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The Pick and Choose Culture

June 25, 2013

In a world of 1000+ channel cable, Spotify and mega malls, it is hard to commit anything. We are so often given hundreds or thousands of choices and can so easily flip from one to another.It seems the more choices you have the better. Celebrities are criticized for wearing the same outfit more than once: they clearly are better off if they have infinite new choices of what to wear.

In a world where choices mean power and fame, it can be hard to stick to your guns on anything. As Christians, it can be difficult to defend why we chose one faith, one God. Why not shop around and try something new, especially when it gets difficult or boring! Think about when you listen to music on an iPod or online radio: if you don’t like the song that’s playing, you can easily switch to the next. The same goes for TV shows or even food – just zip on over to the next fast food restaurant if you don’t like what you got.

Yet, as God’s faithful servants, we know that our faith is worth so much more. And we know that following our faith will get hard, and we will probably get bored from time to time, but that is no reason to abandon our connection to the living God. It is once we get over those small inconveniences – like having to get up early after a late night with friends to go to mass or skipping a movie to go to your adoration hour or help with the local youth group – that we experience the joy of our faith. It is the times that we make a decision and stick to it, because we know it’s right, that we truly build up God’s kingdom here on Earth.

So, the next time you reach to switch to the next Pandora song, give yourself a little practice and don’t be swayed by your desire for the instant gratification of something new (unless it’s Nickelback, of course). Even these little ways can help build up our resilience to the world’s call to run from anything that is a challenge, since we can quickly replace it with something that is easy. And flexing those “tough it out” muscles will help us when we are given a larger, more important test in the days to come. In our pick and choose culture this can be a challenge – but with God, all things are possible!

Following Your Vocational Call

June 19, 2013

As a person, my number one vocation is the vocation to holiness. As a single person I feel my number one vocation is the vocation of discernment. Mix them together and I’m working on some pretty holy discerning here!

The best way to be a good discerner is to say “yes” to everything first. I have a friend who did a “season of ‘yes’ “ – she said yes to offers to hang out, to trying new opportunities brought up, to try different foods or listen to new music –every time something was offered to her she said “yes”. Discernment is the same way. Don’t say “no” till you’ve given it a try – and I mean a real “college try” – not the kind where you try it just to say you did and the whole time you’re thinking about how this is never going to be for you.

In college I did a discernment weekend with the Marianist sisters on my campus at the University of Dayton – and I only did it once I was ready to give it a real try. I enjoyed the community prayer and have a deep passion and love for the Marianist charisms (one of which happens to be that community aspect) but after spending five days living as a Marianist sister, I knew God was not calling me on that path. But, here’s the problem, knowing what you’re NOT called to doesn’t mean you magically know what you ARE called to.

Sometimes it feels like I am backing in to my vocation as I find all these little pieces that make up what I am called to be. Like finding my calling to major in international studies, my calling to stay here in Columbus after graduation, my calling to work in a non-profit and my calling to be a part of a Catholic community of my peers.  All of these pieces make up the whole of my major vocation as a single, married or religious.

VOCATIONSAnother thing about vocations is you can think you know where the Lord is taking you, but if you haven’t put those thoughts to prayer and meditation, chances are you really only know what you want to do, which, we all know, is never what we REALLY want to do. This doesn’t mean you have to pray for days to decide every little thing in life, but I would suggest taking just a LITTLE time to pray and listen to what God has to say before you decide to give away all your possessions and join a hermitage.

So – pray and discern; that will help knock out that vocational discernment part. But, you’ll need something else to be successful in that discernment, something that ties in to that much bigger vocation we’re all called to. You’ll need patience, and that patience will come from pursuing your call to holiness. This holiness vocation is, in some ways, a lot easier to tackle because you don’t need to discern this one. I’ll help you out with it – you are called to it. So DO IT!

Not as easy as t sounds, right?  In my experience there are a multitude of things that you need to become holy, but there are three that I found most helpful: prayer, sacraments and community. I find these are the things that keep bringing me back on the holiness path. Think about it: when you’re consuming the body and blood of, no exaggeration, the holiest person to walk the earth, it’s hard to not get a little bit of incidental holiness. Same with talking with God or reading the scriptures – when you’re interacting with holiness on a regular basis, it starts to become more a part of you. Same with community. Those I have encountered in my community of friends are some of the holiest, most loving people I know. They show me how to be holy when I’m acting more like a hormonal teenager than a disciple of the living God – and it’s thanks to them that I can GROW in holiness. Even Jesus himself needed a community! We know darn well he could have converted billions on his own, but he didn’t. He got together some buddies and they took on those sinners together.

So – pray, receive the sacraments and get holy with others. By following that universal call to holiness, you’ll get that much closer to that pesky other vocation that keeps eluding you. And here’s my last bit of advice: next time your aunt Martha ask you if you’re dating, or when you’re going to get married, hit her with this one “Well, my dear auntie, as Blessed Pope John Paul II said: ‘For it remains a mystery, even to myself.  How does one explain the ways of God? ‘”

The Holy Name Crew

June 12, 2013
Father Antonio Carvalho with the Holy Name crew - a group of students who attended the "Mass-ive" Morning Prayer and Breakfast held by the SPO Households once a month. Students arrive at Holy Name Parish at 6:40am for morning prayer, followed by a breakfast prepared by Household members. What a great way to start the day!

Father Antonio Carvalho with the Holy Name crew – a group of students who attended the “Mass-ive” Morning Prayer and Breakfast held by the SPO Households once a month. Students arrive at Holy Name Parish at 6:40am for morning prayer, followed by a breakfast prepared by Household members. What a great way to start the day!

Corpus Christ: The Two Bodies of Christ

June 6, 2013

This last Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  This Corpus Christi especially captured my attention, and the attentions of Catholics worldwide,  as for the first time ever, all Catholics were invited to join in in a truly catholic (small “c” for universal) gathering.  Pope Francis called for a worldwide holy hour of Eucharistic adoration in celebration of Corpus Christi.

For me, this call to prayer was especially poignant for two reasons.  Firstly, I love adoration.  It’s my favorite place to pray because it’s pretty much the closest to heaven you can get on earth.  My best prayer times have always happened before this glorious sacrament of the altar.

Secondly, it really highlighted to me the two bodies of Christ.   OneGospelCrowd2Sept2011Firstly, of course, His body that is given to us freely as atonement for our sins, as our sustenance, the pinnacle of our faith, the Eucharist.  But also, as Pope Francis so subtly highlights through this universal hour of adoration, there is the body of Christ that we comprise.   As all Catholics throughout the world were invited to this holy hour, we were called together as a community of faith.  But, true to the beauty of our Catholic faith, we weren’t called together just as a community, we were called together as the Body of Christ by uniting our prayers together.  How powerful is that?  We are all in this faith journey together.

The reason this stood out to me this Sunday is that I have been reflecting on the huge blessing that the SPO community in Columbus has been to me and my life.

If you didn’t make it to the Universal Holy Hour this past Sunday, I really encourage you to try to make it sometime, even for just 15 minutes, this coming week in the spirit of Corpus Christi. Christ is always present in His Eucharistic body on the altar, and, no matter what, we are always a part of the Body of Christ and someone, somewhere is praying with us.

-submitted by SPO Household member and Student Missionary, Sara Huggett

Prayerful Moments

May 29, 2013

Today I found myself waiting, yet again, for someone I was meeting. I’d showed up on time (honestly a little earlier – I’m that person…) and they were running behind. I felt frustrated at first, but I knew that would get me nowhere. Instead, I tried to turn my thoughts to something else – prayer. It’s not an easy task, but it’s a habit I’ve been trying to create. After finding myself only getting stressed and angry when having to wait, I realized I was definitely not excelling at the virtue of patience, and I knew the only way to improve that was to ask for huge piles of grace to be poured upon me.

prayerSince trying to create this habit, the amount of time I spend in prayer has exploded. There are so many opportunities to turn your minds to prayer! Waiting in traffic, in line at the grocery store or drive thru, when you’re on hold, or even when you can’t get to sleep at night. All of these are great opportunities to pray!

But, just because these opportunities exist, it doesn’t mean they are easy to take. Just like taking up running or learning the guitar, you have to start with easy stuff and work your way up to full on mystical meditation (note: I definitely am not there). It’s easiest to start with a prayer you know: a Hail Mary, Our Father or Glory Be. You might even want to try a full on decade of the rosary. Dedicate your prayer to asking for patience. Pray for your friends and family. Think about the people you know who need prayers and offer some up for them. Before you know it, you’ve increased your grace and decreased your wait time, and you’ve been a little witness for Christ to those around you.

And, just like the running or the guitar, the more you practice this little habit the more likely it is to stick. You may even find you become a little more patient from this little practice. And we certainly could all use a little more of that.

A Missionary Year in Review

May 23, 2013

Kara Shockey is an SPO Student Missionary, Household member and recent Missionary of the Year winner.

I came into this year at SPO a little nervous. A lot of my life was going to be different. I was going to live with six other women – more people than I have ever lived with! I was going to be serving as a Student Missionary. I was going to have to step up.

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Kara (center) with her housemates at the 2013 Fan into Flame retreat

God made it clear from the start that choosing Him wasn’t always going to be easy or fun, but it was going to be worth it 100%. He didn’t let me down. Yes, of course there were days that I didn’t want to wake up for morning prayer or when I was losing patience with my housemates, but those were the days that I knew I had to lift it up. I knew that if I prayed, if I had patience, God would work.

I look back at the last year knowing that I have grown and how I have been blessed to see others grow in leaps and bounds! One of the biggest blessings bestowed upon me this year was being able to emcee our Fan Into Flame retreat. I had an amazing vantage point to see a hundred students dive into their faith. I have never been more convicted that God works, even in the coldest heart.

This year has made me a more patient, humble woman. A woman that depends completely on God. A woman that is not afraid to chase after God. All of this because He simply asked me to live one year for Him. He simply asked me to take a chance. I am ready to do it again!

The Real YOLO

May 14, 2013

ImageThough its popularity is dying out, I still roll my eyes every time I see “YOLO” plastered on a t-shirt or hear it shouted out in a song. The acronym for “You Only Live Once” has become a sort of teen anthem for doing whatever feels good because, hey, you only live once! Although the phrase drives me crazy for its secular context, YOLOers do have a point – we do only live once. Our lives are a gift from God. We have this one lifetime to get and give as much love as we can, so that one day we can sit at our God’s feet and say “I did my best. I loved.”

The even better news is that, though we have one life, we have infinite chances to make it good. We may regret things we didn’t try or missed opportunities to love, but our God is loving and forgiving, and gives us second, third, fourth, and seventy-fifth chances. But, we need to keep our eyes open for these chances. They can be big, in your face opportunities like helping someone repair a flat tire on the side of the road, or they can be small, almost miss-able opportunities like taking out the trash without your parents having to ask.

And God provides these opportunities for love and service for our benefit. We hear it over and over in the Gospel stories: love one another as I have loved you. God gives us these chances so that we can get a small taste of life with God. What a gift! God is asking us to be a part of heaven on earth.

THAT’S what the real YOLO is – to not miss out on the chance to spread God’s kingdom of love here on earth. So maybe we should change up the mantra a bit. How about YALA – You Always Love All? Well, even if the acronym doesn’t catch on, the sentiment still can. And this is one trend that will never die out.

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