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Catholicism is for everyone!

Before I delve into any of the moral issues that I am so passionate about, I would like to describe Catholicism and strive to show that it ...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Prayer Hacks

Switching things up a bit and sharing some prayer tips and my daily routine of prayer 😊🙏

Margo's typical prayer routine:
*I sleep with my phone on "airplane mode" so I'm not distracted by any notifications upon waking up nor tempted to check Facebook, Twitter, etc.*
  • 3 "Morning prayers" 
    • Morning Offering - O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart: for the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for all the intentions of our bishops and all apostles of prayer and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen
    • Prayer to the Holy Spirit - O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore Thee. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do...give me Thy orders. I promise to submit myself to all that Thou desire of me and to accept all Thou permit to happen to me. Let me only know Thy will. Amen
    • Direction of Intention - My God, I give Thee this day. I offer Thee now, all of the good that I shall do and I promise to accept for love of Thee, all the difficulty that I shall meet. Help me to conduct myself during this day in a manner pleasing to Thee. Amen. (attributed to St. Francis de Sales)
  • Prayer for Priests - Divine Savior, Jesus Christ, who has entrusted the work of Thy redemption to priests as Thy representatives, I offer Thee through the hands of Thy most Holy Mother Mary, this present day, whole and entire, with all its prayers, works, and sacrifices, its joys and sorrows, for Thy bishops, priests, deacons, and those preparing for the priesthood, I pray especially for __________; protect him Lord and make him holy. Give us truly holy priests, inflamed with the fire of Thy divine love, who seek nothing but Thy greater glory and the salvation of souls. And Thou, Mary, good Mother of priests, protect all priests, bishops, deacons, and seminarians from dangers to their holy vocation, and with the loving hand of a mother, lead back to the Good Shepherd those unfortunate priests, who, unfaithful to their exalted vocation, have gone astray. Amen. (credit to www.adoptapriest.org)
  • Magnificat Missal Morning Prayer (shortened version of Liturgy of the Hours)
  • Daily readings from Magnificat followed by an applicable reflection included in the Missal
  • My usual go-to prayer for when I see intentions on Facebook & Twitter is the Memorare
  • I try to pray the Angelus at noon & 6 PM
  • Anytime after 4:00 PM - I pray the Magnificat's Evening Prayer (again a shortened version of the Liturgy of the Hours)  
  • Divine Mercy Chaplet during the 3:00 hour on Friday's
  • Pray various prayers while showering (weird? I figure if I'm cleaning my hair/body, might as well also use the time to clean my soul...)
  • Night prayers:
    • Prayer for Daily Neglects - Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings, and its merits. First, to expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father....Second to purify the good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father......Third, to supply for the good I ought to have done and that I have neglected this day and all my life. Glory be to the Father...
    • Healing Prayer at Bedtime - Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep. Every hurt that has ever been done to me --heal that hurt. Every hurt that I have ever caused to another person -- heal that hurt. All the relationships that have been damaged in my whole life that I'm not aware of -- heal those relationships. But, Lord, if there is anything I need to do -- if I need to go to a person because (s)he is still suffering from my hand, bring to my awareness that person. I choose to forgive, and I ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with Thy love. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
    • Prayer at the End of the Day - Jesus Christ, my God, I adore Thee and I thank Thee for all the graces Thou have given me this day. I offer Thee my sleep and all the moments of this night, and I implore Thee to keep me safe from sin. To this end, I place myself in Thy sacred side and under the mantle of our Lady, my Mother. Let Thy holy angels surround me and keep me in peace, and let Thy blessing be upon me. Amen (attributed to St. Alphonsus de Liguori)  
    • Evening Prayer to Our Lady - Mary, my dear Mother, I thank Thee for the special protection Thou have provided to me throughout this day. Obtain for me the grace of being always faithful to my commitments. Let purity and sacrifice be my daily bread, humility and obedience my comfort, the tabernacle my relaxation, and Thou, dear Mother, the school where I learn to practice every virtue. I cannot praise Christ while I sleep, so offer Him my heartbeats as fervent acts of love. Keep me free from any act or thought that could dishonor His regard for me, and give me Thy tender motherly blessing. Amen
    • Prayer on Going to Bed - Visit this house, we beg Thee, Lord, and banish from it the deadly power of the evil one. May Thy holy angels dwell here to keep us in peace, and may Thy blessing be always upon us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
    • Goodnight, Jesus - Goodnight, my Beloved; I rejoice at being one day closer to eternity. And if Thou let me wake up tomorrow/in the morning, Jesus, I shall begin a new hymn to Thy praise. (attributed to St. Faustina) 
    • Protect us O Lord as we stay awake, watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep rest in His peace. Amen
What are some of your prayer hacks/tips?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Truth Determined by....Emotions?

Emotions. We all have them, all experience them, what to do about them? Ignore them? Indulge them? Or is there a balance?

I propose that us humans strive to find balance between our emotions and what we hold to be true and real. All too often, it seems that we (myself included) get so caught up in our emotions and feelings that we lose sight of our ability to reason. And this has led to our culture of Relativism, where reality and truth are determined by what feels good to each individual, while ignoring the law of non-contradiction (meaning ignoring that the differing beliefs contradict each other and ultimately cannot all be true). For example, when it comes to God, Christians proclaim that Jesus Christ is God, while Muslims perceive Jesus as only a prophet and reject that God exists as a trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- how can both beliefs be correct? And then atheists/agnostics/secularists reject God altogether. Yet, ultimately, stripping all else away -- Jesus is either God or not; it is impossible for Him to be God for some people and simultaneously not God for others. This cannot be determined by feelings though. Feelings change (quite quickly at times *ahem mood swings*) and if I based reality on my feelings, chaos would ensue.

As humans, we are created with an intellect and will and must strive to order both towards the good. But what is "good"? Hence why God exists outside of ourselves, He transcends humanity, and IS existence itself. As such, He is the measure of what is good; He doesn't change and only wants what is truly in our best interests. As St. Augustine once wrote "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord". It is only in God that we find fulfillment. Notice how often you may be left with a sense of emptiness after a pleasurable experience -- our hearts yearn for the infinite, selfless love of God and we must not let our emotions interfere. We must train our emotions the way athletes train their bodies.

Now, all this is coming from someone who has struggled with emotions for most of my 26 years of life. I remember, as a teenager, being drawn to television shows such as Everwood and The OC which were chock full of emotional experiences for the characters - now I honestly do not enjoy either show anymore -- partially because I'm no longer a teenager and partially because I've learned to overcome my strong emotions. I still get emotional quite often yet I try to recognize my emotions and not give into them - it's tough, I don't always succeed, but I never forget what place emotions have in my life.

So my challenge for YOU, dear reader is to seek truth, but please don't allow your emotions to cloud that search. Catholicism does not always feel good but what keeps me going is acknowledging that I cannot stop truth from being true; I could walk away from Catholicism at any moment, yet I would only be hurting myself, as the old saying goes, it's true "whether I like it or not".

Until next time, may God bless you ❤

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Catholicism and.....Criminal Minds?!?

With the early, shocking demise of my beloved Chicago Blackhawks from the Stanley Cup playoffs, I've recently have returned to an old favorite television show to "binge watch" -- Criminal Minds, currently finishing up its 12th season (which I have not yet watched; I stopped at the end of the 11th season and am now starting at the beginning watching all the episodes; I'm up to the end of the 3rd season).

I typically avoid television shows and movies that involve blood, gore, violence, etc. So how the heck is Criminal Minds one of my favorite shows? Alas, it's because of the familial aspect to the show's ensemble cast of characters: the profilers of the FBI's Behavior Analysis Unit (BAU). It's the well-crafted character development that has drawn me in and I more or less tolerate the violence. It's also the critical analysis, the studying of the minds of criminals in figuring out the reasoning behind their decision to commit murder. Although the show has the usual liberal slant, I do enjoy catching glimpses of selfless love shown by the characters.

I recently watched an episode where the unsub (BAU term for "unidentified subject"...the bad guy) happened to identify as gay, which, thus prompted this blog post (shocking I know, right? Margo getting fired up about homosexuality?! lol) The gist of the plot was that the 20-something-year-old man's murders were fueled by his Christian father's wrongful hateful attitude towards his son for "being gay". *sigh* Now, I do have to say that other episodes of Criminal Minds have treated Christianity quite fairly. However, this particular episode unfortunately played the "Christians believe homosexuals are dirty" card. NO NO NO! People who find themselves romantically/sexually attracted to members of the same sex are not "dirty" -- the ACTION of gay sex is indeed dirty -- but that doesn't mean the people committing that act are evil; they're misled. They're searching for love and settling for affection that will never fully satisfy their longings.

My other thought is finding it interesting that the whole point of Criminal Minds is to critically analyze cases in an objective (non-biased) manner. So why isn't homosexuality treated in that manner? Why can't homosexuality (the action, not the person) be considered wrong/harmful? Why do the rules seem to change when it comes to matters of sex??

Thursday, December 22, 2016

(Pre)Christmas Thoughts

Almost Christmas (or CHRISTmas as I prefer to emphasize those first six letters); almost time to celebrate the birth of our Lord. Yet, in my family (two older sibs, both unmarried) I have to be ultra careful to avoid mentioning Jesus and more or less treat it as the secular holiday to which it has been reduced 😔. 

One of my biggest struggles during this time of year is fighting the temptation towards envy. Oh how I yearn for my family to all be on the same wavelength, for us to pray together (to see my father pray at all would be a miracle! He's Catholic, attends Mass on Sunday's but is otherwise private about his faith life). 

I'm lonely. I know Jesus is always with me, but having to suppress my love of Him, not being able to express myself, feeling like I'm the weird sibling, the baby of the family, the seemingly perpetually unemployed. What do I have to show for my strong devotion to our Lord and the Catholic faith? 

Yet, as my seminarian-friend, Ryan so eloquently writes, "My life is not the thing by which I measure whether or not I can or should be merry. The fact that in the midst of the darkness caused by all the nonsense I face, a light that I didn’t ask for and don’t deserve continues to shine is the reason and source of my merriment. The ‘period’ at the end of the sentence of my woes is precisely this: a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. God is with us. God is for us. God is in us. Emmanuel. Jesus. The savior, the king, the lover, the friend.  Jesus."

Year after year, Jesus provides the grace I need to get through this season. Thank You, Jesus! Yet, I long for a Christmas that I don't dread, a Christmas that I can fully embrace as the celebration of God becoming man, becoming a newborn baby, out of total love for us. A Christmas where I don't have to hear His name taken in vein over and over again. 

This this is why I yearn for Heaven so intensely: so I can finally forever be in the company of everyone who does love Jesus, where I don't have to hide my religion or feel bad about it. 

Happy (almost) birthday Jesus; please open the hearts of ALL people to Your wondrous love! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Growing in Self-Awareness...Random Thoughts

[Insert coherent introduction here....]

So I feel moved to write a short lil blog post tonight describing/explaining my reactions when I see things written in support of issues such as same sex marriage, contraception, abortion, Protestantism, etc.

It's usually a mixture of frustration, disappointment, and sadness because I literally hate seeing any person be misguided/mislead/posting falsities/promoting ideas that are inherently sinful. SO BADLY do I want every single person to be rejoicing with God in Heaven for all eternity that I literally cringe whenever they post something that impedes their getting to Heaven. Especially in this digital age, where information is so so so easily accessible with the internet. I recognize my own shortcomings and am daily striving to overcome them with God's grace (lately I've been praying for the grace to be able to cooperate with God's grace....) I want everyone to see beauty in all of the virtues, especially the virtue of chastity.

Then, I listen to my beloved Catholic Answers Live, especially when Trent Horn, Tim Staples, or Karlo Broussard are the guests and I realize -- they are just as passionate (if not moreso) about the faith and virtues as I am, yet, they somehow always remain so calm while in discussion with non-Catholics. What goes through my mind is "oh no oh no oh no! That person supports (abortion/homosexuality/sola scripture/contraception/etc.) that goes against our Lord's teaching, they might not get to Heaven, oh if they could just understand and accept/embrace the fullness of His Truth". I also have been realizing more and more that even without ever formally studying Theology, God has given me far more knowledge/insight/understanding into the reasonings of chastity than that of the majority of people in the world today. It's humbling in a way. I mean, why me? With the exception of my parents, hardly anyone else in my family or extended family considers themselves Catholic anymore. What did I do to receive such a grace from God? Me who abandoned the Mass the second I received Confirmation as a Junior in high school until my freshman year of college.

I only applied to ONE college and that one college happened to be Bradley University, which just happened to be right down the street from the Cathedral where Venerable Fulton Sheen used to altar serve and was ordained to the priesthood. And a little while later, somehow God led me to discover a blog that taught me how to engage in discussions about the Catholic faith and then a year ago in summer 2015, I started listening to Catholic Answers Live, felt an instant connection to the (nearly-former) host, Patrick Coffin and learned even more about charitably discussing the faith. Went to the CA National Conference back in March and fell in love....with the organization (ironically I was hoping to meet my future husband there but instead of a man, I fell in love with a potential career).  

Currently, I'm working on reigning in my control freak tendencies as I have so many suggestions for Catholic Answers (especially the website and YouTube channel) and am trying so freaking hard to not come off as an insane psycho fangirl while still expressing my overexcited personality with the organization. I do want to be taken seriously if a job opportunity ever does open up there.

Part of me wishes that I could just turn off my intense interest/care of Catholic Answers and just be normal. Just be a normal, casual fan who has her own job/life. But let's face it! That's not who I am. When I develop a passion for something; it's hardly ever casual. It started with the youth ministry at my former parish, then it was Cross Country, then it was the Newman Center in college, and now it's Catholic Answers. But, I'm constantly worried that my enthusiasm is too much, that it's wrong for me to be SO passionate.

*Sigh* Jesus, help me to freaking CALM DOWN for once in my life!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Searching for the Light

Sheesh, on both a macro (the devastating violence and attacks in the world) and a micro (my own personal issues) level, the darkness seems to be gaining way too much strength. Yet, Christ truly is our hope! St. John's Gospel reminds us of Christ's promise: "I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) 

It is times like these that I so appreciate my Catholic brother-in-Christ, JRR Tolkien and his masterpiece saga, The Lord of the Rings especially this clip from The Two Towers

Oh how I long for the return of Jesus Christ, for the final judgment. Day after day, I wonder how much longer is He going to allow all this evil to continue? Being an immature baby, I just wanna go to Heaven already and avoid dealing with all this crap. Yet, I always go back to the story of St. Peter's few seconds walking on water -- that passage is one that speaks strongly to me. I'm so like Peter where there are times when I'm like "Look Jesus! I'm doing so well, I can do this, woo hoo, go me!" but then I get so caught up in the moment or so caught up with all that plagues me and like Peter, I take my eyes off Christ and begin to sink. I -- we -- have got to stay focused on Jesus and not allow the darkness and evil to distract us or discourage us; that's what Satan wants and I for one refuse to give him any kind of victory. Plus, well, *spoiler alert* Christ wins in the end, all He asks of us is for us to stay faithful and trust Him. Easier said than done, I know. It's been on my heart to continuously ask Christ for the grace to embrace whatever Crosses He sends me, instead of reluctantly dragging them while muttering complaints under my breath (as if I can hide anything from Jesus?!? Silly Margo!) 

In conclusion to these rambling thoughts, I've got some prayer intentions (and please let me know how I can pray for YOU!): 

  • For the Catholic Answers apostolate, for their continued growth and especially as they strive to find someone to succeed my dear friend, Patrick Coffin, as host of Catholic Answers Live (I'm praying for Venerable Sheen's intercession!)
  • For my friend's newborn niece, "Avila Moreno suffering from many complications, mostly involving her brain. An hour after she was born, she started having seizures they thought to have been caused by a stroke. They also found some bleeding in her brain. Now they have found another problem with immune deficiency which can lead to a very short life in some cases."
  • For my seemingly perpetual search for full time employment as an Administrative Assistant/Receptionist/data entry preferably for a Catholic parish or Catholic organization or any small business. 
  • For my friend, Anna Marie, who should be giving birth to her first child any day now.
  • For the repose of the soul of Sam R., sister of a college friend, who died recently of a brain aneurism
  • For an end to all violence and acknowledgment of the dignity of EVERY human life
  • For the Cause of Canonization of Venerable Fulton Sheen
  • For the conversion of my brother, cousins, and a dear friend, D.I. 
God bless and God love you!  

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Who Am I? What Am I? Where Am I?

I often overhear that trio of questions by my mom when she's trying to get herself organized or before she heads out somewhere. Not sure why, but my brain is on overdrive-analytical mode so I'm pondering them with a blog post. Maybe it's in light of all the massive confusion about human identity. I don't know. Who am I? First and foremost, I'm a beloved daughter of God who is constantly striving and failing at holiness in this life He's given me. I am a female human being. Where am I? Wow! That question could encompass a plethora of meanings from geography to life stages.

My desires....
Again, top priority desire is to be holy, but even more, that people could see God and His love shining through me. I want to get out of myself, quit being sooo self focused, and shift my attention to others. But oh how often, I let my many, many insecurities, doubts, and fears get the best of me. I'm a hider -- confrontation is not a skill of mine, couple that with my melancholic temperament and that I'm ridiculously introverted and you've got the mess named Margo.
I want to be taken seriously.
I want people to know how much I love them as my fellow brothers- and sisters-in-Christ.
I get too overexcited about things. Back in high school, it was my church's youth ministry and my XC team, then in college, it was the Newman Center, and now in my post-collegiate life, it's Catholic Answers.
Why why why do I get such intensely strong feelings about these interests? I'm sick of coming off as a total freak, as someone who gets written off as just a "groupie" or "fan girl". I genuinely admire the apostolate and how they are truly leading people (Catholics and non-Catholics) closer to Christ, that's why so many of my social media posts involve CA.
This is a scary time of life -- trying to figure out what to make of adulthood, wanting the "package" of employment, marriage, family, etc.
Fighting that stupid stupid tendency towards pride, constantly feeling guilt over wanting to be noticed both in the professional sphere as well as amongst friends and my efforts at social media. Then feeling pathetic for my over-reliance on social media because I can't always handle being around people in real life because I'm the most socially awkward person of all time. How am I supposed to share God's love with others when I struggle wth social awkwardness? *sigh*
What do you do when you're overwhelmingly frustrated with yourself?? I keep trying to give it all over to Christ, but He doesn't really seem to have a clear path for me.