Sunday, September 30, 2012

They Believe...

...Do They Belong?

This Weekend

I went to Mass this weekend and was listening to the Homily.   I found it incredibly interesting and I have to share it with you.  

    This weekend (26th Sunday in Ordinary Time) the readings were about those who believe but don't belong.

     The first reading discussed Moses and the camp elders.  Moses had the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and God was going to bestow those same gifts on the 72 camp elders.  So a tent was put up away from the camp and the elders gathered in it and the Holy Spirit was bestowed to them.  Except only 70 guys showed up.  For some reason, Eldad and Medad were still in the camp when the Spirit came upon the elders.  Amazingly, Eldad and Medad still received the Holy Spirit, despite the fact that they were not present with them all.  So the people come running to Moses and go on and on about how Eldad and Medad still got the Spirit - and they are prophesying! - but they weren't in the tent with everyone else!  They believe, but they don't belong.  God says: "Oh that all my people would be prophets."

     The Gospel reading was about the apostle who runs up and tells Jesus: "Guess what we did today?  There was this man who was driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him! But he wouldn't stop!"  And Jesus was like: "No big deal.  He's honoring me by driving out demons in my name."  And if I was the apostle, my reaction would be: "WHAT?!? Are you kidding me?  Here I am, called by you, so I leave my life as a fishermen, become a fisher of men, am ridiculed daily by the scribes and pharisees who think I'm a loser, and will be put to death because of my belief in your teachings.  And this random guy who can drive out demons in your name, your OK with that?  He doesn't even have to go through 10% of what I go through!  He believes, but he doesn't belong!"


      So then I start thinking: Wait a second.  Not only Catholics get into Heaven.  So if, say, a Protestant gets into Heaven - what's the point?  As a Catholic, I follow the Pope, follow ALL of Christ's teachings, believe in the true presence of the Eucharist, go to Church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, have to turn the other cheek while the media and the modern world constantly criticizes and makes fun of my beliefs, all for the goal of getting to Heaven.  And other people don't have to follow that and they still get in? That's unfair!
     So, I continued thinking.  Because, obviously, Christ founded the Catholic Church for a reason.  It's like a pair of jeans.  (Hey, I am a girl and clothing analogies tend to work.)  Let's say someone gives everyone a pair of free jeans.  You can pick between a quality pair of amazing designer jeans that fit you perfectly, or you can get a knockoff, off brand that only imitates some of the qualities of the designer jeans.  Which would you pick?

      As a girl, I can tell you that you would be crazy not to pick the pair of designer jeans.  Why?  Because they are the best ones!  They have everything going for them (plus, they're free, come on.)  Now let's bring this back to religion.  Christ offers the Catholic Church as the best option.  It is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and it is founded by Christ Himself.  Why wouldn't you choose that?  But sometimes, well, a lot of times, people don't choose the designer jeans.  Because they fool themselves into thinking that the knock-offs are better than them.  They make them look better and they are cheaper and don't take as much work to upkeep.

     Why choose the knock off when you can have the real thing?

Not Mine to Give
     Then I looked back on my "That's not fair" rant.  Who am I?  Who am I to look at God and tell Him who should belong and who shouldn't?  Who should get in and who can't?  Nobody.  I am but a sigh in the wind in comparison to God's eternal presence.

     Why wouldn't God want to see all of His children gathered in Heaven?  He is the ultimate dad, and it is a father's wish to see all of his kids around the supper table together.  And who am I to say He can't do that?  Ultimately, me saying that would be saying that I, a 17 year old high school senior, have indefinably more wisdom that 2,000 years of Roman Catholic Church teaching and indefinably more wisdom that God.  Yeah...not likely.

     He loves all of His children - and I shouldn't be the one who says He can't.  

Thoughts?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Let me know in the comment box below!  (It makes my day when a comment shows up on the blog!)

God Bless you all,

Chloe M.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This is Where I Draw the Line
How Do You Determine Boundaries in Dating?

How far is too far?
     The question of how far is too far to go with your boyfriend/girlfriend has been around forever.  Basically it is asking: "How far can I go without this being considered a sin?"
Yet when you look at this, the question in itself is pretty selfish.
Now Sit Back and Listen to Story...
   There was once a daughter of a king who lived in  a kingdom far away.  She was absolutely beautiful and was now eligible for marriage.  Three young men had expressed interest in her hand and her father, the King, gathered the three together for a test on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
   "I want to see how each of you could protect my daughter.  While riding on your horse at a gallop, how close can you get to the cliff without going over?"
     The young men whispered amongst themselves and the first man stepped forward.
   "Sire, I can get your daughter one foot away from the edge of the cliff without falling over."  The King nodded, and motioned for the man to ride.  Urging his horse into a gallop, the young man quickly approached the edge of the cliff, and skidded to a stop.  A servant ventured forward to measure the distance between the cliff and the rider.  Indeed, there was one foot between them and the edge of the cliff.  There was applause, and the young man dismounted and bowed, proud to show how well he could protect the princess.
     The second young man stepped forward, puffing up his chest in pride. 
     "Sire, I could easily get only six inches from the edge of the cliff before stopping."  The King motioned for the second man to ride.  Sweat dripping from his brow, the young man hurried his horse along until he came to where he believed he should stop, and the horse slided in.  The servant once again rushed over and lo and behold, there were only six inches between the horse and the edge of the cliff.  The crowd broke into incredible applause and eagerly turned to the third young man.  He confidently walked up to the king, leaving his horse behind.
    " Sir, it would be my first duty as your daughter's husband to protect her from all harm.  I would try to keep her as far away as possible from the edge of the cliff because I love her and I could never put her in harms way." 
   The King and princess smiled at each other.  The King reached for the young man's hand.
   "Young man, that is the correct answer.  You have won my daughter's hand."
And Now Your Wondering...
   What does this have to do with anything?  OK, look at it this way.  Your boyfriend/girlfriend may not be your future spouse.  They may be, but they might be someone elses husband or wife in the future.  If this is true, and you are called to the vocation of marriage, then somewhere out there is your future wife or future husband.
    You wouldn't want your future spouse's current boyfriend/girlfriend to do anything with them to compromise his or her purity. 
     So you shouldn't do anything that would compromise your current boyfriend or girlfriend's purity.  Wouldn't it be amazing that, at their marriage (if they do not marry you) that their wife/husband came up to you and thanked you for protecting their bride/groom's purity?
If you really love me
    If your really love your boyfriend/girlfriend, you want what is best for them right?  What about what is best for their souls?  Look at your current physical involvement with them and ask these questions:

   - Is what I am doing right now something that is leading my  
     boyfriend/girlfriend closer to God?

   - Is this something  I would be OK doing if Jesus was sitting

   - Is this a Heaven decision or a pleasure decision?

Learning from example:   Reading an article from lifeteen this week, this was the quote that stuck with me: "Learn from the world’s first couple: Adam and Eve. When your desires become more attractive than your partner’s salvation, eventually you’ll fall."
Thoughts or comments?  Are you committed to purity in your relationships?  Let me know below!
God Bless,

Chloe M. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

True. Love. Sacrifices.


      I consciously gave my life to Jesus when I was 14-years-old. I didn't know all there was to know about the faith (still don't) but I knew a few important things: I shouldn't steal stuff, I shouldn't lie, I should go to Church every Sunday, and I should save sex for marriage. So I made a commitment to stay a virgin until I got married.

     Sounds noble, right? Well, in the spirit of full disclosure I must admit that at that age no girl had even remotely desired to sleep with me. I was the freshman in high school who shows up and you wonder who let the sixth graders in. Girls didn't find me attractive and I didn't like them much either (being a fan of a lot of D&D and fantasy books, my ideal woman was an Elven princess who knew karate and was good with a knife - a standard most 13- and 14-year-old Catholic school girls don't live up to.)
     As time went on, I did attract some girlfriends (playing guitar helped) and I entered the exciting world of male/female romance.
     How did I do? Not well. My sincere apologies to those who had the misfortune of dating me.
     The biggest thing that hindered positive relationships for me was I understood virginity but hadn't a clue about chastity. Chastity is the virtue of sexual purity. I might not have had sex - but I wasn't sexually pure either. And so I really made a mess of things, hurting myself and the women I dated.
     A turning point came in 1994. I had just graduated college and was dating a wonderful Christian girl. I had it in my mind that she might be THE ONE and we had even entertained some conversations about marriage. We both loved the Lord and prayed together but were clearly confused about the chastity thing.
     Then I went to a conference where I heard a speaker give an amazing talk about what chastity really was. It was not a restriction - it was a gift! God desires us to live in purity so we can have the greatest expression (and experience) of love. As I looked back on my life, I realized how things were at the worst when I was at my most unchaste. Chastity was there to protect beautiful relationships, while sexual activity confuses and destroys them.
     I was thrilled to hear the truth. I felt so liberated! They passed out Chastity Pledge cards and I hastily filled one out, putting my name and the date on it. I got an extra one for my girlfriend, bought her a copy of the talk on cassette (yes, that's what we used back then) and mailed it to her with great excitement. She also loved the message and we committed ourselves to a pure and chaste relationship. I was more convinced than ever that she was THE ONE.
      Six months later we broke up.

     Sexual activity is like a drug and when we got off it we realized that there were things about each other that were downright annoying. I was thankful to realize this, at least in my mind. But my heart was furious. I desired love. I thought she was THE ONE. And that stupid card blew it!
     18 months later, I'm dating another girl with bright blue eyes and curly hair. I finally understood with her what it meant to have a chaste relationship and I wished I had been that way with every relationship I had! One day, after a few months of dating, we were praying together when I opened my bible and the Pledge Card fell out.
      Though I had not forgotten my commitment to be chaste, I forgot the card was there. I remember feeling embarrassed to see it. I'm not sure why. I wasn't embarrassed about my commitment to chastity - this girl had the same commitment. Maybe it was because it reminded me of her, THE ONE. I signed that card thinking it would bless and protect the relationship I had with the girl I thought would be my future wife. Instead, it destroyed it.
      My new girlfriend picked up the card and it looked as though she was going to cry. She reached in her bible and pulled out her chastity pledge card. "Look!" she said. I nodded. She had a Pledge Card, too. Lots of people had.
     She could tell I was missing her point. "Look closer," she said, handing me both cards.
     I looked at them. They weren't just both pledge cards, they were the exact same card. From the same conference. On the same date.
      When I was in one corner of the room, committing myself to God and my future spouse to stay pure for my marriage, she was in another corner of the room, pledging the same thing.
      We were married a year later.
     "Our God is a God of faithfulness. Yes, I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future full of hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) 


     When we give Him the most intimate parts of our lives, He gives us His most intimate blessing. So, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."(Proverbs 3:5-6)


     I share this personal story with you to give you hope. God has an amazing plan for your life. No matter what you've done or where you've been, God can get you on the right path to the fullness of life He has planned for you.

     Had to share this story with you from my daily devotional today.  What a cool way to remind those who will be called to marriage that their future spouse is out there - and to pray for them.

     Let me know what you think in the comments below!

God bless you all,

Chloe M. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amused or Offended?

Dear readers, I am wanting your opinion.

Are you amused or offended by the above picture?

I went to Target tonight and saw this notebook.

I think I am offended simply because these women are not single.

They are "taken" by the most amazing spouse - Christ Himself. 

It is disheartening when our culture places these incredible women who have responded to God's call to religious life in a position where they are the end of jokes.
Thoughts? I would love to know in the comment box below.
God bless,

Chloe M.

Monday, September 24, 2012

                           I Am Who Am
                 God's name and significance

Labeling God
     In bible study this week, we were discussing Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush.  When Moses asks God how he should introduce Him to the Israelite people, God says, "I am who am."  Which, in the words of Fr. Barron, "Tells Moses absolutely nothing.  It was like saying 'stop asking stupid questions. My name isn't important in this situation.'"  God isn't this or that. He isn't bigger than anything we can think of, or stronger, or smarter.  He isn't bound by our human system of superlatives.

     When you know someones name, you have a sort of control over them.  You can find their phone number in the phone book, you can look them up online, you can even stalk them on Facebook (you know you do it.).
     When you can label something, and put a name on it, it is easy to stick it in a corner and forget about it.  Pause.  Rewind.  When we knew who God was when He came down to earth, Jesus, we were able to label him and stick him on a Cross.

God conquers labels     That is where the amazing mystery of the 100% divinity and 100% human nature comes in to play.  Because Christ was able to conquer death on the cross and rise from the dead (see post I am who I am because of the Resurrection) and also conquered any label we can put on God.
Grasping at God     When we think about all of this too much we find ourselves grasping at God, similarly to Adam and Eve eating the fruit so that they could become like God.  We can't grasp at God mentally or physically - His ways are beyond our ways and His thoughts beyond our thoughts.  When we stop trying to grasp at and label God, we find we have to time to fall in love with our Creator, which is what we were made to do anyway!
Any thoughts?  Let me know in the comment box below - it always makes my day hearing from my readers!

God Bless you all,

Chloe M. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

  Blessings by Laura Story
See post below for my thoughts on this song.
Let me know what you think
in the comments below!

God Bless you all,
Chloe M.
What You Want....

....and What You Need.

     St. Philip Neri said:

"Do not grieve over the temptations you suffer. When the Lord intends to bestow a particular virtue on us, He often permits us first to be tempted by the opposite vice. Therefore, look upon every temptation as an invitation to grow in a particular virtue and a promise by God that you will be successful, if only you stand fast"

     When you pray for patience, goes God give us patience, or does He?
 give us opportunities to be patient?  When we pray for charity, does God give us charity, or does He give us opportunities to be charitable?

     I am reminded of a song by Laura Story, "Blessings."  (I would put it in this post, but my computer is being stubborn - look for it later on during the day when the computer decides to cooperate!)  In the song, she talks about the fact that God wouldn't be a loving Father if He just gave us virtue.  He loves us, and so He wants to see us grow and mature.  I love these lyrics: "All the while, You hear each spoken need, Yet love is way to much to us the lesser things," and "What if the trials in this life are Your mercies in disguise."  

     What is God doing in your life to give you opportunities to grow in virtue?  He is giving us what we need, not necessarily what we want.  Why?  Because He is a loving Dad and just wants to see the best for His kids.  It's like the situation with my little sister.  She wants to stay up later, like the "big" girls, because she is now getting older.  Yet instead of just granting her more privileges because of her age, Mom and Dad allow situations to arise in which they can observe her maturity.  Even if it is just observing her interactions with her siblings day to day, she is proving her maturity (or sometimes lack of) by her actions.

     Usually when something goes wrong in our life, we like to sit down and say:
"Why God?  Where are you? And why can't I feel your love right now?"  And this is easy to do, believe me, I know because I do it pretty often.  Yet we have to get into the habit of seeing God work in mysterious ways.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  He has such a beautiful plan for our life - better than we could ever imagine - and all we have to do is trust Him with our lives.

      Sometimes we sell God short.  We fail to realize that He created our very souls! How could He not have a beautiful plan?  Our plan and our will for us is typically not allowing us to be the best version of ourselves.  When we turn it all back over to God, our lives will blossom.

     Have you seen God's blessing in disguise recently?  Let me know about it in the comments!

God Bless you all,

Chloe M.  


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our God is not Dead
He's Alive! He's Alive!

As I've shared before, last week I went to a Matt Mahr concert.  Of course we sang his song "Christ is Risen."  I love that song, very much.  The really neat thing was that we sang it during the Eucharistic Adoration Procession.

It really hit me as the Eucharist passed by me and I was singing "Oh, death: where is your sting? Oh, hell: where is your victory? Oh, Church: come stand in the light! Our God is not dead! He's Alive! He's Alive!"  It used to be that I only thought of the Resurrection at this point.  And, although true, that isn't what this song is about to me now.

Here the Romans thought they had killed Christ and their problems were done.  Then Christ rises from the dead, defeating death by death itself.  And He doesn't just go up to Heaven.  In fact, He comes down to earth in the form of bread and wine.  And as I was singing those words, Christ was right there!  Veiled by the appearance of a consecrated host, but He was there! 

Christ is alive.  You can see Him everyday in Eucharistic Adoration.  Someone shared the story of St. John Vianney with me: "In the parish that St. John Vianney was parish priest of, there was an old man who came into the sanctuary of the Church and would sit in front of the Eucharist everyday.  St. John Vianney finally had to say something to him, so he asked the old man why he was there everyday.  The old man pointed to the Eucharist and said, 'I look at Him.  And He looks back at me.'"

The Romans didn't win.  The persecutors didn't win.  Because I, 2,000 years later, am worshipping Christ in the Eucharist...because He is not dead. 

God Bless you all,

Chloe M.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living NOW:
Not letting your future vocation take front seat to what you already are blessed with.

You don't know what you've got....'till it's gone
     Our family dynamics are changing.  I am looking into a job, college classes, and discerning God's will for my life, both future and present.  My next youngest sister is learning to drive.  My third youngest sister is two inches taller than me.  The next sister is growing up on me.  The little kids keep getting bigger and bigger everyday.  My baby sister is already five and half months old.  Where does time go?

     I was talking about this to my Mom, and she was saying how much I should love where I am NOW.  And she's right - I spend a lot of mental time in the future, planning what I think should happen.  I had once been told that God's desire for me to discern my future vocation should never take precedence over my current vocation.
     One day, in the not-so-far future, as I sit in a dorm room, studying, I'm going to wish I was back at home, surrounded by loving siblings, (even though they err on the loud side), caring parents who are there to help me, and access to something that heats up food besides a microwave.  Yet I have to stop.  I have all those things RIGHT NOW.  And I don't appreciate them - and I won't fully until they are gone!

A Quote for Perspective:

     Padre Pio says this: "Be content to obey, which is never a small thing for the soul who has chosen God as his portion. And resign yourself to be, for now,  a small hive bee, able to make honey.", buzz ~ looks like we really need to "bee" focused (pun intended) on God's present plan for our lives.

      Look at the birds of the air. They don't worry about a thing and they have a pretty good life.  This is what we must strive for: content peace in God's love for us now.  Content peace in God's plan and love for us in the future.  

Are you "bee-ing" content in God's plan for your life now?  Let me know in the comments below!

God Bless you all,

Chloe M.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Praise and Worship Music for Sunday
Hill Song United
The Stand

Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Opened or closed?  Giving God everything.

     I went to a concert and adoration hour at Benedictine College last night. One word to sum up the whole experience: amazing.  Benedictine is my top college of choice, so it was great to go up there and see the college kids interacting with each other (and the amazing amount of sisters, novices,
seminarians, deacons and priests up there on campus, too! 

     But that isn't what this post is about - I have to share with you what Matt Mahr shared with us during the concert. 

    Put your hand out, palm up.  Imagine placing everything you care about on your hand.  Little things - like bands you love, your favorite shirt, and peanut butter.  Big things -  like your family, friends, GPA, and future.  And then close your hand, like a fist. 

     No matter how much I try to put more love into your life with good things, I can't get them in there because your fist is closed.  This is how some of us live our lives - fist tight, holding everything we love close to us. 

     But imagine if you opened your hand all the way.  This is hard because then everything can fall out of your hand.  This is hard because you don't have a chance to control anything.  Yet this is the way we should be living our life, simply because when our hands our open, God can pour His life and love into our lives.

     Wouldn't it be easy if we could just give God control of our whole life just by opening our hands?  But this surrender is something we have to show in all aspects of our lives - physical, mental, and spiritual.   
      Are your hands open or closed?  Are you allowing God to fill your life full of grace and love, or are you clutching your plans close enough that you won't let Him in?  It's time to open your hands.

     God bless you all,

Chloe M.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When you take time to hear things
     Have to share some awesome things that have happened to me in the past week.  As some of you know,  I've been going through a lot of discernment concerning college recently.  And when I mean a lot, I mean A LOT.   I've actually had to stop a couple of times in the past two weeks and just breathe - and remember to count my present blessings and how good I've got it now.

     I applied to my two colleges of choice (a local secular college with a great, small Catholic group, and a Catholic college one hour away.)  Well, Monday I got a call that congratulated me - I had been accepted to the Catholic college.  Beings that the Catholic college has a 58% acceptance rate, you can imagine my sheer joy.

     I have applied for so many scholarships and I have never heard anything back from them (all from small essay contests, etc, nothing big.)  You have no idea how nice it is to actually be seen as a desirable future student...amazing! 

     So, after the call I started to wonder what I needed to start doing to make my final decision towards what college I want to go to in less than a year.  And where do I find answers?  I have found that a lot of my problems can be solved in a hour spent in adoration.  So I went for two hours. :)

     And I sat in front of Christ in the Eucharist and I listened.  REALLY HARD.  And I talked to Him, saying "All right, Lord.  Thank you thank you thank you for the acceptance into the Catholic college.  Now, seriously, where do you want me?"  And I listened.....and got a question.

Where can you best serve Me?

And I realized that's the answer, right there in that question. I need to be looking for the best place that I can be Christ's hands and feet to the world. And when I find that place, I've found my academic home for the next four years. 

     Please keep me in your prayers.  I have a lot of decisions to make, and am praying to make every one of those decisions in the light of God's will for my life.

    God Bless all of you!

Chloe M. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quotes on the Eucharist

Fall in love with the Eucharist and everything
else will fall into place.

 ~ Fr. David Herrera 

If angels could be jealous of men, they would be
so for one reason: Holy Communion.

~ Maximilian Kolbe

When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much
Jesus loved you then.  When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.

~ Mother Theresa

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 10 Questions to ask Catholic Colleges

~  Getting the Answers, Making the Choice   ~

Question 1:  Why Should I attend a Catholic School?
     You might have answered this question for yourself already, but it is important to ask this of each Catholic college you have on your possible list.  It is the age old question a religious education vs. a secular education.
     We should have all aspects of our lives centered around Christ, and these schools could help you do that.  The big question is, how can you take the degree you earn and use that in your chosen career path?
     This question can be asked to the admissions office, but also to the students ~ from freshmen to seniors ~ and the faculty and staff.  

Question 2:  How does this school exemplify Catholicism?
     Although this sounds like a repeat of question one, here is the difference.  In question one, you asked the school to tell you what they are as a Catholic school.  In question two, you ask them to show you.  (Faith without works is dead, after all!)
     Basically, it is saying: "All right, you say your a Catholic school, now how do you specifically show it to the students, as well as the local community? "
     This question can be answered by academics, but should also include the well-roundedness of student life, service projects, opportunities to grow in your faith, etc.

Question 3:  What are your academic strengths?
Sometimes students think that the smaller Catholic college don't offer as much on the academic side of a college experience.  This is not typically true - but you do have to remember that the college will stress the Catholicity of it's programs, but you can't forget academics.  After all, this is why you are coming to college - for an education.  So academic strengths would include classes, faculty quality, graduate job placement, internships, studying abroad, and advisories.

 Question 4:  What are some of your strongest programs?
     In this question, don't only discuss academics.  Make sure to include extracurricular programs as well.  This school could have some great student outreach programs in the community.  Whether off campus or on, be sure to see if the schools programs are Catholic centered.

Question 5:  How can I grow in my Catholic faith here?
     This is a very important question.  Some would assume that, because their education is coming from a Catholic school, their faith life will blossom automatically.  This isn't true - it does require a conscious effort.
     How does this school contribute to this effort?  Adoration hours?  Small prayer groups and Bible studies?  Ask the resident staff how they would handle a situation when a student comes to them with a spiritual need.  Ask the admissions office and students (this is important)  what a typical Sunday looks like on campus?

Question 6:  What is the rate of job placement for graduates?
     Although it seems light-years away, this is also a biggie.  What is going to happen after you graduate?  What is this college's plan of attack for placing their students into the career world?  How much is the percentage of job placement?
     Also, if your career plan is looking like it will include grad school, please inquire about this as well.  Another good point is the school's internship programs.  The place to ask these questions would be with admissions as well as if the school has a career center or office.

     OK, if the cap-locks didn't say it, I don't know what will - this might be a very important facet into deciding whether you will go to this school.
     Even between private schools, there is a ton of variation between scholarships and financial assistance programs.  Some schools will offer special packages for athletes, musicians, actors/actresses, service, community involvement, and leadership!
     Admissions can defiantly point you in the right direction, but the brain really to pick is the financial aid office.  It's great to hear success stories among other students - ask them how they are able to work financially to go to this college.

Question 8:  How about social life, both on and off campus?
     What is there to do after studying time?  Do you have to go off campus for a good environment?  What is there to do on campus?  Always start by asking admissions, but this is one question the students will have the best answer too.  If you can visit the college, see if you can arrange to stay overnight, to see how students interact with each other and what they are doing for fun.

Question 9:  What is resident life like?
     Chances are, you'll be staying on campus for your first year at least.  Visit the student centers and dorm rooms.  This is a question you'll be able to mostly ask by observation alone.
     Perhaps your coming from a situation where you don't have to share a room with anyone - perhaps (like me) it's just the opposite, and you already share your room with siblings.  But this might be an adjustment with shared-wing bathrooms, and other housing regulations and rules.  So ask!  You are going to have responsibility for your dorm, but a shared responsibility for the area as well.
     Plus, this will be your home away from home for possibly the next four years.  

Question 10:  What makes this school unique?
     Emphasize "unique."   Listen!  The admissions/students/teachers/faculty will each have something they like about the school.  Does their academics emphasize theology?  Do they require all students to take a course in theology?  What percentage of their students are Catholic?   What is their school scheduling and calender like?  What is their student and incoming freshmen orientation like?  

Taken and modified from Christian College Guide 2012 Midwest Edition.

OK, so now you have your zillion and one questions packaged nicely into 10 top questions.  Are you ready to embark on the college journey?  Have you already made it through, if so, can you share some advice?  Let me know in the comment box below ~ it makes my day when I hear from a reader!

God bless you all,

Chloe M.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I am the Jealous Brother

The Ultimate Conversion Story

     In the parable of the prodigal son, we see a young man who is incredibly selfish.  "Let me have my share of the property and inheritance."
     When does one get an inheritance?  When your benefactor or elder dies.  So, essentially, the son was saying, "Hurry up and die so I can get what is coming to me."  Yet the Father gives the son his inheritance and lets him go.  This is free will (see my post on Hell: God is good.)
     Thus, the son sets out into the world.  The Greek word describing the world the son sets out into means: "The Great Emptiness."  Why was the son setting out in to a empty sea of nothing?  Because he had rejected his Father - who is God.
     The son eventually discovers, after learning from the school of hard knocks, that even his Father's servants have it better than him. So he decides to simply be his Father's servant, comes home as the penitent sinner, and is embraced and loved by his Father.
     He is given a ring for his finger (sign of a kind of spiritual marriage) and shoes on his feet (sign of being brought back to a state of respect) and his Father then throws him a party.  What a life.  What a conversion story.

Meanwhile, out in the field...

     At this same time, the elder brother/son is out in the field.  Fr. Robert Barron says this is a kind of mini-separation.  Even though he is present with his Father physically, his spirit and will is not present in the relationship. 
     The Father comes out to His oldest son and pleads for him to come and celebrate - his younger brother is home again! But the older brother refuses, and then goes on to question the Father's generosity.  After all, his younger brother had squandered everything he was given, and now he gets the special treatment?  While he, the older brother, had stayed and was faithful to his Father never got anything special.
     The Father goes on to try to show the oldest brother how he had missed the point.  Everything the Father had was already his!  But the oldest brother fails to see this, even in the end. 

What does this have to do with me?

     When I was at Stubenville summer conference, I had the same experience as the oldest brother.  I sat and listened to amazing speakers (Leah Darrow, Sean Forrester) about how Christ had changed their lives from rock bottom to top of the mountain, and they were now living their lives to please only Him.  And then I looked at me.  
     I have been on this world for seventeen years and sometimes I wonder if I have anything to prove for it.  There is a Christian comedian who sums this up: "I wish I had been  a drug addict!  I wish I had an awesome conversion story!"  
     So I brought this problem to a priest in confession and explained to him my jealousy over these amazing relationships with God that these people had.  I am a cradle Catholic and I have been to Mass more times than I can count.  I have believed in the real presence since it was taught to me in second grade.  I have it all, and I don't get why the convert is happier then me.  It's not fair. (That's the jealous brother in me talking).
     The priest then asked me how blessed I was.  I was taken aback. "I'm not here to talk about my blessings!  I'm here because I'm jealous!"  But then I realized what he was getting at. I am blessed.  I have known the beauty of Catholicism since I was baptized as a baby.  Yet I have gone through the motions and not fallen in complete love with the gift I've been given.

How to fall in love again - because it's worth it.

    I've been trying to take this priest's advice - and count my blessings.  Rediscover my faith and fall in love with Christ.  It's involved a lot of work, research, study, prayer and time with Jesus in adoration, but let me tell you: it's worth it.   It's worth it to see how your faith is the one, true Church founded by Christ.  It's worth it to see the beauty and sheer miracle of the real presence.  It's worth it to be able to defend my faith when someone questions a Catholic practice.  But best of all, it is worth it to fall in love with the Creator of the universe who loves each of us as if there is only one of us (C.S. Lewis). 

Do you have any questions or comments?  Do you struggle, like me, to give up the jealous older brother mentality?  Let me know in the comments below!

God bless you all,

Chloe M.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cardinal Dolan Prays for the Unborn at the Democratic National Convention
Right after President Barack Obama's acceptance speech for the Democratic Nomination, Cardinal Dolan prays for the unborn in his closing prayer. 
Dolan had originally been slotted to close the convention, but he was pulled.  He was invited back again after Democrats caught some heat for removing him.
Dolan's message of the pro-life belief goes directly against the Democratic pro-choice platform.
Dolan said: "Grant us the courage to defend life…waiting to be born, welcomed and protected,”

Thank you, God, for Cardinal Dolan - a man not afraid to speak the truth - a man who didn't water down, but doubled down.
Daily Dose of C.S. Lewis

"A man who was merely a man and said the kind of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would with either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse."

C.S. Lewis

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hell:  God is Good

Free Will

     God doesn't force Himself on any of us.  He gives us free will to decide whether we want to love Him or not.  He wants nothing more than to see us all around the wedding feast table in Heaven with Him.  Yet if we don't show that we love God here on earth, why would we want to be with Him forever?  It's similar to a young woman not wanting to marry a guy who she never went out with, and never had a conversation with.

But if God is so good...

    So if God loves us so much, and wants to see us all in Heaven, why does Hell exist?  How could He send His own children to Hell?  The answer is this:  He doesn't.  He does not send his children to Hell, in fact, we send ourselves there.  Our life shows separation from God's love, and our choices choose our final destination.

Hell: Vacancy
     God would love to see Hell empty.  When original sin entered the world, God sent the promise of a Savior, His own Son, to come to earth and open the gates of Heaven for us.    Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, there is not one sin that cannot be forgiven by God.  Our debt is forgiven by the Lamb's perfect sacrifice - and when we accept this, we can enter into God's mystical body here on earth, and eventually in Heaven.  

The Beauty of the Cross

     The cross is the sign that God loves us!  He wants us to be with Him, and He has given us all the tools to get there.  St. Rose of Lima said, "Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder to Heaven."  

Any thoughts or comments?  Let me know in the comments below!

God bless you all,

Chloe M.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Respect and Honor

     Some of you may know of the contemporary Christian band, For King and Country.  (If not, you can find out about them here!)
     While at Winter Jam last year, I listened to their performance, and they shared about what they mean by the return to respect and honor.

     Here is a quote on what these Respect and Honor bracelets mean:

     "This is a message especially for ladies.  Often our culture says to talk and to act and to dress like you are worth nothing more than a penny.  But there is a God who says you are priceless."

     But not only girls wear these bracelets!  Luke and Joel also wear them as a reminder to step up and stand up, to treat women with respect and honor.

     It would be amazing to start a counter-cultural revolution of returning to respect and honor concerning the opposite gender.  Our culture has objectified women (through immodesty and pornography) and removed a lot of the respect out of relationships.  Some dating has turned into self-focused instead of God-focused.

     I wear the Respect and Honor bracelet on my right wrist - so that when I meet a guy for the first time and shake his hand, I look down at see how I am supposed to treat him: with respect and honor.

     I have shared with you my tendency to jump to conclusions with young men.  I have to stop myself from seeing them as their potential (He'd make a nice ____________) instead of seeing them for who they are now: a brother in the Lord.

     If you are interested in joining this counter-cultural movement, you can purchase the bracelet for five dollars here


Monday, September 3, 2012

I am who I am because of the Resurrection



   I was in Eucharistic Adoration this morning and this question crossed my mind:  "What makes me different?  I mean, out of all the religions practiced through the world, what makes me as a Catholic different?  If they are all the same, there is not point, so why is Christianity so great?"
     The answer can be found in one word:  The Resurrection.
     There are a lot of ways to "disprove" the Resurrection.  Today I'm going to look at the top four lies and the top four ways to disprove them in defense of what makes Christianity different from everyone.

Lie One:  The Apostles stole the body while the guards slept
     Picture this.  Romans Guards are guarding, of course, and then they fall asleep (all at once, so conveniently.)  Peter and John sneak in, roll away the stone, snatch the body of Jesus, and go and hide it somewhere.  They come back, push the stone closed, and snicker as they run back home, knowing that the "Resurrection" will defiantly make Jesus the teacher He said He was going to be.  To bad He wasn't - but that's OK because now everyone will believe Jesus was really the Son of God; but in reality, He is buried in some field somewhere.
     Now, stop laughing.  Because really, this theory is completely bogus.  What is the chance that all the guards would have fallen asleep at once?  Think how many guards there would have been.  The scribes and pharisees were worried about the apostles stealing the body, and so they asked for guards to be posted at the tomb.

Look at Acts 12:4.  Herod then sent "four squads of four soldiers each" to guard Peter.  Peter.  Not Jesus - but Peter.  If Herod felt that threatend by one of Jesus's followers, how worried do you think they would have been about the body of Jesus?  There were eleven disciples, so they might have logically sent out eleven guards for precuation.  And then, beings that the Romans were military minded, they would have sent a little bit more than eleven, to keep down any riots that might spring up.
     This is also not even including the fact that the penalty of falling asleep on your guard as a Roman soldier was basically being clubbed and stoned to death.  I'm going to guess that guards would avoid this punishment and stay awake. 
     Also, the apostles were locked up in the upper room, cowering out of fear that they might be killed, too.  They were in no shape to be out doing midnight body runs, espeacilly on a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers - the exact men they were trying to avoid.

Lie Two:  Everything was a hallucination

     Others claim that the apostles and all other witnessess were hallucinating the apperances of the risen Christ.  Yet even enemies of the risen Christ attested to the empty tomb. 
     Christ appeared to over five hundred believers, accordingto 1 Corinthians 15: 5-8.  Paul also said that Peter and the twelve (now including the new Matthias) had seen Him.
     Minimially five-hundred and twelve people were all hallucinating about the same thing - and all their testimonies matched up?  That's quiete impressive.  I cannot cooraborate with one of my sisters to tell a lie without one of us slipping up and getting found out.  So five-hundred and twelve is pretty impressive.

Lie three:  Christ Never was Dead

The third lie is that Christ never died but only pretend to be dead.  He then emerged from the tomb on the third day and faked his Resurrection. 
     Roman soldiers were noted for their extreme cruelty.  They would never have taken an alive man down from the cross.  They would break the legs of those who had lived to long, causing them to sufficate.  Yet Christ's legs were not broken, but his heart was pierced.  This itself would have caused death if it had not already occured.
     If you have seen the Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson, you know that Christ endured an incredible amount of loss of blood and unimaginable physical pain.  No man could have endured that much destruction, not died, but lived, and then walked out of a tomb three days later, able to convince others that he had come back to life?  Not only come back to life, but gloriously arisen?  Able to walk through walls and converse?  The only signs of the previous struggle: the wounds on his hands and feet?  No man.

Lie four:  The apostles were only speaking symbolically

The final lie is that the Apostles did not mean their accounts to be taken litearally, but were only giving symbolic expressions to state that they believed that Jesus lived in their hearts.
     Symbols can never explain the lack of body on the third day.
      Also, there is this thought:  If you told a lie, and people got angry at you, and then decided to kill you for that lie, you would want to let them know that you were just kidding.  But when the apostles were being skinned alive, hung upside down, crucified, and run through with swords, not one of them said: "STOP!  We really don't believe that Christ rose from the dead! You misunderstood! We just know He is alive in our hearts!"  Not One.

To Conclude...

The Resurrection can be explained biblically and historically.  If we believe as Chrstians that Jesus rose from the dead, than we believe He is God.  If He is God, we have to give our whole lives time him: we have to know Him, love Him, and serve Him - even to the point of giving our lives for Him.
     With these stakes, it is no wonder why so many do not believe in the Resurrection.


Do you have any thoughts on the topic of the Resurection?  Have you been questioned on your belief?  Do you question it?  Let me know in  the comments below!

Thanks and God Bless,

Chloe M.