Category Archives: Main Posts

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!

 

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.

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.

Humanity is the way to Divinity

“Humanity is the way to divinity. Suffering is the fastest way to humanity” ~Fr. Michael Sullivan.

God has recently given me the grace to glimpse into suffering. And the first question that comes to mind is why? Why would a God so good, a God who is love allow us to suffer? Allow bad things to happen to good people?

First we look at the way God chose to save us. He chose to save us through suffering; through the worst, most gruesome, terrifying, painful death imaginable. That is how the God of the universe chose to save us. And I think that the more I experience suffering, the more I agree with the quote above. The times in my life I feel the most human are when I am in the midst of suffering, but these are also the times that, when I allow myself, I feel closest to God.

When we suffer we have a choice: we can believe in the lies that we are not good enough, that God no longer loves us, that it’s our fault, that we can’t change, that the world hates us, or we can believe the truth that God loves us and uses the suffering we experience as a means of salvation.

A movie that comes to mind when thinking of suffering is Unbroken. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend it, but in the movie, we watch as a young trouble maker turns into an Olympic runner, who later in life is captured as a POW during WWII. Throughout this movie the main man, Louie Zamperini, is subjected to endless suffering. But through it all he kept fighting. He remembered that there was something greater, that he had a family to get home to, that there were still other men with him who he had to fight for.

Suffering is something that makes me so thankful that I am a Catholic, because as Catholics we believe that we are united in the Mystical Body of Christ, so when one of us suffers, there are always people there for love, prayers and support. One of my favorite parts of the movie Unbroken was that when Louie was trying to survive rafting in the ocean, he kept imagining his mother’s gnocchi. Mary had to suffer one of the most gruesome things in the world, watching her son die. So through suffering if we run to our Mother for comfort, just like Louie did, she will help us.

The other day I was watching one of those sappy love movies where the two kids fell in love and inevitably one of them ends up getting sick and eventually dyeing and it’s really sad and you cry for like five minutes but you have no idea why. Well I think this very human reaction tells us something intrinsically beautiful about the way God works. You see our relationship with God should be the most epic love story in the world. That’s what the Bible is, an epic love story of how God fought for us, never gave up on us because He loves us that much. How God made covenant after covenant until He couldn’t stand being apart from us any more so He made the ultimate sacrifice and sent His son, in the flesh, to die for us.

Suffering shows us that we really cared, that we loved fully; we gave until it hurt and did not stop there. Suffering means that we know there is something greater than ourselves that is worth fighting for. And although it is by no means fun, suffering is how we grow, it is how our hearts grow.

Like one of my favorite saints, St. Maximillian Kolbe said, “Without sacrifice, there is no love”. Saints are not people that did not suffer, but when they were faced with suffering, they see a path to approach God.

The Theology of Tangled By Thomas Weis

So turns out I’m not the only one in my family who is amazingly talented in the writing/theology department(and so humble 🙂 ), my little bro happens to be super talented too! So here is something he wrote! It’s quite awesome so here it is:

It may seem strange to be looking into a Disney Princess movie for Theology but with a deeper look into the story it can be seen that within Tangled, the movie means so much more. Tangled is one of those movies that when viewed with the eyes of faith a deeper and profound meaning can be discovered. Now this is the official spoiler alert to all those who haven’t seen the movie there will be parts of the movie that I describe, particularly the end of the movie, so if you don’t want the movie to be ruined stop reading now and come back when you have watched the movie!

The best place to begin is in the opening dialogue of the movie, Flynn Rider says, “This is the story of how I die. But don’t worry it’s a happy story.” Now how can death be happy? This is one of those statements that then prompts the question, what are you dying for? For Flynn Rider, this is a happy story because he dies enacting love. Let’s look at the death scene: Flynn escapes from prison and gets to the tower. He yells, “Rapunzel let down your hair!” The golden locks fall from the window, which Flynn promptly climbs up to get into the tower. When he reaches the top he sees Rapunzel tied up and then, out of nowhere the “mother” of Rapunzel comes out from behind Flynn and stabs him. So far you might be thinking, “There is no love in this, he just came and got stabbed! All that is going to happen is that he is going to die.” If you were thinking that, you are so far correct, but it’s what happens next that will knock those socks clean off your feet. Rapunzel says that if she can heal Flynn, she will never fight her “mother” and will do whatever is asked of her. What happens next is that Rapunzel goes next to Flynn to heal him and with his last dying movement Flynn cuts Rapunzel’s hair.

Now what would prompt Flynn to do this? For the majority of this movie Flynn is a self-centered guy, he only cares about himself and what he can get. But in his final act, he cuts Rapunzel’s hair, the one thing that could have saved him. You see Flynn is being a true man in this instance. Flynn recognizes that Rapunzel has a gift, and in cutting her hair Flynn has basically said, “I would rather die than to see your gift used for evil.” In the ultimate act of selflessness Flynn frees Rapunzel from what would have been a life in slavery to the woman who kidnapped her. Flynn knew what would happen, he knew the outcome but he did it anyway to save someone he loved.

Now let’s look at Rapunzel’s side of this part of the movie. She sees Flynn come up to rescue her but knew that her “mother” was right there waiting to kill him. She tries to warn him of the danger but is unable to. As her “mother” tries to bring her out of the tower Rapunzel manages to say that if she can just save Flynn then she will go with her “mother” wherever without resistance. Now why would she do this? Well, simply out of love. Rapunzel has a kind heart, and she would be willing to go with her “mother” if she knew that someone that she loved was safe. This is again a gift of selflessness; Rapunzel knows very well that after saving Flynn that she will be a slave to her “mother”.

So after Flynn cuts Rapunzel’s hair he lies, presumably dead or just hanging on to life, in Rapunzel’s arms. It seems as if all hope is lost. But then Rapunzel tear falls from her cheek on to his and a gold light emanates from it. Flynn is healed, but that is not what I want to focus on. The thing I want to focus on is the fact that all this time the gift has quite literally been inside of Rapunzel. If you think back to when Rapunzel was still a child in her mother’s womb, her mother became ill and they found a cure in the plant that was the ray of sun that came down to earth. So she receives this gift from the sun that came down to earth (Hint, Hint Jesus the Son who became incarnate) when her mother was dying (Hint, Hint for Catholics Last Rights, where you receive the body of Christ, the Son who came to earth) she receives the sun-drop flower. So in a Theological sense Rapunzel was given this gift from God. When she was younger it was evident that she possessed this gift from the effects that came from her hair (which is like Samson from the Bible) and then is misled by a woman who want to miss use Rapunzel’s gift (also like Delilah from the story of Samson) but here is where the deeper Theology come into play. From the beginning of this gift, the true power of it came from within Rapunzel. And if you want to go even farther, Rapunzel already had this gift and it was only strengthened and made whole by the flower, otherwise her mother would have also received the same gift. In simpler terms Rapunzel was created with this gift of healing but only through the sun-drop flower (Christ) did the gift blossom into its full potential. And for an even deeper meaning it is interesting that she has the power to heal physical injuries, but in the story she heals Flynn from his life of crime that he has been living.