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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 ...

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.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rambling Thoughts

Tired of my seemingly-dull life
Everything seems frozen in place
Constantly wondering where do I go from here

Want a new start
I have dreams 
Seem to go unfulfilled 
Jesus must be my #1
How to serve Him?
I think I fell in love
Though not yet with a man
But with an apostolate
With a way of spreading God's love
And His Truth
My heart longs for San Diego
But is it God's Will?
Or is it just a delusional fandom
Created in my mind
What will it take?
For me to piece my life together?
Oh God, my beloved, please
please show me what to do!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Conference Recap -- Day 2!

My heart is overflowing...tears of absolute gratitude to God, my Father for blessing me with an incredible day and showing me countless experiences of true, genuine love that my brothers and sisters-in-Christ share for each other. I'm a poor, poor sinner, constantly in need of God's grace and mercy....and He's pouring all these blessings to ME?!? I cannot fathom God's love and oh! If only....if only I can show this kind of love to others. Right now, I'm totally feeling St. Peter's idea during the Transfiguration "let's pitch tents, Jesus! And stay up here forever!" But deep down, I know I'll have to return to my ordinary life in Naperville in just a few days! Aww! But God has me there for a reason. Fortunately I still have PLENTY of excitement left in these final 3 days. Anyways....back to today...Friday!

  • Surprise, surprise! I overslept for the morning Mass, oops! But I had a nice shower and got myself ready for the day, which began with a talk by Jimmy Akin. In all honesty, it was quite informative, but a bit on the dry side since it was about the historicity of divorce, and most of the content I already knew. 
  • During the break after his talk, I met a girl my age sitting in front of me and it turns out not only did we attend the same college, but graduated the same year as each other!! And we're just now meeting all the way out in San Diego! Small, small world! 
  • Next was Dr. Roebuck's talk about the sociology behind marriage, divorce, IVF, etc. Again, a lot of stats and stuff I pretty much already knew, but decent enough talk. 
  • In between talks, I got to meet Timmerie Millington who co-hosts my other favorite radio show, Hearts & Minds with Trent Horn and I gushed about how truly blessed she is to be able to chat with Trent on a weekly basis about all things Catholic/pro-life! 
  • For the first time, CatholicAnswers offered a separate lunch session just for young adults featuring my fave Trent Horn as well as the newest apologist from Cajun Land, Karlo Broussard. They discussed faith & science as well as answering atheism (Trent's speciality). Huge huge blessing right there to have small group time with those two!
  • Then I got a double dose of Trent Horn since he gave a talk right after lunch about the relational & conjugal views of marriage. Love love love him! 
  • Then, what I've been most excited about, the LIVE TAPING OF CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!!! And yes, I managed to get myself a front row seat and more or less lost my voice from my manic screaming lol I even got to ask a question at the end of the 2nd hour and (soberly) admitted to a million-person audience that I'm a CatholicAnswers-aholic...Patrick promised to get me into a 12-step program lol oh how wondrous it was to get to SEE my beloved radio show produced right before my eyes! *spazztime* 
  • The final activity of the day was an appetizers and drinks mixer where I chatted with a few people who complimented me on my enthusiasm. I got to have a heartfelt chat with Rose Sweet, who's been a guest on CatholicAnswers Live several times, then I bantered around with Patrick Coffin and got to meet Chris Check (the president) as well as Karl Keating (the FOUNDER) wow wow wow!!!
  • Throughout the day, my now-good-friend and head of the marketing department, Jon Sorenson helped me get all my CA swag autographed (apologies to Trent Horn who probably now has carpal tunnel thanks to me lol)
Ultimately, the thing that chokes me up and amazes me most is that just yesterday, I was on a plane wondering what it would be like to encounter my beloved CA apologists in person. I'm not as insecure as I used to be as a teen, but my confidence is still lacking...but now, I'm on a casual first name, bantering basis with all these people. Not that I'm trying to put them on pedestals, but I've had such a deep admiration/appreciation of them from afar. I was scared that maybe they wouldn't be as genuine in real life...but they are the real deal! God is so so good!


Trent Horn's large group talk!

Now from San Diego....CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!


Jimmy Akin

Trent Horn's small group young adult talk

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Catholic Answers Conference Recap -- Day 1

WHOOOOO!!!!! What a day!!!! I'm so exhausted yet so exhilarated! Let's start at the very beginning (someone once said that's a very good place to start) And I'm doing this bullet point style because I'm way too excited to put together coherent paragraphs.

  • Plane ride was awesome! I enjoyed some white wine, honey roasted peanuts, and watched The Sound of Music and then listened to Phantom Planet's song, "California here we come" (theme song of my once-favorite-show-now-I-can't-fathom-how-I-watched-it, The OC). SO excited to finally be in California for the first ever!
  • Got my overpacked suitcase from baggage, found the free shuttle to the hotel and was super relieved to this time check in to my room and have time to get situated BEFORE Conference registration (when I went to the FOCUS Conferences in college, it was stand in a loooong registration line with all my luggage then finally get to my room with only a few minutes before the first talk)
    • Listened to both hours of CatholicAnswers Live while getting situated (what's with it being on at 3 PM here in Cali?? I'm sooo used to it being 5-7 in Chicago yay time zones!)
  • Usual-Margo was exhausted and wanted to stay in the super comfy bed plus I had a dumb headache but I pushed myself to go downstairs and get myself registered
    • Met Jon Sorenson (Marketing director) in person; he's the staff member I've gotten to know best over facebook and he's a super cool, chill guy! He showed me the "Vendor/Margo-going-broke-too-much-awesome-stuff" room and I came face to face with Dr. Ray Guarendi; first instance of many star-struck encounters; bought his book, "When Faith Causes Family Friction" and he signed it yay!
  • I was starving so I went to find someplace to eat, ended up at some sports bar place, got a Gilmore Girls inspired drink (one of Lorelai's usual Friday Night dinners -- Martini with a twist) and a bacon-chicken sandwich
    • I totally had a Holy Spirit encounter, where the mid-age guy I was sitting next to asked me what brought me to San Diego so of course that led into discussing Catholicism, turns out he's a fallen away Catholic who never really had any of the reasonings behind the teachings explained (it was just a bunch of rules to him) so I told him about Catholic Answers as well as shared part of my testimony. Praise God! The funniest part was that Trent Horn was sitting at a table nearby with his in-laws and yes, at first I was sooo tempted to call him over to "help me" then I decided to be a grown-up and trust the Holy Spirit to work through me
  • Back to the main ballroom for the Evening talks...I got a seat in the 2nd row....and got spotted by THE Patrick Coffin who was like "Margo....it's you...I'm not ready for this!" And I dished it right back "Too bad! I'm here!" and I got a nice hug from him
  • Before the talks started, Pat did some announcements and some weird magic trick thing (cuz he likes to show off his "super cool magician tricks")
    • Oh yeah, one of the announcements was for two award winners: one for the very first person to sign up for the Conference and then the other was for some crazy-obsessed-fan girl who pressed the "like/love/haha" button on Facebook 10 million times for CatholicAnswers and has been slightly excited for this Conference...no idea who that girl was ;-) 
    • When Patrick called me up to the stage he asked all the single guys to stand up (there was like 2 or 3 and I could barely see them...that wasn't exactly how I thought things would wind up, but whatever)
  • Okay....Dr. Ray Guarendi followed by Fr. Larry Richards = TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM/ENERGY/HILARITY (especially when they both teased each other relentlessly during their talks) No videos cuz my phone was dying but CatholicAnswers will eventually post the Conference talks online
  • Back to the vendor room where I finally got my selfies with my faves Patrick & Trent
  • Now I'm about to pass out
Thank You, Jesus, for an absolutely epic first day!! Let's see what You've got planned for the rest of this adventure!
In the words of Patrick Coffin - "BE A SAINT...WHAT ELSE IS THERE???"

THE man Patrick Coffin

Trent Horn
Goody basket for my Facebook stalking!

Dr. Ray Guarendi