What I’m up to these days…

Final exams are finished, thanks be to God!

However, I can’t make the trek back home yet, as my practicum project has a Christmas Eve service that I need to be at. So in spite of the fact that I’ll be going home ON Christmas Day, I’m enjoying the break and the time to relax by myself for now. I’ve got a knitting project on the go, as well as some books to read. One is a biography of St. Jean Marie Vianney by Francis Trochu and the other is a book on the Eucharist entitled Jesus:  Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Stefano Manelli. In addition to his own personal thoughts, he uses many quotes from the saints and Scripture to emphasize the beauty and greatness of this sacrament. An excerpt (from page 37):

When Jesus is mine, the whole Church rejoices:  the Church in Heaven, in Purgatory, and on earth. Who can express the joy the angels and saints feel at every Holy Communion worthily received? A new current of love enters Paradise and a new delight comes to the blessed spirits every time a creature unites himself devoutly to Jesus, to possess Him and be possessed by Him. A Holy Communion is of much greater value than an ecstasy, a rapture, or a vision. Holy Communion transports the whole of Paradise into my poor heart!

I’ve been taking this book to Mass with me and spending some time prior to Mass reading and reflecting on God’s Love of mankind. In Advent and at Christmastime we remember how God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to become Man and die for our sake. Jesus’ meekness at His birth in Bethlehem was only the beginning of His life of humility, and that humility is likewise made manifest in the Eucharist. The Son of God, King of Heaven and Earth, and Messiah of God’s people becomes present on our altars at Mass and even more! He enters our very selves when we receive Him in Holy Communion. Truly, He is Emmanuel.

I’m not even halfway through this book, but I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a terrific read for anyone who wants to grow closer to Our Lord through reflection and meditation on the love of God. The Mystical Body and Blood of Our Lord is the nearest to Heaven that we can get during our life on earth, so I encourage you to think about this next time you receive Holy Communion.

Until next time, peace be with you and God bless!

Make 2014 a year for learning!

bookstack

While I was reading my daily dose of Catholic blogs over on Big Pulpit, I came across something cool. Please note, I’m only saying its cool because I’m one of those scholarly young Catholics who like to read more about the Catholic faith (and because Vatican II fascinates me 😉 ). Nonetheless, its good for all Catholics to try and learn more, and what better time than the new year!

The cool thing I found was a reading plan that takes you through all of the Vatican II documents in fifty-two weeks. Each reading is a few paragraphs long (be warned: parts of it can be a little difficult to understand) and you only have to do one reading per day. You can find these documents online, or you can use the handy-dandy link I have included below.

For the reading plan, click here.

For links to the documents, click here.

May God bless each and every one of you!

Another anniversary…

Today is another special day for me. Not only is the Solemnity of All Saints; its my anniversary with Jesus.

On October 31, 2010, after almost a year of doubt and disbelief in God, I was struck by how much He loved me, even when I didn’t deserve it. I decided to come back into the fullness of the faith and follow Jesus. So the very next morning I started out by praying the Rosary and asking Mary to pray for me, and almost every day since then I have prayed the Rosary. I also promised God that I would remain pure according to my state in life, practice virtue (especially charity), and I would always strive to do His Will. As time went on, I gradually started adding more and more prayers to my daily routine, so that now I pray and read the Bible for almost an hour a day.

After a few months of praying a daily Rosary and a couple of other prayers, I started to see changes in myself. I went to Confession more frequently. Before that decision to follow Jesus, I would only go to Confession two or three times each year, but once I saw myself for who I truly was (a sinner), I realized how much I needed His mercy. Another effect was the desire to learn more about my faith. A new family had started attending Mass at our parish, and I learned that they attended Mass in Latin occasionally. Prior to that, I had never even heard of such a thing! So I looked through all of the Catholic books on our bookshelf, researched on the computer, and found a few answers. One of the websites where I found the most information is Catholic Answers Forum. I met lots of wonderful people on this forum who attend the Latin Mass and could give me a few answers to my questions. Soon, I saw that there were many other things that I didn’t know about the Catholic faith, like that the USA has more holy days of obligation than Canada, and that Saint Therese’s parents were beatified. I will freely admit, though, I still have lots to learn.

God has greatly blessed me, both in the past three years and on this special day. He gave me the life and strength to rise early and praise Him, the sunrise this morning was absolutely glorious, and most importantly, He has given me the hope of seeing Him in heaven someday. Praise the Lord!

Friends, Peace, and God

First thing: as a homeschooler whose family is incredibly busy, I don’t have too many friends. I mean, I could probably count on one hand the number of good, Catholic friends that I have. The past few days, I started thinking that my lack of good friends could cause problems. The thoughts running through my stupid, puny head were something along the lines of, “Christina, if you don’t get more friends who you can share your problems, trials, troubles, worries, and anxieties with, you will end up depressed in a little box, crying your eyes out. Christina, are you even paying attention?!? Helloooo?!?!”

So it was a rather one-sided conversation with myself. What did I do next? Well, first I told myself to shut up and behave. Then, my head was quiet for a couple of days and it calmed down. Now comes the funny part (this is the part when God steps in to save the day :).

This morning, I was reading Imitation of Christ, Part 3, Chapter 42 and I found this:

That Peace Does Not Depend Upon Other People 

JESUS: My dear friend, if your peace depends only on a mutual love and friendship with another person, your roots will be tangled and shallow. But if you can turn to the ever-living and deep-rooted truth, you will not be grieved when a friend must leave you or when he dies.

The love of a friend should be rooted in me. No matter how good he appears to be or how much you care for him in this life, he should be loved for my sake. Without me, friendship is neither strong nor lasting, nor is it a true or pure love unless I am the bond.

All human affection and friendship is a reflection of the love that I have for you; you should not want any other kind. True friendship is a gift; it takes root in your own heart, and the more you probe its depths, the higher you ascend to God. Friendship is a grace, and it should be nurtured with humility and love. Be thankful for it, and the Holy Spirit will continue to bless you.

Be careful not to let your friendships stand in the way of your love for me. It is easy to place your friends first and God second; looking at created things, it is easy to lose sight of the Creator. In your friendships, as in all other things, always place God first, as the source and font of all that is good.

 Doesn’t God have a terrific way of getting the point across? That was exactly what I needed! It shows that rather than searching for people to talk to, I can always talk to God. Plus, (as an added bonus) I don’t need to worry about a friend’s personal opinion interfering with the matter that I am struggling with, because God always knows what is best and His opinion is the best and only one to follow. So now, rather than vent all of problems to a friend, I will tell God what my problems are and I can trust that He will always find a solution.

Blessed be the Lord, for He has heard the sound of my pleading;

the Lord is my strength and my shield.

In Him my heart trusts, and I find help; then my heart exults, and with my song I give Him thanks.

Psalm 28:6-7

Humility

I thought it might be a good idea to post this chapter from the book Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. This is from part 3, chapter 14, and it is the prayer of a humble disciple.

“You thunder your judgements over me, Lord, and all my bones quake with fear and trembling,and my soul is terribly afraid.I stand stunned and consider that the heavens are not pure in your sight. If you found corruption inthe angels and you did not spare them, what will happen to me? The stars of heaven fell, and what can I, who am but dust, think will happen to me? Those whose works seemed praiseworthy have fallen to the depths, and I see those who ate the bread of angels delighting in pig slop!”

“There is no holiness, Lord, if you withdraw your hand, no wisdom if you cease to govern, no courage if you cease to save, no chastity if you do not protect it, no watchfulness if your holy vigilance is missing. If you abandon us, we sink and perish, but if you visit us, we are raised up and live. Why, we are trembling, but through you we are strengthened; we are lukewarm, but by you we are set ablaze.”

“Oh, how humble and lowly I ought to feel about myself, and even if I seem to have goodness, I ought to think nothing about it. Oh, how deeply I ought to submit myself to your unfathomable judgements, Lord, where I find myself to be nothing but nothing, absolutely nothing. O measureless weight! O impassable sea! I peer deep within myself and I find nothing but total nothingness.”

“So where can pride hide? Where is confidence born of virtue? All empty boasting is swallowed up  in the depths of your judgement over me. What am I- or any of us- in your sight? Shall the clay boast against he who formed it? How can a person whose heart is in true harmony with God become swollen with pride? If your whole hope were fixed on God, and you were to live your whole life for him alone, nothing in this world could inflate your pride or flatter your vanity. All those whose smooth tongues speak empty praise are nothing in themselves, for they will fade away with the sound of their own voices, but the truth of the lord endures forever.”

I started reading this book a while after I found it my mom’s office. It has 144 chapters, and coincedentally when I found it, there were 144 days left in the year! So I started reading a chapter each morning and meditating on that reading throughout the day. It is possibly the best book I have ever read, and I hope you like this chapter as much as I do. 

God bless you all!

 
Update: I posted more about humility here.