcoal fire was when he warmed himself during his denial. I think we can all relate to Peter in this moment. We can relate to those certain triggers that provoke flashbacks. To those moments when we messed up, when we turned against God, and we feel guilty. These moments make our heart sink, but guess what, I have said it a million times and I am going to say it again: Jesus loves you and wants to heal you.

And all of that is what is played out in the conversation that follows, which leads me to what inspired me to write this in the first place. I was having a Peter moment, I was pretty happy. I was having a really beautiful moment with Jesus, but within my heart there was hurt, there was fear, and there was guilt. Then I heard Jesus say “Do you love me?”

And in my head I said, “yes Lord, I do love You.” Which immediately brought me to this moment in scripture. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”* He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 20:15-17

In this moment Jesus is pressing in deep. Jesus already knows that Peter loves Him, but yet Jesus still asks three times. It’s as if Jesus wants Peter to hear himself say I love you, so he can forgive himself for denying him. He wants Peter to drown the sound of the lies that tell him he’s not good enough. The lie that he is the betrayer, or that he is unforgivable. Jesus wants Peter to recognize his own goodness, to see why he is chosen by God to be a disciple. Notice he calls him Simon son of John, which he has not called him that since back when Jesus first called him to be a disciple. Emphasizing further that, Jesus is piercing deep into his heart and soul that can only be understood between Christ and Peter. Jesus wants Peter to remember who he truly is: a beloved son of God.

It’s so often in life we let our own sinful past and shame define our future with Christ. Or we let the fact that we are upset or don’t understand what’s going on hold us back from being held. But then Jesus allows us to say “I still love you, I still trust you.” And that right there is all we need to do. It’s that famous divine mercy prayer…. “Jesus I trust in You”.

Awake my Soul

Happy Easter everyone! Now I know the Easter season is about celebrating the resurrection of our Lord, however I want to slip back to the agony in the garden for a second. Let’s set the scene. Just moments earlier Jesus and His disciples just celebrated the last supper, and Jesus had basically told them the worst possible news. They were probably anxious, distraught, upset, wondering who the betrayer was, where Judas had gone, and how life could get any worse. Jesus pulls aside Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and goes out to the garden to pray. And instead of keeping watch over Jesus and praying, what do they do? They fall asleep. Jesus wakes them up three times, urging them to pray, pray that they might not undergo the test. But yet they fall asleep again and again.

Putting it into context, they are not falling asleep because they are lazy, or worn out no. Think about this, they are stressed, the Lord is only a stone throws length away from them in complete agony, and instead of responding to his cries with prayer, they close their eyes. They want his pain to go away, they don’t want this to be real, so they fall asleep hoping it’s just a dream. And I think we can all relate to this in some way. Now that’s all my own interpretation based on the context of the agony in the garden, but it’s relatable and speaks to our hearts.

Back in the first week of March, at the beginning of my quarantine I remember my friend who had been staying with me looked at me and said “I’m just going to sleep in as late as possible, that way I don’t have to spend more time remembering that I’m stuck here.” To which I replied “Girl, no, you are gonna wake up and live in this moment”. And together we lived out our first two weeks of quarantine to the fullest, but now I’m 4 weeks in and I’m not living it to the fullest. I’m not going to mass everyday online, I’m not spending the evenings playing games, I’m not seeking joy. No, I’m tired. I want to be with my friends, I want to be hugged and not be cooped up with a bunch of introverts (who I love dearly) that hate physical touch. And the way I feel is okay,  but there’s a proper way to respond to them, and it does not involve numbing myself. 

Dealing with these emotions does not mean I should sleep more, or scroll through facebook longer, or do homework till I fall asleep. It means stopping and praying, and experiencing the agony with him. Look at Jesus right now, He’s not laughing at us mocking our distress, He is not telling us to get over it, NO. He’s loving us, mourning for us, holding us. To be honest every night I tell Jesus “Please let this be done tomorrow” To which he replies “Not yet, but I will carry you through tomorrow.” And then I tell Him that I’m tired, but that I still love Him and trust in his goodness. Then I close my eyes and drift off to sleep, appropriately because it’s usually around 11pm and then I wake up at 7. There’s a difference between numbing sleep and healthy sleep. However, I do find myself numbing myself in other ways. Like shutting myself in my room for hours, and just working on school non-stop.I worked on school from sun up to sun down, taking breaks to pray a rosary, and scroll through the internet.  Then yesterday it was like I hit a wall. I broke down and realized that I needed to stop trying to pretend I was okay.I needed to let Jesus in, and let my roommates in and let them be like Christ to me. I was depriving myself of the chance to just let go, to just let myself be loved. 

I was like the disciples falling asleep, rather than inclining my ear to Jesus’ plea for mercy for his people, and praying alongside him for not only my own sorrows, but those of the whole world. I refused to let him console me in any way.It all hit me when I decided to get out of my room and take a break. I sat and did a puzzle and the missionary who’s here in quarantine with me, sat down and started doing the puzzle with me. She did not say anything, she just did the puzzle. Interiorally I started to cry, because I heard a voice inside say, stay here with me and let me love you in the silence. Take a break from your school work, and just be here with me. That little moment right there was the best part of my day. Jesus called me awake from my “slumber” of school work, and let me enjoy a moment of simple leisure in good quiet company. And I know Jesus is doing the same thing for you. He’s calling your name, asking that you stop sleeping through the day, or doing homework non-stop, or scrolling through facebook and just be with him. Tell him what’s on your heart. Tell him how tired your soul is, and let him carry you to the heart of the Father. Do not fall asleep, stay awake with Him. Because the Father never sleeps when his child is crying. Actually the Father never sleeps, because he cannot take his eyes off his beloved. You are his beloved. And I want you to know that every single week I go into the chapel and say Jesus what should I tell my readers this week. And everytime He says tell them I love them. And I hope you hear that in your heart today, and just let it sink in because it is so true. 

Anyways, if you are catching yourself numbing yourself in some way, then I encourage you to wake up and pray. 

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

P.S. I’m sorry you have to hear about how big of a cry baby I am, but I really think it shows the joy and peace I find in Christ. 🙂

“Love consumes us only in the measure of our self-surrender.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

“We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.”

St. Teresa of Avila

Behold Your Mother

Picture taken De Krijtberg Catholic Church in Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s World War II, and inside a concentration camp there’s an old Catholic priest with 16670 tattooed on his arm. He was known around the camp to offer secret masses, confession, give his food to younger inmates, and was a very hard worker. This man also had a huge devotion to our Blessed Mother, and started the first Mary militia before the war started. One day a prisoner escaped, so the guards sentenced 10 prisoners to the starvation bunkers. They called one man’s name and he cried “Please no, I have a wife, and children”. Then another voice shouted “Take me instead, I am a priest, I have no wife or kids, let this man go”. Everyone was shocked, and taken back. Here is this priest offering up his life for a stranger, and it would have gone totally unknown to us, had not several eyewitnesses (including guards, inmates, and even the man who was supposed to go) testified of this man’s boldness. This priest was Father Maximillain Kolbe. While in the starvation bunker he led men in prayer, praying constant rosaries. Those walking by would peer in and see Maximillain Kolbe still on his knees praying. Here was this man, who was starving, who had been in the camp for quite some time, and recieved many lashings, yet not once did he deny God’s goodness. He had complete trust in the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that by her grace he would be brought into heaven to be with Jesus. He always said “For Christ I am willing to suffer more “. And he did just that. Finally after two weeks the guards needed to empty out the bunker, and somehow Kolbe was still alive, and still praying on his knees. So on August 14th 1941, they injected him with carboxylic acid. That day he finally received the crown that he had been promised when Mary appeared to him as a child with two crowns. One white for his life of purity, and one red crown for martyrdom. The following day on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother he was cremated.

There’s so many other amazing pieces to this man’s story, I barely have skimmed the surface, but I tell you this story hoping to inspire you to continue to be hopeful, and to lean into a devotion to our Blessed Mother. Maximillian Kolbe attributes most of his success and work (actually probably all of it let’s be honest) to the intercession of our Mother who was constantly making his needs known to her son. About a year or so ago I learned the story of Maximillain Kolbe and was very inspired to grow closer to our Mother. It started with the little things, like trying to pray the rosary more often and begging for help on every exam. I would even go as far as to write JMJ on the top of my exams which is a symbol for through the heart of the holy family, Jesus, Mary, Joseph. (and let me tell you, Mom always came through, even when I messed up she would pull the curve like nobody’s business).

Over the past year or so my relationship with her has only grown stronger. I remember crying in the chapel one night, which if you’ve read my other blogs you know this isn’t surprising. I was crying because I did not want to walk Crossroads for the entire summer, and there was no way I was about to tell my earthly mom that I was not going to see her for the next 12 weeks when I barely see her already. I remember looking up at the tabernacle and asking for two things, and one of them was that if I went that I could grow in a devotion to Mary. I wanted to have a relationship with her like the saints that I admired. I recognized that the more devoted themselves to Mary the more Christ like they became. The allowed themselves to be raised up by the same mother that raised Christ, and I wanted that. And this summer, God certainly fulfilled that…

For starters Crossroads is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe (which is an apparition of Mary in case you didn’t know @my sister)….. Super cool story behind Our Lady of Guadalupe (strongly suggest googling, because I don’t have time for that this week). Anyways, this summer I was with this group and we would pray not just one rosary a day, but several. And as we spent hours walking for the end to abortion and for the sactity of all human life, I definitely found myself growing closer and closer to Mary. I just want to take a moment and point out the obvious, but most of you don’t see it. Jesus died, and then he rose from the dead so that makes him what? Living. And because He rose from the dead what do we now have? Eternal life. Meaning Mary and all the saints are? Living… and therefore are still able to live in relationship with us here on Earth, and they want nothing more than to be united with you in Christ. So to any “You worship Mary” critics out there… Backoff off because my Momma doesn’t bite, but she’s a professional devil slayer. We don’t worship her, we worship God, who has promised eternal life to his faithful servants which would obviously include Momma Mary.

Anyway,  I found myself asking Mary to pray for me more and more. There would be days where I really did not feel like praying the rosary and then I would do it anyways and I just felt overwhelming peace. A lot of my friends have told me that they have picked up the rosary more lately, since this whole pandemic, and have noticed a new found peace. So what I’m getting at here is pray the rosary. I have a million things I have to do everyday, but the only thing I NEED to do is pray, and the rosary is key. And don’t rush through it, pray it slowly and with heart, and then whatever is lacking in you will be made up for by Christ. People rush through rosaries like a New Yorker in rush hour, but now more so than ever I promise you don’t have anywhere to be. Even them New Yorkers ain’t going nowhere. So I’m just saying… pray the rosary and truly try your best to meditate on the mysteries of each decade, there is so much fruit there.

Mary loves you so much, you don’t even know. She’s the spouse of the Holy spirit, and the one that was chosen to be Jesus’ Mother, she’s got a lot going for her. I say she has the in, like there’s nobody out there who’s closer to Jesus then Mary. So I don’t know about you, but I want this woman praying for me. I cannot count the number of times Mary has come in clutch for me. She has saved me so many times, she has helped me out of habitual sin, walked me through my conversion, taught me when to take a stand, and when it’s time to kneel. Not only does Mary desire to do that for me, but she also wants to do the same for you. 

Sometimes when I’m having a hard time understanding why God is allowing something to happen, or when I feel like He’s not listening I cry out to Mary and say “Show me your son”. And then I meditate for a while on some specific scene, but my favorite is the moment they took Jesus down from the cross. It never fails to make me cry, but there’s such a huge amount of grace there. I can hear Mary say “Come hold my son.” Come hold my son who has died for your salvation. Come feel his cold, lifeless, dead body. You would think in that moment that Jesus was doing nothing for her, He’s dead, but I would argue that in that moment he was doing the very most. He provided Mary the opportunity to hold her bloody, beaten, dead son, and say Jesus I still trust you. I still love you and I know that you have not abandoned me. I trust that you are preparing a place for me, that you will do as you have promised. 

Everytime I meditate on this and feel Jesus lay dead in my arms, and feel the weight, the cost of all my sins, the one I love the most, lay lifeless in my arms, I feel that same invitation. That invitation to trust deeply in a God who never fails. To trust that even though I don’t know when this storm will come to pass, that my God still loves me, that I am called above all else to trust. I start to feel at peace. I could stay with Mary forever repeating those words “Jesus, I trust in you”. 

So I encourage you to do the same, especially in unknown times like these. Beg for the intercession of our Mother, ask her to show you the way to her son. Give her your heart and she’ll give you hers, so that you may better love Christ. Let her show you that despite your very real concerns and emotions, that Jesus is with you every step of the way. Let her show you like any good mother would, that everything is going to be okay. 

Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City

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

You are not Hidden

When the whole world becomes chaos it’s so easy to feel forgotten and unseen. But even amidst all of this God has not forgotten us. It’s easy to say that, but I know for a lot of us right now that’s hard to believe. But I’d like to share a story that really touched my heart this week and made me realize just how close God is to us.

Earlier this week a very close friend of mine texted me saying she needed prayers. She told me she hasn’t prayed or been to mass in a long time, and she said she felt completely abandoned by God. So I did pray, but I also called her. (and for the sake of keeping her anonymous we are going to change her name to Jane).

We started talking about life in general, and then we trickled into talking about God. She told me how she thought I was such a huge Catholic nerd when I came back for Christmas break my freshmen year, but then when she saw my sister come back from college with a change of heart as well Jane recognized within herself a desire to have that same zeal but did not think it was possible. She thought God did not will for that to ever happen to her. Then this summer she really struggled with depression, and suicidal thoughts, and that’s when she really began to question her faith and if God loved her at all. She felt so hurt that God would allow her to experience that. She told me how one night back in February she yelled up at the crucifix on her wall and said “help me” and then not even two seconds later I had  texted me out of the blue that read “Jesus wanted me to tell you that He sees you and loves you and longs to heal your heart.” And it’s true Jesus did long to heal her heart and still does, but Jane still went on to explain how she felt stuck like God was very real for her in that moment, but she still questioned where he was when he needed her most. Where was He on the night she tried to commit suicide? She questioned why he wasn’t there to stop her from something the church teaches to be one of the most deadly sins?

I said to her, “Jane you have no idea how much God loves you.” I told her how this summer I had no idea what was going on in her life, but Jesus put it on my heart to pray for her. At one point I received a message from someone saying that Jane has not herself lately and to keep you in my prayers. So I continued to pray for her and even told my fellow crossroads team to pray for her as well. I put her in our daily petitions, we offered up decades of the rosary…… Then I recalled how a few weeks after that my teammate Noah, who has the most beautiful gift of empathy from the Holy Spirit, came up to me and said that he had been feeling deeply saddened and depressed all day, and he felt that it had something to do with Jane, and my heart just sank, but once again we continued to pray all the more. 

At this point, Jane is already in teary-eyed seeing how much these complete strangers cared about her enough to pray for her this summer. She interrupts me and asks when exactly was all this, and I said oh sometimes within a week or two before the fourth of July. And in my head, I was very certain that the day Noah approached me about Jane being in a dark place happened the day after I fell out of the RV and hurt my arm. 

Then she starts crying and said, “That was about the time it all went down, and on July 10th I tried to kill my self and then was hospitalized.”Keep in mind I had no idea this is what was happening when we were praying for her this summer. So I said “Jane, don’t you see what God has done for you? Even in your darkest hour He was loving you and chasing you… To the point that he allowed a complete stranger to empathize with you just so you could have some extra prayers lifted up for you.” I think I was just as amazed as she was with God’s immense love. 

God did not abandon her, not for a moment. And praise God she is still here and alive. But this story isn’t done yet. The next day I went through my pictures from this summer to piece together what day it was that Noah told me to offer up those extra prayers. I was blown away. On July 9th I hurt my arm. Making it July 10th. July 10th!!!!! July 10th  we offered up extra prayers, unknown to us that thousands of miles away she would attempt to kill herself that night. Jesus doesn’t just love Jane in this way, but He also loves you. 

Look at John chapter 17. Jesus reveals His greatest desires to the Father before he his handed over to be crucified. And what is that desire? That we may be one with Him. That through God’s great love we may be one as the Trinity is one. That we consecrated in the Truth may NEVER be parted from Him. 

No death, no plague, no sin, nor sting could ever separate us from Him. He has not forgotten you, and He will always love you no matter how far you have strayed. He will come to you where you are at when you feel so lost, so confused. And He will whisper “I am with you, did you not believe that I would come to find you? Don’t you know how much I love you?”

God has not abandoned you and there is no place His love does not abide.

Reckless Abandonment

I am currently on my 5th day of quarantine and despite the circumstances, I’ve never felt so fulfilled. Yes, I have my concerns, I’ve cried, I’ve been angry, but I’ve owned it. If you do not own your feelings, you can not surrender them to the Lord. So I encourage you to tell Jesus that you’re upset, or angry, whatever it is. Own it, surrender it, and let the Father of mercy and love come in and fill you.

Just yesterday I had the joy of having spiritual direction over the phone with Sister. We talked about the usual, and I was able to just share my soul with her and reflect on how Jesus is working in my life. Then Sister asked the most random question. She said, “Describe your room to me, what is on the walls?” 

I looked around the room and noticed three places throughout my room had the words reckless abandonment. The was one a whiteboard next to the divine mercy image, And it said “Dance before the Lord your God with reckless abandonment. Then next to all my Marian prayer cards there is a crinkled piece of paper with a bunch of tiny written bible verses, and over the top, of them, it says in big bold cursive “Total reckless abandonment.” Then the third place was the most ironic. I have a whiteboard calendar, and it was filled with all the work and events I needed to tend to prior to it all being canceled, and at the top of the calendar it says “Reckless abandonment.” I begin to laugh, all of this was there before the pandemic, but now it’s like the walls were speaking truth to my heart. 

Sister at this point is also laughing at the irony of all this.  We then preceded to talk about how this is exactly what we are called to. I thought about Andrew and James who upon hearing John the Baptist say “Behold the Lamb of God”, went after Jesus, with a deep desire to go wherever he was going. They wished to abandon everything they were doing and abide with Jesus in the heart of the Father. Do you not also wish to abide in the heart of the Father?

I know a lot of my friends are upset about not being able to receive the Eucharist right now, and I’m right there with you. I’ll be honest I’ve thrown myself prostrate on the floor in tears during moments of frustration, and I could feel my heart pining to just be in the mere presence of the tabernacle next door. Yes, it stinks, but look at the beauty of the longing heart, and also realize that God has become present to us in a whole new way, we just need to empty ourselves in order to receive it. Yesterday during online mass, I closed my eyes and I saw Jesus standing before us breaking the bread at the altar, which was such a beautiful consolation for my heart considering I never usually have visual prayer at all. And I share that for the sole purpose of showing you that unless you surrender your worries, your doubt, your anger, and anything else clouding your mind, there is no way you are going to see just how intimately close God is to your heart. 

Jesus can not fill that which you have not emptied. So I pray that you empty yourself out to Him. Pour out your heart and let Him in. We need now more than ever people who can be the joy and hope for others. In spiritual direction Sister really encouraged to invite people into my/your prayer. Ask people to pray the rosary with you, maybe read the liturgy of the hours, start a novena.

 We also said how with that prayer we need to just realize this whole pandemic is in His hands, and good (despite evil) will come from this. By praying and filling ourselves with His love we are able to share that with those we call and talk to.  I could of wrote a huge blog about all the sad things people are experiencing or told you things to fill you with more anxiety than you already have, but that’s not what you need. 

What you need is the joy of being loved by the Father. You need peace, tranquility, hope.

 So take a break from Facebook scrolling, toilet paper hoarding, or crying over online classes and just pray. Let God light your heart on fire, and spread it to others. (Call people up!)

So much has been taken from you, and stripped of you. School has been canceled for many, sports have been put on hold, vacations canceled, weddings canceled, the economy is crashing.  But you still have an infinite amount of choices, you could panic, you could be in denial, but I promise you the best option is total reckless abandonment.

I love you guys, and He loves you more. God bless.

Also, check out the quarantine vlog my roommate made