We all have temptations, and that is something that we can work on to overcome. During the season of Lent, our responsibility is to more eagerly learn how to say no to the temptations that come our way. Sometimes, we are tempted by the little things, but we should never allow those to consume us. Lent is one of the holiest seasons in our church, and we should be open to learning how to overcome the challenges currently present in our life. It is essential to spend time in adoration and learn how to say no to the temptations pulling our hearts away from Christ. Learning to cope with these temptations and turn them away is something that God wants for us. None of us are perfect, and we all have our own unique temptations, but we should believe in God and get past them. We have no hope of being perfect apart from God. His desire for us is to pick up our cross and follow the path He calls us to go on.
As I sit here writing this and thinking about the distractions in my life, I realize how imperfect I am. I often struggle with reserving enough time to sit quietly in prayer and grow closer to God. When I have the time, I enjoy my time in adoration and how much joy it brings me. I often find myself thinking of “other things” to do or work on that eventually get in the way of my prayer life. I tell myself that I can always do it later, or even the next day. However, that is not always true because then it turns into pushing it off even longer.
When I do not take the time to sit in prayer as often as I should, I always feel down and unhappy with myself. It gives me that sense of grief because I know how much God is watching over me and everything I do. To add to the confusion, I often feel guilty because of those temptations to not pray. The next time that I actually sit quietly in prayer or adoration, I always reflect on the things that I let get in the way of my prayer life. I make sure to take some time to talk to God and explain why I let those things consume my prayer life and take steps to make sure that it will not happen again.
I know that it is not acceptable to let things get in the way, which is why I am continually trying to grow deeper in my faith and reject those temptations when they arise. It takes practice to turn those temptations away and choose to grow deeper in my faith and spiritual journey with Christ. This is one of the most cherished aspects of my life - Spending time with God, and I hold very close to my heart. This is because God is the only one who knows how your life will progress. He will always be there for you. We never need to doubt Him or the path that He takes us. By having heartfelt conversations with Him, we learn what makes us stronger and grow spiritually with Him.
Going to adoration weekly is the source of my joy and enables growing in my faith journey. While I was in college, I was very consistent with going to adoration weekly. I would take every opportunity to go and would sometimes even go more than once a week. I found this as my time to slow down with all of the craziness in life and just have a one-on-one talk with God. It allowed me to let go of all the temptations sitting in the way and grow deeper in my spiritual journey.
Since finishing college, I noticed my time in adoration was becoming less frequent, but I continued to feel called to the real presence of Christ. I may not go as often as I used to, but I still make it a point to go when I can. It is one of those things that brings pure joy. It is time away from the world and time dedicated to Christ. It makes you realize the essential things in life. I decided to take the initiative and dedicate scheduled time for adoration. This is the best action I can take to make sure to keep improving my prayer life. Prayer helps us become more thankful daily. For example, I am so grateful for all of the fantastic opportunities and blessings that have come my way within the past couple of months.
I often look to God when I am struggling under the weight of my responsibilities in life. Taking the time to spend some time with God allows me to have those conversations with Him. It also helps me learn how to wait patiently for the things that I have always dreamed of. By praying, I have been blessed with answers to my prayers in so many ways. I cannot thank God enough for all of the answers He has sent my way so far, and I can’t wait for all of the fantastic things that he will do for you.
Answering yes to God’s calling to do whatever He calls you to do should be taken seriously. I know that if I had not listened to Him, I would probably not be where I am spiritually and physically today. God has many things planned for us, and he will fulfill His promises. For him to do so, we must make it our best intention to follow the path that He has laid out for us. This Lenten season, I hope that you reflect on the areas that God is calling you and that you take action to fulfill His promises. I encourage you to spend more time in prayer and get to know Christ, our God, King, Lord, and our closest Friend.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane! Does anyone else remember elementary school crushes? Every kid I knew had a crush on somebody else. You’d ask your friends to go up to them, ask if they liked you back, and giggle at lunch when you found out that they did. Quite a few kids that I knew were “dating.” I put quotations on the word “dating” because back then, dating meant holding hands during recess and telling everyone in the class that you two were a couple.
I had my first “boyfriend” when I was in seventh grade. The boy had dated probably every other girl in our class, but I was a child and did not realize what that probably meant back then. I’d never kissed a guy before, but he had kissed a few girls. I remember his eighth-grade graduation party vividly. I let him know that I absolutely did NOT want to kiss him. He was okay with it, and we spent the rest of the time holding hands and sitting next to each other. Two months later, I stopped liking him and broke up with him over text.
Being homeschooled in high school, I didn’t have any opportunities to meet guys or date. Thinking back, that probably was a good thing. I focused on my schoolwork, my relationship with Christ and grew a lot as a young woman.
My first kiss was when I was seventeen. The boy and I were not even dating, and we never officially became a couple. This boy, who to this day is a significant person in my life, threw me around a bit and used our kiss as a way to play with my emotions. We were on-and-off for a few years, and early on, I asked his religious beliefs. He told me with ease that he was not a practicing Christian. He then gave me long spiels about his journeys with his faith and why he did not believe or practice. And I can remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I found out. I didn’t want to be in a serious relationship with somebody who did not desire to attend Mass with me or did not believe in God. But I liked him a lot, and I did not want to leave the blossoming relationship so soon just because of our differing beliefs.
When our relationship inevitably came to an end, I soon began dating someone else. This boy and I had no prior friendship, really, and I wasn’t sure why I said yes when he asked me out. Soon after, this relationship also ended; I had liked somebody else quite a bit. Things between him and I didn’t seem to be advancing anywhere towards a relationship, so I grabbed onto the first opportunity I had to pursue a relationship. This boy also wasn’t religious. I remember when we were talking about it on the phone, he had nervously asked if this was going to affect how I saw him. Hesitantly, I had said no. But that sinking feeling was there again, and I knew in the back of my mind that it couldn’t work. And a month later, we broke up.
After my second failed relationship and a second try with the first boy that again ended unsuccessfully, I told myself that God had to be a number one priority in every one of my future relationships. I had even discussed it with the first boy, and he had admitted to me that he knew I couldn’t date somebody whose relationship with God was that strained. I needed to be more intentional with discernment and spending time in prayer to determine what God wanted of me.
Focusing on this new requirement in my relationships, I noticed that I began analyzing every Catholic guy I knew to see if they would be good boyfriend material. I hadn’t initially found any of these guys physically attractive, but the goal of dating somebody who was Catholic was so strong in my mind that I needed to look past everything else. I realized that I was still not making God a number one priority. I wasn’t making prayer a number one priority. I was still playing by my rules. Sure, these guys I knew were Christian, but that was all they had that was appealing to me. They were kind; therefore, I could see myself dating them.
It took me a while to offer up my dating life to God and put it in His hands. Waiting for the right guy to come along sounded promising, but I was also impatient. I wanted a cute boyfriend who would share my love of God with me right now. I needed to learn that my idea of the “perfect guy” should be understood through the lens of virtue. Our goal should be to find a man who will be a virtuous and heroic husband and father. God helped me to realize where my priorities should be.
Becoming more at peace with giving more of myself to Christ, I began focusing on my academics and strived to become a better student and musician. The relationships that I had with my close friends became a bigger priority, and I had connected with them on deeper levels. My work ethic at my job changed, and I was motivated to do my job well. I was finally comfortable where I was in my life: single and a full-time college student. Conclusively, finding a boyfriend wasn’t a priority for me, which opened up so many opportunities to strengthen my faith and relationships with others.
Things were falling into my lap, seemingly at the perfect time. I had a guy I met on a University Ministry Awakening Retreat reach out randomly one day, asking to help at Praise and Worship nights that I hosted every once in a while for Maximize. I was excited at the prospect of help -- and somebody that knew how to play the guitar -- and eagerly agreed to meet him for coffee.
The spark was immediate. It was like something in my brain switched and told me, “this is where you are supposed to be.” This guy, whom I met with for coffee to discuss Praise and Worship, ended up becoming my boyfriend. He was a strong and proud Catholic who had a clear path on what he wanted to do in the future and maintained a wonderful family life. The relationship continues to move quickly, and I find it useful to do the following. Quiet my heart and mind, remove distractions, enter prayer, and ask God if this continues to be right. God finds a way to communicate his answer to me. Often, he indicates this to me via a shining moment of Grace that would answer this question. Yes. This is right.
Dating is active and prayerful discernment. Is this person my future husband? I do desire that more than anything. But, I have given Christ my dating life, and both he and I must now prayerfully discern this together. I firmly believe that this person could only be given to me once I put all of my life in the hands of Christ. My active-discernment of the vocation of marriage is not something I completely control. But, by putting my trust and faith in God’s hands, He continues to give me what I need and when I need it.
He tested my faith, my patience, and my trust in Him. It was not an easy path to stay on, but boy, was it rewarding.
Happy Valentine’s Day. May you put your trust in His hands, and know that He will not lead you astray.
I always wanted to be a therapist. I underwent years of school and countless hours in internships for the privilege of being able to sit across from a stranger and listen to their deepest fears, scariest experiences, and most vulnerable stories. It’s an honor. Truly.
I had to make massive internal changes and begin many journeys on paths that were not clearly defined. I had to take a leap of literal and figurative faith if I wanted a glimpse at the life I felt that God was calling me to live. It was (and is) scary. At the time, I did not believe that I was ready to take on the physical, psychological, and spiritual tension that growth requires.
We all have been graced with our own experiences of God. Our Faith is supported by our perception of God’s movement in our lives. Christ comes to us, beautifully individualized to each person, as a friend who perfectly knows us. The church provides us with a crucial foundation in the exploration of our relationship with God. But, in the end, we receive from God our daily promptings to modify ourselves to better align ourselves with the divine. With all of that said, this reflection is built upon my perception of how God is woven throughout my daily life and how He motivates each of us to reach continually toward Him. As you continue to read, remember that.
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; (Acts 17: 24-28, NRSVCE)
Our two-thousand-year-old tradition teaches that God is divine and constant. And yet, God is also molding challenges for us throughout our lives. God is unchanging while calling us to change - to grow. Am I the only one who needs to prayerfully discern what it means to be constant and how to be open to change?
It is challenging to “harden not our hearts.” The goal is to stay open to the promptings of God, both when he wants us to “hold the line” and when he wants us to modify ourselves for Him. Staying open to change is hard. And, possibly more importantly, what if I don’t want to? We must fight any urge to prefer our ways to God’s ways (Isaiah 55: 8-9).
Let’s break it down, shall we?
God is omnipresent. He is always there. “Lord, the Giver of Life,” who has existed since the beginning and will exist long after we are gone from this world. Constant.
In direct contrast, the world is ever-changing. As humans, we, too, are continually changing. I also believe that our relationship with the divine changes. I have grown through prayer, reflection (like this post), and the reception of grace in the sacraments, just to name a few. One way of examining this within yourselves would be to consider your relationship with God and how it looked like even one year ago before the pandemic. How much did it change when the parishes were closed? Did it change when you weren’t allowed to leave your home? It did for me. In these moments, we can either use them as vehicles of change in our lives and change with it. Or, nothing changes, and we don’t close any distance between ourselves and God. I’m not spiritually the same person before and after I went through my Confirmation. And definitely not the same as when I went through my First Communion. The growth has occurred on a personal level and in my relationship with God. My relationship with the divine has evolved. It has changed because I have invested in it. Christ has not changed. He remained constant.
I’m always looking for my calling, what I’m supposed to do with my life, or even what comes next. I look to a constant Being for the answer. Psalm 61:2 says, “When my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (NRSVCE). Despite the constant changing of the world, no matter the season of life, I know that there is a higher rock than anything I could imagine. A safe place to find my center, gather everything I need, and move forward - my alpha and omega.
If I never moved forward, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be where I needed to be. I wouldn’t be living in a brand new city. If I wasn’t willing to grow toward God, then I would not be in a relationship with the love of my life. If I didn’t commit to a school and built upon my God-given gifts and talents, I wouldn’t be working my dream job. Does it always work out like this? Absolutely not. There were plenty of times where I failed to trust in the Lord and couldn’t move forward. I had to invest in and trust the Rock, which would protect, provide, and enable me as I moved forward. It goes without saying that it’s hard to listen, trust and throw yourself into change. Trust must be the center of each of our relationships, especially our relationship with the one true God. If you are on the brink of one of the biggest seasons of change you’ll ever encounter in your life, I ask you to Trust. It’s scary. And, it’s okay to be scared. Change is scary. It is Constant.