Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

As of today, I will be leaving for the Family Mission's Company base in Abbeville in 18 days. I have so many mixed emotions because everything is happening so fast, but I am keeping myself busy so I don't have much time to think about it. I still have to speak at masses, figure out how a raffle/silent auction works, work on my talks at the different churches I will speak at, do some baking, plan what I will say at St. Joseph Manor, organize a jambalaya dinner fundraiser (God Bless the Faucheux's), do some thrift shopping for more modest clothing, and most importantly - be present with the people I love.
Thank you for your prayers for my family and I, we definitely feel them! From the beginning of the week till now, mom and dad's dispositions have completely changed. From our house feeling like a "morgue" last week to now everyone pitching in on fundraising and organizing this week.
It is not typical for my family to be on the "receiving line" because we are usually on the giving line. Jesus is definitely teaching us how to give and receive love in new ways.
Thibodaux is such a small town where it seems like everyone know's everyone's business. Although there is some truth to that, Thibodaux is also one of the most Catholic towns in Louisiana and probably Nationally (in my humble opinion, HA!). There are six Catholic Churches, a perpetual adoration chapel, and two religious stores in Thibodaux alone...not to mention that our Diocese is on FIRE in every aspect - vocations, youth ministry... literally everything. I love the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, it is unlike any other, we are like a breeding ground for holy holy holy vocations. I love it.

I am so incredibly thankful that I was blessed into this family-in this town-in this state. The people my family and I have surrounded ourselves with are second to none. I don't have a doubt in my mind that my family will be okay when I move away. Of course it will be a hard transition at first for all of us, but I am moving into a new huge family (not replacing my parents at all. no way that could ever happen.) and I am leaving my family in the care of a faith community that will lead them to Heaven.
When I made my Confirmation, Bishop said that our parents have to pray for us to get to Heaven - even when they die. It is their goal as parents to get me and my sister to Heaven. I always felt it was my job to get my mom, dad, and sister to Heaven. I wanted to be an example to them that it is necessary to love Jesus more than you love anything else in the whole world. This life is temporary, Heaven is forever. Our minds cannot even grasp on the concept of forever and that is why it is so important that everyone should strive to live a life with Heaven being the goal.
My parents have formed me into the person I am today. They taught me right from wrong, good manners, the importance of giving, how to serve others, and how to be a compassionate and loving Catholic daughter. God bless them for giving me a guilty conscious and for their sacrifice. They sacrificed everything to put my sister and I through Catholic School and I know for a fact that we wouldn't be the women we are today if we didn't go to St. Joseph or E.D.White. The sacrifices they made for us can be compared to the sacrifice on the cross. I know my parents have suffered to give my sister and I opportunities to truly live. They gave us everything so we be kids for as long as we possibly could. Even to this day, my parents are a beautiful witness of sacrifice. They would literally do anything to help people. They have pure servant hearts. The way they have raised me reminds me of the quote, "To whom much is given, much is to be expected" - Luke 12:48. It would literally be selfish of me to keep everything my parents have taught me and not spread that throughout the world.
Ever since I was younger, I would say that "when I grow up, I want to help people." Then when I got into high school I would say, "If I could have any job, I would volunteer somewhere different every month. That would be the perfect job for me."
When the call to missions was put on my heart, I knew that it would be selfish for me to say no. This is because "to whom much is given, much is to be expected." I feel as though God has hand picked me -that he has put me in the exact place He needs me to be. The people I have met and surrounded myself with, the experiences I have had, the places I have traveled, the opportunities I have had, the things I have learned are all things that have led me to this moment in my life. The moment when I can introduce myself as a Catholic Missionary.

*Huge thank you to all who have donated to help my journey to spread the Gospel to all the Nations and a special shout out to the Parishioners of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral who have helped me reach my goal for Intake 2013!* PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

If you'd like to donate to me:

Friday, August 23, 2013

To practice day by day Love, Honor, Truth

Tonight I was driving home pretty late from visiting with some church friends in Vacherie and I was listening to the new Audrey Assad CD, Fortunate Fall, when I had mini revelations and made so many connections in my brain that I just had to share. I know I will be jumping back and forth a lot, but bear with me, this is just how my mind functions...

This whole week has been a wonderful emotional roller coaster as I have been journeying with my sorority during their Recruitment process. Recruitment is a time where girls who are interested in joining a sorority get to meet each sorority on campus. The first night is Philanthropy night, where they learn about the service and philanthropy and make a little craft for the girls to donate to whatever cause. The next night is Slideshow where the girls see what the active members do throughout the year. The last night is Preference where the girls have to make their final decision and they get to hear personal testimonies from some active members. Then Bid Day when make their official choice and they get their bids and meet the chapter. It's really a lot more than that, but this was just to give you a short summary of it for clarification purposes.

Phi Mu has been my home for what feels like a lifetime, but has only been about a little over a year and a half since I officially became a member. It has always had a major impact on my life, but I had never had the "two by four" moment (two by four moment: when something finally hits you and it makes so much since that it's like you got in the face by a two by four. wow, that it sounds worse than it is..). This Summer, the little wonders and joys of Phi Mu have been revealed to me by my peers and especially the comparisons of Phi Mu and my personal faith journey. With discerning Mission life, the Phi Mu Creed has played such a big part of my prayer journey.

Tonight while I was driving home I noticed how bright and beautiful the moon was! I wanted to get a really good look at it, but the trees kept getting in the way. As weird as it sounds, I was thinking about how God reveals beauty slowly. If he revealed beauty all at once, it wouldn't be a mystery and it simply wouldn't be as beautiful. So as I was catching little glimpses of the moon, I was anticipating on how beautiful it would be once I saw the moon in all it's glory. Now, with Phi Mu on the brain, I thought of Recruitment. If the Phi Mu chapter would reveal all of it's beauty and mystery in one night of recruitment, the potential new members would be so overwhelmed that they couldn't take it in. Beauty is revealed slowly. When I went through the recruitment process for the first time, I had never thought of it in that way. It was just 3 nights of explaining different facets of Phi Mu. When in reality, each night is a slow revelation of the beauty of a bond that simply cannot be explained until you live it out. Just as in the church. The beauty of the church cannot be revealed or explained in one sitting or even in 3 have to live it out. Then, you can see that with each day, you learn more and more and the mysteries are revealed. Technically there will always be some mysteries, but that's what makes life fun. But the point is, that beauty is revealed slowly.
Each night of recruitment our creed is somewhat introduced to the potential new members, but it is a slow process. So by the final day of recruitment, when they hear the entire chapter say it as one body, they can really take it in. They can understand that each line has a deeper meaning, That service and God is at our core, that our Creed defines us as women and really as human beings. If someone meets a Phi Mu and has an interaction with her, they should know that she stands out from the crowd, that she is compassionate, that she is selfless, that she is a servant, that she radiates joy, that she is a Phi Mu lady.

When I was writing my application for Family Missions Company, the Phi Mu Creed was on my mind and heart. It hit me that our Creed is literally my life. It is a missionary Creed. "To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand. To think of God as a protector and guide of us all." Literally every line of the creed is beaming from my heart.
I have met a lot of people in my short twenty years of living who have shaped me and molded me and broke me and pieced me back together. But Phi Mu right now, in this moment, is exactly what I needed... their values and ideals are an echo of the church, in my opinion. Knowing that I had my family's support, my church family's support, and my Phi Mu family's support helped clarify my mind to answer YES confidently to God's call.

From my point of view of Recruitment this past week, little beauties were being revealed to me in such a different and special way. Each line of the songs and the creed spoke to the depths of my little heart. I was moved so much that I began to cry. Just as when I am in mass and things finally click and the beauty and mystery and majesty of God is slowly being revealed, it can bring you to tears.

From the drive, to the music, to the moon, to my sisters in Phi Mu, to my family, to my calling, to my God... the beauties have been revealed and everything is starting to make sense. If God would have revealed all of this to me in one day, I might have died of joy. But revealing His love slowly, I am able to take in the wonders of the world with great anticipation and peace.

"Long as you are in my heart, we'll never say goodbye"
Love in our very special bond.

Genesis 31:49

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FMC Come and See

"God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."
My Great Aunt, Sister Denis O.Carm., told me this on the day of her award ceremony where she won the prestigious honor: Nun of the Year Award for the State of Louisiana. This tiny 86(ish) year old nun all dressed in brown began crying as she spoke of her deep and passionate love of God and the sacrifice she made leaving home at the young age of 15 to enter the Convent.
Now you may ask, "Breana, what in the heck does this have to do with you?" Well, you see... God is not calling me to the Convent, but for some reason he is calling me to something with deep passionate love and the sacrifice of leaving home - Missions.

I have always known Missions was the answer to my prayers, but it was to find the time and the place and the "fit." For a while I have kept this calling to myself, but this Summer I really dived deeper into prayer about mission life and if this is what He is calling me to, then with who? Finding the right mission group is like trying to find a good husband...hard. But with prayer, it is very practical and possible. I wanted to find a mission group that was, of course, Catholic. Some of the other aspects I was hoping to find in a Catholic lay mission group were love of the sacraments, some kind of group that strived for poverty and obedience and sacrifice, and a good community life. Lately I have come to notice that my life is becoming so cluttered and noisy that I get distracted from the bigger picture that is life, love, and serving others for Jesus.

When the call to missions was becoming more and more clear, I began to get nervous. "What if I'm just making these things up in my head and he really isn't calling me?" "What if I hold off on this call and just do what I want to do...which is finish school and live in the comfort of my home with mommy and daddy?" Then I complained, "But I really am attached to my mom and family, I am Vice President of Phi Mu, I have a job, I am a Junior in College, I am an Ambassador for the University...I'm living a pretty decent and comfortable life, can I just be a missionary and serve you later?" Then came the, "What if He really is calling ME? Lord, I am not worthy of such a call!!! ("he doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.")
After all of these crazy, unrealistic, and fantasy thoughts went in and out of my head, I began to do some research online and tried to open myself up to prayer in a way that I had never prayed before. I said, "Lord, if this is really you, and you are really tugging my heart to missions, please make this clear and obvious to me, your most stubborn daughter." Then I found Family Missions Company...the only website that google made look cool. Their image, my beloved Holy Family and the World and the beginning of their charisms say: "we are Catholic lay missionaries responding to the Lord's call to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor here, and to the ends of the earth." What?! SO holy!! What I love most - the families!!! These people take not only their spouse, but their babies to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor! Dang.Shoot.

I stalked the entire website and loved every part of it and then I found a Come and See link. I immediately signed up and began to prepare spiritually. I watched videos and prayed about if I could see me there, if I could see myself as a FMC Missionary. I felt peace, but there was that little bit of inner worry of, "what if something happens at home and I have to come back, but they won't let me leave" - low and behold, the Gospel at mass was: "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." ...ruhhroohhh. There it was, a straight up sign from God. Of course, as a stubborn daughter, my eyes got big and I thought, nahhh, He wasn't saying that to me. HA!
Well, a few weeks later I went on a Pilgrimage to Canada and I became close to nearly every single human being on that trip (God Bless 'em). I was speaking to this wonderful couple about my hopes and dreams and prayers of my life and how I felt a call to Missions. They said that God will make it very clear. Immediately after this encounter we went into mass, I read the reading, sat down, and the Gospel was.... "Follow Me now, and let the dead bury their own dead."
God was absolutely not messin around with this call! After this pilgrimage and as time went on, my desire for worldly things decreased, my desire for acceptance decreased, my desire to love increased, my desire to serve increased. God has molded and shaped my heart to prepare for something great.
Even during the entire Come and See for FMC, though I was having an inner battle of sorts, I still felt this overwhelming peace and joy of serving God's poor in Missions.

I am really excited about my journey with FMC. God is teaching me to love in new ways, He is expanding my heart so I can love more, He is taking care of me. He is teaching me how to solely put my trust in Him and how to rely on Him in all my needs, troubles, cares, and worries.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water, where ever you will call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

St. Anne, St. Anne...

Today (8/7/13) I actually didn't wake up for mass, whoops! Father Shawn won't let me hear the end of it. I also missed the group picture, the old people were upset with me hahahaWe Ate breakfast then got on the bus to go to Old Quebec City, which actually looks like a very clean version of New Orleans. Our fearless leader, Corrine, a tiny feisty Italian old woman, led us on a tour to a few of her favorite churches in the city. I got to light a candle in every church we went to to pray for all of the intentions I have been carrying with me on this pilgrimage.We left the Old Quebec City to head to St. Anne de Beaupré, which is the largest shrine to St. Anne in North America. Blessed Pope John Paul II visited the shrine and blessed the statue and said that whatever intention a Pilgram brings to the statue will be answered. Behind the huge statue of St. Anne holding baby Jesus is a relic of St. Anne's arm bone. To see it was kind of incredible...the arm that held Mary and Jesus. Dang.

All of the people on this trip are hilarious. One of the ladies on the trip said I should pray for a man. She told me to say, "St. Anne, St. Anne, bring me a man as fast as you can!" Needless to say, I prayed this to the arm bone...I prayed for God's plan for me and my future spouse and our vocations. I really love St Anne, she's so good. Can you imagine what she was like? She had the perfect daughter, so she had to have been a fabulous mother.We took a little tour of the church and learned all of the meaning behind the mosaics on the floors, walls, and ceilings. Every single pew had a different animal carved onto the side of it. Every single thing in that church has a meaning. The ceiling is a mosaic of the life of St. Anne and Jociam and Mary. In the church down the stairs, there is a huge chapel. Ahh, it's Immaculate! The mosaics and tiles are all shades of blue and there are incredible paintings of the Saints. The paintings were like nothing I've ever seen before; they were so modern and life like and the colors were bright and rich. It literally looked like you could reach out your hand an touch them. I just can't even think of words to describe how beautiful they were.In the back of the chapel was a statue of St. Anne with another relic that you could venerate. (Venerate- to kiss/honor). It was truly a remarkable experience. Outside of the shrine was a gift shop, a place with a Priest to bless the items you buy, life size stations of the cross, replicas of the Holy Stairs, and many more things. This really sweet lady, Ms. Debbie, was going to climb the holy stairs alone.. So I went with her. (Flashback: I went to Rome when I was in the 3rd grade (2001) to see my Godfather be ordained a Deacon at the Vatican. While we were there my sister climbed the Holy Stairs on her knees). So I was able to climb the replica of the holy stairs on my knees while saying certain prayers on them. I carried my intentions up the stairs to especially pray for all my friends and family who are suffering. After the stairs, we had to get back on the bus to the madonna house. We watched the beginning of "The Way" and I wrote some of my postcards. Once I got off the bus, I had a wonderful chat with a couple from New Hampshire. Maria and Vic Castallano are literally one of the most beautiful couples I have ever met. I really love them and I hope and pray to have a marriage like theirs. The way they communicate and love each other can easily be compared to the Holy Family. They just listened to me and spoke to me with such concern, kindness, and true interest. They told me to keep traveling and to keep having an open heart and not to get sucked into the rat race of society. They recommended I listen to Matthew Kelley (A Catholic speaker) to confirm the life that I live is a path to holiness and will help me not worry about bills or insurance- God will provide for me. It was so comforting. I also told them about how I am discerning Missionary life and going on a Come and See retreat next week. I asked them to pray for my parents openness. Maria asked me how I knew that Missionary life would be good for me. I explained how I grew up with a family who love to volunteer and serve, my mother and grandmother have been wonderful role models in my life. I also told her that when I was freaking out about it, I went to mass and the reading was "let the dead bury the dead" (Foreshadow: low and behold - the same Gospel would be read at the next mornings mass). Jesus calls us to take up our cross, leave it all behind, and follow Him. I hope that I can answer this call with brave conviction and I know that if this is my calling, Jesus will give me and my parents the graces to see through it!Anyway, I relaxed a little bit and went with some older ladies to the gift shop then to watch the Rosary walk and then to Adoration in the little stone chapel.After we had a little party for one of the kids who turned 18. So we played catch phrase and sang a little bit, it was a blast! These New England folks remind me of my family, they are wild and rowdy and soooo funny.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh Canadaaa

Today (8/6/13) we left for Canada. I woke up around 6AM to write some more petitions from my friends and family. Aaron came get me and Emmalee around 8AM and we waited at church for about 30-45 minutes for the bus to pick us all up. There are about 50 of us on this trip to Canada, mostly old people. About 10 of us are between ages 14-22. It didn't take long at all to get to the border. We hopped off the bus at the border, 2 men scanned our passports in less than 5 minutes and we were back on the bus! We reached our first stop, The Sacred Heart's Shrine of Beauvoir Canada (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) fairly quickly. It was this beautiful little stone chapel filled with red candles burning with Pilgrims petitions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the altar was a beautiful statue of Jesus and His most  Sacred Heart. Humbly tucked along the back wall was a pretty large frame with hundreds of Saints relics! It was so neat and actually the first time I saw the relic of my patroness, St. Cecile. After spending some time in the chapel I went into the gift shop for some sacred heart holy oil and to check out all of the French items (since Quebec is a French speaking area). We had a very large lunch... for being pilgrims who are supposed to sacrifice hahaha
I got to eat with the wonderful Priest hanging out with us for the pilgrimage. He's a hefty Irish man with a cigarette in one hand and jokes in the other. He loves being a Priest; so passionate about what he teaches people. We spoke a lot about Theology of the Body and the simple but profound teachings of Bl Pope John Paul II. And how his teachings go hand in hand with every teaching of the church; even down to just simply being a human being.
After lunch we had the option of going on the "Gospel Walk" with the french Parish secretary lady. She was so sweet, not a bad bone in her body. There was a small group of us on the walk an she had a little Britney Spears headset with one of our boys carrying the speaker. It started off at a statue of Mary because even though it is all about Jesus- to get to the son, you have to go through His mother. Then we walked up a little hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus altar where the locals have mass outside (weather permitting). Behind the altar there is a huge painting of Jesus and the artist painted his eyes to where no matter where you sit in the in the pews, His eyes are on you. Each statue we left, we sang a specific song when walking to the next statue. The next statue was "Jesus the Good Shepard" which was so incredible. There were lambs all around Him and he was holding an injured little lamb- the lost sheep. The best things about these statues were their emotions. The next story was the Samaritan Woman at the Well, which has a special place in my heart. I love the stories of the Women in the bible; Jesus loves his sisters very much. He never condemned the Samaritan woman, but he showed her great love and sincere compassion. The next statue was the Agony in the Garden followed by the Crucifixion. Then the miracle of the fish and bread, the healing of the sick, and Jesus with the little children. The tenth statue was the story of The Road to Emmaeus with the men walking and talking about the death of Jesus in Jerusalem and their worries and doubts. Then Jesus starts hanging out with them and they have no idea it's Him. It starts to get late, but they want to keep listening to his stories. So they invite him to eat (break bread with them). When Jesus blesses it and breaks it- their eyes were opened. They realized it was Him. The lady giving the walk gave the example of a high school reunion. We may not remember our classmates by their appearance, but we hear their voice or see their walk and we know it's them. So, although Jesus takes form in bread, in a different appearance, we still know Him.

Now we're on the way to the place we are staying for the pilgrimage. The place we're staying at is on the St. Lawrence River called Cap-de-la-Madeline. It's actually the basillica's 125th anniversary! There is a stone chapel on the grounds that was a miracle. The story goes that since the chapel was being built in the late 1800s they didn't have enough money to transport the stones to build it. So they waited for winter so the river would freeze to get the material across. because the river wasn't frozen during the winter. The ice actually didn't harden as it typically does in winter, so on march 19, the Feast of St Joseph, they prayed rosary and the ice hardened. So the men of the town got together, got the material across the river and when the last piece of material went over the river, the ice broke. Pope John Paul II came here and blessed the statue and the grounds. And the statue in The Stone Chapel is miraculous (on feast of St. John) - the eyes of the statue was open for 10 minutes and then closed. The beauty of the statue is that she actually looks like she is young and pregnant.
Our rooms are very nice and we had 3 options for dinner (Which of course is important to me hahaha)! Then we got to walk the grounds to the Basilica and Chapel and Giftshop. The other parts of the grounds include a Rosary bridge and pond and beautiful stations of the cross with a grotto and a replica of Jesus' tomb.
After dinner we were able to go to Confession, Adoration, and Mass. Immediately after there was a Rosary walk through the gardens around the stations. It was a wonderful mix of French, English, and Latin prayers and songs as we processed from the Church to the Rosary pond and back. The procession ended at The Stone Chapel with some Marian hymns!
Salva Regina!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

You are Beautiful, My Darling

Yesterday I made it up to the family's house that is hosting me for a few days before I go to Canada. The Lamontagne's are the most wonderful family and I love them! They welcomed me with open arms, their daughter Emmalee gave up her bed for me, and most importantly...they cooked me pancakes this morning. Thankfully Aaron, my chauffeur and practically coordinator for my trip, set me up with the perfect NH Catholic family. They know the desires of my heart... Pancakes. ;)
Anywho, we all went to mass this morning at a precious church on top of a hill. The homily was all about greed and a part that really stuck out to me was, "the value of $20 seems so high when you're in Church, but so low when you're shopping." Boom, convicted! Such a good Priest; actually, such a good Father. The Lord likes to give us a loving conviction sometimes, just to show us what is right. Although it seems like a negative side of The Lord, it's not. He's just trying to love on us and for that to happen fully, we have to be free from our of ignorance and sin to let God completely in.
God constantly reminds us of how we are good, beautiful, and worthy. We are his children or better yet, his "little darlings."
This afternoon I met the lovely (and famous) Lisa Wiegand Greenberg at an old folks home in Vermont. We walked right in her door and she exclaimed, "my precious little darlings! come in, come in!"  She has images of the Pope and Jesus all over her walls and as she noticed me looking at it, she pointed to he shroud of turin and said, "that is how Jesus appeared to me." Then I leaned a little to the left and right a noticed the shroud turned into Jesus's face and back to the shroud- depending on the way you lean. I've never seen an image quite like that before or heard a woman speak of her miracles so nonchalantly. She spoke to me as if we've known each other all or lives. Lisa was born in Germany in 1921 and 2 months ago had only 2 days to live... Well, God obviously has other plans. This woman is literally a walking Saint. She has three phone calls during our short visit and she answered the phone, "yes my precious darling, I'm visiting with my dear friends so I will have to call you back later." She spoke of her life as a professional Opera singer, how she spoke 5 languages (German, English, French, Italian, and Dutch), how she worked in a Nazi labor (concentration) camp, how she absolutely loved Catholicism, and her dear beautiful husband David (who is in Heaven). I was so intrigued by her life, especially her witness in the Holocaust and her supernatural love for Jesus Christ. She spoke about how her mother was waitig in line at the labor camp listening to Hitler speak while praying the rosary, then a man came up to only her and told her she was free to go, but Lisa had to stay. She was very valuable for her linguistic abilities. Because she spoke so many languages, she was essential to the shoe making labor camp. While in the labor camp, Christ the King appeared to her in a vision (before CTK was known to the world). Once she started to get sick, they let her free to go to the doctor and she did not have to return. She single handedly stopped the French Army coming into Germany to tell them where the bad people were. After that she became best friends with the Colonel and did some work for the French government. She also worked for the American government and when she went back to Frankfurt, Germany to see if her mothers family survived the holocaust, she met her American husband, David. She said she never thought she would marry a Jewish man because she was Christian. But once they were married and all of these miracles happened to them, he converted to Catholicism and she said he was the best and most beautiful convert. He asked her how many rosaries she prayed in one day and she said one to which he replied, "ha, I pray 4!" So she now prays four or five rosaries a day because she has so much to pray for. She said that some of her and David's rosaries turned into pure, solid, heavy gold. How cool is that?!?
She was truly a captivating woman that know's the Lord and openly shares how good and awesome He is! Her kindness and words reflected Jesus. She was Jesus to me. She made me feel like the most important girl in the world and in that moment I was confident that I am "beautiful" and "darling" and a child.

If you ever feel self conscious or lonely or unloved, open up the Bible to Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) -get you some Theology of the Body!

Song of Solomon 4:7

Your Grace is Enough

The past 3 days in New Hampshire have been quite beautiful. The weather, the scenery, and the people have been wonderful! I have been staying at a rectory guest house at St. Andre Bassete Parish in Laconia, NH then driving about 15 minutes to The Soul Fest in Gilford, NH. This area is so quaint and peaceful; the sound of the bustling maple leaves on the trees make you want to nap outside.
At The Soul Fest, there are hundreds of bands, 5 stages, lots of booths, and over 12,000 Christians jammin out over the course of 4 days. Driving up to Gunstock Mountain Resort, we saw hundreds of tents with families camping out for the festival. It's so family friendly!
For being a Christian festival, I was shocked that they offered a Catholic mass and had a tent with priests available for the sacrament of confession. The mass was held at the Inside Out stage and we were one of the first ones there, so we had a chance to just sit and pray and watch the set up for mass. As people startes trickling in for mass, I noticed a family walk up. The father was guiding his son, who seemed to be around the age of 10. Then I noticed the little boy's walking cane; he is blind. He participated in the mass like every Catholic should; loud and proud! Hearing his responses and his singing made me want to cry of joy. You could see it and you could feel it; he loves the Lord. I ended up seeing him and his family multiple time throughout the festival and people who met the boy would always leave with a smile on their face and he was so polite and would say "God Bless you" and "it was so nice to meet you" and "see you later." The following morning, I was "volentold" to read at mass. Before the mass began I was standing on the side of the stage and the band said they were going to play a song to warm up. They started to play "Your Grace is Enough" and they gave the boy a mic and his mom placed him facing the crowd. He sang his little heart out. He never missed a beat or a word - it was INCREDIBLE! It took all of me not to weep at the sight and sound of this little boy who was praising God. His grace is enough. Even though he is blind, he sees the world better than you and I. His kindness and his purity and his innocence is that of a Saint. God's grace is enough for him. He really was praying those words and they've never been so special to me.

Even in our disabilities, or what we think are our disabilities, God's grace is enough.
He uses the weak to lead the strong.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Walk Upon The Water

I think we've all heard of St. least I'd hope so (if not, check out Matthew 14:22-33). When I read or reflect on the story of Peter walking on water, I have my own version in my head. I always picture this crazy storm with lots of thunder and lightening and there are a few terrified fishermen with beards freaking out in a tiny handmade boat. Then, in the distance there is this light, and like the eye of a hurricane, it is calm. Peter pokes his head out from hiding and Jesus reaches out his hand in the distance on the water. I picture Jesus' face is like one of a father who firmly believes his son can do anything, a face of pure delight. Peter takes the first step and takes his eyes off of Jesus, which makes him fall and fear consumes him. Then Jesus reaches for him. Once his eyes are fixed on Jesus, he is not afraid and gets up and jumps into Jesus' arms. Jesus just embraces Peter in the middle of a storm on a raging sea. In His perfect love, He loves on his son.

I feel like everyone has had a "Peter Moment" where you've had to walk upon the water. God always puts us in these situations where we have to step out of our comfort zone and into this "unnecessary" storm. Well, we feel it is unnecessary, thanks to our stubbornness...and our humanity. Right when we get comfortable, he throws us a curveball and we don't know what's up from down. He calls us out of the boat and onto the water. He doesn't "test" us with the intention of failure or to make fun of us. God is being a good Father; He is helping us grow. All he wants is for us to need and want Him. When we have to walk upon the water, we have to completely put our trust in him, take the first step, take his hand, and he will take care of the rest. Our God is a jealous God. He wants us to completely rely on him for everything. We constantly fight the battle of, "well God is a pretty busy guy, so I will handle my stuff for now and maybe next time I need help, i'll hit him up." Nooo, wrong approach. Completely rely on God in the good times and the bad. When are eyes are fixed on Jesus, there is nothing to fear.

I am guilty of making all these life plans in my head and forgetting to include God in it all. I remember planning what would be a good age to meet a good guy then when I would get married then have children. I just think of what would be perfect and comfortable for me. I can almost hear God's resonating laughter. God's plan is more beautiful and perfect that we could ever imagine. It's a bagillion times better than the life I pretend I will have in my head. He know's the desires of our heart. To fulfill this plan He has for us, we have to be like Peter. We have to take that first uncomfortable terrifying step. No matter if the entire world disagrees on what you believe is right, no matter if you are being tested or mocked or persecuted. You know what is right, good, and just...because God knows the desires of your heart. And if you desire the Lord, you shouldn't even think twice to step upon the water and run fearlessly to Him.

Recently I've come to know and love this song by Hillsong United called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). Hillsong has the gift of reaching your heart with such simple but powerful words and repeating them until you are in such a spiritual ecstasy, you start to tear up a little or go into a joyful shock (and immediately put a song on repeat). Whichever your case, it is definitely worth your while to play this song, close your eyes, and meditate on how God is calling you to Walk Upon The Water into His loving embrace.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."