I’ve had so much coffee today that picking just one drink isn’t going to be easy.  Ok, honesty hour, I’ve had so much coffee this week  that all the drinks blend into one (no pun intended).  Yet the root of the extra caffeine is simply because my increase of coffee is making up for a decrease in sleep hours – which happens to be nineteen hours of sleep this week.  That is a new record if anyone is counting.  Thankfully homework has settled down, midterms are done for the most part, and I am ready to embark onto another week of coffee sipping and hopefully sleeping.

     Where was I? Oh right, coffee reminiscing.  Can you tell I’m still a little sleep deprived? I’m going to have to go with the new spiced pumpkin latte from Panera with my “What I’m Drinking” for the week.  Every Saturday night I swing by that bakery and this week I saw that their coffee menu had changed to include this beauty.  Guys.  It’s amazing.  And call me the typical white girl as long as you want (minus the Starbucks, more on that later) but there is nothing quite like a pumpkin coffee as you watch the leaves off your back porch.

Ah, a site of beauty. 
Would you look at that? Just look at it!

      Now onto the thoughts of my crazy, jumbled brain, if that wasn’t crazy and jumbled enough for you.  My little sister is eighteen years old, which is a fact that usually blows my mind.  It doesn’t seem that I’m old enough to have a little sister who has also crossed the bridge to the adult world. Yet, eighteen years old she is, and I’m incredibly proud of her.  It’s an incredible blessing to go to the same college as her as well – we share a professor this semester and it is exciting to know that when he talks about his ‘Freshman class,’ he’s talking about her.  

     Earlier this week she came home from classes and said that she wanted to go to Nicaragua over the winter break.  This floored me – because she’s not a super adventurous gal.  Yet she was not only wanting to go on this trip, she was excited about it.  She pulled up pictures, schedules, and sent off her request for a passport.  As I’m typing this, she just came home with her passport picture all printed and ready to go.  Her deposit was put down Tuesday.  Talk about delving into something that you are passionate and striving after a goal that you’ve selected for yourself.

                                             

 
     She is going to be able to expand into a better version of herself on this trip, and it all stemmed from the ability to get out of her comfort zone.  Getting out of your comfort zone is what I’m thinking about quite a bit this week.  Mady is taking a leap of faith and adventure that I wish I would have had the bravery to do in my freshman year in college.  Not that my freshman college experience was horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it was safe. 
     Our faith life isn’t meant to be ‘safe.’ Or ‘convenient.’  Instead, it is a call to get out of our comfort zones and interact with other human beings on this road to Heaven.  It means talking to people, and being vulnerable.  It means admitting you don’t have it all together – and realizing that perfection is a goal that is only reached when Heaven is attained.

    Take a lesson this week from Miss Mady.  Side not – she also blogs, I am beyond excited to be able to follow her adventures.  Get out of your comfort zone – and apply that to faith and general life goals tat you have in mind for yourself.  You do not have to travel internationally to accomplish amazing things for Christ.  You can be His hands and feet here with your own family, campuses, friends and workplaces.

    Saint Teresa of Avila (yet another one of my favorites up in Heaven) once said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”  Don’t be afraid to ask God for something that seems out of your reach.  If it is in His plan for your life, it’s going to work out.  Awareness that the answer could be ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Maybe’ is also 

     I wrote about this earlier this week, but it’s still relevant.  Get into the trenches.  Get out of your   comfort zone.  Life is too short – take it from the twenty year old who is realizing that my life could be over twenty percent lived.  Honestly, who knows? It could be that my life is already ninety percent completed.  But I know this – I don’t want to look back on my life (however much of it God gives me) and think “Wow, I could have done so much more for Him if I’d only put my plan aside and let Him take over.”

Be bold.  Jump into the deep end.  Drink some coffee.  Be Not Afraid.

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What I Didn’t Know When I Went on a Dating Fast

I haven’t gone on any dates for the past nineteen and half years.

But I chose to not go on any dates specifically these past five months, and my dating fast will end in less than two weeks. What have these past five months been like?  

Simply opening up every aspect of my life to God this year, including my love life (which I have been so reluctant to give Him) has been an amazing, humbling, gratifying, humbling, and beautiful experience.  Did I mention humbling? God has used these past five months to really let me in on somethings I didn’t know – and things I didn’t know a dating fast would even bring about.

I didn’t know that there were people who struggled with the same things that I did – both men and women.  Being on a dating fast and interacting with guys as brothers in Christ has given me the opportunity for amazing conversations with men that I wouldn’t have been able to have if I had been over analyzing and projecting my hopes for a relationship on them.

I didn’t know about the beauty of being spiritually attracted to someone and their walk with the Lord instead of just being attracted to them based on their outward, physical appearance.  Because when you can’t date someone, you begin to realize their qualities and observe with a general appreciation of who they are in the eyes of God.

I didn’t know about how much God can speak to your heart through scripture.  Switching my God journal back from a ‘talk at God about guys’ journal and back into ‘talk with God about life’ journal has made an incredible impact on my prayer life.  Opening up His word on a more regular basis and hearing Him speak to me through liturgy of the hour prayers and the rosary has also been something I wouldn’t have been able to tap into if I had been spending my time obsessing over dating.  Over and over I was shocked at the immense amount of love that was just waiting for me in those pages.

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What opening the Bible up felt like to me. 

I didn’t know how much I loved my sisters in Christ.  Both biological and spiritual, I am truly blessed to know some of the best ladies in the world.  And I’m not exaggerating.  Spending my dating fast as a time to sincerely get to know some of the women in my life was something I will never regret.  I’ve felt friendships get deeper and stronger than I ever have, and have been inspired by them over and over.

Would I advise going on a dating fast? Yes – on the condition of one thing.

Truly discern.  Don’t go on a dating fast because you’ve heard that once you go on one, someone will ask you out.  Don’t start because you’re afraid of what a committed relationship would look like, and scared that you’re not ready for that in your life.  Don’t begin simply because your singles status on Facebook has become a bargaining chip that you throw at God.

Yet be prepared.

Be prepared to be blown away by the way that God can speak to you through countless mediums. Friends, family, scripture, a homily, the rosary, the way a tree blossoms in the spring, or the smell of chocolate cologne (which shouldn’t be a thing, but it is.)

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Does this make me smell spiritually attractive? 

Be prepared to meet some amazing people who God will put in your life exactly when you need them.  Get ready to be awed by the maker of the universe. 

God can reach out and touch you through human interaction, and when those around you are open to being His hands and His feet, it really is a beautiful experience.

Am I glad it’s over? Hmm….yes and no. Complicated answer, huh? Let me explain.

I am glad to have experienced one-on-one God time.  And letting Him really take a hold of my heart and soul and flood it with love.  But that isn’t something that is going to go away now that the dating fast is over.  If anything, that time probably should increase.  Because when you are in a relationship with a human being, your relationship with God can’t take back burner.  You’re prayer life can’t become something you just do with your significant other and never solo.

But I do think that stepping away from even the thought of a relationship has really let me define what I want a God-driven relationship to look like before I even begin.

My dating fast, despite the fact that I didn’t have to physically give up dating or a boyfriend, wasn’t a walk in the park. I had an incredible mix of days where I struggled with my emotions.  On a Monday, I would so happy to be on the fast, and by Tuesday I felt like beating my head against a wall.  There were some knocked-down-dragged-out-crying-in-the-rain nights with the realization of how much I really needed God in my life.  Because, put simply, I don’t have it together.  It’s a challenge.


REAL dating, real chastity, and frankly, real love involves real work.  It’s not easy.  But one of my favorite saints, St. Catherine of Sienna, once said “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”  I can look back at the past five months without one regret.  I’m striving to treat guys like brothers in Christ and I’ve grown closer to the lover of my soul and maker of my heart. 

So when it comes to dating, relationships, and all that jazz.  Whether you’re in a relationship that is great and God filled or frankly you would be closer to God if you weren’t in the relationship you have, remember this.  You are worthy of respect.  And true love.  The greater the amount of respect that you have for yourself as a child of God and other people as brothers and sisters in Christ , the greater your ability to show true love is. 



Father Benedict once said “You were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”  Let’s go out there and live great lives together. ​


In Christ,

Chloe 



I heard the voice of Jesus say

Japan, 1603.  The art of Kabuki Theater begins – and it is something that has never been seen before. Actors emerge onto a stage with painted faces which indicate who their character is.  Their movements are so graceful that often the viewer cannot distinguish which movements are dance forms and which are the acting.  Actors train for years to be able to possess the honor of being in a public performance.  It is as if you are learning an entirely new language – the stylized motions convey the emotions that the heart speaks and the mouth has no words for.

Japan, 2015.  A Kabuki Theater performance is staged.  Actors and actresses perform, pride showing in their actions.  They have trained for year for this.  Not to shine as theater stars themselves, but to accurately portray the Kabuki performance the same way the actors before them did.  A Kabuki performance stands frozen in time – performed the same way over and over again.


The performance given in 2015 is the same performance one saw in 1615.

There is great pride in the preservation of the traditional Japanese theater – the actor who plays the part of a great hero says the same words, does the very same actions and wears the very same costume design that the original master actor said, did and wore.



The Last Supper, 33.  While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took the cup and when had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-30).

Mass on the First Sunday of Lent, 2015.  The priest leans over the host, elevates it and says, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.” And taking the wine, he says, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood.  The blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me.”

As Catholics, we gather in Church and are able to participate in the same sacrifice that occurred 2,000 years ago on Calvary.  

Yet our journey does not start by the foot of the cross.  Through the Mass we also are able to experience Christ as we are seated at His Last Supper, and then, (spoiler, my favorite part of the Mass) we join our voices with the angels and saints as we sing in adoration to a God who rose and is in Heaven.  

The Mass is not simply a performance or a ritual performed the same way and preserved for over two thousand years.  The words of consecration are not recited lines said by a priest who wants to be the best priest on the altar since Christ.  Instead, they are Christ’s words, spoken by a man who stands in the person of Christ.  

In Luke 10:16, Christ tells his priests that “He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me.”  The words “This is my body” does not come from the priest who stands in front of us.  We are not called to eat the flesh of Father fill-in-the-blank and drink his blood.  Instead, the priest acts as another Christ – in persona Christi.
  
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this belief as such: It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person, his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration, which he has received, is truly made like to the high priests, and possess the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ Himself.” 

It is not simply a rote rehearsal of words to make sure that we get everything “just right” and preserve the perfect tradition the way Christ would have liked it if he were still here.  Rather, HE is still here, in the very real way through His physical presence on the altar.

It is also not a simple show, costumes included, of bravado and strict and regulated art.  The priest does not ‘dress up’ as Christ and carry on actions as to imitate him.  Rather, he puts on Christ Himself.  Rather, even the vestments of the priests symbolize this participation in the person hood of Christ. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The fact that we are standing at the altar clad in liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there “in the person of an Other”. Just as in the course of time priestly vestments developed, they are a profound symbolic expression of what the priesthood means…the essence of the priestly ministry, interpreting the liturgical vestments themselves…”

And then we lay people get to participate in that same sacrifice of Calvary on the altar and receive the body and blood of Christ, crucified and risen, into our bodies through the hands of the priest. 

How beautiful! To be given the actual body of Christ through the hands of His priest, who stands in as another Christ.  Saint John Vianney, patron saints of priests, wrote, ““When you see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Saint John Chrysostom, a doctor of the Church, said in 391 AD, “Neither angel nor archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God; rather Father and Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand.”

There is great beauty in the priest acting in the person of Christ – and the beauty of interacting with the God of the Heavens and Creator of the Universe in such a physical way.  And while priests are given the honor of such an intimate way do not forget the fact that we too are asked to share in Christ’s life here on earth. 

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter five, he wrote, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.  Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

Act as Christ in your world.  Not as an actor, whose life after he is done impressing people returns to it’s state of normalcy or even discontented malice.  Instead, let Christ invade your live and take over so that we can say like Paul in his letter to the Galatians , “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  

Goodbye Comfort, Hello Greatness

Lent.  We all know it, we all have mixed feelings about it.  But the truth of the matter is that, in a mere thirty five minutes, Lent 2015 starts.

What’s the point?  Why not eat meat, give extra money away, pray more and toss the Alleluia and Glory to God out the window?

We’ll walk around with ashes on our heads and a little spot in our hearts wishing that Easter was already here so we could indulge in that chocolate that we’ve been craving all week.  And let’s not even talk about the Catholic phenomena about how McDonald’s hamburgers never sound good until a Friday during Lent.

But if it’s all just mortification and the ever present message that we’re going to die some day in the not-so-far future, why even do Lent?  It can be depressing, and the weight of the sacrifice can feel incredibly heavy sometimes.  And if it’s all for naught anyway, why even bother.

I’ll let someone with a much more rich theological knowledge help out:

“Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God” – Pope Benedict XVI.

The Deepest Hunger.

But how true!  We hunger for food because in this world there is food that will fill our stomachs and stop the hunger.  We thirst because in this world there is water (or coffee, whatever the case may be) to quench our physical thirst.

We crave love because there is an infinite and fulfilling love out there, ready to take our souls by storm and turn our lives upside down with His passion for us.

A passion and desire that God has for us to be with Him that is so great that he He wants to consume our very lives with it’s power.

Not just six hours of our lives until Easter.  Don’t let your lent become something you do when it’s convenient or when you happen to be at Mass on Sunday.

God is crazy in love with you.  And not the feel good warm fuzzy love.  The beaten to an inch of his life, thrown down and nailed on a cross, take every sin that was and will be onto his soul and lay it all out for YOU.

God thinks you are worth pursuing.

And what a beautiful opportunity Lent is – the chance to connect your suffering to the cross and relieve the burden of sin from Our Lord’s back!  The beauty of a crucifixion that exists outside of the human concept of time is the ability that we have to connect our suffering to Christ’s as He hangs on the cross for you.

Don’t let this Lent pass you by.  Don’t sit in the pew on Easter morning and think “Man, Lent went by fast this year!  I missed the chance to do anything…again.”  Seize this Lent as a chance to become a better version of you (thank you Matthew Kelly) and become fully alive.

“The world offers you comfort but you are not made for comfort.  You are made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVI.

Let’s make this a GREAT Lent.