Monday, February 3, 2014

Reflecting on Life Again

Whoa! 2 months since my last post?!? Seriously??

So I just thought I'd post some updates about the mixed up life of Margo for anyone who's interested. Overall, life is pretty much same old, same old, still livin with the parents and kinda looking for a job. I'll be going on my first vocation-discernment retreat with the Daughters of St. Paul at their Boston motherhouse during Holy Week in April!! Here's hoping and praying that will help enlighten me as to whether I should seriously pursue religious life.

I'm so back and forth between religious life and married life. There's still a major part of me that desires marriage and longs to be a stay-at-home mother. But, religious life, especially the Daughters of St. Paul is becoming more appealing as well...and I still struggle with trying to get my will matched up with God's will.

I think I have far too many desires, but can't get myself to act on any of them, other than the discernment retreat. Here's just a brief "bucket list"

  • Study for a Master's Degree in Theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver
  • Travel to Rome and explore the Vatican while eating authentic Italian deliciousness
  • Work as a Youth Minister, or Director of Religious Ed, or as a pastor's Personal Assistant, or even just as a parish office assistant, OR as an apologist for Catholic Answers
  • run a marathon (or maybe do another half)
  • Figure out my vocation once and for all
  • Overcome my vices, actually develop self discipline, and live entirely for Jesus, being completely selfless, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind....being so close to Christ that I naturally radiate His love to everyone I meet so then they will fall in love with Him

I'm also starting to go ridiculously stir crazy and am actually getting motivated to get one of those job things, even though I managed to make things hard for myself by taking way too long to get my act together, which means a mostly blank resume (at least I do have some volunteer experience, but I haven't had a legit paid job since December of 2011).

I somehow found a bunch of theological discussion groups on Facebook, which are now what keep me "busy", trying to explain the faith to others (mostly Protestants) while working on that patience virtue. I don't know why, but I LOOOVE discussing theology/morality/chastity...if only I could get paid for that. Seriously, God has given me some pretty interesting gifts/talents, but I can't quite make a living off any of them, *frustration*

I got trapped in my routine of 5:15 daily mass at my parish and for too long, I was afraid of having to give that up in order to have a job. Spending time with Jesus became overly important to me and I'm just now realizing that I am probably one of the most unusual young adults ever. I mean I'd rather spend time with Jesus than have a job?!? It's terribly irresponsible for me and it's probably high time for me to wake up and realize that unfortunately, life costs money. I can't live with my parents forever; I need money for rent, electricity, groceries, clothes...and I am trying to live simplistically, which is way easier said than done.

*Sigh* I really need to get better at this being-an-adult thing...sometimes I feel more like an 80-year-old trapped in a 20-year-old body since I'm SUCH a homebody and super low key about things...why is getting a job and figuring out my vocation so freaking difficult?? (yes, rhetorical question)

May God bless you all :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Honest Reflection

I feel as though I have been living a lie since I fear allowing people to see the real me. I’ve heard many times that I should not care about what others think, all that matters is what God thinks of me. Yet, I can’t quite get myself to not care about what other people think of me. Plus, I’ve been fighting an interior battle of self absorption and wish I could just snap my finger and be like Blessed Mother Theresa - serving others without caring what others thought or worrying about herself. I want to be holy and Christlike so badly and hate how much I continuously screw up and give into my weaknesses. 

Anyways, it’s been over six months since I graduated from college. I originally thought that I would find some job within a month or two, start saving up money, and be on my way to moving out of my parents’ house. Maybe I’d even meet my future husband and I would start on the typical life plan of career and marriage. 

As is often the case, God had other plans for me. Instead of pursuing a career, I began pursing Christ (or maybe He was pursing me?) on a much deeper level than ever before. Sometimes spending up to 3 hours straight in my parish’s Adoration chapel, which now feels like a second home to me. Not that I’m super holy, sometimes, I’d go there just as a break from being in my house. 

Recently, I have found myself at a crossroads, torn in two directions. A few years ago, Christ inflamed my heart with passion for the virtue of chastity. Now, it seems like He’s putting a new idea on my heart, one that terrifies me to admit — a vocation to the religious life, specifically with the Daughters of St. Paul, whose charism is sharing Christ through the media, which kinda fits me perfectly! 

As strongly as I desire marriage, after spending countless hours in Adoration, as well as an agonizing job search, I realize that I have an even stronger desire to serve Christ as fully as possible. As I went through the job search, it become ever more apparent how fake I felt, how untrue to myself, how not at peace it has left me. Yet, I kept trying to force myself to ignore those feelings so I could do what my parents expect. 

I wish there were someone who could understand what I have been going through since graduation — the intense interior battle that has left me emotionally exhausted. I crave the Eucharist more than ever, yet, I still persist in sinful habits and I’m nowhere near holiness. I still have emotional wounds that need healing and I greatly need to work on living out my faith, putting it in action. I seem to have the prayer part down and I do genuinely enjoy explaining the faith, but, a major struggle is showing love to others who have no interest in the faith at all. I suck at expressing my care and concern for others, it always seems to come out wrongly as I allow negative emotions to interfere. 

Anyways, I’m just in the very initial part of discernment, I have no idea where it will lead. I do know though that at this point in my life, I am not called to the working world…terrifying thought! I can’t shake the “I need to have a job” thought from my mind. For months now, I’ve been consumed with guilt, thinking that it’s so irresponsible of me to remain unemployed. Maybe it is. Yet, I know Christ is calling me to follow Him and to surrender my desires to Him. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Clarifying My Purpose

Alrightie, I would like to clarify a few things concerning the purposes of this blog. My intent is to provide clarity and new insights about the Catholic faith and teachings. To that end, I desire to reach out and engage non-Catholics.

I am not writing these blog posts to receive praise from my fellow Catholics or to preach to the choir. I want to draw people in, so everyone will at least walk away with a greater understanding of Catholicism. Please give me feedback on what areas I should focus my posts by voting in the poll on the right side and provide any additional suggestions in the comments. 

So, once again, I want to know if there are any non-Catholics out there willing to read and learn about Catholicism? And what can I do to engage you in discussion? I'm not saying you must become Catholic, but I want to clear up the misconceptions and false stigmas. So, who's ready to open up and discuss? Anyone? Bueller? :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Readers' Choice!

First, I would like to extend my appreciation for the two commenters who provided feedback on my blog, I have taken what you said into consideration, and now wish to allow you and others to share what you would like to see me blog about/explain. I added a poll to the right of this page, so please vote for what you are interested in learning about and feel free to leave specific suggestions in the comments section. Vote away, friends & readers and look for the next post in the next week or two (depending on how long it takes to gather results).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is Anyone Out There??

Sometimes I wonder whether I should keep up with this blog, since it doesn't seem like I'm reaching anyone except for a few other fellow Catholics. However, they are not my intended audience. I'd much rather reach out to non-Catholics and their perspectives on the issues I present.

I don't want to be thought of as the "morality police" or for people to ignore what I have to say. I get the sense that people blow me and this blog off since it may not coincide with their views. Margo's just being a Catholic freak again, why doesn't she just leave us alone?

I'll tell you why. YOU are too important and too loved to be left alone. If you are a human, then you are loved by God, simple as that.

God gave me the gift of writing, specifically explanatory writing as well as the passion for His teachings. I greatly desire to share that gift with others as well as to engage in thoughtful discussions. Yet every time I try (either on here or through Facebook), there are only crickets.

Would you rather have me shut up and leave you alone to do whatever you wish even if what you are doing is really hurting yourself?

As Penn Teller once said, "If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"

I really would appreciate some feedback from anyone out there reading (preferably from non-Catholics). What changes should I make to better communicate to you?

Never forget how much you are loved :) Many blessings!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Running for Faith

Recently, I got to see my high school Cross Country team and coach, Mr. Iverson, again. Every year, Iverson (or Ivy as he’s known by the team) hosts an alumni picnic for past members of the team to meet the current team, as a way of maintaining a familial sense to past and present team members.

I ran XC junior and senior years of high school; it was my passion back then. I want to share my XC story and how it led to and relates to living out the Catholic faith.

During the first two years of high school, running was not even on my mind. Instead, I threw myself into my parish’s youth ministry program. However, towards the end of my sophomore year, the beloved youth minister announced he was leaving and I had a feeling the youth ministry program might fall apart in his absence. So, I knew I needed to find a new activity – something to fill the void. I had always heard good things about my school’s XC team, the girls seemed pretty friendly, yet, I had hardly run before in my life. Iverson just happened to be my Government teacher for that spring semester and he also seemed like a nice, fun guy. I remember approaching him one day after class saying that I was interested in joining the Cross Country team. He told me I would have to be able to run for 30 continuous minutes before the summer camp began in June. Now that was intimidating – yet, somehow I pushed through the frustration of having no idea what I was doing – and succeeded in running for 30 minutes about about a month! As the months went by, I began to enjoy running and being on the team more and more.

Although I did not recognize it at the time, as I now reflect upon my many cherished memories from Cross Country, I now realize how much running and being on the Naperville North team laid the groundwork for living out the Catholic faith.

One of my absolute favorite things about Coach Iverson were the many life lessons he shared with us. Not only did he strive to help us become better runners, but he also genuinely cared about our personal growth as well. It truly meant a lot to me that he cared about every girl on the team, whether she was a varsity (top) runner or more of an average runner (like me), he was there for us – whether we were #1 or #101.

Through running, I learned dedication, discipline, and especially perseverance. I learned to push through the difficult workouts, ones where soreness seared through my legs, sweat dripping down my face, where I faced temptation to give up. Yet, as Iverson stated in the philosophy of the program, “it is often hard work, but we know that the rewards for this hard work far outweigh any temporary difficulties posed by any workout.”

So too with Catholicism. Similarly to running, it at first seems like a pretty simple religion to practice, just as there does not seem to be that much to running, you just run. Yet, as you go deeper with both running and Catholicism, you realize the true depth to each, how much effort is required. Both require me to push through even when I don’t feel like it. Yet, both bring wonderful rewards, which prove to be worth the effort, time, and discipline. The same perseverance I developed through the agonizing workouts, I now apply to my faith life and in striving to overcome sinful tendencies.

I also remember (and still have out my sentimental tendency) the weekly team letters Iverson would write us, which continue to provide inspiration for me. One such letter that sticks out is from October 2008 where he shared the importance of living in the moment – with which I still sometimes struggle.

“We need to be present in every moment, whatever the moment brings. The moment will sometimes bring breathtaking beauty of the changing leaves, but the moment will sometimes bring challenges as when the weather is bad or we don’t feel just perfect.”

            Learning to live in the moment though is so vital for maintaining faith and trust in God. Sure, it is easy to love God and live the Catholic faith when I am in a pleasant mood. Yet, lately, I have been learning that faith goes beyond feelings. It is not just something I do when I am in the mood for it. Just like running. Being on the Cross Country team is tough – running 6 days of the week, having early morning meets, doing whatever workout Ivy had planned for the day. I had to learn to trust him though, that he knew what was best for us runningwise. So too, now with God. I have to trust Him that He knows what is overall best for me, no matter what my mood.

I now try to push myself to attend daily mass (praise God that there is a 5:15 PM mass) at least twice/week since I know that receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is the ultimate fulfillment in life.

One last thought – I started out running and my reversion to Catholicism in similar ways – both on total whims, not quite knowing where either would lead. I really started from nothing with running and far exceeded any expectations that I could fathom. With Catholicism, I at least had knowledge from being raised in the Catholic faith, but otherwise, I knew little about the depth and teachings or even God’s unfailing love for me and all people.

God helped and continues to help me grow in holiness and if you allow Him, He will do the same for you. Holiness really is just growing into the immense potential that we all have as humans and just doing everything with great love for others. I pray that your heart will be opened to God's love :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My faith journey

If you know me, you've probably noticed how passionate I get, especially about Catholicism. What's up with that? Isn't Catholicism just the religion in which I choose to believe? Isn't it just something I do on Sundays? And what's up with me wanting to bring others into the Catholic faith, why should I care what religion people practice?

Allow me to share my faith journey, which should answer these questions.

I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school from kindergarten-8th grade, where I gained plenty of knowledge about the faith as well as memorized many prayers, yet, I lacked any real understanding or appreciation of it. I decided to go to a public high school because I was sick of wearing uniforms (shallow reason) and the Catholic schools near me were considered "college prep" schools and I wasn't sure at the time if I even wanted to go to college. So, I went to Naperville North, but got very actively involved with my parish's high school youth ministry program, which in hindsight, was more protestant than Catholic, but I didn't know any better as a young teen. I made several good friends, including two high school seniors named Becki & Sammi who assisted my Quest (the name of the Confirmation-prep class) group.

Yet, my faith life still lacked the proper understanding, and thus had little substance, which is why it crumbled into pieces after the youth ministry fell apart after my sophomore year of high school. The beloved high school minister left our parish; I was very close to him and took it hard. At the time, Confirmation took place in the spring of junior year, so I still had awhile left in the Confirmation-prep program, which I did continue and did receive that Sacrament. Unfortunately, my misunderstanding led me away from Catholicism, I thought that once I was Confirmed, I was an "adult" member free to decide how to practice the faith -- so I stopped going to mass since I saw it as boring.

I redirected my passion to running. After the youth minister announced he was leaving in the spring of my sophomore year, I knew I had to find a new activity. I just happened to have the girls' Cross Country coach as my Government teacher and he seemed pretty cool, plus I'd heard good things about the team. So, I randomly approached him at the end of class one day and asked what I'd need to do to be on the team. It was March and the summer running camp started in June, and Mr. Iverson told me I would need to able to run without stopping for 30 minutes by then. So, I pushed myself and got up to a half hour after about 1.5 months. I do the summer camp and then had a successful first season in the fall. Running/XC became my new passion, with my faith trailing on the side.

Then, during my senior season, we got a new volunteer coach, a young woman (mid-20s) named Lauren, who also happened to be a Young Life leader. Although I had become a non-practicing Catholic, I still retained a basic belief in God, and wanted to do something with it. Young Life appealed to me because it was open to all Christians (although it's rooted more in Protestantism) and didn't affiliate itself with any particular denomination. It was held twice/week as a small group bible study, making the bible applicable to teenager's lives and then as a large group crazy-shenagigans-that-relate-back-to-God night.

It satisfied my religious convictions for senior year, I figured I was "fine" since I was reading the bible and even praying a little. Then, I went to a Young Life camp the summer before going to college. It was there that I started reflecting on which religion I wanted to pursue while at college. I could have become a Young Life leader in Peoria, but being carless would have made that difficult. So, I knew I had to make the decision between choosing a Protestant denomination or going back to Catholicism. I remember praying, begging God to show me which was the right religion, since I could see legitimate cases made for each.

Come August, I left Naperville for Bradley University, where I only really knew one other person named Tina, who was friends with Sammi (one of my Quest leaders) and who I had met a few times in the past. So, I was hoping to find her and Sammi told me that she thought Tina would be at the Newman Center. I wasn't sure if I wanted to try the Newman Center (the Catholic campus ministry) since I had a distorted image of it in my mind and still had mixed feelings about Catholicism. However, I did want to find Tina since it would be cool to know an upperclassman. So, I went over to Newman's annual cookout on the Monday of "welcome week". I went alone and found myself waiting in a looong line outside of the Newman Center; I felt so insecure and had no idea what to expect. I eventually get inside and there were religious sisters serving food (intimidating!), I get my food, head out to the parking lot, where numerous tables were set up and sat down at a random table where a few female Newman leaders were sitting. They seemed pretty nice and after we finished eating, Charissa gave me a tour of Newman, then I wound up hanging out in the main room (the Cafe) and find out that Newman has its own running group, YAY (I was still passionate about running even though I was done with Cross Country).

I could keep going, but, the gist is that I continued to meet more of the Newman people, who gradually drew me back to my Catholic faith. In November, I went on the Koinonia retreat, which finally actually explained the faith (and mass) in a way that made sense. At some point, things started to click and I was reminded of my prayer to God begging to know the right religion.

God led me back to His, one true Church! Fast forward to the summer after sophomore year and I randomly found the blog that went beyond the basics and explained more of the teachings about the Church, especially in regards to those moral issues. I got hooked on Leila's Little Catholic Bubble and not only learned the teachings, but through the comments section (which regularly draws in Catholics, Protestants, and even Atheists), learned how to have discussions about the faith and teachings.

Ever since then, God has been drawing me nearer and nearer to Him. And it's not just me that He wants, He wants every single human!

I've seen the beauty of God's Church and His teachings and I want everyone to share in that beauty. I'm tired of the false stigmas and false reasonings.

I humbly admit my human brokenness and sinfulness, while striving daily to rid myself of my faults and sinful habits/attitudes. I know what it's like to struggle, to want to do things my own way, to think I know better than God. Yet, where has that led me? What if I (and you) surrendered to God, entrusting Him with our lives? Is He really going to lead us to misery?

I dream of the entire world becoming Catholic, so that everyone can experience God's glory, grace, mercy, and perfect love.

It genuinely makes me sad to see people lost in sin and stubbornly rejecting God and His ways, which aren't the easiest, but are the way to eternal life with Him in Heaven.

I care too much for people not to speak up against sin. That's why I am how I am - why I'm so passionate about Catholicism and morality.

I welcome any and all questions, comments, criticisms, concerns, etc.

May God bless you now & always :)