‘What Color is the Dress?’ A Lesson on Faith by Amanda Rego

635605843196354135-Screen-Shot-2015-02-26-at-9.51.11-PM“What Color is this Dress?” is the question the whole Internet has been going crazy over. Some people, including myself, see a white and gold striped dress, yet others swear they only see blue and black. At first I thought the #blueandblack crowd was crazy, and I jumped on the #whiteandgold bandwagon refusing to budge. That is, until the designer of the actual dress announced the actual colors to be…blue and black?!

M I N D   B L O W I N G !

Even after more photos of this royal blue dress were revealed, I’ll admit I was and am still a bit skeptical. It’s never easy to trust someone when you don’t see what they see. The more I thought about this phenomenon the more I realized that ‘the dress’ might just be the perfect example to illustrate faith.

Continue reading this awesome blog post by my sister here!

Stop and Listen

Giovanni_Gerolamo_Savoldo_005Yesterday at Mass we heard the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus.  It is a truly wondrous and awe-inspiring event.  The disciples saw Jesus in all His divine glory shining brilliantly before their eyes.  They saw Him talking with two of the most respected and holiest men, Moses and Elijah.  How amazing to be witness to the Lord in such a holy and divine moment!

In the midst of this, Peter wanted to help out.  He sees Jesus standing there with Elijah and Moses and offers to make tents for the three. I wonder what motivated Peter to make such an offer?  Perhaps he was simply responding to what he saw as a fundamental need in front of him.  Or maybe he thought by building tents for them to rest in, Moses and Elijah would stay longer.

Obviously I do not know what Peter was thinking in that moment.  But if I try to imagine myself in that position I think I know what my reasoning would be.  And I can’t help but wonder if Peter’s was the same…What if he was feeling overwhelmed by the encounter and felt the need to do something?

When I feel myself overwhelmed by a situation, often my first response is, what can i do?  In my feeble human attempts to make sense of the things in my life that may fill me with emotions, I feel the need to do something.  To make myself useful.  Sometimes this urge is good and motivates me to take action where needed.  But many times, my desire to act pushes aside the greater need to stop, take in the moment, and listen for God’s voice to be my guide.

As we have been trying to have a family, there have been many when I feel overwhelmed with emotions.  When I feel myself getting upset, confused, or discouraged, often my first thought is, “I need to do something.”  But the fact is that many times, there is simply nothing I can do.

My frustration at not knowing what to do next only overwhelms me even more.  My mind begins to race and I feel as though the only way I can find peace in the situation is to find the next action to take.  I fool myself into thinking that if I am not actively doing something, I am only prolonging the situation or even moving backwards.

While Peter was offering his suggestion to make tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, a cloud came over them.  Suddenly from the cloud came the voice of God, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”  Sometimes in the midst of life’s most overwhelming moments, rather than rush into action, we simply need to stop and listen to the voice of God.

I may not be witness to the glory of Our Lord transfigured before my eyes, but I know I am surrounded by His glory.  The wonders of His creation, the countless blessings He has bestowed on us, the very gift of Himself on the cross for our sins and the miraculous gift of Himself to us each and every Mass in the Eucharist.  Yes the glory of the Lord is not hard to find if I simply take a minute to stop and open my eyes.

The voice of God may not come to me from a cloud in the sky, but I still can hear Him.  Just as He told Peter, James, and John on the mountain, I can hear Him telling me that Jesus, who came and died for our sins and rose again to bring us all new life, He truly is the beloved Son of God!  And just as the disciples were instructed to listen to Him, I am called to do the same.

What does He tell me?  He says not to worry (Mt. 6:34).  Do not be afraid! (Mk. 6:50) He tells me to ask God for the things I need and to trust that He will provide  (Mt. 7:7-11).  He tells me just how much God loves each one of us (Jn. 3:16).  He tells me to pray to Him as a Father (Lk. 11:1-4).  He tells me that He is always with me (Mt. 28:20).

Knowing all that He has told us and seeing His glory surrounding me, I feel at peace. I do not need to find the solution on my own or rush into action simply for the sake of doing something.  I need only to keep focused on Christ, to pray, and to listen to Him as He guides me.

How Much Does God Love Us?

I am currently teaching the 2nd grade CCD class at my church. I began halfway through the year when the regular teacher fell and needed someone to step in until she recovers. I was a bit nervous at first since it has been a few years since I taught. But in the month and a half I have been teaching them, I have been reminded how much I love it and how much we can learn from the little ones.

Yesterday during class I asked the children how much God loves each one of us. One student held their hands out as wide as possible. One said “a lot!” And then one student said,

milky-way-472975_640

God’s love is so wondrous, so amazing, so infinite. He loves us so very much. Enough to forgive us time and time again. Enough to look beyond our faults and see the person He created each and every one of us to be. Enough to give His Son to show us the way and die for us.

There are many things we do not understand. Many things in this life that can bring us down and make us feel lonely, scared, angry, confused or sad. But greater than all those things is the love of the Lord. So many times we try to find the answers to the things that trouble us. We want explanations. We want all of it to make sense. There are things we will never understand in this life. The one thing we can all understand is love.

Despite the troubles we may face, we can find peace in our lives when we fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls with the love of the Lord. When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, we need only to focus on this overflowing and everlasting love that God has for each one of us. A love so deep and strong we cannot fathom it. A love more grand than all the stars in the whole sky.

rainbow-534272_640

An Eye for an Eye?

desert-613003_640Violence and War. These are not new concepts. Ever since the fall of man, these have followed us. What began with Cain and Abel has followed humanity through centuries upon centuries of death and destruction.   By looking back at history we can see the negative effects of war. The violence, the death, the families and nations torn apart. And yet, the pattern continues still today.

Why?

As human beings, why do we continue along this path? Is it blind oblivion to the pain that such violence causes? Is it ignorance of past grievances? Is it a complete lack of any sort of moral conscience? Perhaps these things may contribute to violent behavior. But I believe at the heart of this is a dark desire for revenge.

A radical branch of religious extremists feels wronged and threatened by the way of life in other civilizations. Not content to let this be, they seek a twisted form of revenge carried out in brutal acts against humanity.

And leaders of nations, appalled by such acts of brutality, vow revenge on the terrorists who carried them out to begin with. In the wake of the recent barbaric killing of a Jordanian pilot by ISIS, a distraught Jordanian politician shouted in an interview “Let’s use the same methods as them! Let’s kill their children! Let’s kill their women!”

And so the cycle continues. Following the killing of the pilot, two al-Qaida prisoners on death row in Jordan were executed for their crimes. But will this help? More than likely the terrorist groups will only seek revenge yet again for the executions of these prisoners. And so it continues on and on.

Many in the world seem content to live by “an eye for an eye.” And how does this help anyone? By murdering someone who has murdered others, by vowing death on the families of those who brought death to others, are we getting any closer to peace? Or are we only falling deeper and deeper into the cycle of violence and war.

There is only one way to break this cycle.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Instead of living “an eye for an eye” we need to learn to turn the other cheek. Not that we are to turn the other way and ignore the violent acts in our world. Not that we should allow murderers or terrorists to simply go about their lives free of any consequences. No. What our Lord is telling us in these words is that rather than seeking revenge, we need to seek love. Love of the innocent, love of the needy, love of our neighbor, and even love of our enemies.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44)

flower-62291_640Love has the power to break the cycle of war. If our end goal is love and peace then we have no room for revenge. We must learn to work to defeat violence and war by working towards love. In our imperfect world, sometimes wars happen. The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges these circumstances:

“Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death. (CCC 2306)

“All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.” (CCC 2308)

We live in a world of sin. People do terrible things to one another in acts of anger and revenge. By halting acts of aggression through a desire to spread love and peace rather than the desire to bring revenge on others, we can end this cycle. It is a monumental task; one that us mere humans could never accomplish on our own. But we live in the knowledge and hope of Christ. We know that violence, death, war, destruction and sin do not win.   Christ has conquered sin and death! Through Him, we can know peace.

Let us pray that leaders around the world will come together in an effort to bring about true peace and not to seek revenge. That they may work together to protect and preserve life in the name of love. And that the Holy Spirit might enter into the hearts of us all to lead us away from the darkness of anger and revenge and towards the light of the peace and love of Jesus Christ.sunrise-71287_640

‘Why Give the Glory?’ by Amanda Rego

Things have been a bit hectic lately so while I gather my thoughts for a long overdue post, I am sending you over to read an incredibly inspiring post by my sister, Amanda.  She is a professional athlete who has dedicated her life to the Lord.  Her latest post details her testimony.  Check it out!

Screen-Shot-2014-10-03-at-5.04.56-PM

Why Give God the Glory?

Heal My Soul

rain-316579_640Do you ever find yourself crying during Mass? I know I do. Sometimes it is related to my prayers for a child. Other times it might be from missing my family. Sometimes the tears start to fall without me even really knowing why.   It seems that each time I am overcome with emotion like this, it is during Communion. Sometimes I feel silly or even guilty for crying, especially if I am not entirely sure what brought on the tears. Here we are at the highest point of Mass and I am crying…what is wrong with me?

For a while I thought maybe it was just me. That I was just some crazy person who couldn’t control her emotions. But as I have talked with some family members and friends, I found that they have similar experiences.

Why? Why do the tears begin to fall and emotions take over? And why does it seem to be during or leading up to Communion? Is it just a coincidence?

I don’t think so. You see, when I find myself crying during Mass, it is generally not out of sorrow.   They are not tears of anger or sadness but rather tears of pent up emotions of all sorts.  I have come to realize that perhaps it is not my emotions taking control over me, but rather it is the release of these emotions that causes the tears to flow.

As we prepare to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist we pray:

“Lord I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

We are sinners. Time and time again we fail to do the Lord’s will, to trust Him completely, to love as He loved. But the beauty of the grace and love of Christ is that He looks past all of that and still loves us so much that He gave His life for us. Before receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we take time in prayer to acknowledge our failures, welcome His mercy, and prepare our hearts to receive Him.

To make room for Christ to we need to let go of some of the things that may be taking up unnecessary space. Things like worry, doubt, fear, sadness, confusion, anxiety, jealousy, anger, negativity.   These things try to take over the spaces that should be filled by God and His love, mercy, and peace. And so in order to receive Jesus fully in the Holy Eucharist, we empty out all of these negative feelings. We empty ourselves before the Lord in the full trust that He will fill us with everything that we need and more.

For me, sometimes that emptying of myself comes out in tears. As I empty the negative feelings and emotions from my heart, the tears flow. And when I receive my Lord in the Eucharist, I am filled with peace. The tears fade away and I feel renewed in mind and spirit. I feel the Lord’s presence within.  I feel the Lord healing my soul.

I may not cry every Sunday, but the experience is still there. I believe we all experience it in one way or another, the release of ourselves to be more fully filled with Him. Whether released in tears, in song, or in quiet prayer, it is the healing of our souls as we prepare to receive Christ. For we are not worthy, but by His grace, His love, His word, our souls are healed.

Peace in the New Year

bay-381241_640New Year’s Eve.  Time for another resolution to carry into 2015.

Last year I chose to focus on one word for a New Year’s Resolution.  Believe.

Throughout the year I reminded myself over and over again to believe.  Not just in the existence of God but in His promises, His love, His mercy, His grace, His perfect plan.  To fully believe in all that we have been given through Him and to let that belief overcome any doubts or fears.  It truly helped me throughout the year and is something I will continue to meditate on in the coming years.

For 2015, I again decided to choose one word to focus on throughout the coming year.

Peace.

In the coming year I resolve to allow the peace of Christ to work within my soul.  To empty myself of anxieties, troubles, fears, and be filled with His peace, true peace.  To let that peace extend from me to touch my family and friends and all those around me.  This year I pray that the peace of the Lord will be within me and work through me so that others may see and know His peace.

Peace is not some abstract impossibility.  The peace of Christ is very real and very possible.  I pray that in the coming year people around the world will open up their hearts and souls to the wondrous peace of Christ.  Happy New Year!

“Overcoming evil with weapons of love becomes the way in which each person can contribute to the peace of all. Christians and believers of different religions are called to walk this path, together with those who accept the universal moral law.

Dear brothers and sisters, promoting peace in the world is our common mission!

May the Virgin Mary help us to fulfill the words of the Lord: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’ (Mt 5: 9).

Happy New Year to everyone! Praised be Jesus Christ!”

(Homily of Saint John Paul II on the 38th World Day of Peace
Saturday, 1 January 2005)