Monthly Archives: June 2012

Walking Gospel Roads

The homily at mass today was about continuing to walk the Gospel Roads in our lives and standing up for our beliefs.  If we aren’t practicing what we believe and facing resentment from others then why do we believe what we do?
When I was leaving to go to a Jesuit university everyone kept telling me how liberal the Jesuits are. After graduating from there and continuing to grow in my faith I’ve realized there are some aspects I love as well as aspects that didn’t help me as much.  After this week with the Salesians I’ve begun to really understand the differences in how things are done.  I love them both equally, but as a Salesian, everyone can be included and the community is more conservative which is nice while we are standing up for what we believe.
All that being said, I think it’s time for me to drop the pseudonym and take a step confidently in my faith by introducing myself to you all.
My name is Juli, I recently turned 24 and I am a conservative Catholic who just wants to work with youth and young adults and spread God’s Love.
God Bless and thank you to all my new Salesian friends,
*JuLi*

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Is there any way you could say no to this Man?

Today, unfortunately, was our last full day of service.  We went to a soup kitchen and served others and it was a great experience. When we came back we did these partner walks and answered discussion questions.  This was great because it allowed my partner and I to open up to each other and have an amazing conversation about our week and our lives. I was especially happy with who I ended up with because I had already had a conversation with the individual earlier in the week and I was able to open up and trust him.  We talked about God’s Will and discernment which are things I don’t really think about or talk about enough I suppose.
After mass we had a picnic and my two best friends came up (one of which surprised me) and another friend came as well! It was such a great way to have my last night and felt so perfect.
We had large group discussion and then I got to talk further with a friend about the power of the Holy Spirit when He speaks or acts through you and how sharing is about giving it up to what God wants and what others in the room potentially need.
The night (and day) was so successful and I really feel so close to everyone here and don’t want to leave but I know that we need to go forth and set the world on fire (except, the Salesian way? Am I allowed to do that?) in our own lives while still having our connections to lean on.
Jesus was present a whole lot this week and I really hope I’ve made that clear through my blogging and hopefully have touched some readers out there.  If my writing isn’t so profound, maybe my artwork is…

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God Bless, *JuLi*

True Friendship

I really can’t even begin to describe my experiences today.  It started out with toddlers and infants showing me God’s love in the ways of a child and just being all around amazing loving children.  After lunch we painted an apartment.  I was with two males from the group and we had such a good experience and true teamwork going on.  It was so calming and soothing for me to be painting (and singing) and getting to know the people I was working with.  After mass and dinner though, I had an emotional breakdown.
Lately I’ve been struggling to discern where God is calling me to and today things began to build up in me and I was able to talk to one person in particular and build on a connection that had already been forming over the week.  The person has been there for me to lean on and I was somehow able to open up today when I wasn’t sure I could.  Our friendship has now grown and I am so grateful for that individual for letting me fall a little bit and ALWAYS saying what I need to hear, whether it be in private, large group, etc.  I also opened up a bit to two other people that I trusted who joined us a little later.
We then distributed sandwiches to the homeless around Penn Station Newark which was an amazing experience as well.  We split into two groups and really feel like there was an impact made.  I was so touched that we were able to hopefully touch these people and large group sharing allowed me to open up and just spit out some inspiring things (all God working through me of course) that I can’t begin to remember now.  One thing I would like though, is for anyone who is willing, to offer up a Hail Mary for the homeless and hungry that they may be comforted and watched over by our Lord and mother Mary tonight and every night.
My picture today depicts the friends reaching out for me, acting as Christ and loving me truly for who I am.  We all have our struggles and this is for those who pick us up when we’re feeling down.

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God Bless,
*JuLi*

Fan the Flame

Today was a different day and I had an amazing time.  I say that like every day, I know, but that’s just how my week has been.  Today I spent the day cleaning walls and mopping a hallway which might not seem like the funnest of days, and trust me, it had its hardships, but I enjoyed the time I spent with my new friend there and the two of us had a conversation that made me realize something.  I always wish people I just met knew my background more so they would accept me as I am for who I am without judging certain choices I make or things I do.  This leads to me talking way too much and probably scaring them away anyway.  I started realizing (1) that I need to work on judging people before I know them (wow like the Gospel the other day!) and (2) that I have real issues being myself with people.  Number 2 (or should I say 2.0? Lol) is particularly challenging because I’ve tried to share myself with people a lot but it takes a lot for me to trust someone enough to see the me underneath everything else that I just say to cover up what is inside. Thinking about that made me go deeper to try and understand why that is so difficult for me and why I barely ever open myself up to others.  After talking to my friend, I realized that I am trying to protect myself from being hurt because the hurt that I’ve felt never really went away when I did open myself up and had my heart broken.  So for the rest of this trip I really need to rise above the barriers and let myself shine and remain open to other things that put me outside my comfort zone.
Later on in the day, during another task, I had a great conversation with another new friend where I was able to vent and really share my struggles and he likewise.  This also taught me a few things as far as judging others is concerned.  We never know what anyone has been through until they tell us so we need to look for the positives in everyone which I try to do, but probably not enough.  I lost patience a little bit today, so please say a Hail Mary for me to remain patient throughout the rest of this trip.  Don’t get me wrong, I love everyone here, but sometimes we really need to put God back into everything, a point my friend and I conversed about in my second conversation and then again later.  If we are about God, and serving in His Name, we need to respect Him and exemplify Him.
Tonight we also had a bonfire which brought to mind this oldie but goodie:
Light the fire…
…Light the fire
In my soul…
…In my weary soul
Fan the flames…
…Fan the flames
Make me whole…
…Make my spirit whole
Lord, you know…
…Lord, you know
Where I’ve been…
…Where I’ve been
So light the fire in my heart again

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God Bless, *JuLi*

Hail Mary…

Today was great. We visited New Community and stayed at the Adult Extended Care center to get to know some residents.  I was part of the group that went to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia floor and interacted with a woman who we will call “Ms. H”.  Ms. H went blind and was in the beginning stages of dementia.  She liked to talk though so I sat with her for quite a bit.  Some of what she said didn’t make much sense but we talked about animals and her family.  All the residents in the room were in wheel chairs though and if they stood up, it caused a buzzer to go off.  Well Ms. H stood up quite a few times and every time the workers would holler at her to sit down.  Well, about half way through my time with her, Ms. H leans over to me and said, “when I stand up they’re going to yell at me ‘H!’ ” and right after she said that she proceeded to stand up and the staff yelled “Ms. H! Sit down!” It was probably the highlight of my time there and made a bunch of my new friends laugh as well.  She is clearly functioning highly enough that she knew exactly what she was doing.
Anyway, when it got dark we did a candle light Rosary.  It wasn’t the walking Rosary that we did in the Students for Life group in undergrad where everyone got a candle and we prayed, it was different, but just as awesome.  The candles were layed out, sort of Search Agape at our sister school like, but in a Rosary instead of a cross and we lit them as we said the Rosary.  I absolutely love the Rosary and was looking forward to it since they told me about it the night before.  Although, I didn’t expect the candles, they made the experience so much more awesome.  That is why my picture tonight is Rosary themed.

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Hail Mary,
Full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death
Amen

God Bless, *JuLi*

Angels of the Streets

Today we volunteered at Covenant House which basically takes in homeless 18-21 year olds and helps them to learn to live independently by getting employment and saving their money, etc.  It was so amazing and they help so many people that it was truly inspiring.  Our project for the day (aside from making 106 bag lunches to be delivered to people on the streets) was to clean out a closet that is full of donated clothes that the young adults could wear for interviews and jobs.  The closet was a huge mess and we needed to not only sort through, organize, and hang/fold it, but also weed out the clothes that looked unprofessional and that we would never wear to an interview.  I don’t think I ever would have expected to use my experiences from both of my part time jobs in one task ever, but that was exactly how this felt.  Working in HR, I know what is and is not appropriate to wear on a job interview.  At the same time, my retail experience in women’s clothing gives me good background in folding, which I did a whole lot of today.  It was so awesome and even though we didn’t get to work directly with the youth, we maintained these closets and brought them to a level of cleanliness that they could potentially incur more dignity from rather than sifting through a pile of rumpled shirts.
My picture from today is an angel, sort of a guardian angel inspired by the workers of Covenant House and how they look after these young people and help them to get on and stay on the right path.  Also, Covenant House was started by a Catholic priest so it has a faith based mission and identity.

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God Bless, *JuLi*

Accepted

Today on Gospel Roads II was amazing.  Mass this morning was great and then we went to participate in a fundraiser for Wounded Warrior Project.  The fundraiser was an event where teams had to pull a tank that was on a tractor trailer a certain amount of feet in a small amount of time.  Only 20 people per team.  We got to do it twice.  (Pictures to come) Aside from it being a great cause, I think it was some really awesome team building as well.  We really came together and cheered each other on which was fun.  To tell you the truth though, it has really been a great group from the start with everyone greeting me with hugs and meeting such inviting people it’s been a wonderful two days already and I’m already not ever wanting to go home 🙂
Then we went to this AMAZING Basilica and there are really not enough words to describe that experience.  I had at least one awesome experience there where I felt a great connection.
At home we played whiffle ball for free time and then tonight was the cherry on top of the day.  We had Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions!  It was so freeing to be rid of all my sins so close to the beginning of this trip in order to allow myself to grow closer to God. It opened my eyes to what I should be doing and led me to my word of the day…accepted. I wanted to name it forgiveness, but after praying on it, accepted was much more appropriate.  Not only have I been accepted into this wonderful group of (confident) Catholic young adults, but Jesus has accepted me and accepted my apologies for my sins.
The drawing I did today, “Accepted”, is based on the experience of the Eucharistic Adoration as well as depicts Jesus reaching out from the cross for us.  Love you all!

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God Bless, *JuLi*

“Receive”

Today began Gospel Roads II and I am enjoying it so much so far.  I’ve met some awesome people and I am feeling that this is exactly the right place to be.  Earlier we were asked to reflect on a few questions and after journaling I opened my sketch book to draw since I was feeling a bit inspired.  I called the sketch “Receive” in anticipation of what God is sending down for us to receive from this Salesian service retreat this week. Hopefully I will have many more sketches to come from this week 🙂

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God Bless,
*JuLi*

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

Since I am blessed to be able to spend today with my father, grandfather, and God father, I wanted to take a little bit of time to thank Our Father for all that He does for us. 

Thank you, Father, for looking after us, creating us from nothing in your image and likeness that we may attempt to be like you and follow in all your ways.  Thank you, Father, for sending down your Son to show us your ways and help us on the path to be reunited with you.  Continue to watch over us, Father, and lead us where you need us to go.  Give us the strength and courage to follow your example as a child follows his father.

We love you Father, Happy Father’s Day

*Zoey*

Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

Yesterday I sat with the little girl I’ve been tutoring, Emily, and we talked about the sacrament of reconciliation and God’s forgiveness. I knew this was going to be hard for me, since I’ve always struggled with reconciliation.

I’ve simply never had a good experience with the sacrament. When I go to priests that I know and trust, they are generally family friends, and I feel as though they are judging me, or will run right off and tell my mother how awful I am. I know this is irrational, but it’s never inspired me to really let go the way I need to, you know?

With priests I don’t know, the insecurity is worse…way worse. I feel a need to justify everything that I say or do. But I understand the need for the sacrament, I simply haven’t received it in almost ten years. When I was sixteen I felt that I was being chastised by a priest when I confessed and asked for advice about underage drinking and the tiny bit of drug experimentation I was considering. I was so hurt, confused and upset by the experience that I stopped going.

So when I began talking to Emily about confession, and God’s grace and forgiveness, and I found myself for the first time with her, talking about something that I wasn’t sure I believed in. I explained, in a practical sense why we’re supposed to go to confession, and the need for the sacrament and all of that. Luckily she didn’t ask too many questions, because I honestly wasn’t sure how to answer them.

What she did ask about was forgiving other people, when I said that it was an important part of being a Christian. She understood that when people asked for forgiveness, or say they’re sorry you should accept. Actually this is what she said:

“That’s like when your friend says something mean, but then they’re sorry, so then you’re friends again. But what if they don’t say they’re sorry, or they keep being mean to you?”

I swallowed and this was my answer: You still have to forgive them. That doesn’t mean you take it. You don’t have to be alright with people being mean to you. Forgiving them means that you don’t carry it around with you. You let it go. It’s their problem, not yours, and by forgiving them, by not carrying around that anger with you, you keep it from being your problem.

She seemed to like that answer, and I was pretty proud of myself. Until this little theory of mine got tested later in the day. In the summers I run a community theatre program for young adults (ages 18-35) with my best friend from high school. This year both she and I have pulled back our involvement a lot, because the whole thing is incredibly stressful and it very nearly destroyed our relationship last summer.

Because of that, decisions that used to just be between us are being discussed and analyzed by a staff of about 7 people. And because of that I get my way a whole lot less than I used to, which is hard for me. One such example was the decision to include as a rehearsal pianist someone who I dislike working with a whole lot. We’ve worked with him in the past and he tends to hijack whatever situation he is in to make it far more dramatic than need be.

We’re a week in to our rehearsal process, and this person was still holding it over our heads whether or not he would be our pianist. This would be fine, except we didn’t have a backup (he was our back up) and I was frustrated. While trying to confirm whether he would be helping us out, he responded with a line of information so off from the actual situation, (and that basically called my partner and best friend a liar) that I was in a rage.

I know that this guy is not going to apologize, because I know him. But I’m having trouble taking the advice I gave to Emily. This is someone who was disrespectful to me, my friends and something that I have worked for three years to build. But I also know that carrying around my anger is pointless. I have to forgive him and move on. I can’t control his attitude, I can control mine and set an example.

Emily also mastered the Lord’s Prayer yesterday, and I was so proud of her. (We start and end each session with it.) When we finished, and we prayed, and reached, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Emily stopped and looked at me.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

“That’s like you said,” she explained. “Earlier, you said, we need to ask God to forgive us when we do bad things, and we need to forgive other people who do bad things to us.”

So that’s what I’m trying to do. No matter how hard it is.