Marry Me, Today and Every Day

Recently as I was expanding my knowledge on my faith and one of my favorite topics, the Eucharist, I found out that the mass is actually a giant Wedding Feast! And this Wedding Feast is between us, the Church who is the Bride, and Jesus who is our Bridegroom. Actually the whole structure of the mass mirrors that of a wedding. We start with stories of the couple—the readings from the Old and New Testament which is basically just the story of God relentlessly pursuing us. Then we have the toasts which come in the form of the priest homily. Finally we are brought in full union with Christ when we receive Him in the Eucharist.

This is actually really cool because I had heard before that walking down the aisle for communion is like walking down the aisle to meet your spouse at your wedding. Ever since that, I decided that when I go to Communion I would walk intently down the aisle and ask Jesus one question: “Will you marry me today?” And I also tend to include the state of my heart, so for example “will you marry me today even though I am a mess”, or “will you marry me today even though I don’t like people right now” or “will you marry me today even if I am wearing a really stupid shirt” (sometimes I just don’t even know what in the world I was thinking when I got dressed in the morning). Anyway, when the priest says “The Body of Christ” and I say “Amen” that is like me and Him both saying “I do”. It’s actually an amazing profession of real, true, unconditional love. Every time no matter the state I’m in (or the shirt I am wearing) Jesus always says yes, and I get to say yes back! And that’s when I slowly go from knowing Jesus to actually having a relationship with Him.

So this Valentine’s Day I challenge you to ask yourself if you have a relationship with Him first because guess what? He is the one who made your heart and teaches you how to use it! And if your answer is no, or not really, don’t fret, He is always waiting for you at the end of the aisle, eagerly present there so that HE can say “I do” to you!

 

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Dream On!

This morning at mass was one of those enchanting moments. The sun trickles through the windows of the church illuminating the people next to you. And you just sit there listening to the choir, who somehow sounds like angles, and you feel like you can do anything. And then, you let your mind wander just a bit, and begin to imagine, and then dream! Big dreams, small dreams, weird dreams about your life and the people you love and NOTHING seems impossible, and guess what? Nothing is! Because God is just that cool!

But this morning I also realized something. It had been a while since I dreamed. It had been a while since I imagined being a princess or a YouTube sensation or famous culinary chief, because the last time I really did that was when I was a kid. As I get older it seems like I dream less and less because I think that less and less things are actually possible. But the weird thing is the older I get, the more likely it is that God can accomplish some of those things in my life.

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I think that God wants us to dream. He wants us to imagine the most amazing, beautiful, breath taking future with all hope and trust in Him that He will make it happen still knowing that if He doesn’t it is because He is a Good Father and NOT because He wants us to stop dreaming. It just means that the guy who made our very dreams dreamt up something more amazing. Like I’m really pleased that God didn’t let me meet Nick Jonas when I was younger even though I prayed for it almost every night because now I see that God has something different in mind and I’m totally ok with that! Dreaming is hope, it is imagining a better us, a better world, it is imagining heaven, and as long as we are not doing it to escape reality or to usurp some lustful pleasure it is good.

So dream on my readers! Dream big dreams, because when we do we give the opportunity to let God do amazing things in our lives.

Dinner Table

You know what I love? Food! From oowie goowie mac and cheese, to a fresh crisp summer salad with balsamic and strawberries, to chocolate cake, food has always been something close to my heart. And that reminds me of a conversation I often have with one of my dear friends. She says food is her love language, and I think that it’s everyone’s!

When I was little, all of my fondest memories seem to linger around the dinner table. My mom had this tradition that if you were someone we knew and liked then chances are that you would get invited to our house for dinner. And that is where the magic would begin. It always started with groceries; searching down isles of foods and rainbows of produce for the perfect ingredients. The smells, the colors all of it seemed so special even though we always were in the most basic white floored, florescent lit HEB’s in the neighborhood.

Then when we got home it was like a grand concerto. The tap, tap, tap of the knife, the pinging of the spoons, the gust of the fire, all culminating with the most amazing smells in the world. Then our guest would arrive and we would sit, and laugh, and eat.  Those moments were not about eating to live, but living to eat. We would listen to stories and taste the food, but breathe in the essence of the life of the people that we were eating with; bitter, sweet, salty moments of life that make it such a masterful banquet.

 

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And you know what? I think God loves meals just as much as I do. Have you ever noticed that mass is just a giant family dinner? We all come to listen to the stories of our host, bring our lives to His table. We sit, we listen, we laugh, we cry and then we go up to the altar to receive the food of life, the Eucharist. God has a way of touching both our stomachs and our hearts. He knows what it means to sit down and share a meal with someone. That is love.

So eat! Eat with your families, your neighbors, your friends, those random people sitting at the table next to you. In the end the meal isn’t really about the food itself but about whom you’re sharing it with.

Breathe

Do you ever feel like what’s the point? You know one thing that I hate about society? It teaches us to ignore people. Seriously when was the last time you actually looked at someone? I hate that about college and I catch myself doing it all the time. Look at your phone, your notes, your hair, your shoes, but God forbid you look at the most amazing thing ever created the person next to you. No wonder people have problems with depression. People don’t even look at you. People don’t listen. Or they don’t ask. When did we become so afraid to offend people that we stopped asking and actually caring?

I’m not trying to set fire to the village, but seriously when did the whole point of life become making money, perfecting our appearances while we died more and more inside, being in pretend “relationships” that are more about pleasure than a genuine sense of responsibility for the person sitting in front of us?

Today I got to do one of my favorite things at mass, be an extra-ordinary Eucharistic minister. I love it so much for two reasons: 1) I get to give Jesus to the world literally 2) I get to look at people, if only for a second, I get to breathe in their life.

There is this nomadic greeting ritual where whenever you see a person instead of saying hi, you put your forehead against theirs and you breathe in together. It is actually breathing in the other person’s life, a connection that Facebook can only wish to achieve. In that second when I say “The blood of Christ” I look into the eyes of the person in front of me and breathe in their life. Now I’m not literally doing this cause people would justifiably be creeped out, but I look at them, I really see the person in front of me. And let me tell you I have never ever been able to help but smile. Why? Because people are amazing! You are amazing. Stop just living and actually be alive. Look at the people you come in contact with. Listen to them; you may be surprised just how amazing they are.

Purgatory and the Confession Line

Have you ever sat in a confessional line that takes FOREVER!?! Because be Catholic long enough and this will inevitably happen. I’ve attempted to go to confession before daily mass for the last two days, waiting an hour but because of the surplus of people and the limited number of priest, did not make it through the line. I get into the chapel, asking hopefully where the line ends, graciously find my seat with a smile and begin reflecting, contemplating and praying. That last all of about ten minutes tops and then, because I am about as impatient as a six year old, I begin to count. How many people are ahead of me? If each one takes FIVE WHOLE minutes will I make it through line before an hour? And then when that doesn’t help I begin to plea with God, “if you let me make it through this line I will go to mass right after”… Again this last about five minutes and then, I am left sitting in silence, waiting with the people around me. All anxious, all desiring complete and total union with Christ. And then it hit me. Is the line to confession like purgatory?

Think about it. Here you have all these people who are going to be united with God in a more full sense after the priest absolves their sins, but in line we wait, we suffer. I mean the suffering in actual purgatory is probably a little more intense, but after contemplating this experience I think it is an extreme blessing that we have to wait. It gives us time to think about what we did. To picture the very face of each person we failed to love, and then to picture the face of our Heavenly Father. It gives us time to pray to the Holy Spirit and Mary. And one of the most beautiful things I think, it gives us time to pray for the people around us, because you know what? They are waiting in line too!

So instead of using this time of waiting in line to dilly dolly, I think God is challenging me to take a step further. He’s giving us a unique chance to experience something special, something eternal, and so why not use this time to pray for all those souls awaiting the amazing joy of heaven? I know that when I go back to the chapel and have to wait in line a third time, this is exactly what I shall do, pray for the souls in purgatory because I know what it’s like to wait.

Invisible You

I recently watched the new Disney movie Invisible Sister and much to my surprise it actually was pretty good! It’s all about transforming into the person you are meant to be, about showing the world who we really are and that reminds me of this quote from Saint Catherine of Siena:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

And you know what? It’s true. I’ve had many days when I’ve felt invisible to the world, but just like in the movie, a lot of that was a product of me despairing about myself. As Saint Augustine says,

“Beware about despairing about yourself; you are commanded to place trust in God, and not in yourself.”

And in those times in my life, in high school when I wished I could just disappear or in college when I thought nobody noticed me, I wasn’t trusting God but becoming consumed with my loneliness. I think this is why St. Padre Pio said,

“And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray”

because that is doing the opposite of feeling sorry for myself, but prayer is the recognition of God. And once you recognize that God is there and made you so beautifully and uniquely to share something amazing, even if it seems small and unnoticed, to the world then you can’t help but want to be yourself. This is by no means easy because, just like the girl in the movie learned, it requires a breakdown of pride. You have to stop being standoffish and start embracing the people in your life. You have to stop running from yourself and start being the person God made you to be. That is also why prayer and the sacraments are important. Prayer helps you understand who God made you to be because He is the one who made you, and the sacraments give you the grace and the communion you need to keep going and remain strong. We cannot do it alone, and that is why God gave us the Church. Therefore I think the message of the movie is important and can be summed up by St. Francis of Assisi’s quote,

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and be that perfectly”

Therefore go out in the world and be that amazing bringer of love and joy God made you, and maybe just maybe you will inspire someone else to step out of the shadows and stop being invisible too!

One minute to happiness!

If you ask anyone their life goals, where they see themselves in ten years, it always boils down to one word: Happiness.  I mean who doesn’t want to be happy? Doesn’t that motivate most of our decisions in life? But how can we achieve this sparkly ray of sunshine? And how do we make sure that it doesn’t just go away?

 

Fr. Tat is the one who taught me the key to happiness. Short in stature yet lighting up the room when he walks through the door, Fr. Tat seems to emanate joy itself, and I can’t help but wondering how and why? This man is not rich, nor is he surrounded by the coolest people so why is he so happy? According to the world he should be miserable. But you know what Fr. Tat had a simple daily one minute rule that if you follow with a full heart, guarantees happiness. You wanna know what it is? Every day wake up or go to bed and thank God for three things in your life. The only catch? No repeats! Simple right? And just doing that won’t make you change, or will it?

 

I started the day I met Fr. Tat, and at first I found myself saying pretty generic things like my family or my friends, but to ensure the no repeats things I knew I had to be more specific, so I started going deeper. Thank you for my friend Alie, thank you that my Dad sent me a card. And at first I noticed no change in my life at all, but then I noticed a change. When I had to meet my lab group who I had complained multiple times already to my roommate about because they were late, or didn’t try as hard as me or whatever, I actually found myself that night thanking God for each member, for their impact in my life and the chance God gave me to love them.

 

It’s actually quite genius, when your heart is full of thank you, you can’t complain because once you genuinely realize how much you have to say thank you about you really can’t be grumpy or unhappy. We have been given so much to smile about and once we recognize it, joy is guaranteed.

 

Boom! Mind blown, life changed, you are welcome! So guess what? Now all you have to do is try! Go be happy, be thankful, and life will be better not because of an allusion but because you’ll realize your biggest burdens are the catapults to better life, the chances God gives you to show courageous love.

Catholicism, life and laughs