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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 22

Luke 2: 1-19

from Pope St. John Paul II:
General Audience, November 20, 1996

Today is the start of Advent! We all wait in eager anticipation for the arrival of the Christ child. The Word made Flesh. Incarnation. Conveniently, Day 22 is about contemplating and being grateful for Christ's birth and really entering into Mary's experience.

From today's reading, the angels let the shepherds know that the King is going to arrive. And what do they do? They heard this good news and "they went with haste" to see for themselves that the King indeed has arrived!

The part that stinks about Advent is all the preparation, anticipation, and waiting. Can't we just get to the good part where we get to see Jesus? But no, like the shepherds, they had a time of preparation before they went to go see Jesus. The angels briefed them. They were prepared so that they might be more open to see Christ for themselves.

Much in the same way, Mary went through preparation in order that she may conceive our Lord in her womb. The entire Old Testament is her Advent. And because she was so prepared, she obediently said yes in cooperation with the overabundance of graces she has from our Lord.

And that's an interesting perspective to further contemplate. As we prepare ourselves during this season of Advent, how much more interesting would it be to prayerfully put ourselves in Mary's shoes and see her perspective for the coming our Lord, Jesus Christ.

At the end of today's reading, it says
Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
What memories she must have spending all that intimate time with Jesus! No wonder it is efficacious and beneficial to properly pray the Rosary because in the Rosary I contemplate milestone moments in Jesus' life, but Mary is right there with me, showing me the way.  She always kept Jesus at the center of her innermost being--her heart.

Reflecting on significant memories in my own life, and inviting Jesus and Mary into these memories.

Taking Advent pretty seriously in terms of preparation.

Daily Rosary. No excuses.

Totus tuus,
- JD

Immaculate Heart of Mary //

A Freakin' Cool Day Job

So maybe I have a folder full of aerospace pictures I've gathered since college. And maybe recently, I've moved that folder to the cloud so I have access across all my devices, which is useful. And maybe I have Windows 8 on two computers and it lets me cycle through them on dual monitors! Spoiled, I know.

But I've never really thought about how these pictures get taken. Then I saw this article. I'm a fan of fighter jets because they're just freakin' cool. The F-35 is the newest fighter jet out there, and Liz Kaszynski gets to go up in the air and take pictures of the F-35 and other jets too! That's so awesome!

A YouTube spot on her:

That's just such a freakin' cool day job. It combines two things that really resonate with me: photography that captures a sense of beauty and aerospace (fighter jets!). 

Thanks to Liz, I'm adding even more to my collection!

- JD

Original Lockheed Martin article here.

F-22s in Hawaii // Lockheed Martin

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 21

Luke 1: 39-56

from Pope St. John Paul II:
Redemptoris Mater, 12

Full of grace. That's how the angel Gabriel described Mary at the Annunciation. I can just imagine that the grace is all the more abounding in Mary because she literally had to carry Jesus. You know, God. In her. Raise Him. No big deal. But why is she full of grace? Because she has faith. Not the wishy washy faith. But real, authentic, genuine faith., Her response to Gabriel's announcement was a resounding yes and she could say yes because she responded to that faith she has in God.

Her grace overflows, and I can share in that grace just as her cousin Elizabeth shared in it by encountering Mary at the Visitation. As I prepare to consecrate myself to Jesus once again through Mary, I'll remember her faith and her joy because of she is so full of grace.

Reflecting on the blessings God has given me, of which there are many. And I'll strive to let my faith be more like Mary's.

I'll also pray a Rosary.

Totus tuus,
- JD

The Annunciation by Da Vinci // Wikipedia

Friday, November 28, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 20

Luke 1: 26-38

from Pope St. John Paul II;
Redemptoris Mater, 39

With Day 20, this begins the week that focuses on knowledge of Mary. Her own life is consecrated to Jesus, and by drawing myself closer to her and contemplating her, she'll naturally lead me to Jesus.

She was so open to God's call for her to be the mother of His Son. What heart she must have to be able to love the Lord in the most intimate way humanly possible! She willingly accepted her call to motherhood. By her example, she offers herself as a total gift to God.

How often does God call me to do His will and I submit to it? Probably not often as I should. No, I know I find that to be challenging. But I can look to Mary as an incomparable model to what it means to follow God's will.

Opening my heart to Mary and seeking hers to better understand her nearness and love for Christ.

And praying a Rosary to further contemplate His life through hers.

Totus tuus,

Total Consecration 2014: Day 19

John 8: 31-32
Galatians 5: 1, 13

from Pope St. John Paul II:
Veritatis Splendor, 86

I think the word "freedom" is one of those words that seems to have lost its real meaning. Our modern culture treats it more like "the ability to do whatever you feel like." At face value, that seems like a satisfactory definition of freedom, but in practice, I'm not convinced. In our culture, freedom seems to open us up to choose the world, the flesh, and the devil. Not only does our culture gives us the freedom to choose these things which are harmful to our soul, but justifies those choices. And come on, it's not too difficult to see the effects. Our culture is enslaved. Is genuine freedom really the right to do have the ability to do whatever I want?

I've heard it said before that authentic freedom is the ability to choose the good that I should do. Real freedom opens us up to the true, the good, and the beautiful. Which, spoiler alert, opens us up to the love of God (which is true, good, and beautiful)! My everyday choices gives me the opportunities to be in communion with God or... not.

In past days for this preparation for Total Consecration, I've reflected on how the truth about man is for man to be in communion with God. We are His adopted children. We are called to holiness. Pope St. John Paul II writes
Freedom then is rooted in the truth about man, and it is ultimately directed toward communion.
But because we're imperfect, in a way, our freedom is inclined to betray us to be open to the true, the good, and the beautiful. He continues
...within his errors and negative decisions, man glimpses the source of a deep rebellion, which leads him to reject the Truth and the Good in order to set himself up as an absolute principle unto himself: "You will be like God" (Gn 3:5).
I need Christ to set my

As I've received graces to combat my shortcomings, there are still areas which are still challenges. These, I shall bring to Mary so she can help me thrive in true freedom just as she demonstrates genuine freedom in her fiat.

Totus tuus,

Photo courtesy of National Education Policy Center

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 18

John 15: 9-17

from Pope St. John Paul II:
Redemptor Hominis, 10

I've heard it said before (somewhere) that the two most fundamental human desires are the desire to love and the desire to be loved. Love is so necessary to being human. Love is what separates us from the animals. We can choose to love. We can choose the greater good of the other, the beloved.

I was helping out my housemate at his youth group not too long ago, and we were discussing hell through what the Catechism teaches about it. However, the conversation got sidetracked to the meaning of love and its necessity. We are made for love. Pope St. John Paul II said
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.
How can I choose to love if I don't know what it is?

And that's why it's important for me to draw close to our Lord because He is love. Loving our Lord fulfills those fundamental human desires to love and to be loved. And by loving our Lord, I can gain a better understanding of myself because it is He who created me. I am weak. I am restless. I am uncertain. But even in all my weakness and sinfulness, I should always strive to draw near to Christ. For Christ loves me just His Father loves Him.

Taking some time to deeply examine my relationships to family, friends, and strangers as well as seeing how I love them all. Through this, also seeing how Jesus has loved me.

Totus tuus,
- JD

Crucifix // Busted Halo

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 17

John 15: 1-8

from Pope St. John Paul II:
Christifidelis Laici, 18
Novo Millennio Ineunte, 43

I'm the type of guy who tends to fall into the idea that I can be self-efficient enough to be able to take care of myself on my own without requiring the help of others. In other words, I attempt at thriving apart from others. This also translates to attempting to do things apart from God's help and guidance. But the Lord has definitely shown me over the years, even especially in recent times, that apart from Him, I miserably fail. I fail because I am not truly in communion with Him and His will.

It was through my novice study of Pope St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body that I began to understand the Holy Trinity as a communion of love. You know, the Father loves the Son in a profound exchange of love, the Son loves the Father in a profound exchange of love, and that love between them is so strong and profound it results in a third, the Holy Spirit.

From yesterday's reflection, I know I am made in His image. I was created to be in communion with God. Likewise, I'm created to be in communion with others as well because we're part of the Mystical Body of Christ. He is the vine, and we are the branches. He is the head, we are His body.

I can easily remove myself from being part of the vine, His body, through rebelling against Him.  In today's reading, He explains that only those that abide in him bear much fruit. If I rebel against Him, I'm effectively cutting my own self off. In sin, I become my own branch apart from the vine and will wither and die.

But if I'm in communion with Him, then I will bear much fruit. I will thrive because I'm being who I'm created to be and that is to abide in Him out of love for Him. And only good things can come from abiding in Him and bearing much fruit. It's like following that chain combo in Candy Crush or something where your score gets super multiplied.

So by being in communion with Him, I am a branch attached to Him as the vine. But I'm not the only branch. My brothers and sisters are also branches. And because they are branches to the same vine, I need to have the ability to see them as such. They are a part of me too. They are children of God, too. They deserved to be loved too. And I'm grateful for them as gifts for me, too.

Striving for communion with Jesus. But also Mary as well, because she had a very profound sense of communion with Jesus when she carried Him in her very womb.

At work tomorrow, I'll strive to see each person as a "gift" for me because they too are part of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Pope St. John Paul II said
A living and life-giving communion which Christians no longer belong to themselves but are the Lord's very own, as the branches are with the vine. (Christifidelis Laici, 18).

Totus tuus,
- JD

Mystical Body of Christ // Copiosa

Monday, November 24, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 16

Genesis 1: 27
Genesis 2: 18-25

from Pope St. John Paul II:
General Audience (Theology of the Body), November 14, 1979
General Audience (Theology of the Body), January 16, 1980

I just got back from a Holy Hour at my parish that also involved some time for Lectio Divina on yesterday's Gospel, which is where Jesus was talking about separating the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. He says that the sheep, or the righteous, will inherit eternal life because they took care of the least of their brothers and in doing so, they took care of Jesus.

In our sharing of what stood out to us from spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and encountering Him in the Word, we talked about recognizing the dignity of others when we show mercy towards them.

Which leads me to today's readings for preparation.

I am made in God's image. My human dignity comes from the very fact that I am made in His image. And I know that's important in the way that we view others because my fellow brothers and sisters in humanity also are made in His image. And as such, I owe them respect. Love. Not just any love, but love as a gift of self in a self-sacrificial way. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Visiting the imprisoned. Healing the sick. And so on.

Being both body and  soul, my body has,  in Pope St. John Paul II's words, the "power to express love." I can use my body to offer my self in love for others by serving and taking care of them. By doing so, I, in a sense, am taking care of Jesus.

Yesterday, I visited my nursing home residents again. Even though I serve in the role of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and offer them the Eucharist, Jesus Himself, I can't help but behold their own faces. I behold their faces because as I see them consume the Eucharist, it becomes incredibly real to me that I'm no longer looking at Annette, Vicky, Joe, Carlton, and Diane's faces. Rather, truly I'm looking at the face of Jesus! Through their reception of the Eucharist, they become one flesh with our Lord so for me to look at their face is really me looking at Jesus. Kind of blows my mind away, now that I think about it.

And what blessed opportunity that is! I want to blog more on this, but I oftentimes don't feel like going to visit my residents to bring the Eucharist to them. It takes a lot of effort, sacrifice, and dying of self for me to go. But! O the consolations I receive for actually choosing to go! What a gift it is to see their brightened faces when I visit them!

And they're grateful because I've offered my self as a gift to spend that time with them. To bring them Jesus. To pray with them. Whenever I'm done visiting with them, I'm often filled with a better sense of who I am as a person and how I'm called to love and serve others. Which brings to mind the words of Pope St. John Paul II when he says
Man cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self." (Gen. Aud., January 16, 1980)
Looking to Mary as a prime example of the gift of self, I shall turn my thoughts, desires, needs, preferences, pleasures towards the gift of self rather than towards myself. This is an area I very much struggle with.

Totus tuus,
- JD

Mother Teresa feeding child // Whole World Women

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 15

Readings - Matthew 5: 48; Mark 10: 17-22

from Pope St. John Paul II - Christifideles Laici, 16; Veritatis Splendor, 19, 22

I'm grateful that I don't have this existential crisis of not knowing my purpose in life. Seriously, living a Catholic life has its perks, and one of those perks is the understanding of one's purpose. Mission. Calling. Or should I say... vocation. 

Pope St. John Paul II writes
the prime and fundamental vocation that the Father assigns to each of them in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit: the vocation to holiness, that is, the perfection of charity. Holiness is the greatest testimony of the dignity conferred on a disciple of Christ. (CL, 16)
I am called to live a life of holiness. In the deepest sense. And what is that? A perfection in charity. It's not enough to follow commandments, but rather live out a call to a rooted life of holiness abounding in charity. To the rich man, who was an ardent follower of the commandments, Jesus said
You lack one thing; go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
The one thing he lacked was charity. He had many possessions. He didn't share that. He thought it was only good enough to follow the law.

It is a daily reflection as to how God wants me to grow in charity. I'm not always good at responding to every opportunity. Oftentimes, I'm like this rich man who left sorrowful because he had great possessions.  I become sorrowful when I lack the interior disposition to live a life of charity because of my pride, selfishness, and ego. I lack the one thing.

I shall strive to imitate Mary's example of holiness by living a life of virtue. And allow my love for Jesus and Mary to grow all the more.

Asking for St. Therese of Lisieux's intercession, I'll strive to see the little ways and opportunities to grow in holiness in my day to day life.

Totus tuus,

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Vote for your favorite #100PicsOfBeauty!

At last! I have finally taken #100PicsOfBeauty through Instagram! It only took me something like a year and a half, but that's okay!

I'm surprised no one has asked me about why I did it...but...before I do, I figure I could have some fun with it.

From now til the end of the year, sign on to Instagram and follow me: @r4nd311, and Like your favorite pictures from my #100PicsOfBeauty. Conveniently, they are the most recent 100 pictures that I have on Instagram!

For my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, while my Instagram photos do get posted on those as well, I'll only count Likes via Instagram only.

After the new year, I'll post the top 5 most Liked #100PicsOfBeauty and then... explain why I did it!

Get excited! Click here to go to my Instagram profile, follow me, and Like your favorites! You can also use the sidebar to get to my Instagram profile.
- JD

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 14

Readings - Matthew 3: 13-17; 1 John 3: 1-2

from Pope St. John Paul II - Christifideles Laici, 10-11

The way I know that I'm part of the family of God is because I have been baptized. Baptism begins the process of Christian initiation whereby I become an adopted son of God. After Jesus was baptized by John (the Baptist!...go figure), God descended and with a booming voice expressing His delight when Jesus was baptized.

Certainly, I would imagine God being well pleased even at our own Baptisms.

But what does it mean to live out my Baptism in such a way that recognizes that I'm, in fact,  an adopted son of God? Baptism is the first threshold in living a Christian life. Through it, I can begin to grow in my faith and be equipped with the graces necessary to live out a truly Christian life. To live out my call to holiness.

Pope St. John Paul II said
It is no exaggeration to say that the entire existence of the lay faithful has as its purpose to lead a person to a knowledge of the radical newness of the Christian life that comes from baptism, the sacrament of faith, so that this knowledge can help that person live the responsibilities which arise from that vocation received from God...
Which makes me think of my ministerial roles that I've been active in. I'm in the business of teaching others the Catholic faith. How do I begin to share with them that they are adopted sons and daughters of God and loved as such? I think it begins with me recognizing this very fact. For me. By virtue of my Baptism, I'm an adopted son of God.

Reaffirming what I believe in by reflectively praying the Apostle's Creed before I go to bed tonight.

Totus tuus,
- JD

Theophany of the Lord // Icon Reader @ Wordpress

Friday, November 21, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 13

Readings - Matthew 11: 25-30; Ephesians 1: 3-8

from Pope St. John Paul II - Redemptor Hominis, par. 8

What makes Jesus so unique compared to the next god-like man, prophet, teacher, is that He is God, but incarnate. Word became flesh. God became human by sending his beloved Son to dwell among us. God became man. And it is through Him that
...we have redemption through his forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.
He came to save us. And more strikingly, He does so by being like us.

I would imagine that Jesus being fully God and fully man, I would expect that He knows everything about what it means to be human. He knows my desires, my fears, my joys, my sorrows, my clarinet skills, my not-so-newb tech and gadgetry skills. And the list goes on. Bottom line--He knows me.

In my faith life, especially lately, I've been experiencing this effect of learning more about myself if I pursue getting to know Jesus better.  I can't think a better way to get to know myself better than by spending quality time with the one who created me.

My identity is in Christ. No, really. 

I will ask for Mary's continued intercession and presence throughout my day.

I will not be afraid to live out Marian consecration to better find my identity in Christ.

- JD

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 12

Reading - Matthew 5: 13-16

from Pope St. John Paul II - World Youth Day Message, 2001, Toronto

I've heard it said before that sin makes you boring. I guess that makes sense because of our fallen human nature and our tendency to sin. Sure, sin seems really shiny at first and feels good at first, but how easy it is for sin to entrap me into a consistent pattern? That's boring.

No, I'm made for better. I have been set apart through my Baptism. I'm not called to a life that is boring, but rather the adventure of life that is striving towards communion with God. My life can be transformed through answering that call to holiness--to be the best version of myself. But if my life were filled with sin, I would fade away into boring-ness.

It's funny how mainstream media covers things that are going wrong. And they constantly inform me of the same cycles of "This is the worst thing ever".  No one ever talks about the good that people do, yet these are the most intriguing of stories.

I'm different. I'm Baptized. I'm called to a life in Christ, which is most certainly not boring. I have this growing tiredness of this same, bland world.

Jesus says
You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before men, that they  may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
 I have to add flavor. I have to be different than what the world, the flesh, and the devil want me to do and be. I don't want to settle for mediocrity.

Pope St. John Paul II addresses the youth for World Youth Day in Toronto
Dear young people, do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals! Dot not let yourselves be dispirited by those who are disillusioned with life, and have grown deaf to the deepest and most authentic desires of their heart. You are right to be disappointed with hollow entertainment and passing fads, and with aiming at too little in life. If you have an ardent desire for the Lord, you will steer clear of the mediocrity and conformism so widespread in our society.
I need to stay salty, my friends.

The past twelve days in preparation for the next phases of Total Consecration preparation have been filled with grace, though I'm still struggling with some things. I will ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for me in these areas and rededicate myself with renewed generosity towards others. To be a light for them. And to add a little flava.

Totus tuus,
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Salt // Dominicans Interactive

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 11

Reading - Matthew 7: 21-23

from Pope St. John Paul II - General Audience, September 11, 1996

A long-standing personal prayer of mine has been simply this: "Whatever Your will is, Lord, it shall be mine as well." I remember starting to pray that prayer when I was in high school as I was beginning to learn more about my faith.

Of course, the greatest interior struggles and personal battles I have been through since forever has been the times when I thought my will was greater than God's. Even recently, that's kind of resurfaced again as I think about my future. Upon closer examination (of conscience?!), it seems that if I pursue my will over God's, I lose focus on heaven.

And even as I pursue doing good things, sometimes I do good for the sake of doing good and not keeping in mind if it's really God's will or not. It kind of goes back to focusing on self rather than on heaven.

Jesus teaches that
Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Hmm. "He who does the will of my Father."  Not JD's will. The Father's will.

That's what makes Mary so awesome. She was totally obedient to God's will. "May it be done to me according to thy word." She's a great model to follow God's will with docility and trust. And as Simeon told her at the Presentation--her heart will be pierced. Following God's will doesn't guarantee happy and warm feels.

That's a good summary of my faith journey so far. Following God's will is difficult because of its ups and downs. And in the downs, it is so tempting to not trust God's will. I need to be ready like Mary.

When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, she had a new resolve to do God's will. I need to carefully reflect on my upcoming life transitions and really begin to pray for God's will to be done.

And I offer my thoughts, works, and desires to Mary so that she may purify, embellish, and present these to Jesus through her Immaculate Heart.

Totus tuus,
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Annunciation by Da Vinci // Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 10

Reading - Luke 15: 11-32

from Pope St. John Paul II - Dives in Misericordia, par. 6

Reading the parable of the Prodigal Son again reminded me of God's forgiveness and mercy.  He's always willing to love us, and He is overjoyed at our return back to Him. But, I think that in order for me to receive His forgiveness and mercy requires action on my part. As I've known before, the lost son squandered his father's money and spent it on life's pleasures. In the midst of that, he came to a moment of realization when feeding the swine while he himself is hungry that his father's servants were better taken care of than he himself in his present, poor situation. Realizing this, he resolves
I will arise and go to my father and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven an before you; I am no longer worth to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."
He takes action with an openness  to receive his father's forgiveness through acknowledging that he's done wrong.

And how was the prodigal one rewarded? Like overabundantly! His father said to the other son, who complained that his bro should receive such merriment and fanfare upon returning
It was fitting and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.
I know when I've gone astray, it usually feels good and fleeting if only for a moment. But then the burden of sin weighs down, and I feel lost. It's only when I recognize, in humility, that I've done wrong and make a conscious effort to return back to God do I feel His love and mercy. I cherish it more when I truly repent.

A son never ceases to be his father's son. No matter how much he screws up, he's still his father's son. And what great love the father in this parable must have for his son upon his return. What joy! Now that I'm thinking about it more, I wonder how overjoyed God must be whenever I turn back to Him.

I definitely have my areas of weakness, misery, and doubt. I'll ask for Mary's intercession in these areas to better receive God's love and mercy and to truly see Him as a loving father.

Totus tuus,
- JD  

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt // Wikipedia

Monday, November 17, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 9

Reading - 1 John 1: 5-10

from Pope St. John Paul II - Reconciliation and Penance, par. 13

One time during college, I went to grab dinner with a classmate at our dining hall. I think we started talking about times when to get together to do homework and studying that week, and I mentioned that I would be going to Confession on a certain day and that I would be available afterwards.

I knew my buddy is Catholic so I figured he would at least appreciate the fact that I'd be going to Confession. I encouraged him to go with me so we could go do our study session afterwards.

And I'll never forget what he said.

"Psh, I don't need to go to Confession. I'm perfect."  Ok, maybe not exact quote but close.

I mean, knowing the guy, I was thinking inside of my head that just even from my own observations of his actions and words through interacting with him that perhaps a little soul scrub in Confession would do him some good.

But I felt sad for him because he was too prideful to admit that he's not perfect. I felt sad for him because he maybe didn't recognize areas in his life where he could improve for God's sake (and not just his own sake).

For today's Total Consecration preparation, I read that in 1 John 1
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us... If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
To be a sinner and to not admit to sinning would be living a lie. It's not the truth. There's no sorrow in living a lie. Continuing in that lie continually brings me further away from God. I know He reaches out, but do I humbly reach out to return back to Him?

And that's why it's important to have penance. To repent. Pope St. John Paul II says that this is "the essential first step in returning to God." In doing penance, we need to do so in the "fullest sense of the term: repenting, showing this repentance, adopting a real attitude of repentance."

Confession isn't efficacious unless I approach it with a truly repentant heart. And there have definitely have been times where I've gone to Confession and not really felt completely sorry for the times I've fallen short.

Through Marian consecration, it'll help me form a more perfected desire for holiness and a truly sorrowful heart for the times I've rebelled against God.

I think my resolution is to humbly ask God for the grace to feel a real sense of sorry whenever I screw up. As my ego and pride seem to be off the charts lately, it's easy for me to screw up and think too highly of myself to feel that true sorrow.

Totus tuus,
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Confession with Pope Francis //

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 8

Reading - Luke 12: 22-34

from Pope St. John Paul II - Message for World Youth Day XVI, 2001, par. 4

Lately, I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety because I have either lost a sense of trusting in God or have forgotten what that trusting in God feels like. I have this tendency to establish a plan for my life, and whenever  these plans are not accomplished, it causes me to be anxious.  To further compound the anxiety is my pride and inward-looking self.

Trusting in God. That's difficult. Especially in trusting Him enough that He will, in fact, take care of me.  Jesus tells the disciples
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have a neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
A big part of trusting in God is to let His will be done. Whatever His will is...infinitely better than anything I can come up with. In fact, I need to deny myself and be open to His plan. As St. John Paul II says
To deny oneself is to give up one's own plans that are often small and petty in order to accept God's plan.
Jesus does not ask us to give up living, but to accept a newness and a fullness of life that only He can give. The human being has a deep-rooted tendency to 'think only of self,' to regard one's own person as the center of interest and to see oneself as the standard against which to gauge everything.
I'm not the standard. Who cares what I desire to happen? What matters is that His will be done and not mine. There is peace in that because by living out His will, I am being who He created me to be.

I cannot think of anyone more trusting of God than Mary. She went through a lot in raising Jesus and being present during His Passion and death.

Because I know she is so trusting, I entrust to her my anxieties.

Totus tuus,
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Walking Across America...For Life!

Back in May, I further blogged about my experiences at this year's March for Life in Washington, D.C. I basically said how I inhale at being pro-life because I've not really responded to the different pro-life rally experiences that I attended at the beginning of the year.

October is National Respect Life Month, and I realize it is now November. I totally meant to post this in October because it would be more fitting, but like Aggie football, I simply ran out of time.

As I'm still marinating on different ways to be further involved in the pro-life movement, I thought it would be cool to feature how others are involved. Honestly, with over 500,000 people attending the March for Life on a yearly basis, surely there's someone doing something cool, interesting, clever, impactful, etc. to spread the pro-life message.

And that leads me to Crossroads.

I heard about Crossroads for the first time from a good friend in ministry who did it about 10 years ago. Oddly enough, he's the same good friend who inspired Lauren to do Crossroads. She is one of my relatively new friends.

Lauren is a student at St. Gregory's University. I met her at a diocesan service camp reunion last Christmas break, and she later helped me with a Confirmation retreat. You can view her Crossroads profile here: Lauren.

I had some questions for her regarding Crossroads:
What is Crossroads?
Crossroads started 20 years ago when a group of Franciscan University students, inspired by a talk St. John Paul II had given at World Youth Day in Denver, decided that they needed to do something to address the problem of America's culture of death.  That "something" ended up being hitchhiking to the west coast and walking from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. wearing t-shirts that had the words "Pro-Life" spelled out in duct tape.  Today, Crossroads is a nonprofit organization that sponsors and oversees groups of young adults who walk in three routes across the United States as well as routes across Canada, Australia, Spain, and Ireland every year.  
Why did you want to do Crossroads?
The pro-life movement is a movement that's happening in every field, all the time.  Every kind of professional, from doctors and lawyers to parents and pastors to journalists and celebrities can help people to understand the sanctity and dignity of human life.  I'm a teenager and a student: I can't write laws, raise children, or affect people through my work.  But I can spend twelve weeks walking across the country, and maybe that's crazy enough to get people thinking.  
What was the most rewarding aspect of doing Crossroads?
When we were walking, we were really trying to inspire people to get involved by praying, offering sacrifices, and participate in ministry and activism in their communities.  Because we were literally passing through every place we went to, we never really saw the results of our actions.  With that in mind, I think the most rewarding aspect of Crossroads was just accomplishing the task we set out to do.  At the end of the walk, my team got bumper stickers that looked like the ones people get at marathons, except ours said "2,438" instead of "26.2."  Being able to say that we walked across the country was amazing.  
What was the greatest challenge?
I suppose the obvious answer here would be "walking," but I enjoyed that.  My walk's RV engine blew up after three weeks, just before we crossed the Rocky Mountains.  It was supposed to be fixed within a few days, but due to the inevitable comedy of errors, we didn't get it back until two days before we reached D.C.  While that led to plenty of adventures living out of a suburban, a minivan, and a host of shady motels, it was pretty difficult.  We joked about being homeless a lot, and even wrote a ballad about it (which can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace or the Gilligan's Island theme, depending on how bored you are of walking through Missouri).  
Walking across America, did you encounter more people who were pro-life or pro-abortion?
The vast majority of the people who interacted with us (meaning that they honked, yelled at us from their cars, talked to us in grocery stores and gas stations, or came up to us after Mass) were pro-life.  That was one of the most hopeful things I encountered over the summer.  One of the most disappointing things, however, was how few of those people were involved in the pro-life movement in any way.  I hope that maybe by seeing what us walkers were doing and how important life is to us some of them were inspired to do something in their own lives.  
After doing this, what was your response?  What did you do going forward and/or how did this experience change your approach to being pro-life?
I loved it, and I'd really like to walk again because I think that it's a phenomenal opportunity for sacrifice for any young person.  I think that sacrifice is what I really learned about this summer: small things that would have irritated me or made me angry in the comfort of my college campus simply had to be accepted on the road.  Every aspect of our lives for those 12 weeks was about the other, not about us. 
I recently went on a 20 mile walk to visit a Benedictine monastery, and that is nothing compared to the nearly 2500 miles that people walk for Crossroads. I have much respect for those who participate in Crossroads because I've had but a small taste of what they've accomplished.

I like what Lauren said how it really taught her about sacrifice. Any young person can better spend their summer doing other things and not face the challenges of walking across America. As any properly formed practicing Catholic would understand, we can suffer to bring about a greater good. They had purpose in their mission by spreading the pro-life message everywhere they walked. The unborn are worth fighting for, even in this way.

I also find it interesting to note that on the ground level, the everyday American people encountered along the road, are pro-life. But not necessarily engaged. I wonder how I can personally inspire others to actively respect and defend the dignity of human life.

While I do find Lauren's experiences to be inspiring, it's not practical for me to take that many months of work to do Crossroads. I mean, it's not like I'm saving vacation days to go to Poland in 2016 or anything. I'll definitely be praying for Crossroads and their apostolate for next year, though!

You can read stories from the road at their blog (with pictures!): Crossroads Pro-Life Walks

To read up more on what they're about, who the walkers were this past year, and look into possibly participating in the future, check out their website:


"At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of life has been put into your hands." Pope St. John Paul II

All pictures from Crossroads

Total Consecration 2014: Day 7

Reading - Matthew 6: 5-13

from Pope St. John Paul II - Novo Millennio Ineunte, par. 20

I know that sometimes a criticism of Catholicism is our supposed "vain repetition" of prayers, especially those that get repeated often in devotions like the Hail Mary. I don't want to launch into an apologetical discussion about that, but praise God for the Church to have the authority and to have the zealous witnesses to form and pass on many methods and formulations of prayer.

Ever since I got bored of listening to the same stupid Lady Gaga song on the radio for the umpteenth time during my hour long commute, one way, to and from work, I decided to instead fill that time up with praying a Rosary. The nice thing about an hour commute is that is ample amount of time to pray a set of Mysteries. I've maintained this habit of praying a Rosary on the way home from work for about two years now, which is awesome.

I have to remember that the Rosary is very much a contemplative prayer because it walks me through the life of Christ through Mary's eyes. Every Hail Mary invites Our Lady to help us understand her Son better.

But, sometimes as I'm praying the Rosary in the car, I get distracted, and I lose sight of that intentionality in my prayer. The Rosary then becomes empty words. It then begins to be a checklist of 50 Hail Mary's and perhaps even a race to break a personal record in finishing praying a Rosary. This then becomes the type of prayer that Jesus doesn't want me to pray for He teaches
And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Easily, the Rosary can be a heap of many words, but what is the point of a Rosary? Again, asking Our Lady to intercede for us as we contemplate the life of her Son. What makes a Rosary effective, or any sort of prayer effective, is really allowing God's grace to work through that dialogue with Him in prayer with Our Lady's help.

Prayer is important. It definitely helps me grow in spirituality, humility, and also knowledge about God and Who He is, especially regarding the mystery of His Incarnate self.

The nice thing about doing these nightly prayers in preparation for Total Consecration is that it has begun to reestablish a habit of nightly prayer for me. I used to do Compline (Night Prayer from Liturgy of the Hours) and have given that up in favor of getting to bed faster over the past several months. Not good as it has turned me lax and lazy in that particular way in my prayer life.

Going forward, I'll keep doing this on a nightly basis, even if I don't feel like it or even if I don't have the time for it. I will make the time. I will fight my own humanity (ie. laziness) if need be.

In addition, my life is often noisy or constantly on the go. I need more silence in my life. More radio off during my commute to work.
We cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord's face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father" (1:14) (Novo Millenio Ineunte, par 20)
Totus tuus,
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 6

Reading - Matthew 5: 1-12

from Pope St. John Paul II - Homily, Israel, Korazim, Mount of the Beatitudes, March 24, 2000, par. 4

I suppose that my sentiments reflect the words of Pope St. John Paul II in his homily on March 24, 2000, how
It is strange that Jesus exalts those whom the world generally regards as weak. He says to them, "Blessed are you who seem to be losers, because you are the true winners: the kingdom of heaven is yours!"
And that's what today's reading from Matthew is about. This is where our Lord preaches on the mountain about the beatitudes. You know, the litany of "blessed are they" lines. He speaks of the exaltation of those who are poor, but not in the material sense. Rather, the spiritual sense. It's like He is saying I must have a poverty of spirit in order that I can enjoy the fruits and consolations of heaven! That's so not intuitive.

But what does that mean to possess a poverty in spirit? I think it requires a deep and profound change of heart. And not just any change, but a transformation to be more Christlike. For Christ Himself not only spoke the Beatitudes, He lived them out. In fact, through His example, He IS the Beatitudes, in paraphrasing this point from Pope St. John Paul II's same homily.
Looking at him you will see what it means to be poor in spirit, gentle and merciful, to mourn, to care for what is right, to be pure in heart, to make peace, to be persecuted.
As I journey towards consecrating myself to Jesus again, I should remember that desire to live out the Beatitudes just as He is the Beatitudes.

Living out the Beatitudes requires offering all that I have to Jesus, and consequently to Mary. All my joys and sufferings.

Today I will offer up my weakness and sufferings as a humble offering to recognize my dependence on God so in that poverty of spirit, I'll have a profound change of heart with an intensified love for Jesus.

Totus Tuus,
- JD

Sermon on the Mount // Wikipedia

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 5

Readings - 1 John 2: 15-17 ; Romans 12: 1-2

from Pope St. John Paul II - Homily, World Youth Day Toronto, July 28, 2002, par. 2

Scriptures and saints like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, and others have said that the three main enemies to the soul are the world, the flesh, and the devil. Focusing on the world, I know it's a very shiny and enticing thing.

What do I mean by "the world"? In my own fallible words, "the world" would be the setting and aspirations by us human beings of matters that don't ascend towards heaven--towards God. In other words, it's the things and concepts that are only in and of themselves rather than pointing towards God. There's no sense of eternity and communion with God for "the world" because it is finite.

If I'm focused too much on worldly things, then I'm not focused on Godly things. Do I love the world more than I love God?

John writes:
If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
These worldly things can be distracting towards my relationship to God. As I'm preparing for this Total Consecration, I need to be better at detaching myself from worldly things so that my soul is more conducive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so that He may guide me to do God's will.

St. Paul writes to the Romans, which is a good reminder for me:
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Do I allow myself to be transformed by God? Hmm. That's what makes Christianity so great. We can be transformed if we allow it. We can be more pleasing and perfect. The best version of ourselves. For God.

St. John Paul II tells us:
Listen to the voice of Jesus in the depths of your hearts! His words tell you who you are as Christians.
I certainly know that it's hard for me to listen to the voice of Jesus in the depths of my own heart when I've distracted myself with things not of Him. If I'm too concerned with worldly things, then I cannot hear Jesus calling to me. And it is through His call that I know how to be Christian. Well yeah, because that's what He taught!

The point of doing a Total Consecration is to draw into a more loving relationship of communion with the Blessed Trinity. To love God more and to receive God's love in a more profound way. The world wants to influence my priorities to this goal of being closer to God in a deeper way so it is important that I grow in virtue. To grow in happiness and joy through a closer relationship to Him.

Today I'll fast from looking at non-work related websites at work as a tangible way to remind myself to not be of this world.

"The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility." Pope St. John Paul II, Homily, World Youth Day 2002
- JD

I'm using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get yours here on Amazon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 4

Reading - John 14: 15-21

from Pope St. John Paul II - Dominum et Vivicantem, par. 10

Jesus tells us that He will send us another Counselor, another Advocate. This being the Holy Spirit. He knows that He will no longer walk among us on earth anymore, but that doesn't mean He, God, will leave us alone. He will still be with us, but in the person of the Holy Spirit, guiding us in love. But not love in the way that we understand it in the modern world, but really the eternal exchange of love that is the Trinity. How does the Trinity love? As a gift.

Pope St. John Paul II writes
It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-Love. He is Person-Gift.
Am I aware of the Holy Spirit, and am I aware of Him that the Holy Spirit is an expression of God's self-gift to me? I ponder His works and His guidance and most certainly I wouldn't be where I'm at today were it not for the Holy Spirit.

Mary gives me a great example of responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. After all, it is through her fiat, her "yes!", that she bore Jesus. She was so open to the Holy Spirit because of her faith.

In my prayers, and throughout the day, I'll reflect on how can I be more receptive to the Holy Spirit like Mary.

Totus tuus,
- JD

I am using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus for preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Pick up your own copy on Amazon! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 3

Reading: John 14: 6-11

from Pope St. John Paul II: General Audience, January 13, 1999, par. 4

I know in the Old Testament, God revealed Himself in unique ways, particularly to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Noah, and the list goes on. But after a time, when He sent His only Son, He revealed Himself in such a very real and relatable way.

God reaches out to us through His Son in a way that we can tangibly experience and encounter Him.

And as Jesus tells us in John 14:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. ... He who has seen me has seen the Father.
God made us to love us. And we are made to love. It is written in our hearts to desire God who made us. Therefore, we inherently seek being united with Him again. Mysteriously, He reveals Himself through His Son who is the only way to Him, the Father.

It kind of enforces the idea that we're adopted sons and daughters of God from Day 1. And the way we can reach the Father is only through His Son. Every action of the Son is also the action of the Father. And just considering the entirety of the Gospels, it's mind-boggling the demonstration of love that God has for us as shown through His Son.

How awesome!

I'll take this day to reflect on how Jesus reveals the Father. That's going to be an extra level of deep because I'm often struggling wondering how my day-to-day life reveals Jesus.

And as I go through my day, I'll strive to remember God's love for me as His adopted son.

Totus tuus,

I am using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration. Get your copy here:

Sistine Chapel ceiling // Wikipedia

Don't Tell Dan Brown...

...that I'm going to an Opus Dei men's night of recollection tonight.

That pretty much makes me one of the Werst Kafliks Evurr. Secret societies, murderous plots, misogyny, secret theological truths unearthed about Christ, beating my own self to a bloody mess, among other things in this cult-like society as presented in The Da Vinci Code.

Yep. Don't tell Dan Brown. He might get upset and be inspired to continue Robert Langdon's story.


I'm glad that there is such a thing as reality and that fiction is entertaining. Because! In real life, Opus Dei isn't what Dan Brown makes it out to be.

A refutation of Dan Brown's version of Opus Dei, by the real Opus Dei:

So for our weekly Bro Night with my housemates, we're going to this men's night of recollection.

I've been to a few Opus Dei men's nights of recollection before. Assuming tonight will be no different, I'll expect that we'll be engaging in such debaucherous things as praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament (ie. the Eucharist (ie. Jesus Himself)), being led in meditations/contemplations/reflections by an Opus Dei priest, have the chance to go to Confession, attend a brief seminar on how to integrate Catholic faith and everyday life and work, and an examination of conscience as related to how well we are being the men we are created to be whether married or single.

And more praying!

Scandalous! I know! Sheesh.

"Opus Dei" means "God's work", which is a characterization of the founder's ideal on how we as Catholics, especially laypeople, can glorify God through our everyday work and labor. 

Again, don't tell Dan Brown because Opus Dei, in reality, is truly Catholic and not some false shadow of the truth.

Please pray for me as I contemplate how to better integrate my faith in my engineering work on a daily basis. And please know that I'm praying for you, too.

St. Josemaria Escríva, founder of Opus Dei and pretty cool priest, pray for us!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Total Consecration 2014: Day 2

Reading: John 1: 1-18

Particularly, Pope St. John Paul II's words stood out to me when he says
It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness, he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.
Wow, I guess maybe I've been experiencing some of these promptings of my interior recently, and I haven't been great at recognizing that it is Jesus calling out to me as my soul stirs. There's always that inherent knowledge (thanks to faith) that there's something more to life and something greater to accomplish and something greater to be. And that's all thanks to Jesus.

Through His Incarnation, He "became flesh and dwelt among us". And by His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, He showed us that we can be redeemed. Our humanity can be greater than it is through Christ's example as He is fully God and fully man.

I've somewhat reflected on this throughout my faith journey how getting to know Christ better has allowed me to get to know myself better as a human person. It's strange, really, but it begins to make sense after having real encounters with Christ and actively pursuing Him.

Though I'm intimidated by having to keep up with this for 30+ more days, I must persevere. I already know that preparing for Total Consecration will draw me closer to Mary in my devotions, which inevitably lead me even closer to Christ. 

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
- JD

Total Consecration 2014: Day 1

Reading: Gal 4: 4-7

from Pope St. John Paul II: "Mary's Relationship to the Trinity", General Audience, January 5, 1996

St. Paul writes to the Galatians saying
God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
This really emphasizes Mary as mother and how we're adopted children of God. Because Mary herself is Christ's mother, I can look to her as a mother since I'm an adopted son of God. It's comforting to know that, as St. Paul writes,
through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.
It is comforting because there's an inheritance waiting. Not something of great wealth in the material sense, but something even better in the spiritual sense.

Pope St. John Paul II reflects that
Mary is the way that leads to Christ: indeed, she who "at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body" shows us how to receive into our lives the Son come down from heaven, teaching us to make Jesus the center and the supreme "law" of our existence.
I can't think of any human person who knew Christ more intimately than His mother. And from what I know from being close to her already is that she's all about Him. She always points to Him. I can look to her example on how to receive Christ more fully just as she received Him fully in the Incarnation. When He was in her womb, Christ was literally at her center! Is Christ at the center of my life? When I receive the Eucharist, do I remember that Christ is and should be at my center, as He literally is at my center?

I should remember that reflection on how Mary kept Christ at the center of her life and pause to think about that throughout my day.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
- JD

I am using Fr. Brian McMaster's Totus Tuus to prepare for Total Consecration

Total Consecration 2014

Last year, I did a Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary. This was mostly to help prayerfully prepare for my pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro. However, it also served as a way to enter into a deeper relationship to Christ through His Blessed Mother.

Making an act of total consecration should be a yearly thing, and for this year I decided to renew my consecration on a different Marian feast day. Last year, I made my act on total consecration on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel primarily because it was the major Marian feast day before leaving for Rio. This year, I wanted to switch feast days to align more with one I already have a devotion to and that would be Our Lady of Guadalupe. After all, St. Juan Diego is my patron saint. :-)

For more info on what the Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary is, you can check out Dr. Taylor Marshall's blog post on it or his podcast.

Like last year, I'll attempt at blogging each day as I'm going through the daily reflections and prayers.

This year, I'll be using Fr. Brian McMaster's book, Totus Tuus. Maybe he was my associate pastor when I was in college, before he went and became vocations director for that diocese. And he's a Fightin' Texas Aggie (WHOOP!).

Ad Jesum per Mariam
- JD

To get your own copy of Fr. Brian's book, click here:
Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus Through Mary with Saint John Paul II

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Going To Work On Saturday

I'm going to use this opportunity of going to work on a Saturday to make an analogy for love as I'm on my way to work this morning. Not the warm fuzzy type of love but something that gets to the heart of what authentic, true, genuine, real love is. I've already had a long work week. Yet, here I am again on a Saturday morning about to put in some more hours.

I really don't feel like going to work today because I'm tired, and I can be doing other things.

I'm not getting paid for the hours I'm putting in today so I don't really get anything out of work today aside from productivity.

I wasn't even techically required to go work today. I volunteered.

Perhaps authentic love isn't dependent on what I feel like. 

Perhaps authentic love isn't about what I get out of loving.

Perhaps authentic love isn't such that it is required or forced, but rather a free act  of the will.

I guess I love my job. :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

From Graphite to Diamonds

I need to do a better job of reblogging cool blog posts or talking about other cool blog posts. I mean, I read a lot of them! And sometimes it's just nice to sip on some Mystic Monk coffee and catch up on reading. :-)

A good acquaintance from my parish apparently has been in the hospital lately because he had a lung collapse and is potentially on the verge of having both lungs collapse. He has cystic fibrosis so it's been particularly challenging for him having to deal with chronic lung issues. Please pray for him!

In his latest blog post he says, "Having spent 21 days in the hospital and only having left my room about 10 times in that span, I have had a LOT of time to think. If these thoughts seem a little 'off the wall' it’s because my main company for the past three weeks has been the four walls of my room."

He then offers a brief yet profound reflection on Christ's love for us in a way similar to how graphite becomes a diamond.

This particular blog post resonated well with me because lately I've been dealing with a lot of interior turmoil, conflict, selfishness, etc., and all of that has caused me to be rather ungrateful and to lose sight of God's love and mercy for me. While my problems don't (currently) involve physical ailments, my interior  sickness has definitely been something that has been difficult for me to handle. (Don't worry, I'm okay.)

And reading Daniel's blog post helped me refocus and remember that God can transform seemingly dull and ugly things into something brilliant and precious because God knows what I'm going through for He, Himself endured unfathomable suffering for my sake. Daniel's sake. Your sake.

Put in another way, He can redeem suffering because of His Passion, death, and Resurrection. My suffering, especially when united to His cross, has meaning.

In Daniel's words:
I could complain about basically being strapped to a wall for three weeks, and about my increased chances of having another lung collapse. Well, Christ was nailed to his Cross for three hours and he most likely died by a slow and grueling suffocation. So yeah, he knows a little bit about what I am going through.
Read the rest here.

And you can follow Daniel at Thoughts of a Fibro on Wordpress.

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.” - Pope Saint John Paul II
- JD

Graphite and diamond // American Physical Society