A Resolute New Year

I knew it was probably a bad sign that as of Jan. 3rd, I still hadn’t made the time to make New Year’s resolutions.

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I love planning (a little too much) and I love making goals (a little too often) but when it comes to carrying plans and goals through, I tend to slack off. A lot.

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I  realized that I tend to make too many resolutions. Suddenly, I have a list of 23 improvements that I want to make in the new year, and none of them are small tasks. I get tired of trying to conquer all of them, or even five of them, at one time. And then I do none of them. And go on Pinterest. And check Facebook. And go back on Pinterest. And aimlessly wander around my house, too bored of relaxing. Welcome to my typical life as a college student on break.

But, on January 3rd, I am changing that. Notice I didn’t say, “I will change that.” Clearly making goals isn’t my problem. I am making too many goals, and not following through with any of them. Instead of goals however, I am making a resolution.

The definition of resolute is:

“Firm or determined, unwavering”

“Firm in purpose or belief, steadfast”

I will not make specific resolutions, I will confine the burden and necessity of specificity to goals. My 2014 resolution is different, and there is only one.

In my free time [outside of work, school, friends, and other obligations], I resolve to create and cultivate more than I consume. I’ve been noticing that most of my down time is spent consuming other people’s creations: Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, etc. Instead, I want to learn more skills, acquire more knowledge of non-school related topics, do more. I don’t want to be influenced by society, but rather I want to influence society. I desire to become a better, stronger me.

When I selfishly hoard the time (that doesn’t even belong to me) in my day to fill it completely up with aimless activities (aka watching all six seasons of Psych) I find that it is a lot harder to love and give myself to others. However, the other day, I spent ten minutes in my room at college because I decided I wanted to learn guitar. And as a result of that ten minute crash course of “The Book of Love” on guitar, I got to run out to perform for my ever so patient and adoring fans friends. I was able to bring other people into my life, because I had something to invite them into, something that I created, no matter how bad it really was. (But really, it wasn’t…)

*I won’t relegate reading to an activity of consumption, because while it technically is, there are so many benefits that it also an act of cultivation. Feel free to fight me on this. I’ll give you fair warning: I’m an English major. I’ll likely not change my opinion on that so easily.

I have other daily, weekly, and monthly goals in life, but this is my resolution. My firm, unwavering, steadfast conviction:

I will create more than I consume.

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Finding Your Hedgehog

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I’m going to be honest. I got really excited that I get to name my blog post that. Not only because that means I get to post cute hedgehog pictures like this,

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But also because it has a purpose! Lately, I have been hearing a lot about this concept called, “finding your hedgehog” which essentially means discovering what you, as an individual, can be the best at. This analogy comes from the idea that a fox can do what it does best and invent all these strategies to attempt to attack a hedgehog (think that poor little wolf in The Sword and The Stone). And a hedgehog, though it doesn’t seem like much, can do the one thing it does best in the world: roll up into a little ball and protect itself. The idea behind this concept is that if we take the time to list what we are most passionate about, what we are wired to do, and what we can do in reality to make a living, then we will find where they intersect, and there will be our hedgehog – the things that we do that we can be excellent in. 

I think everyone would benefit from taking some quiet time, perhaps sitting on your deck with a cup of coffee watching the leaves change (can anyone tell I’m excited that it is fall…?) and thinking about these three areas. Wouldn’t everyone like to find something that they are most passionate about, built to do, and practical to carry out? I think we tend to get lost in the details a lot – the everyday-ness of life. It’s not a quick process to “find your hedgehog.” It could take a lengthy amount of time. But it is definitely worth it. 

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I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience trying to find my “hedgehog.” I haven’t found it yet, or even a real live hedgehog, but I’m not discouraged. One day I was having a typical senior-in-college moment where I was thinking, “I don’t know what I want. There’s nothing I’m passionate about. I don’t have any passion. I’m not good at anything. There’s nothing that I want to do.” It’s a normal inner monologue where you can clearly see my thought process going in circles. Not the most productive internal examination of myself I’ve done. Literally the next day I was in a meeting where they brought up the concept of finding your hedgehog. Then they gave us 20 minutes to list those three areas of our lives. Here’s a visual of the concept:

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I thought to myself, “great, now I have to come up with things I am passionate about and skilled at and they have to be good because I’ll be sharing them with everyone else.” It was a good, if not mocking, turn of events, and it helped, although my passion list was a bit short. I’ll be working on that this week. A few of the things I shared were:

Some things I am passionate about:

(These can be anything from objects to actions to people to artists)

  • Having the perfect amount of creamer in my coffee
  • Dancing
  • Early mornings
  • Organizing my living spaces
  • Making Goals
  • Bubble Baths

Some things I am wired/built to do:

  • Being good at organization
  • Willing to listen
  • Planning parties
  • Slow to anger

I would highly recommend taking time out of your busy everyday life in order to think about these things, because too often we forget to really evaluate ourselves and discover opportunities that draw us deeper into the wonder, the passion, the drive, and the excitement of the everyday life we live when we are doing what we are called to do.

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Propose Love

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Have you ever gone to a incredible restaurant and not wanted to tell anyone about it? You loved going there, the food was amazing, the service was top-notch, and the atmosphere was mind-blowing. Kind of like this:

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Or this:

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But when people asked you how it was, you responded half-heartedly and didn’t give them a lot of details. Has this ever happened to you? Because that sounds like a strange situation to me. Aside from the fact that I’ve never been to one of those fancy restaurants, I’m pretty sure I would talk about it with my family and friends (and acquaintances) and show them pictures and try to get them to come with me to the restaurant. If it was a really awesome experience, it would probably be a good conversation topic with strangers too.

The reason I bring this up, is not in fact a subtle hint/invitation to go to one of these incredible places (Did it work?), but rather to talk about something else. When was the last time you shared an experience you had with Christ, or a way Christ worked in your life with other people? Why am I so quick to tell everyone about a movie that I just saw that I loved, but I won’t mention a revelation I had in personal prayer that day? When is the last time you intentionally sought someone out for the purpose of bringing them closer to God?

I forget a lot of times that the Church’s main purpose is evangelization. That means that evangelization and mission are not simply left to those who serve a year or two on NET ministry or become an SPO missionary or whose college major is Evangelization and Catechesis. Each and every one of us is called to evangelization.

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I don’t think I fully understood this mission of the Church growing up. I saw my relationship with Christ as very much a “me and Jesus” type of relationship. Yes, I’m supposed to cultivate an intimate friendship with Him, but after being fed and becoming faithful to those truths of Christ’s love and mercy, I’m called to share it and not keep it to myself. Not only because as a member of the Catholic Church I am called to it, but because I want to. Experiencing God in my life every single day is much better than going to an awesome restaurant or a fun party. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with people I meet in my daily life?

 

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, we must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. 

Obviously, being on mission looks different for everyone, and it looks different at each stage in your life. I am not called to be on mission right now the same as a missionary in Africa is. I was reading an article about evangelizing in daily life and I came across this quote,

“Pope Francis outlines pretty clearly the mission of the Church. We must make a proposition of Jesus to the world. We must propose Love. From this proposition the moral consequences then flow.” Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. “

In our everyday lives, we should “propose Love” in our thoughts, words, and actions. As someone once wrote, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. If our daily actions and habits are not centered on Christ, then ultimately our lives won’t be. It is a lot easier to have a mentality of evangelization if you run a youth group or are involved in a ministry team while in college. I’m not there yet, but after graduation I’m guessing it gets harder to intentionally be on mission. But it is a simple as loving and caring for those who God introduces into your path and not being afraid to admit the huge part that He plays in your daily life. If He is so merciful to You, wouldn’t you want others to realize how merciful He is to them?

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I think we tend to hide behind the maxim, “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” instead of simply using your actions to hopefully portray your beliefs, I challenge you to use your words. Our primary goal is to get to Heaven, but it is also to bring with us as many people as we can. 
 
What an amazing act of love it is that Christ died for us to live in eternal happiness with Him. Look at a crucifix. This is what Christ did for us. Now what are we going to do about it? 
 
Propose Love.
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Interior Mortification of the Imagination

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I think sometimes we have a tendency to escape inside ourselves if things are not going our way. We compensate for not being satisfied in this world by going to an imaginary world inside our heads where we always make the best decisions, there are always exciting adventures to be found, and our relationships with others are perfect. I feel like we can also be stuck in the past, reliving glimpses of our lives, either exciting moments where we found happiness for just a moment, or moments where we said or did the wrong thing that we want to take back, but are still kicking ourselves for saying or doing them.

There’s only one a lot of problems with that. That world inside our head, that we make up, or are stuck in the past in, isn’t real. There is no truth to it. And worse then it being useless to continue to live in our imaginations, it can be harmful to our spiritual life.

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This subject of practicing interior mortification of the imagination has come up in a number of different meditational books I’ve been reading and has been convicting for me. And one point they make is crystal clear.

You can not have an interior spiritual life if you do not control your imagination.

In other words, it is vital to the life of your soul to practice interior mortification. 

Now, please don’t leave this thinking that I think imagination is sinful, and we should try to squash the imagination of little children everywhere. I think it is a beautiful gift that God has given us and should be used and exercised, but unfortunately like anything good in the world, the devil can so easily twist it into something harmful, and we should be aware of the temptations that our soul can fall into. Here is an excerpt that I found helpful when reading about this subject:

“The imagination is a faculty that is undeniably very useful to us, since the soul united to the body cannot think without images. But, to be useful, the imagination must be directed by right reason illumined by faith; otherwise it may become, as someone has said “the mad woman in the house.” It diverts us from the consideration of divine things and inclines us toward vain, inconsistent, and fantastic, or even forbidden things. At the very least, it leads us to daydreaming that gives rise to sentimentality, which is opposed to true piety.”

Here is also a definition of mortification of memory, another important interior practice:

Mortification of the memory —

avoiding useless recollections which make us waste time and which could lead us into more serious temptations.

Just like we are called, in order to avoid spiritual slothfulness, to practice daily mortification, such as giving up Facebook for a weekend, or not putting creamer in our coffee, or deciding not to eat sweets or listen to music, we are also called to practice interior mortification. I’m definitely not an expert at this – here I am, sitting in a ridiculously comfy papasan chair, drinking coffee (aka 3/4 creamer and a dash of coffee), in yoga pants and a delightfully warm thrift store sweater trying to get up the energy to think about which of those things to give up this week for mortification. Oh yeah, and I just ate two brownies. It’s really difficult sometimes.

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But sometimes, my weak nature decides to be like:

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My household at college should probably just have a jar like this:

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This is part of the path to holiness. So often I forget that my end goal is to be with Christ forever – to become a saint. But daily mortifications, the giving up of good things for the sake of suffering for Christ, it reminds me of what I am here to accomplish – who I am here to love. You can’t be holy without an interior spiritual life, and you can’t have an interior spiritual life without this interior mortification. It has been helpful for me, along with picking an external mortification, to pick some sort of interior mortification – perhaps deciding not to think about certain memories that tend to come back to me daily, or to not think over something I said that I wish I hadn’t. It’s been harder for me than I expected, and it will be impossible if I don’t come to Christ for help. But the results of constantly working on interior mortification is purity of heart and purity of intention, which is something that is vital to the life of the soul, which is why I will continue in my daily struggle to master it.

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{Examining Daily Joy}

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I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at doing an examination of conscience before I go to bed. I wish I was better and I’ve tried to employ countless ideas to aid with this shortfall, but I either forget or I fall asleep before I ever really get to examining my day. I think part of the reason is that I lay down in bed, after a long day, and now I realize that I have to go over that long day, back through all the classes, the times when I was supposed to wake up and run but instead slept for another half hour, and list all of the things that I did wrong that day. That’s not exactly the way I want to end my day.

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I heard the other day that Mother Teresa’s examination of conscience consisted in asking herself where in her day that she found joy, where in her day that she did not find joy, and why that was. It has been an immense help. I won’t lie and say that I always remember to do it now, but I find that it is much more helpful and revealing to myself than the other methods I’ve tried.

For example: One day I was thinking about the times that I found joy in my day last week. One that I came up with was going on a four mile run in the morning. I’m training for a half marathon, and I had to wake up way before the sun came up because in Kansas it is ridiculously hot and muggy even when the sun isn’t out, so running before the sun comes up is my only option. It was hard to get up and it was hard to run four miles, because if you know me, you know that I’m not a natural runner. But afterwards I had found so much joy in it because it was something I had committed to doing and I wanted to do it, even though it was hard and not fun. On the flip side, later that day I ate an obscene amount of M & M’s (whoever’s idea to have a “chocolate bowl” at our house clearly knows the weaknesses of college girls) and you know what? I did not get a single ounce of joy in that moment. It told me a lot about myself and also gave me more motivation for my training.

So, if you have difficulties with doing an examination of conscience, I would recommend trying Mother Teresa’s way, because for me, it is particularly illuminating and life-giving.

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Love & Laziness

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It’s summer. And I’m a college student. And because of this combination, my brain has automatically been programmed to believe that I have a free pass to do whatever I want. Sure, I work 40 hours a week and take a night class, but everyday when I get home from work I get to reward myself with the next 8 hours of anything I think sounds good, right? Trust me, it sounds a lot more logical after a day of placating angry customers and repeatedly running up 3 flights of stairs in a pencil skirt and heels (not recommended) in order to serve people who open their door half dressed (I suppose that just comes with working at a hotel… but really.)

Well, this is essentially the mindset that I’ve gotten into this summer and I’m going to give you a wild guess at how well this has turned out for me. On a positive note – I found out that I don’t have Lymes disease or low iron – but on the other side of that, I guess I have nothing to blame my crabbiness on now. Darn it. I feel like a lot of young college students can get into that habit of seeing summer as a “time off” from the normal responsibilities of life. College is a unique time in life and one that I know will never come again, but I’ve realized that summer is not a “time off” from working on my spiritual life, or my intellectual life, or my emotional or physical health. Yet, that is what I have found myself doing.

It's amazing how accurate this can be. Sometimes, an act of love is carrying through with plans you've made but at that moment don't feel like going.

It’s amazing how accurate this can be sometimes. Sometimes, an act of love is carrying through with plans you’ve made but at that moment don’t feel like going.

 

As an introverted phlegmatic, I’ve found that a particular weakness of mine is slothfulness. I can seriously be downright lazy sometimes. Also, it probably doesn’t help that I’ve now perfected my “sloth (as in the animal) pose”. It’s quite comfy. I’ve noticed though that being lazy doesn’t only affect me and my personal goals for my life, but it affects the people around me. When I want to be lazy I’m not thinking about other people, I’m thinking about myself and my petty worldly desires.

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Ultimately, this isn’t what I want my summer to be about. I don’t want it to be about me, because if I am focused on myself then I lose a ton of ground in my spiritual growth. Instead of remembering my ultimate goal of living a holy life in order to spend eternity with Christ, I get sidetracked and focus on other selfish desires, such as having an (outwardly) put-together life in order to impress other people or seeing how much I can shirk on my responsibilities in order to get the most leisure out of summer. The problem with chasing those selfish desires is that they are easy. And that’s why I unfortunately chase them so much of my life. It’s easy, but it doesn’t make me happy. Good thing I found that out only 11 weeks into summer…

I know college is a time to figure out who I am and who I want to be, and because of that I tend to place the focus on myself a lot. But if I do that, I forget to love. I forget to love Christ. I forget to love those around me. I think I’m loving myself, but the choices I make, if they are done out of laziness or selfish desire, are really hurting me in the long run.

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What do you love? Do you love sacrificing your time and energy to make someone else’s day? Do you love to stop into Adoration for a few moments to cultivate an intimate friendship with God? Do you love to get home from work, forget about other people and your goal of exercising and eating well and instead watch a movie and eat way more than one serving of chocolate covered acai blueberries)? For me, it depends on the day, but I hope with the few weeks of summer that I have left, I will be able to focus more on Christ and other people and choose love instead of laziness.

Also, for the record, I found out that these so called “blueberries” aren’t actual blueberries at all. They’re “fruit juice pieces”. That shot my whole “attempt-to-convince-myself-that-they-were-actually-healthy” to the ground.

Today, something that I love:

Going for a morning run with my best friend and sister, Laura on the day that she marries her best friend.

Going for a morning run with my best friend and sister, Laura, on the day that she marries her best friend, Eric.

The Discipline of Spontaneity

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What a delightful piece of advice!

For those of you who happen to know me, you’ll find out something about me quite quickly. I am not a naturally spontaneous person. And by that I mean when I see spontaneity approaching I oh-so-subtely and casually slowly turn around and hide until it passes by me. As one of my friends told me, she knows when I will say no to something if I say “potentially…”. And here I was thinking that was a good, neutral response. After all, I haven’t said no yet, I could still change my mind! Or at least that’s what I tell myself and her until an hour later when I don’t go.

Yep, I’m predictable, and I’m fine with that. It is not important to me to keep people guessing at who I am or what I’ll say or do. But being predictable doesn’t exclude being spontaneous. One definition of spontaneous is, “suddenly, without deliberation.” And I like to deliberate, I like to plan, I like to know what is going to happen, which right there is the problem. The opposite of being spontaneous is not being organized or planning. The opposite of true spontaneity is fear. I’m not talking about the kind of spontaneity where me and a housemate will decide to ditch studying and eat banana pancakes all day while watching random shows and speaking completely in weird noises. That might have happened on occasion.

The spontaneity I’m talking about is one that can go by a different name, adventure. And while adventure requires some planning, it is impossible to know what will happen along the way, who we’ll encounter, and what challenges we’ll come across. Oh, surprise surprise, I think I just described all of life. Thinking that I can or should have the ability to control the outcomes to situations or know them in advance and rejecting other avenues that are offered is simple fear and pride.

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While planning and organization exercise virtues such as self-discipline and temperance, spontaneity encourages courage, boldness, and openness, which are important virtues as well. To use a term from a class I recently took (yes, I’m sorry, I know it’s summer…), Planning and spontaneity are not in a binary, in other words, they are not polar opposites of each other. I can be disciplined and organized but also be equally as spontaneous. Is it easy for me? Nope. Not at all. But it’s a learning process, just as becoming organized is a learning process for those who are more spontaneous by nature. But in many ways, we are all learners and we will be learning all our life. 

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The Freedom in Tranquility

"Not all stars belong to the sky"

“Not all stars belong to the sky”

I feel like many times I will find myself dwindling away countless minutes on Facebook and Pinterest when I wake up, in between classes, after appointments, and before I go to bed at night. I’ve realized lately how I’ve taken that to be my “relaxing time” and I keep myself busy from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed with other things. However, I decided that I wouldn’t consider that to be “relaxing” because I really don’t actively choose to take those few minutes to relax – I’m really doing it mindlessly.

I think it’s important to intentionally take time to relax in my day, or knowing me, I won’t take it. I decided to start doing yoga in the afternoons after classes as a way to take a break in the middle of my day. It’s peaceful, I feel relaxed, and I take this time to not think about all the things I have to do that day. Well, I’m going to be honest, that worked out well for a day, and I haven’t had time to do it since. Hypocrite? Most definitely. But it’s teaching me something. It’s making me realize that I tend to fill up my days with things that are urgent, but not important. As an example of this: Sending an e-mail checking up on a job is urgent because it is something I need to do to get ready for summer, but not important. Calling an old friend to catch up because I want to maintain a strong relationship with her is important, but not urgent. Sometimes I’ll find myself sending e-mails and researching things on the computer while I distractedly talk on the phone with someone from home. I’ve noticed that these urgent tasks are taking my priority away from my important tasks. If I don’t even have time have a good conversation with someone I’m walking past, then I’m too focused on my “task list” for the day. If that happens, it means I’ve become a slave to my urgent tasks and I’ve relinquished my freedom. I’ve forgotten my primary vocation: to love. I forget it when I can’t wait 5 minutes until I’m off the phone to wash the dishes. I forget it when I can’t focus on a story someone is telling me because I’m checking my e-mail.

Taking the time to relax is important. It is as important as doing the tasks on my to-do list everyday. And taking time out of the day to focus fully on important tasks rather than urgent tasks is necessary if I want to maintain healthy relationships, with my family, friends, and Christ.

What I’ve decided is, because I am that crazy woman who is a morning person, to take a little of my time to relax in the mornings. Why? This sums it up pretty well:

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The Joy in Detachment

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This reminds me of the magnolia trees that are starting to bloom around campus! Simply lovely.

The weather this weekend has been absolutely beautiful. It has been sunny, 75, and just a hint of a breeze. The best part is, I talked myself into signing up for the Color Run hosted at Benedictine and have started running every day in the mornings with a housemate! I discovered how much I absolutely love running outside early in the morning. Am I currently so sore that it is hard to sit down? Perhaps, but it’s all worth it.

Besides beautiful weather and blessed friendship, this weekend has been helpful in another way – detachment. Christ has been asking me to give up some things and it has been quite a test. The thing with detachment, at least in my own life, is that Christ asks me to give up something that is considered a good. A lot of times, this is hard to wrap my mind around because I know that God has created me to serve Him, and He has also created me to be happy (Yes, I know that sometimes those two statements are hard to believe together). But of course He created me to be happy! He didn’t create me because He needed me, but because He wants to love me and give me the gift of life.

So when I’m called to detach myself from a good, with nothing inherently wrong in it, it can be a challenge. But in the best way possible. I’ve learned that when God chooses to take something away from me, it helps to say, “The Lord gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” And yes, I’ve decided that it still counts if it is said through gritted teeth or tears. It helps. It truly does.

This weekend I went to a symposium advancing the New Evangelization which was incredible. In one talk, the speaker mentioned the morning Liturgy of Hours (which my housemates and I do during the week) and how it was a message of hope before a day of misery. I was almost depressed at that but I realized that I’m not made for this earth. In fact he said, “Catholic life is not difficult, it is impossible, without God’s grace.”

You see, I could look at being asked to give up these essentially good things as unfair or terrible. But the thing is, I’m continually striving to have a deep, intimate relationship with Christ. I’m forever being shown how much the persons of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are head over heels in love with me. Me. All rules and sacrifices only make sense if I understand His intimate love for me and if I’m in love with Him. A speaker made the analogy with a marriage – a woman loves her husband and because they are married she doesn’t date other people. She has different rules and obligations that wouldn’t apply to her if she wasn’t married to him. But she believes she is the luckiest woman in the world, because of their love for each other. This is the same way for us. The speaker said, “a vast majority of Catholics live in a loveless marriage with God.” That is why giving things up, good things, can seem so unfair to us, and to me many times, because I forget that basic truth.

Fostering an intimate relationship with Christ is key to peace and happiness in the midst of the chaos that is my life as a college student, and yours, wherever you are in life. I was left with this chilling reminder from the Bishop of Madison this weekend:

“I wish we ran towards Christ with as much passion and energy as so many people around us are running towards hell.”

This makes me look at my own life and see – which way am I running? Because selfishly refusing to give up what God has asked me to does not mean that I’m running towards Him.

The Value of Words

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I’m definitely an introvert, but over the last year or two I’ve noticed something; I can talk a lot. I’ve heard that men talk around 7,000 words a day while women speak around 20,000 words per day. Oy vey. That’s a lot of opportunities every day for both men and women to encourage, affirm, put down, hurt or wound all depending on what comes out of our mouths.

A scripture that has been really convicting for me lately has been Matthew 12:34

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

I heard a talk about how powerful the ability to control your tongue really is. If you can control your tongue, the speaker said, you can control your entire person. Speech is such a powerful tool to use and like any thing it can be used for a tremendous good or it can be used for evil. And using it for evil doesn’t necessarily only mean saying bad things about people or using it to be blatantly rude, but using it only to further your own good. Thinking back to my own life, how many times have I carelessly interrupted people or not listened to other people becausehave a good point to make?

If I have pure intentions and a clean heart, my speech will be pure and clean. If I’m feeling bitter or angry or self-seeking, then what I talk about and how I talk about things will also be (most likely subtly) bitter, angry, or self-seeking. Further in that same verse in Matthew it goes on to say:

“I tell you, on the day of judgement men will render account for every careless word they utter;

for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

That is a whole lot of responsibility based on my every day conversation. And what do we talk about? How much of our conversations do we have that are surface level or revolve around pointless things? Obviously, it would be impossible and too scrupulous to spend time thinking about every word we say, but we know ourselves. I know when I’ve spent a conversation well or when I’ve spent it all talking about myself, talking about an annoying person in my class, or even focusing on things negatively.

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As a terrible example, I had a great, fun conversation with some friends last night. We didn’t laugh about people that were sitting around us in the caf and we didn’t focus on ourselves. We talked about the value of always walking around with crisco on us so that if we ever get attacked, we can simply slip out of their grasp. A pretty novel idea, right?
On a kind of related side note, one friend came up to my table at the caf while I was eating and said, “this caf represents the entirety of my earthly desires. I can eat every single thing that looks good and still I am never satisfied.” Suffice it to say, my mind was blown.
It’s good to look at my friendships and see what our conversations revolve around, because if I want healthy relationships then I need to work more on guarding my tongue. I think that we can all improve our speech, because looking back, can I really stand in front of Jesus and be confident and proud of everything that I’ve said? (For me, that’s a huge no.) I think that controlling speech comes from taking a deep look into your own heart. If my heart is in the right place then uplifting speech will come naturally. But if my heart is focused on my desires, then I recognize how I use my speech for my own selfish purposes. Whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is true, think on these things. Because if think with purity of heart then our speech will mirror our virtue, just as it will mirror our vices.

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