Search

Catholic Gators Blog

Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum

Author

catholicgatorsblog

Divine Mercy Sunday

St. Faustina Kowlaska was just 19 years old when she had started having visions of Jesus. While at a dance in a park in Lodz, Poland, St. Faustina saw a vision of Jesus suffering. This vision changed her, and she joined a convent to fully dedicate herself to Christ. Throughout the rest of her life, Christ repeatedly visited and spoke to St. Faustina. Christ’s most influential vision to her was on February 22, 1931, when he appeared to St. Faustina, calling himself the “King of Divine Mercy.” Wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart, Christ told St. Faustina that he wanted the Sunday after Easter to be the Feast of Mercy.

An answer to what Divine Mercy is and why it is celebrated the Sunday after Easter is found in today’s Gospel. In John 20:19-31, Christ reveals himself to the apostles hiding in the locked room. When Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles, he did not admonish them for fleeing his side. These men had devoted themselves to Christ, yet they cowered, hid and denied Him out of fear for their own lives.  The first words Jesus told these men were, “Peace be with you.” Christ forgave them for rejecting Him. When Thomas doubted the other apostles’ statements that Christ had resurrected, Jesus again appeared and showed Thomas the scars of his Passion to alleviate any skepticism. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is this: We must always remember His mercy is far greater than our sins.

20180330_202355_1523152925557

To fully understand the message of Divine Mercy we must apply the struggles of the apostles to our own lives. When have we doubted Christ? When have we denied Him? When did we betray Him?

The remedy for these sins is presented right in the Gospel. Jesus gives the power of his Divine Mercy to the apostles, so they may absolve our sins in His name. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, Christ’s Divine Mercy is available to us all. The sacrament of Reconciliation proves that God loves all of his creation and wants every one of us to experience his Divine Mercy. To quote St. Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Even if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would have still sacrificed himself and gone through the agony of death to save you from sin. The treasury of Christ’s mercy is infinite. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept this grace.

Advertisements

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Imagine the humility experienced if you were to meet the pope in person. Even to non-Catholics, the pope is seen as a man of great wisdom and virtue. Then imagine the holy father looking into your eyes and saying “I’m a human too.” This message of humility is what shines through these weekly readings.

We find Peter, the first pope, saying very similar words to Cornelius in the first reading. It is here, after stating that he is “also a human being,” that we see him make a proclamation to those who are listening. He states that all, not just the chosen nation of Israel, are open to receiving baptism and the love of Christ fully. This is something to reflect on that God calls all people closer to him since the Holy Spirit has come for all souls. Even those of different traditions are called into the the full life of Christ. The love of God is for every single person to come to experience. This should give us great hope and help shine light on our purpose.

Next in the responsorial Psalm, we “break into song” praising God. Maybe the literal words are a bit archaic, yet the feelings invoked invite us to be humble enough to show extreme joy over Christ in public. This act of praising God in daily life is something that we could all use some more motivation in.

Something else we must be always inspired to do is to love people always. We find ourselves caught up in the pride of our accomplishments and forget the humility that brings true happiness.

This notion is expressed in the second reading through St. John’s pondering about love. The most important thing here is that it is not our love of God which makes us holy, but “that he loved us and sent his Son.” That is why Christians are called not just to be nice to people in a courteous manner, but to openly profess the love of God in a humble manner. Since we cherish the love of God in our own lives, if we are to really love our friends, classmates, and neighbors, we should consider having the humility to share the love of God through our testimony. Consider loving others by leading them to love Christ. 

How, if we are supposed to bring others to it with joyful humility, is the love of Christ expressed? This is the great question which Jesus himself answers in the Gospel reading. He says if we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, so what are these commandments? “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus says. This takes incredible humility to execute. It is very hard to give your life to people who will abuse you. It is so hard that we heard Christ beg that he would be spared from trial in the Gospel just a few weeks ago on Holy Thursday. If God himself is intimidated by suffering, we should feel assured that our fear of suffering for love are expected. Just as singing a praise song in public might make you a little uncomfortable, Christ took the entire pain of the world onto himself so that we might being God glory through his death. This glory is what we celebrate now in the Easter season, that Christ’s Resurrection brings true life to us. We are called, this very week, to humbly share the beauty and importance of the Resurrection to those we love (aka everybody).

This week will we live for hope or for fear?

This week will we praise God in public or will we hide our light until the Mass next Sunday?

This week will we “love one another” by having conversations about Christ or will we settle for timid mediocrity? 

Divine Mercy Sunday

St. Faustina Kowlaska was just 19 years old when she had started having visions of Jesus. While at a dance in a park in Lodz, Poland, St. Faustina saw a vision of Jesus suffering. This vision changed her, and she joined a convent to fully dedicate herself to Christ. Throughout the rest of her life, Christ repeatedly visited and spoke to St. Faustina. Christ’s most influential vision to her was on February 22, 1931, when he appeared to St. Faustina, calling himself the “King of Divine Mercy.” Wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart, Christ told St. Faustina that he wanted the Sunday after Easter to be the Feast of Mercy.

An answer to what Divine Mercy is and why it is celebrated the Sunday after Easter is found in today’s Gospel. In John 20:19-31, Christ reveals himself to the apostles hiding in the locked room. When Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles, he did not admonish them for fleeing his side. These men had devoted themselves to Christ, yet they cowered, hid and denied Him out of fear for their own lives.  The first words Jesus told these men were, “Peace be with you.” Christ forgave them for rejecting Him. When Thomas doubted the other apostles’ statements that Christ had resurrected, Jesus again appeared and showed Thomas the scars of his Passion to alleviate any skepticism. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is this: We must always remember His mercy is far greater than our sins.

20180330_202355_1523152925557

To fully understand the message of Divine Mercy we must apply the struggles of the apostles to our own lives. When have we doubted Christ? When have we denied Him? When did we betray Him?

The remedy for these sins is presented right in the Gospel. Jesus gives the power of his Divine Mercy to the apostles, so they may absolve our sins in His name. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, Christ’s Divine Mercy is available to us all. The sacrament of Reconciliation proves that God loves all of his creation and wants every one of us to experience his Divine Mercy. To quote St. Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Even if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would have still sacrificed himself and gone through the agony of death to save you from sin. The treasury of Christ’s mercy is infinite. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept this grace.

Fifth Sunday of Easter Reflection

             “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:7-8).
             In this last verse of the Gospel reading, God calls us all to be his disciples, in order that we may become fruitful. This calling seems very simple at first, as it seems like a win-win. Trust in God, and He will give you all that you want. But if you look at the lives of the apostles and of those in the early Church, it was anything but simple. In the first reading, we see Paul, who was just recently converted by God, wanting to join the other followers of Christ. But the others were afraid, because they only knew of his past; as Saul, who persecuted Christians. But Paul willed God’s will, and upon his conversion, he went to various other towns, speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. Again, this was not simple. Becoming a disciple and establishing the early Church took a lot of courage, and he risked his life to uphold the truth. But in this act of courage, Paul bore fruit. He became the forefront of bringing the faith to others, and established the Church in places such as Antioch and Corinth. He became a saint through his act of faith, and his writings serve as a blueprint for missionaries and theologians alike.
             To be a disciple means that you are called to bring others to the faith. We are called, through our sacramental union with God, to live out His commandments, to love one another, and to spread the joy of the Gospel. This does not mean it’ll be easy, however, especially as students on a college campus. In this secular culture, we are called to be different, to break societal norms, and to live joyfully. Just as Paul faced chastisement, we will also face criticisms for our beliefs. At times, it may also seem simpler and more enticing to live as others are living. But we are made for more. Jesus calls us to remain in Him, just as He continually remains in us. It is through this Theodoconfidence that we will bear fruit.
             As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth doing unless it means effort, pain, [and] difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” True joy comes from trusting in God and gaining a greater understanding of the Sacraments. He is the vine, and we are the branches. That joy of living out God’s will for us surpasses any cheap pleasure one may choose to partake in, and the struggles form us closer to Christ. It is through this decision of becoming a disciple that will turn the heads of others and lead us all closer to Heaven. There, our faith will flourish.
             “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:7-8).

Third Sunday of Easter Devotional

By: Sam Abbott, UF student

Today, we heard Peter speak to the Jews. He’s honest with them – brutally honest. He tells them,

“You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death…”

 

That same Peter, who in the Garden of Gethsemane drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, now strikes the People of God with his tongue. He pulls no punches, leaves no uncertainty: the People of God have blood on their hands. Not just any blood, either: it is the Blood of Christ, the Son of the Living God, who was perfect and blameless. Take a moment, now, and dwell on the sorrow and bitterness of that profound injustice. Understand the complete failure of the People of God.

 

It’s been two thousand years since the historical event of the crucifixion. It would be easy to think that our hands are clean – that we bear no responsibility for the crucifixion. It would be comforting to think that Peter was talking only to those particular Jews, way back in the first century. He’s not.

 

Father Mike Schmitz put it wonderfully in this video:

Christ died for our sins. In each of our sins, we put Christ on the cross. It is our arms that scourge Him, our blows the bruise Him, our words and taunts and irreverence that pierce Him. Our cruelty and indifference that crucifies Him.

 

I want to emphasize this, because we often tend to downplay our sin and our guilt. We think “Well, I’m pretty good most of the time. I’m an alright guy.” We tell ourselves that it’s not that bad – even when it really is. Our sins were so serious that they required a sacrifice of infinite value – the Blood of the Spotless Lamb – to be washed away.

 

Don’t stop reading here, though. Don’t despair, because Peter’s not done. There’s another half to that line that I haven’t mentioned yet:

“…but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”

What does this mean? That even though our sins put Christ to death, Death himself could never win! Jesus is not just the Paschal Sacrifice, but Conqueror, Redeemer, and Savior!

 

For indeed, just as He died to true death, He rose to true life – today’s Gospel makes that clear. He arose, not as a ghost or spirit, but was resurrected bodily as well.. A true body of “flesh and bone,” and He showed them this by asking for food and eating. This resurrection from death is available to all of us – if only we are humble enough to admit our faults, to seek forgiveness, and to strive to amend our lives out of love for God.

 

John tells us in today’s second reading that even when we do sin,

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”

Christ died so that we might have eternal life with Him – don’t let that sacrifice go to waste! Don’t let the death of Christ be in vain!

 

In this Third Week of Easter, let us remember that even though we put Christ to death by our sins, that death is not the end of the story. For even the gravest of our sins, the power of Death itself, could not triumph over the Son of God. In a flash of heavenly light that burned His image onto the burial shroud, He rose from death, and brings us with Him into eternal life!

 

Alleluia, He is truly Risen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divine Mercy Sunday Devotional

By: Sam Abbott

Click here for Sunday’s readings.

Click here to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

St. Faustina Kowlaska was just 19 years old when she had started having visions of Jesus. While at a dance in a park in Lodz, Poland, St. Faustina saw a vision of Jesus suffering. This vision changed her, and she joined a convent to fully dedicate herself to Christ. Throughout the rest of her life, Christ repeatedly visited and spoke to St. Faustina. Christ’s most influential vision to her was on February 22, 1931, when he appeared to St. Faustina, calling himself the “King of Divine Mercy.” Wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart, Christ told St. Faustina that he wanted the Sunday after Easter to be the Feast of Mercy.

An answer to what Divine Mercy is and why it is celebrated the Sunday after Easter is found in today’s Gospel. In John 20:19-31, Christ reveals himself to the apostles hiding in the locked room. When Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles, he did not admonish them for fleeing his side. These men had devoted themselves to Christ, yet they cowered, hid and denied Him out of fear for their own lives.  The first words Jesus told these men were, “Peace be with you.” Christ forgave them for rejecting Him. When Thomas doubted the other apostles’ statements that Christ had resurrected, Jesus again appeared and showed Thomas the scars of his Passion to alleviate any skepticism. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is this: We must always remember His mercy is far greater than our sins.

20180330_202355_1523152925557

To fully understand the message of Divine Mercy we must apply the struggles of the apostles to our own lives. When have we doubted Christ? When have we denied Him? When did we betray Him?

The remedy for these sins is presented right in the Gospel. Jesus gives the power of his Divine Mercy to the apostles, so they may absolve our sins in His name. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, Christ’s Divine Mercy is available to us all. The sacrament of Reconciliation proves that God loves all of his creation and wants every one of us to experience his Divine Mercy. To quote St. Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Even if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would have still sacrificed himself and gone through the agony of death to save you from sin. The treasury of Christ’s mercy is infinite. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept this grace.

 

March for Life: Four Walks

Sara Zarb, UF student

“Hey Sara, let’s go to Gator Nights tonight.”

“Ok, but I have to go to bed pretty early tonight, because I have to get up at 7 a.m.!”

“Where are you going?”

“It doesn’t matter…”

“What? Just tell me!”

“I’m going to March for Life in St. Augustine tomorrow.”

“Oh…”

             This was the conversation I had Friday night with my friend, who is pro-choice. Notice that I wanted to avoid the conversation altogether. I was afraid my friend and I would get into an argument, just by me saying I was going to a local March for Life!

IMG_0970

             Why was I reluctant to tell her? Because I’m the minority. I speak for the unborn, which is something I don’t see often, especially on a college campus.

             The St. Augustine March for Life, however, was a gathering of like-minded people. We were all in this together. We were all there for the same purpose. We were all advocates for the protection of the most vulnerable.

             Before the March, we attended Mass, we sang, we listened to a few testimonies and speakers, and then we started the March. Seeing extremely passionate people, from ages 1 to 92 (yes, seriously!) made my heart happy. I was astounded.

             Pro-life activist Stephanie Gray spoke at the closing of the event. She was absolutely brilliant. She gave us many scenarios and answered them from the other perspective (pro-choice), to give us insight into what to expect while discussing our beliefs to people. This brought me peace. I realized there is an effective way to communicate our pro-life message.

             After her speech, I went up and introduced myself. I told her I was a college student at the University of Florida, and I’m struggling to find my voice, to communicate to others about what I believe in.

             “How do you do it?” I asked her. “I’m in the minority at UF as far as my pro-life beliefs, and I’m so scared to talk to people. Like, Stephanie, you really know your stuff! What would you recommend I do?”

And Stephanie gave me three points: Pray. Study. Practice.

             “First,” she answered, “you have to pray to God for wisdom, because we can’t do this alone. Then, study! Do your research. Know the material, know the facts. Then, practice. See how people respond to what you say. Know what’s effective, and what’s not.”

             When we pray, we connect with God. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Him, then we are more able to truly inspire others. Let’s pray to God to give us strength; to give mothers and families the strength to overcome the difficult obstacles they are facing for the unborn, for all the children He created, but didn’t have the same opportunity as we. Pray to the Holy Spirit to guide not only us, but those we are trying to reach.

20180113_102437 (1)

             Then, research. Learn from others who have had these tough conversations, understand what has already been said, what has already been accomplished. Find legitimate sources: another good pro-life advocate (besides Stephanie Gray) is Abby Johnson, former Clinical Planned Parenthood Director, now Pro-Life Activist. Staying up-to-date with reliable sources can help us with our research and understanding the topic.

             Finally, practice! And remember, it’s not an argument – it’s a conversation.  “So, I recently went to the March for Life…” Surprisingly, the more we discuss, the more we can delve deeply into an understanding of why that person believes in abortion. Sometimes, there is a previous experience attached to the person’s belief, causing him or her to think differently about abortion than we do. Above all else, let’s be respectful and persuasive. Flexible and firm. Enthusiastic and calm. Instilling balance into our conversations creates a positive atmosphere.

             No one said advocating for pro-life would be easy. And yet, God is encouraging. He is encouraging us to voice, to showcase what we believe in, and to not hold back.

Matthew Fulton, UF Student

             The full beauty of the Catholic faith was on display during our three-day trip to Washington, DC. We met some who had driven 48 hours to the nation’s capital. Why? Why take that amount of time out of your busy life for an event that couldn’t have lasted more than three hours?

matthew1 (1)

             I learned that it was because people care. They care and love so much that they are willing to do irrational things like sit in a car or bus for two days just to take a stand for the sanctity of life. During the March itself we waddled like penguins, unable to move more than a few feet a minute for long stretches. We were packed in tight, it was loud, it was cold (for me at least), and we had every reason to complain about our discomfort. But nobody was upset. In fact, everyone was smiling. There was true joy in these people’s hearts, joy stemming from the fact that life in America is winning. You could feel it, and it was awesome. Rosaries were offered up for the unborn, songs of praise rang out, and banners from all around the country were raised proudly in the sky. It was neat being reminded of the universal Church. Sometimes you get too caught up in your own little world, and in today’s media environment it can seem like you’re the only pro-lifer around. Experiencing the March for Life myself makes me confident that one day soon we are going to win this fight, and we won’t need to march anymore.

Allie Jackson, UF Student

             This year was my second year attending the March for Life in D.C. It honestly is one of those events that I will always look forward to. This year’s March was especially exciting. Bigger steps were taken with the passing of an anti-abortion bill and many government representatives, including the President of the United States, addressed the March for Life. The band Plumb opened up the rally with her beautiful worship songs, Sister Bethany Madonna prayed with us and gave a wonderful talk, and one of the most powerful testimonies I ever heard was given by Congresswoman Beutler. We peacefully march for those who cannot defend themselves. As JPII says, “Every human person…is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God.” Every person is formed, loved for and created by God with a worth and value that we cannot even comprehend. We were given a chance to live this beautiful gift of life and we marched for those whose chance was taken away from them. We also marched for women;  for those hearts that are torn or broken; for those who cannot stand for themselves.

allie5 (1)

             JPII mentions that love is the most basic human vocation. We marched simply for that love. Love of all life. This march is unique, because as amazing as it is, our goal is eventually to not have to march anymore. But until then, we will always march, we will always fight and we will always pray for those who can’t. This march gave us that opportunity and allowed us to see the beautiful life that God has for each and every one of us. The March for Life in D.C. is a truly humbling experience that I will never forget. God Bless!

 

Morgan English, UF Student

             I was given the opportunity to attend the March For Life in Washington, D.C. for the first time. The weeks leading up to the March I anticipated with great excitement, yet I was slightly nervous. I was excited to be able to march for something that I hold so close to my heart, the gift of human life, which the world tries to destroy daily. After arriving to D.C. and attending the National Prayer Vigil for Life Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, all my worries went away. I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick the weekend and march off than to participate in Mass with thousands —  yes thousands — of other Catholics united for the same reason, to give thanks to God for the gift of human life.

matthew2 (1)

             The next morning came time for Mass with all the other Floridians in St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the March. As we walked up to the Mall it was beautiful to see all the people so excited and filled with joy to join the thousands to march. Before the actual March we got to hear from President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Sister Bethany Madonna (love her!!), Pam Tebow (Go Gators!!), a congresswoman, and many other speakers. The most moving part was to hear all these people speak about how they respect and fight for life. It was very empowering. Then it came time for the March! I’m not sure I have seen such a large mob of people somehow line up, somewhat ordered.    

              The March was absolutely beautiful. There were young children, women of all ages, young and old men, and former Planned Parenthood and abortion facility workers all marching together. It took about two-and-a-half hours to complete the march. Throughout that time, we prayed, sang, and chanted. Although I wish we did not have to have this March, and pray we won’t have to drive on a bus for 12 hours to attend another; but if we have to be there again, I will sign up in a heartbeat. This is something everyone should pray about attending because if we do not continue to stand up for human life, who will? My favorite sign was “I am the Pro-Life generation,” because this is so true. Our generation continues to respect and defend life more and more, while at the same time we are the generation most susceptible to ending life. The impact we, as young adults, have on this movement is greater than any other generation. Let’s take advantage of that and defend life!

allie1 (1)

Faith in the Small Things

By: Sandy DeTeresa, Catholic Gators Campus Minister

     It’s 2018. Everyone is either posting their “new year, new me” statuses and making New Year’s resolutions, or making fun of New Year’s resolutions and the fact that so many people make them and don’t stick to them. Personally, I am both of these people this year: the idealist and the cynic. I look at this New Year as a new start, a chance to do all the things I have always said I was going to do: exercise more often, stop eating sugar, spend hours and hours in prayer, not watch as much Netflix, save more, stick to my budget, etc. I also look at New Year’s with the knowledge of past New Year’s: resolutions that didn’t even last a week, much less a month. I remember all the times I’ve said I was going to make all of these really good, awesome changes, only to remember how after eating healthy for two days I couldn’t help but feast on cupcakes at a friend’s birthday. I see the pattern, I know the pattern, I live the pattern. I go to bed thinking “tomorrow, I’m changing my life” and wake up thinking “ugh, not today.” After a lot of reflection, I may have finally found the problem.

     These changes I want to make, they are not bad changes. It’s why I idealize them and want to make them so badly, they are good. They are big changes though. I go from struggling to pray a rosary once a week to wanting to pray it once a day. I want to go from not running at all to running a 5k in a week. I want to go from drinking 2-4 coffees a day to drinking no caffeine at all (what, crazy, right?). I want to go from living my life with a chaotic schedule that I don’t balance very well, poor budgeting, and a flaky prayer life, to having all of that perfected overnight. And I resolve to fix these all the time: at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month, at the beginning of the week. Each beginning, I find myself resolving anew to fix the broken. But some of this broken is going to take more than a day to fix. And trying to fix it all at once… well, that’s impossible.

In all of these things I want to fix, there is one constant behind them: I don’t always have the willpower to make these changes. I want to be able to come in and not need coffee to get through the day without giving someone the stank eye. I want to be able to run a half marathon in a month. I want to be able to sit in the church for holy hours and not fall asleep on a regular basis or find myself checking my email. But when the time comes, these choices are really difficult, especially all at once. I have not chosen to be faithful in the small things, so how can I be faithful in the big things? If I can’t refrain from eating one cookie after having two, how can I refrain from eating any sugar at all? If I don’t even schedule in prayer time, how can I expect the time I spend with Jesus to be fruitful if it is usually an afterthought after a hectic day when I just want to decompress and watch Netflix? I do not have the strength to make these big changes…yet, but I can do the work to get that strong.

     After venting numerous times to a close friend about this, she used the example of exercise to help me understand the changes I need to make versus the changes I want to make but that are too big to make all at once. She calls it “spiritual bicep curls.” When you start working out, you don’t start bicep curling with 50-lb weights (at least, I don’t). You start small, maybe 10-lb weights. And after a few sessions of using 10-lb weights, you up the weight by maybe 5 lbs. After weeks of slowly upping the weight, of making small changes, you’ve reached your goal of 50 lbs. And what’s more, you have built up slowly to that big change, which is now a permanent change because you have the strength to continue using 50-lb weights.

     So, we have to start small. Make a list of small things for different areas in your life. Each year, I ask retreat leaders I work with to make a self-care plan. In this plan, they look at five areas of their life, and come up with no more than three small ways they are going to keep the balance or make changes in these areas. And the few things they put on that list? They need to be small choices. Most of the things on that list are ways to maintain balance, and no more than one thing for each area is a change. That way, they are not making too many changes all at once and setting themselves up for burn out.

     I ask them to look at their spiritual life, their academic life, their physical health, their mental health, and their social life. They find the weaknesses in those areas and identify the way(s) in which they want to grow. I ask the questions: when you are stressed, what is the first thing to go in each of those areas? And how do you want to grow in those areas? For some people, with their physical health, it’s sleep that they neglect, for others, it’s exercise. In the spiritual life, for one person, they might want to spend more time in adoration, while for another, they want to increase their Mass attendance. For each person, it is different. Make a list of these small ways to maintain balance, and if you want, add one small change. Here are some examples of things I have seen others put on that list:

Spiritual life: Attend regular confession, find a spiritual director, go to daily Mass, read the Bible daily, add an extra holy hour to your week, pray the rosary one more time a week than normal

Academic life: Spend two hours a day studying instead of cramming before exams, form a study group, find a tutor

Physical health: Exercise three times a week, only eat dessert on Sundays and feast days, get at least 6 hours of sleep each night.

Mental health: Only watch one episode of Netflix a day, spend one day a week without your phone, take one day a month completely off from work, extracurriculars and school.

Social life: Call a friend and have a real conversation once a week, spend time with at least one friend outside of a studying/work/extracurricular setting once a week, sign up for a leisure class

     I know what you’re thinking, it’s my frustration too: “Okay, that’s great, but won’t making these tiny changes over such a long amount of time take such a long amount of time?” Well, yes and no. You won’t necessarily see changes overnight. You might still fall asleep halfway through a rosary or keep pressing the play button on that next episode of Netflix. But you started. You didn’t press play after that episode you watched yesterday. And you won’t after you watch one tomorrow. You only checked your email once in the five holy hours you did this week. These are small steps, but after a while, the change will be more noticeable. Instead of wasting months or “restarting” your big resolutions and never accomplishing them, you will be much closer to accomplishing them after taking the first ten steps to get there. By making small changes now, at the end of 2018, you might just have made the big changes you were hoping for.

Connecting the Camino

By: Michael Arias

            I sat there, hunched over, in the dark of an old cathedral, crying. I’m not one for crying, unless there’s something in my eyes, but that’s a different story. I was legitimately and genuinely crying, for the first time I could remember in a long, long time.

            I was all alone on the Camino of Santiago in Spain, a country relatively foreign to me.

spanish cathedral

            The country was undergoing a heat wave, and more importantly, I was getting sick very quickly, with a fever looming on the horizon. I could feel my energy draining with every step I had taken since I woke up that morning. The day started with me feeling like trash when I woke up at 6 a.m., and now, after four hours of walking only half the distance I could normally walk in that same amount of time, I was feeling like I had nothing left. It was a bad situation to be in. The next sizable town was easily six, if not more, hours ahead of me given my current pace. The village offered little to nothing, and the thought of going backwards: akin to giving up.

            It was big question-and-answer time for me. Why continue walking the Camino? It was at that moment literally turning into a living nightmare of pain and loneliness.

            I originally started the Camino half because I love the outdoors, half as a pilgrimage, and half because I had a month left on my student visa. I know that adds up to three halves, but hey, that was my deciding logic and motivation up to that point, and it had been totally sufficient before I got sick. Now though as I felt my strength disappearing, I needed better reasons to go forward.  

            But that’s when it hit me. I wasn’t alone. I mean, not as alone as I thought I was. I had already lived five months in Spain, studying Spanish. Being in a foreign country, a foreign continent, was no longer a radically new experience. Having been alone, without known family or friends, for five months had taught me an important lesson, and that lesson was about to be my saving grace: I had God with me, the same God that I saw every time I visited my church at home in Florida, prayed to at home, and talked to at home.

spanish statue camino

            Jesus knew how to understand not only my English but also my American mannerisms and ways of thinking, an ability that suddenly became so very attractive when trying to live on a day-to-day basis as the foreigner in a very communal university student-residence. Those previous five months had taught me that I could rely on Jesus always. He always looked out for me, understood me, and helped me.

So in that dark, cool cathedral where I sat crying, I turned to Him.

            To this day I don’t know if those tears I cried were of joy or sadness. Joy because I had realized how truly present God was with me, or sadness because I had forgotten how truly present He was and had thought I was alone.

            The important part was that He was with me, and if He had gotten me through five months in Spain, he could get me through one more on the Camino, sick or not sick. Consequently, I got my new and ultimately more powerful source of motivation: the Camino would continue has a walk with Christ.

            It may sound obvious to you: Camino de Santiago translates to the Walk of Saint James, James was a Saint, Saints walk with Christ, so it’s a Walk with Christ. You get it, I get it, great.

            But here’s the catch: (I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this.) There’s a big gap between knowing something with your mind and knowing it with your heart.

            It took me to be in a very much not-so-fun situation to finally connect the two dots: knowing that God was with me and feeling and acting upon the knowledge that He was with me. My hope is that by recounting this little portion of my experience I am in some way helping you connect your dots too.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: