Making Predictions?  





     Well, here we are.  One full day left of Pope Benedict XVI as our Holy Father, and then tomorrow, he relinquishes the papacy.  I am guessing that you, like me, have spent the time between the announcement and today pondering and predicting who will be the next Pope.  You are not alone – even non-Catholics have thrown their guesses in the hat. 

     We need to stop.  Today’s Psalm (31:6) says: “My destiny is in Your [God’s] hand.”  We know what we want.  Perhaps we want a Pope from Africa, or South America.  Maybe we would like to see certain prophesies fulfilled  or not.  We surely know what we want, right?


     Yet what about what we need?  Do we really know what we need?  We need an answer to a lot of problems going on in the Church – some of which we don’t even fully know the extent of.  If we don’t know the whole span of the problem, how can we know the solution?  God knows what all of us need.

     Please do not be mistaken – God does care.  This conclave’s result will be the physical head of His Church on earth – something which He cares about very much.  The Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals to a decision that is best for all.  

     So if we aren’t predicting, what can we do?  Pray.  It may sound very cliche, but praying is the best and sometimes only thing we can do in this situation.  There is a lot of pressure involved in picking the next Pontiff.  With one hundred and fifteen cardinals meeting soon, I am sure they would defiantly  appreciate our prayers.

     Who are these cardinals? Many whom we don’t know.  For those readers in the North America, only fourteen of the cardinals are familiar and native names to us.  And for the remaining hundred and one, we are sometimes left at a loss.

     The solution to this?  Get to know a cardinal – and pray for them.  You don’t have to pick your own cardinal to “adopt” over the conclave, either!  There is a website for that – http://adoptacardinal.org/.  There you type in your name and
e-mail address.  After processing your request, the website generates the name of a cardinal for you to pray for.  


Picture of      I have adopted Giuseppe Bertello from Italy.   The website gives you his birthday, date of his cardinal ordination, and his title in the Vatican.  I encourage you all to adopt a cardinal and keep all of these men in your prayers as the conclave approaches.

God knows what is best for His Church – place your trust in Him.

God bless you all,

Chloe M.  

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What you need to know before you graduate…..



1.  It isn’t a bad idea to learn how to budget, figure out how to manage a checking account, how to correctly use a credit/debit card, and how to use a check register. 

2.  Something that might be handy in the future, when you are a starving college student, is how to cook some meals.  Psst…ramen noodles don’t count.  You don’t have to know how to make a creme brulee, but knowing the basics of a kitchen will be a life skill.  

3.  Find something you love to do – it may be playing tennis, or soccer, or the piano, or sewing.  Whatever it is, you will always have that to fall back on when the day is going downhill.  Maybe you can’t figure out that biology question, but you know that you can play Bach like nobody’s business.  

4.  Appreciate your family dynamics.  Soon, everything is going to change – if it hasn’t started changing already.  This might be the only time all of your family is under one roof before you all leave to start your own families or pursue different vocations.  Your family is an incredible gift, so don’t loose the opportunity to interact with everyone because it isn’t “cool.”  

5.  You can have tons and tons of acquaintances  but when the day ends, you are going to want to have some really close good friends who know you and can help you get to Heaven.  Hint: siblings make good friends.  You may loose a friendship, but a sister (or brother) is a sibling forever.

6.  NEVER be ashamed of your faith.   Not only should it be who you are, but it should affect every aspect of your life.  Also, a hint that goes hand in hand with this is that the Catholic Church offers incredible opportunities to grow in grace called the Sacraments.  Best ones to frequent: Holy Communion and Confession.  Regularly.

7.  Don’t underestimate the beautiful gift of sexuality.  Despite what the culture say, it’s still a big deal.  God has something to say about the subject, and so does the Church.  For more on that, look into John Paul II’s Theology of the Body – Christopher West and Jason Everett have done a great job looking at it piece by piece.

8.  Turn off your cellphone.  Life will go on if you detach yourself from the phone and look up at the people around you.  Never let your technological friendships trump your actual friendships. 



9.  Utilize the greatest resource that God has blessed you with – your parents or guardians.  They have lived longer than you and know what you are going through…they were kids once too.   They have a lot of knowledge, and they want to help you.  Let them and unlock the knowledge that they can’t wait to share with you.

10.  Don’t waver.  Peer pressure can crush you, and sometimes it will feel like you just don’t fit in.  But people will not like you because they didn’t like Christ.  Ultimately there is only one opinion that matters – God’s.  That is who you should be thinking about when you make each decision.

Anything to add?  Let me know in the comments!

God bless you all and guide you this Lent,

Chloe M. 





I’m Alive in Christ

In the Bible, Christ proves He is the son of God by the miracles that He performed.  The most amazing of these miracles are the miracles of resurrection.  There are three instances of this miracle.  Let’s look at these three instances….and then apply them to our lives.

     Instance one:  Jarius’s daughter.  A little girl had died while her dad left to go get Jesus to heal her.  When Christ walked in the room, He told people to stop crying, she was just sleeping.  Her body was in fact still warm.  Where do we compare?  This is the point in our death to sin where we have committed little sins.  Our life with Christ is not headed in a downward spiral to….down there, but we have seen better days.
     Instance two: The widow’s son.  A widow’s son has died and is in the funeral procession to go be buried. When Christ sees the funeral crowd, he walks up and raises the son back to life.  Where do we compare?  This is when we have sunk a little deeper.  In fact, we are on the way to our own spiritual funeral. We have found ourselves trapped in sin, and all around us are getting ready to bury us.  

     Instance three: Lazarus.  If you ever think you can do nothing for the Lord, think again.  Your circumstances are not so bad – Lazarus, my friends, was dead!   In fact, writers from this time have told us that you would not even have recognized Lazarus, he was that decomposed.  Yet Christ raises him from the dead and his very life is a witness to the love of God.  In our lives, this is where sin has taken an incredible hold on us.  It is a sin that we have lived with for many years, so much so that it has become a part of our very identity.   If it something you describe yourself with when asked to introduce yourself.  

What does this boil down to?  Christ raised three people from the dead – each in a different state of decay.  Similarly, each one of us is in a different state of decay.  Christ can heal us from our little, seemingly meaningless sins, just as Christ can heal us from sins that are eating away at our very soul.  


Christ loves us and even death to grievous sins does not deter Him from trying to knock on our hearts and let us know the amazing love that He has for us.  He truly wants all of us in Heave with Him – we just have to ask forgiveness and strive to live so that our lives are a reflection of His amazing love for us.


God bless you all this Lent,

Chloe M.  


Afraid to Die?



Sometimes, despite the knowledge that Christ has died for us, and thus taken away all of our need to fear death, we still revert back to our human nature tendency and fear death.  A lot.

      We have a God who suffered every type of pain possible for us.  He suffered body, soul and spirit.  For example:

     Body:  Christ (very obviously) suffered the physical pain for the Cross.  The way Christ heals us of all of our wounds is b suffering physically and bearing that pain for us.

     Soul:  Christ felt betrayed by His friends, close Apostles and most everyone who said that they loved and believed in Him.  He even felt the pain of temptation (which we read about this weekend in the Gospel, if you remember) and He suffered internal conflict, too.

     Spirit:  Here is where it gets ironic and mind-boggling.  Christ, the son of God, and God Himself, knew the pain of feeling like God doesn’t care and doesn’t see what we are going through.  He calls out from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  This is a call of utter desperation  “Dear God!  Why do you say that you love me and then toss me out when I need you the most?  Where are you?  This hurts, why don’t you care?”

  Yet when God is beat down the most, that is when He is winning.  We were not redeemed and saved when Christ rose from the dead.  We were saved and redeemed the moment that Christ died, taking on all suffering that a human being could ever suffer.  

     We worship what the world sees as a failure.  A loser.  A person who could talk the talk but eventually ends up dying on a cross, stripped not only of His clothes, but of His very skin.

     Christ takes on humanity to suffer, but also to show us the way to Heaven.  We do not live only once, (remember, YOLO?) but twice.  And the second time is forever.  And forever is a very long time.   So why would we want to cling to this short amount of time here on earth as if there is no hope for the after life?  

     This isn’t our home.  Heaven is where we are supposed to spend the rest of eternity with God.  Eternity – forever and ever and ever and, well you get the point.  For those who have gone before us into the everlasting life, sometimes we pity them because they are not still here.  This is wrong – we should pity ourselves because we are not in Heaven yet!  No one feel sorry for the guy who gets to check out early from work and go home to relax with his family.  In fact, this person is the subject of much jealously.  


God bless you and strengthen you this Lent,

Chloe M.  

    



    

How does she know that you love her?



     In Jason Evert’s new book, “Theology of his body / theology of her body”  he tackles a tough question  – perhaps one that you struggled with. 

     A young man asks him “I know it’s wrong to sleep with some girl you don’t care about, but what if you really love her?  You see, the girl I’m with now, I’d die for her.  I’m serious.  If someone put a gun to her head, I’d tell them to shoot me instead.  That’s how much I love this girl.”
 

     That’s great.  Really, it is – it is great to see that you would lay down your life in effort to save the girl you love.  So do it.  But unless your girlfriend has some secret past in the mafia, there is a pretty good chance this is never going to happen.

     But what if your boyfriend/girlfriend died today?  When he/she went and stood before God, would they be able to talk to Him about you and say that you always put his/her soul’s health before your own physical pleasure? 

     If you are ready to die for her, then it’s time to put your lust to death and guard her heart and her soul, instead of imaging what it would be like to give up your life for her in an imaginary situation.

     If you are in a relationship, you both are in a situation where you have an incredible opportunity to help another person to Heaven.  Don’t do things that will hinder you both from getting there.  Real love is shown by how much you sacrifice for each other – not how much you take from the other person to make yourself happy. 

   We are called to love like Christ loves the Church.  Christ shows the extent of His love for the Church when His arms are stretched across the cross.  How far are you willing to go for the one you love? 

God bless you all (and continued encouragement for your Lenten journey!)

Chloe M. 

The Ultimate Valentine

     I am sorry that this valentine is a day late…. I have been juggling a lot lately and have been limiting my Internet time for Lent.
    
     I am reading a book for Lent called Meditations to Deeper Prayer that is published by
Holy Family School of Faith.  It is truly a beautiful book.  Each day, there is a reading from a saint, spiritual book, or the Bible, and a quick reflection to help you start your day off.  I have to share the first day’s entry with you.  It was like reading a Valentine from God.


“I know you through and through.  I know everything about you.  The very hairs on your head I have numbered.  Nothing in your life is unimportant to me, and I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you – even in your wanderings.

I know every one of your problems.  I know your need and your worries.  And yes, I know all your sins.  But I tell you again and again tat I love you – not for what you have done or haven’t done – I love you for you, for the beauty and the dignity my Father gave you by creating you in His own image. 

It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin.  But I love you as you are, and I have shed my blood to win you back.  If you only ask me with faith, my grace will touch all that needs changing in your life; and I will give you the strenght to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.

I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and your hurts – the rejections, the judgements, the humiliations.  I carried it all before you.  And I carried it all for you, so you might share my strength and victory.  I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished.  But how often you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with even greater emptiness of sin.

Do you thirst for love?  Come to me all you who thirst.  I will satisfy you and fill you up.  Do you thirst o be cherished?  I cherish you more than you can imagine to the point of dying on a cross for you.

I thirst for you.  Yes, this is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you:  I thirst for you.  I thirst to love and be loved by you – that is how precious you are to me.  I thirst for you.  Come to me, and fill you heart and heal your wounds. 

If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all.  For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.  I thirst for you.  Open to me, come to me, thirst fro me, give me your life – and I will prove how important you are in my heart.  No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to remember always, on thing that will never change: I thirst for you – just as you are.  You don’t need to change to believe in my love, for that will be your belief and my love will change you.  You forget me, and yet I am seeing you very moment of the day – standing at the door and knocking.

Do you find this hard to believe?  Then look at the cross and look at my heart that was pierced for you.  Have you understood the cross?  Then listen again to the words that I spoke there – for they tell you clearly I endured all this for you.  I thirst.  Yes, I thirst for you, and as the rest of the Psalm verse which I was praying says of me: “I looked for love, and I found none.”  (Ps. 69:20)

All your life I have been looking for your love – I have never stopped seeking to love and be loved by you.  You have tried many other things in your search for happiness; why not try opening your heart to me, right now, more than you ever have before.

Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words, but in spirit: “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.”  Come o me with your misery and your sins, with your trouble and needs, and with all your longing to be loved.  I stand at the door of your heart and knock.  Open to door for me, for I thirst for you.”

-I thirst, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. 

God bless you all and may you draw ever closer to Him during this Lenten season,

Chloe M. 



Why all the disrespect?

Pope Benedict’s resignation has caused a spark that has developed into a rolling flame of hatred coming in from the social media.  This raises a simple question:


                                                      Why?


Why the lack of sympathy?  Why the sudden hatred for the Pope?  Why the outrage at Catholicism in general?

Yet when we belong to the Church founded by Christ Himself, we are bond to make some enemies who cannot resist attempting to take us down with nothing but crude langauge and talk.  The only thing certain in the following month to come is that this new selection, like all the selections before it, will be overseen by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We should thank God for such a fine Pope that we have been given through Pope Benedict and ask God for a worthy succesor.   

Yet if we put this happening in a different situation, there would be a different reaction.  For instance, if this was a Muslim cleric resigning from a high position, there would be no such outrage, language, and hatred.  Examples from twitter include:

Pope Benedict XVI is to resign on February 28 due to his “deteriorating” health.

“He will be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in almost 600 years, with his departure expected to leave the post vacant for around three weeks.

The 85-year-old German’s resignation letter said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

“However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.”

He will step down after almost eight years in the post, having been elected in April 2005.”

-(Full Story)

I’ll continue to post more as more updates are given.

Please pray for Pope Benedict, the cardinals who are to choose our next Pope, and those whom the conclave chooses to be our next Pope.  All could greatly use our prayers and support in this time.

God bless you all,

Chloe M. 

 What are you giving up?





     Every year, lent rolls around and I usually resort to giving up really common things (coffee, pop, sweets, etc.).  So I have to share some of thes ideas that are collected from muliple blogs for unique and awesome ideas for what to give up for Lent.

1) Don’t allow yourself to be impatient.  Stay in the slow lane in traffic, pick the longest line in the grocery store and park in the back of the parking lot. 

2)  Give up texting – but instead of just not talking to people because you can’t type it on your smart phone, sit down and write them a genuine, heart-felt letter that describes what they mean to you and how glad you are that they are in your life.

3)  Don’t curl/straigthen your hair.  (This one is for the girls).

4)  Don’t listen to the radio in your car.  Either have a good conversation with the person in the car with you, or pray to God for the duration of your car ride.

5)  Give up warm shower.  If this is too extreme, for the last thirty seconds of your shower, turn it cold and offer it up for someone who needs prayer in your life.

6) Get up half an hour earlier than you usually would and use that half an hour for prayer time with Christ.  There really isn’t a better way to start off the day!

7)  Use the money that you would use for fast food or coffee and give it to your food pantry at the end of Lent.

What are you giving up for Lent?  Let me know in the comments below!

God bless you all,

Chloe M. 

The Forgotten Branch
Mary’s significance in our Faith Family Tree – a Lesson taught to me by School of Faith.







     When defending Catholic’s belief in the significance of Mary, it is best to start off with what we have in common with our Protestant brothers and sisters.  We all believe that Mary is the Mother of God.  So what follows should be things that we can agree on, too.

     When we are baptized, we all become Christ’s brothers and sisters.  If we have Christ as our common brother, then this means that we humans are all brothers and sisters to one another as well.  With Christ as our brother, we share Christ’s Father: God the Father.  This is also common knowledge.  This is where our Protestant brothers and sisters stop.  Yet how can we share Christ’s siblings and father without also sharing His mother?  Thus, we all have Mary as our Heavenly mother.

     I’ll go over some of the stumbling points that we can get tripped up on concerning Mary.  These are points that we can back up with the advice from the Catechism (Tradition) and the Bible (Scripture).  Stumbling Block One: Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

     We believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  This does not have anything to do with her conception of Christ.  This has to do with the fact that Mary, from the moment of her conception was and is free from all sin. 

     The stumbling block in this case is that it leads us to wonder if Mary really needed a Savior.  She was, after all, walking about without ever having sinned.  To answer this, we must realize that there is two ways to get a cure for horrible sickness.  Option one is to get a cure after you have contracted the disease.  Option two is to never have the sickness, to have preventable measures taken. 

     God did save Mary from sin – from the moment of her birth.  He did not allow sin to taint her soul.   After all, if Christ’s divinity came from His Father (God), then His humanity had to come from His mother (Mary).  If Mary’s humanity was tainted with sin, then Christ would have inherited that sin.  Thus, Mary had to be without sin from the momnt of her conception: always and forever pure and spotless in the sight of God.  

Stumbling Block Two: Mary, Ever Virgin.
     We believe that Mary is ever virgin.  To dispute this belief, our Protestant brothers and sisters will point to this verse: “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.  And he gave him the name Jesus.”  (Matthew 1:25).

     To some, the word “until” implies that Joseph was with Mary after she gave birth to Christ.  Yet in the Bible, the word “Until” means only something that did not happen up to a certain point.  It does not have anything to do with what happened later, which is how we use the word in modern terms.  To prove this point, all you have to do is plug the modern version of “until” into other passages of the Bible.

     In 2 Samuel 6:23, the verse reads “Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no children until the day of her death.”  Now, this obviously does not mean that Michal had kids after she died.  It means she didn’t have any children.  

     Another passages is in Deuteronomy 34:6.  “No one knew the location of the grave until this present day.”  Yet no one knows about the site of the burial place of Moses today, either. 

     I could provided tons of examples, but I think the point is made.  The word “until”  does not imply Mary wasn’t a virgin.  The New American Bible translates the verse: “He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son” and the Knox edition says “He had not known her when she bore a son.” 
Stumbling Block Three:  Mary is in competition with Christ

     Mary is not in competition with Christ.  It’s not like they are in a race to get the most people to Heaven.  Rather, they work as a team to save souls from the clutches of the enemy. 

     Christ could have accomplished the whole saving of the world without the assistance of Mary.  Yet He chose to include Mary in the plan for salvation.   Thus, because Christ Himself did not ignore Mary’s role, we too cannot ignore our mother.

     If you all were invited over to my house and I had my whole family join us, would it not be rude for you to ignore my mother the whole night?  Not only would it be an insult to my mother, but it would also be an insult to me, as you did not respect and recognize a person that I hold very dear.

     You do not offend God by honoring the saints and Mary.  Rather, you honor and flatter an artist by showing honor to their work.  If an artist came to you and gave you a painting to ask for your opinion and you said “Well….I love you!” They would reply, “And what about my work?” To reply to them, “You are just really great!  I love you as a person!”  would insult their work.  It would be similar to ignoring my mom at dinner.

     Every artist has a masterpiece.  When they feel that they have created something to the best of their ability.  For God, this was Mary.  She was pure, holy, and without a touch of sin.  She is what we were all meant to be, but lost because of the actions of Adam and Eve.   So do not feel you are cutting God short by honoring Mary as Christ’s mother.

In short, Mary is our mother.  She loves us incredibly and wants to see all of her children in Heaven with her.  She is a source of incredible grace, and an advocate that we can never replace.  Please tap into this incredible source of love that the Father has provided us by giving us the same mother who He gave to His own Son.God bless you all,

Chloe M.