Author Archives: Juli

Bible Study

I may have talked about this before, but I lead a Bible Study for young adults at my church. For the most recent lesson, I was preparing by reading 2 Kings and came to a realization that I wanted to share and ask anyone still reading to think about answers, answer themselves, whatever they want…

I threw down my Bible in frustration. Why were we still reading about how Israel continues to make mistakes in patterns…over and over again. Later I realized…God is reiterating this point because humans do that constantly–make the same mistakes over and over again. We are imperfect beings who are perfect in God’s eyes. He treats us like His children, forgiving, patient, kind, and sometimes punishing, and yet we still continue the cycle of sin. Is it easier to sin in today’s world? Maybe. If it is, it’s probably because we know God’s compassionate and forgiving nature.  If it isn’t, it’s because we know the repeating history of sinfulness. Many of the people of that time were unaware or unfamiliar with the consequences of sin because by the time they began to sin again, the previous generation of sinners was gone. We don’t have the luxury to make that mistake.  Maybe luxury is a bad word for it, but we do have the luxury of knowing and understanding the benefits of keeping God’s commands and the consequences of going against them. We have the Bible. Yet we still sin. Why is that?  “Human nature” isn’t a good enough answer anymore.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Concerns?

God Bless,
Juli

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Mardi Gras

Bon Mardi Gras!

So tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent which means today is Mardi Gras (exact translation: Fat Tuesday).  Celebrating Mardi Gras for Catholics is more than just a party, it is a day in which we should all reflect on and determine what sacrifices we will be making this Lent.  While thinking about Lent, I remembered our 40 Post challenge from last year and how much has changed since then (I started slacking on the posting A LOT!).  This past winter I was a part of a Young Adult Book Club at my church and we read Blessed Are The Bored In Spirit by Mark Hart.  One of the chapters asked the questions “When have you been courageous in your faith this year?” and “In what ways have you personally answered the call to act from your heart?”  I had begun a response, but never finished it and now feel it is relevant to post today.

This past year has been such a wonderful year of my life. Last Lent I began attending daily mass, a choice that changed my faith life for the better.  This was a courageous choice for me because I had tried to do it the previous year and was disappointed by something that happened.  What had happened really put me off from attending mass at my church and so I stopped going during the week. When I made the decision to go again, God graced me with patience and love for others and enabled me to make daily mass a part of my life.  By going to mass daily, I began giving more over to God and growing in my faith life.  I met so many wonderful people and made quite a few new friends who are such an inspiration to me for my faith to grow and prosper as theirs has.  Additionally, it has helped me to make decisions in my life separate from just in church and gave me the courage to make another decision regarding my faith life.  I soon signed up to start reading at mass, something that scared me terribly.  Public speaking has always been a fear of mine, but I was feeling called to help out in another way. Soon after I signed up, I was approached by a friend of mine at daily mass and asked to read during the week. I began reading on Tuesdays every week and about two Sundays a quarter.  Although I was still a little anxious about reading on Sundays, on December 23rd I read and was told that I no longer seemed nervous at all. I also felt a lot less nervous.

Another way I think I have been courageous in my faith this year is through my young adult ministry – LIFT (Living In Faith Together).  We officially formed the group over the past summer and have met pretty much once a week since then.  In the fall we began a Bible Study and I was asked to lead it.  Although I had never done a Bible Study before and didn’t really know what to expect, no one else really wanted the role and I felt it was an important activity to take part in.  The program flows pretty easily and it is more of a facilitation role, but the study and reading of the Bible has really helped me to grow and understand more about the roots of my faith.  Although we’re not even through Genesis (I know, it’s a little drawn out), the depth of the study is such that the points that are made are ingrained in my mind.

Being called to facilitate and to read are both really awesome ways in which my faith life has grown, but something that I really value that God gave me this year is my Religious Education class.  Once a month I get to teach 6th graders religious ed through a program my church calls “Becoming Disciples”.  This program is family-integrated, which means they have three home lessons and one in-class lesson a month.  The kids that I get to teach are such a wonderful group and I enjoy every class I have with them.  More often than not we run out of time because there is so much I want to discuss.  The real blessing in teaching this program though, is that I get to relearn so many things and relate my own experiences to them as well as listen to the experiences of my 6th graders.  They are so talkative, but many of them show such an understanding and love for the Word and ask such wonderful questions!  What I am now looking forward to is helping revamp the 7th and 8th grade program with a friend of mine and continuing to teach next year 🙂  Teaching this class has been something I look forward to and get so excited in preparing for it that I almost feel as if it’s for me and not them.

This upcoming Lent, I look forward to letting more go to God and renewing my faith through sacrifice and service to attempt to become closer to Christ in His rising again.  I will try and post more this Lent since Lent is my time for reflection and what better way to reflect then to write about it.  If you so choose, maybe you can answer these questions this Lent.  They really helped me look back and see the good in my life (I am not going to bore you with all of it, I just wrote a short novel up there) and understand and respect how far I have come this year.  I’ll leave the questions for you again down here:

When have you been courageous in your faith this year?

In what ways have you personally answered the call to act from your heart?

God Bless, *JuLi*

Happy Belated Birthday!

So it seems that Cherie is the only one of us who posted on our 1st Birthday and I’m pretty disappointed in myself since I had been reminding myself all week to post.  Tonight I became inspired though, so better two days late than never.

Tonight was the first night of my young adult ministry’s book study.  While we only read the introduction to the book so far, I was already amazed at how inspiring the introduction was.  We are reading Blessed Are the Bored in Spirit By Mark Hart.  As we listened to the audio book and he spoke of his struggle, the struggle in society, and what we do about it, it inspired me to think about my own personal struggles.  After the introduction ended, I could feel a profound silence and feel the reflection going on within and around me.  We then delved into discussion (a little too early in my opinion, but it was fine) and I realized that we all have such similar struggles that take on different shapes and forms.  Lately I’ve been hearing all sorts of testimonies and amazing stories that have inspired me and made me want to change my sinful habits, but when it came down to it, I still couldn’t change my choice.  Not couldn’t…I guess it’s wouldn’t.  I could talk the talk–and I spoke it well–but I was having trouble walking the walk.  I would declare my changes and speak out to my friends, but when it came time to speak up where it mattered, I have been having a really tough time.  I’m trying to take little steps, but I’m realizing the only way to change is to change all the way.  It will have to be one extra large super sized step and I am terrified.  Mark Hart spoke about people wanting to be liked and not respected.  I fit in there perfectly.  All this time I’ve been wanting people to like me, smoothing things over where I feel I need to, that I forget that by being myself and standing up for what I believe, I may make enemies, but why would I want to be friends with anyone who doesn’t accept me as I am?  It’s going to be difficult, but I want to be brave.  Pray for me so that I may be a braver Catholic and act more confident and less like a coward.  It seems the closer I am to someone, the harder it is to potentially let them down.  But I don’t want to be let down so I’m going to change my life.  And if I don’t, you’ll all just have to keep praying for me.

Love you and God Bless!

Juli

Oh, and Happy Birthday C.C. 🙂

Daily Essentials Checklist

After having a wonderfully long conversation with Cherie this evening I realized that there are a few key components to our day that people tend to forget (myself included) and I got to thinking and have complied this list of essentials for daily life – aka things I believe are important to do/remember/think about during the day.

1. Pray.  I don’t think I could say this enough.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in our lives and we need to remember to do it daily, especially on days when we don’t have time for it.  Think that’s contradictory?  It’s not.  When we are overwhelmed and stressed and don’t have time for anything we really need God the most.  God is the one who is in control and by reaching out to Him we will attain the peace we need in our day.  Which brings me to number 2…

2. God has a plan for each and every one of us.  This seems so matter of fact but you know the saying “If you want to make God laugh, make plans”?  It’s absolutely true.  Plans change; people change; things happen; we are never in control – God is.

3. We can do all things through Christ.  God has a plan for us.  Sometimes we may think we cannot handle His plan, but He would never give us anything we cannot handle.  He knows us better than we know ourselves which means He knows what we can handle.  But what He also knows is that we can’t handle it without Him.  We need to “let go and let God” a lot more.  Give Him our struggles, our insecurities, our crosses to bear.  He is so much better equipped to handle it which is why we need to remember to pray (see #1).

4. Take a breather.  We need to allow time for ourselves every once in awhile.  Find something that you can do to relieve the stresses of a busy day like painting,

painting really helps me

painting really helps me

or reading, or playing a game, or watching tv or singing, or dancing, or exercising…anything you love and that makes you happy that can bring you away from what you’re experiencing, but also helps you work through it.  This could also be prayer or spiritually related.  It can be anything you want it to be!  Get creative, think outside the box!  (leave suggestions in the comments)

5. Talk to a loved one.  Again, this can be God, prayer counts as talking to a loved one…NEVER forget that God loves YOU.  He gave up His only son for me and for you and nothing could ever replace that.  For some of us though, talking to a family member or friend can be extremely relaxing and helpful and a good way to relieve the stress of the day as well.

You Are Loved!

You Are Loved!

This is a short beginning to the list and I invite everyone to add other suggestions in the comments.  It is so important that we keep each other in our prayers as well and remember that God is there for us and we are there for each other.  Feel free to call or email me if you ever need to talk!!

God Bless, Juli

Confidently.Catholic@gmail.com

Prayer

I was at church this morning and during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament after Mass I somehow started praying and sort of whining to God about something in my life that I was pretty conflicted about…well, still am conflicted about, but that’s not the point.  After I looked up and then at my watch, a man came over and asked if I was okay.  I responded “I’m fine” a little too loud for Exposition and he probably knew I was lying (especially since I’m sure I had appeared to be crying, even though there were no tears).  I felt a bit guilty after that, especially since he was just being nice.  He held out a bag of Rosaries (Rosary’s?) and told me to choose one, that they had already been blessed.  I was confused, but it seemed that he had been giving them out to everyone that was there.  Then he told me he’d pray for me and asked me to pray for him.  I said ‘yes’ and asked his name.  His name is Ray (I think, I may have heard wrong, but I did repeat it and introduce myself as well).  The Rosary beads he was handing out had information on the back of the cardboard they were attached to about missionaries in Africa and I realized that my problems were so much smaller than others out there.  I started to think about how insignificant what I had been praying about was and maybe that was God’s answer to me…that I needed to stop dwelling on things we can’t change and worry about the things we can.  I left for work after that (and clocked in at exactly 9:00) but I held on to the Rosary all day, thinking about how blessed I really am and how I need to move forward and be happy with my life which is actually really good right now.  I hope this little story might have helped someone else, but I’m mostly glad that it helped me and showed me that God is truly among us.  So pray for me, and pray for Ray, and I’ll pray for all of you.

Love you and God Bless,

Juli

Challenges and God’s Plan

A year ago today, one of my closest college friends got married (Happy anniversary to the two of them!). That night, while hanging out with some other college friends, I accepted a challenge. You see, I had broken up with my boyfriend fairly recently and was used to having a boy in my life. I hadn’t really been single for more than 2 months at a time since I started college (so 5 years) and I hadn’t really been single a full year since I was probably 16. A friend challenged me to go a whole year being single. Well, guess what? I succeeded, and to my own amazement, I even grew quite a bit. Aside from getting to know myself better and becoming more independent, I also got to know God better.  In the past year, I’ll admit, I made some mistakes. I went on a few dates, but not having a constant boy in my life left me the time I needed to spend with the most important guy in my life–Jesus Christ.  While my friends began getting engaged and married, I started praying for my future husband and trying to discern my true vocation. I also realized that God’s plan is way more important than my own and He could take me where I never dreamed I’d end up! I’ve also learned that God’s got a great sense of humor and it turns out that when you pray for something enough, you may get more than you bargained for. God is making me make difficult decisions now, even though I understand that the choices I make will ultimately be the ones He knows I am going to make. I realized today that it is finally time for me to make my decisions and see where they may take me. I only ask that God stay with me throughout this process.  Much has happened in the past year, and I need to constantly remind myself that God is at work in my life big time and I cannot sacrifice our relationship for anyone–especially not a boy.  This year we have started this blog, I made adjustments in my life to make it single-Catholic friendly, I began attending daily mass, we started a young adult ministry at my parish, I began lectoring at mass, I went on Gospel Roads, I was asked to teach religious education, and I am ultimately feeling so much better about my relationship with Christ.  He has been there for me at every turn and picked me up as I’ve fallen down.  I know I could not have done this without Him.  So even though I set out a year ago to just live a single life, I was able to also fix and grow my relationship with God which, in turn, led me to cultivate existing relationships with my family and some friends. In essence, I wouldn’t trade any of this for meeting my one true love any earlier. So thank you to God, to my family, to my friends, and to our readers for showing me the support andI sending the prayers I needed in this past year. There is nowhere to go from here but forward and I intend to do so by “going forth and setting the world on fire”! I love you, God Bless!
Juli

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.  Since we (the writers) met at a Jesuit university, I think it is only natural to recognize and thank St. Ignatius on this day.  His conversion experience has touched the hearts of many and his faith and love of God as well as his devotion to educating brought us where we are now.  Thank you St. Ignatius, for the impact you’ve made on our lives, may you continue to intercede for us to God so that we can live in His name, Amen.

Prayer for Religious Freedom

My favorite app just added a new feature, a “Prayer for Religious Freedom” and I wanted to share it with you!

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant,we pray,O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that,with every trial withstood and every danger overcome; for the sake of our children,our grandchildren, and all who come after us; this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible,with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(Laudate App)

Mt 12:49-50

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
– Mt 12:49-50

Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

My apologies for not posting sooner, schoolwork has been getting the better of me lately, but this was the Gospel on Friday (7/13) and I wanted to share it with all of you because of how inspired I was by it:

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold,I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town,flee to another. Amen,I say to you,you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”Mt 10:16-23

In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is telling us that we must spread His Word and bravely go forth in His Name even if we’re scared.  He tells us to use caution, but wants us to have faith that we will know what to say and do what is right at the right time.

I know I’ve been posting a whole lot about proclaiming God’s word lately, but we are called to action in this day and age.  We need to show the world our love and mercy and confidently defend our Catholicism!  I know I’ve felt called to action lately, and the first step in taking action seems to be sharing it with all of you.  So every time I hear His message and it is clear I need to make a change or step up, I am going to share it with you as well!

I know it may be difficult, even within our own families and friends to step up and speak the truth, but if they truly accept us for who we are, they will accept that we believe what we believe and we may even be able to convert others by our understanding and love.  Remember, if you stay with Jesus, He will always stay with you and you will NEVER be alone!  Although times are difficult, we have Him and we have each other!

God Bless, Juli