Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What does sacrifice mean to you?

Before I gave up facebook, I saw that my camp friend, Ben, was going to be doing "Relentless ACT:S of Sacrifice" for Lent. I thought I'd check out the website. I looked around for a bit and it seemed to be echoing my desire to simplify, and so I signed up.

Last week's challenge was to begin preparation for this journey by figuring out what you are willing to sacrifice and to figure out what exactly sacrifice means to you.

What I think sacrifice means is being willing to give things up with the intention of growing closer to Christ. I was able to hear Sr. Mary Alma talk about the vow of poverty and what that means to her and her community of the School Sisters of Christ the King. She told us that though the vow is acted out differently in other communities, the heart of poverty, the heart of sacrifice, is telling Christ, "You are enough for me." It is about freeing your heart from attachments to worldly things so your heart can be free for Christ and His will. ("For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also." - Luke 12:34/Matthew 6:21) If we become attached to things, our heart will be there. And then our treasure will be there as well. I don't want that. I think sacrifice is about dying to myself so I can put the desires of Christ and the needs of others before my own.

For me, sacrifice and love are becoming inseparable constructs. I think when you truly love someone you want to will their good above you own. That leads you to sacrifice your own desires if they conflict with the good of that person you love. When you love, you desire what that person desires. And sometimes that can lead you to sacrifice as well.

When I started I was willing to sacrifice my security in communication. I am coming to realize that I am willing to sacrifice whatever Christ is calling me to. I am excited to continue these challenges and I pray they will compliment my lenten sacrifice and challenge to simplify to Christ.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This is really hard.

Day six.

This is really hard. And this might sound dumb, but I am actually surprised at how big of a challenge this is. I took a big test Thursday morning and spent all of the last week studying for it. Abstaining from facebook and twitter was a little easier on Wednesday because I knew it was good for me.

I came home after my test and I realized I had nothing to do. I sat in my apartment for a little over an hour and I really just felt like I was wasting time. Which is silly because if I had access to facebook and twitter I would have been on those websites - actually wasting time. The absence of those websites has already shown me how much time I waste. I hope I can take that realization and learn to be comfortable with nothing going on.

After mass on Friday afternoon, Fr. Joel said what he thinks we all need to fast from is noise so we can make room for the silence and peace of the Lord. He is absolutely right. For some reason I've been inclined to keep the TV off (I'm running with it) and there's been a lot of quiet. I think it's good. I want to be able to open my heart to what God has to say to me. The silence has been a little uncomfortable, but I hope I will grow to appreciate it.

Because of this lack of facebook and texting I have now had really great conversations with two friends I normally would just facebook chat with. Tonight I had a particularly great conversation with my friend Ryan about the beauty of discernment and placing where we are at in God's hands. We talked about growth, sacrifice, and accepting God's plan for us. I only called him because of this fast and I'm so grateful for our conversation.

I also got to skype with my sister for two hours over the weekend.

It was great to really talk to her and hear all about Anchor Splash at SLU.

I really love conversation and connection and I am learning to truly put effort into my relationships. When we moved in high school I began to learn the lesson that you will keep in touch with those who matter to you. Here I am learning how to initiate that process in an intentional manner. I pray this season of lent will continue to bring blessings and conversations centered on Christ where I am able to be truly present.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Catholic Awareness Day

Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

As I was walking to class this morning I ran into an AKPsi brother who I had no idea was Catholic. She said to me, "I'm glad to see you went to church this morning." I was glad she went too. I then became distressed that without twitter, I had no where to post the hilarious joke I made about today being Catholic Awareness Day. Thank goodness for blogger. It's only 4:00 and I've already noticed myself thinking in tweets with no where to put them. This is going to be an adventure.

I want to start out by disclaiming that I am not one of those people who thinks social media and other forms of instant communication has ruined everything. That is not why I'm doing this.

Two times in the Bible (Matthew 6:21 & Luke 12:34) Jesus says, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." It is phrased exactly the same in both gospels in the NIV translation. I'm no biblical expert, but I'm pretty sure this indicates the importance of the concept. I think treasure can manifest itself in many different ways. When I think of the things I invest most of my time and energy in, relationships and being connected to others is the winner by a landslide. Though this is not a bad thing, if at the end of my life I am more concerned with my friendships than with my relationship with Jesus, I will loose my life.

So for me, fasting from texting and social media is about four things:

  1. Sacrifice - this is going to be hard. What am I supposed to do in my free time? You mean to tell me I should actually do my work instead of looking through facebook and pinterest? How am I going to stay in touch with my camp friends, with those people I don't have the luxury of seeing very often? I will miss out on communication between these friends and possibly even miss out on events around campus. And that's okay. It wouldn't be called sacrifice if it was easy. That being said, I also want to make it clear that in no way do I think my lenten sacrifice is more difficult or challenging or that it's better than yours. It is just what I think I need these next forty days to grow close to Christ.
  2. Choosing to turn to God first - this sacrifice is about choosing God more frequently and first. When I'm tempted to get on facebook, or text someone I'm going to pray. I'm going to offer it up. 
  3. Increased communication - not just increased traditional communication with my friends, but mainly increased communication with Christ. We know through history and the bible that God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. I'm hoping by eliminating these "loud" forms of social media I will create silence and space in my heart to hear God speak.
  4. Simplifying my life - I wrote earlier today that I feel so very called to simplify my life. I think this is just a first step. I will see where my increased prayer leads me.
I think that overall I want to simplify my life to make room for Christ. Right now, I think that means giving up social media and being connected to the world. So here's to hoping my eyes, ears, and heart will be opened through this process.

Lent 2012

Last year I gave up snacking, the year before I gave up facebook. This year I've been hearing a call to simplify my life. Though at first I didn't know what that meant, this morning I realized I should start where I spend most my time: facebook, twitter, pinterest, AND texting. Check back here to follow my journey as I share what I learn this lenten season.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Are you intentionally seeking Jesus, or are you just going about, assuming that He's there?"

Chapter and student mass both got moved to the same time today due to the super bowl. Because of that, I had to go to mass at a different time. I got to go to mass at St. Agustin's - a church I frequent for confession and adoration. At mass I was reminded of my love for the universality of the Catholic Church - even if I have to go to a different physical church, mass is the same. It is really beautiful.

Whoever is in charge of the greeters at St. Agustin's should get a high five. I'm not sure if I've ever been more welcomed anywhere than I was when I entered the church today. Not only did the person holding the door for me smile and say hello, he shook my hand and told me he was glad that I was here. That was immediately followed by the greeter inside the church who smiled, shook my hand, and said, "Welcome to St. Agustin's! I am so glad you are here today. We can't do it without people and Jesus is happy to see you. Let me know if I can do anything for you." If that is not social excellence, I don't know what is. Not only was this a great start to my morning but it really made me think about how we welcome people in our every day lives.

In the homily, the priest asked us if we were intentionally seeking out Jesus in our daily lives or if we were just kind of wandering around, assuming that He is there. This past week I've really been convicted of essentially seeking out my mental prayer. I've always known the importance of this, but this past week it has really just clicked. In any relationship, we need to communicate, to tell our friend what is going on in our lives. The same is true with Christ. We just need to sit, quiet our hearts, and tell him everything.

The homily today echoed what I've been learning this week. I want to continue to intentionally seek out Jesus in everything that I do.

When we intentionally seek Christ and communicate with Him, we fill ourselves up with love to be given out to other people. Without being filled, we cannot love in return.

Being in relationship with Him allows us to be in relationship with others. It allows us to love each other as Christ loved us, and it allows us to choose to find joy in all places.

No, it won't always be easy. But if you continue to more forward in communication, confidence, and love, Christ will unveil a plan for you that is greater than you could ever imagine.

This weekend was filled with intentional, quiet prayer, followed by intentional time with friends.

As I move forward, I want to continue to be intentional in seeking Christ. I don't want to wander around or take His love for me for granted.

Isn't this cake just so happy?

I hope that as you continue in your walk through life you can choose to intentionally communicate with Christ, and I hope that you can learn what His voice sounds like in the quiet of your heart.