The Way

One of the most commonly used analogies for life is a journey.  It makes a lot of sense, really.  We’re traveling from this life to the next, with a bunch of pit stops and flat tires along the way.  Anyone who takes road trips at all knows that there are a few extremely important things you need to bring for the long ride ahead.  Among these items are food, caffeine, entertainment for young passengers, and most importantly, a map.  Without food everyone is going to starve sooner or later.  caffeine will keep you awake, entertainment will keep the kids from screaming, and a map will keep you on the right path.  On the spiritual journey, I like to think of food as prayer.  Without prayer, sooner or later you’re gonna drift away into lukewarmness or even disbelief.  Caffeine is like the Holy Eucharist.  It charges you up for those long days when you feel like you got run over by a truck.

I know personally, books are among my favorite types of entertainment.  I think on the spiritual road trip, it’s the same thing.  Books about spirituality or apologetics will teach you not how to be entertained, but how to be engaged with the faith.  And lastly, a map.  Don’t you hate it when you tell Siri you want to go somewhere, and by the time she says “you have arrived”, you’re like ten miles away from the place you wanted to be?  It’s because she didn’t know the way to get there and acted like she did.  I know I do that a lot.  During my Freshman year I was in Marching Band.  I barely knew how to play my instrument, so sometimes I would move my hands randomly to make it look like I was actually playing the music.  Since no one knew I had a problem, no one helped me fix it, so I needed up as an alternate pushing stuff around instead of actually marching with my saxophone.  The same thing can happen in any other circumstance.  Anyway, you have to know the way to get where you’re going if you ever want to get there.  And if you ever want to get there, you’re gonna have to leave where you’re at.

So, we need to find a way to get there, but here’s the catch.  Our goal is to get to Heaven, right?  To be with God in eternal joy.  Here’s what Jesus said about that.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

It seems pretty clear to me that all the other roads that have the green signs saying “Heaven, 10 miles” are fake.  So, we know what to bring, we know where we’re going, and we know the way to get there, what else?  Getting on the way and saying on it. If Heaven is a castle, Jesus is the drawbridge, and we need to figure out how to get to Him.  Remember what I said earlier about a map?  I never really explained what that was, did I?  Well, the map is the Church.  Not the Siri map that always messes up, or a conventional map.  It’s like Google Maps, (For me at least) it’s always spot on.  It tells me where the way is and how to get there, and where all the Sonic Drive-Ins are along the way.  It also tells you what exit to take, when not to take one.  You also need to make sure you have the right “Maps” app.  The world will try to give you false maps and fake paths, like Siri.  You need to find the real one.  How do you do that?  Well, in the description of the real map, it has four marks, kind of like a tag on WordPress.  The marks on the actual map are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.  Sound familiar?

Does anyone own an absolutely perfect car?  Does it have the top speed of a Bugatti, the efficiency of a Mazda and the looks of a Lamborghini?  No?  Okay, so none of our cars are perfect.  Eventually they’re going to run out of gas or get a flat tire.  That’s when we make a pit stop at the gas station.  Same thing with us humans.  Since we’re not perfect, eventually we’re going to sin and we need to go to Confession to fix ourselves up.  God doesn’t care about how many times you run out of gas or even get in a wreck.  He cares about how many times you go to fix it and keep on driving,  Since none of us are perfect, Confession is a must on the road trip to Heaven.

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There is one last thing I haven’t told you yet about they way.  The more people you caravan with along the way, the harder it is to get lost.  Of course they can’t be drunks or kids without a license, they have to want to get to your destination.  If you caravan with someone else who doesn’t want to get to Heaven, it’s going to be much harder for you to arrive at the correct destination.  But, like I already said, the more people you caravan with that have the same goal, the likes are the trip will be much easier.

Now that you know the way, it’s time to get going.  Like J.R.R. Tolkien once said,

“It’s the job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”

And here is one last bit of advice:

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That’s it for today.  God Bless!

In the First Ever apostolic Draft, the 11 Have Chosen…

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picture from catholicmemes.com

Today is the solemnity of the Ascension, as well as the feast of the Apostle, Saint Matthias.  After Judas hung himself, the apostles thought it would be fit for them to appoint a twelfth as Jesus first appointed them.  St. Peter set the requirement for candidates.  They must have witnessed Jesus’ entire ministry, and be able to witness to the events that took place during that time.  They voted, either Barsabbas or Matthias.  One of them would become one of the twelve.  And the first pick of the NFL (National Faith League) 33-ish AD Draft is…Matthias!  Okay, there wasn’t actually a draft.  The apostles prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, much as the cardinals do when electing a new Pope.  The point is that the Holy Spirit will always guide the church through rough times and back on to the correct path.  When the Papacy was moved to Avignon, the Holy Spirit inspired Saints to move him back to Rome where he belongs.

Today’s Gospel for the feast of St. Matthias is also very inspiring.  The Gospel from usccb.org:

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

I thought this reading was amazing.  Earlier on in the gospel, before Pentecost (the Confirmation of the Apostles), Jesus told us to love your neighbor as yourself.  Now he has commanded us to love each other as He loved us, to the point of death as Jesus explained.  No greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.  This is mostly meant in a non-literal sense.  Sure, he is telling you to be willing to literally die for your faith, but He rarely requires it of the average person.  He does want everyone to die to themselves so that others may flourish.  Put your neighbor’s needs before your own.

Jesus also said that He calls us friends, no longer slaves.  It was not us who chose Him, but He who chose us.  This ties back to my earlier post The Mission.  A young man does not decide he wishes to become a priest or a married man, God gives him the great mission of that vocation, and the man follows through with it.  You did not decide to be in the place you are in right now, good or bad.  To some extent your actions brought you here, but nevertheless, God has you right where He wants you.

Jesus’ last statement in this reading is to love one another.  It wraps up all He just said.  Your mission is to love one another as God has loved you.  Love everyone you see everyday.  That super annoying guy at the lunch table that won’t stop spitting over all your food when he talks?  Love him.  That one guys at the movie theatre that kicks your seat from behind?  Love him.  That one guy at McDonald’s that gives you the wrong meal twice?  Guess what, love him too.  You have so many opportunities love others, so, what are you waiting for?

Apostolate of Friendship

Neighbors

Today was one of those days.  It started out okay, but it didn’t last.  There are always those people who don’t like you and actively try to make your day worse.  Sometimes I don’t realize that I act like them at times.  I may do the same to them or even something worse.  I can deal with those kinds of people like I have always.  The real killer is my friends who disagree with me on tough moral issues.  Some of them are even Catholic, almost all are Christian.  It’s the way they talk about religion though that really annoys me.  They pull up an issue and say something wrong, and don’t want me to say anything.  It’s like a drive-by shooting.  I have discovered in my short years of life that my personality has three main aspects:  Catholic, brother, and jokester.  When I am in Catholic mode, I relentlessly defend the faith and try my best to be kind.  Brother mode is like protection mode.  Being the oldest brother of a family of 8 kids, I know how to defend others.  Jokester mode speaks for itself.  When I am talking to these kinds of people, most often I find myself in brother mode.  Their my friends, and I know they are holding on to beliefs that are contrary to the truth, and often teach others the same.  I lose some of the qualities the Catholic mode has, like compassion.  The most important thing is to save their soul, not to win the argument.  It’s really hard for me to do this, especially when I am concerned about what they will spread to others.

This all ties into the theme of this post: The Apostolate of Friendship.  St. Josemaria Escriva has an entire chapter dedicated to this in one of his three books.  The apostolate of friendship is basically winning should to Christ by just being a good friend.  This doesn’t mean being quiet when a touchy issue comes up.  Defend the faith with kindness, like a shepherd would compassionately lift his sheep up before it falls.  Most importantly, just be a good friend.  If you are a general, and want another country to help you in a battle, it is much easier to be allied with that country than to force it do help.  No one is gonna listen to you unless they think there is a good reason to do so.  I struggle with this tremendously.  They see me as “the Catholic” that wants to force his religion on others, all because I was more focused on winning the argument than winning a soul.  Be Christ to others, so that through you, they may come to know the truth.  After all, we all need someone to lean on.

God Bless!

The Mission

You have a mission, a special task that only you can complete.  This adventure has been given to you by God himself.  You have been commissioned by the king to complete a quest, whatever it may be.  It wouldn’t be too good of an idea to upset the king.  It says in Jeremiah 1:4:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you

Even before God made Jeremiah, he had a specific task for him to complete, his vocation.  A vocation is a calling, coming from the latin word voces, meaning to call.  That’s great and all, but a calling to do what?  Well…its complicated.  Like I said earlier, only you can complete your mission.  How much would it stink to be a knight in shining armor and miss or opportunity to slay the dragon, or to be a famous actor and sleep through your premiere?  You have to be listening for the call.  And I don’t mean the “Yes, Mrs. Brown, I’m listening to the English Lecture” listening.  I mean the attentive and focused concentration on a subject, in quiet.  Modern day life is not suited for this.  In a day and age of technology and video games, its hard to make time to discern one’s vocation, or pray at all for that matter.  If you’re wondering why God hasn’t given you your mission yet, it’s probably because you haven’t asked him yet!  Start with the Bible, a letter from God to you.  I often find Lectio Divina a helpful tool in the process.  One of the biggest things you can do is to start-up a Mental Prayer routine.  Mental prayer is just a very ordinary conversation with Our Lord.  Talk to Him about your day, whatever you want.  Just make sure you pray about your vocation often.  The last step is to find God in others.  That’s a pretty tall order.  It doesn’t mean it has to be big or time-consuming.  Maybe it might be to smile more, or to say hi to a few people you don’t know.  Our Lord works in very curious ways.

One thing that is extremely important to remember is that to let God into your life, you must first take you out first.  Imagine this:  Your soul is a large cardboard box filled with wooden blocks.  Each blog has a label.  A large block might say “school”, or “sports”.  A lot of the larger blocks might have tags concerning your ego.  All of this has nearly filled the box to the top, with only a couple of inches to go.  Lets say now that you want to get some God blocks into your soul box.  Well…you might be able to fit Sunday Mass in there, but not much else.  But let’s say you want more, you want to know what your mission is.  There isn’t much room, is there?  You have to take some out first, don’t ya?  You must decrease, so that God may increase.

Bottom line: Pray about it, and often.  Incorporate it into your daily pray routine.  Say a rosary every Sunday, asking Our Lady to help you discern your vocation.  Because if you don’t fulfill the mission, no one will.  God Bless.