HARLEM SHAKE?!: being YOUNG and CATHOLIC

Check out what they’ve been doing at the Life Teen headquarters…

If you’re young, Catholic, and trying to LIVE OUT your Faith, it certainly doesn’t have to be boring! That’s exactly what I learned when I was in high school and went to Life Teen youth ministry meetings. (And that’s exactly what I learned in college and beyond, in faith and fellowship with other young adults on fire for Our LORD!)

Watching this video of the Life Teen headquarters employees just livin’ a little totally made me (and my older brother) LOL.  Just because Catholic young adults try to be “in the world, but not of the world” (Romans 12:2), it doesn’t mean we are to live on another planet, under a rock! As evidenced here. 😛

But really, in all honesty, I feel so inspired (and have since I was a teen) going to talks where we hear: “Young people, YOU are the future of the Catholic Church– the Body of Christ here on earth!”

Living out the Faith in this day and age is anything BUT boring.

It’s exciting, learning to die to the ways of the world.

It’s exciting, being the embodied Light of the Gospel in a realm of darkness.

It’s exciting, fighting as Christ’s DISCIPLES and WARRIORS on earth.

It’s simply exhilarating, finding a purpose and meaning beyond yourself, that can last for generations and generations after you.

It’s awe-inspiring, seeing God help, heal, and TRANSFORM the lives of those that you come into contact with, through you, His weak instrument.

It’s amazing, seeing God be a loving Father to all who need Him, through you.

It’s countercultural.

It’s revolutionary.

It’s the greatest adventure we will ever live.

And yes, it’s so REFRESHING, knowing that you don’t have to just sit in a pew, and leave your worshiping to that. No. You see, a real faith will CHANGE THE WORLD.

I laughed when my cousin, who I told should go to World Youth Day, responded with: “But I don’t want to just pray all day.” HAHAHA. Seriously?! Man… I thought.

If she only knew about all of the amazing young adults that I met in WYD Madrid 2011, she would realize that the Holy Spirit was not dormant in them. They weren’t “just praying all day” (and hey, there’s nothing wrong with a cloistered life, anyway). But in all honestly, these young adults were filled with GRACE. They were ON FIRE. The Holy Spirit was MOVING in them.

Being a Catholic teen or young adult today is anything but boring. It’s a great, great adventure. And Our LORD is smiling down upon us, asking us to cling to Him, DYING on the CROSS, rising from the GRAVE, flying towards HEAVEN, through ALL of the IMMENSE STRUGGLES, knowing that the reason for our zeal is Him!

A young, zealous, passionate, resurrected faith, ascending towards the Heavens… now, that’s what I pray the Spirit kindle in my heart.

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With the OLDEST World Youth Day 2011 volunteer in Madrid! She was the cutest granny I had ever seen! Note it was likely 100 degrees or more, Fahrenheit, and there were 2 million teens and young adults. I hope my faith stays forever young like this abuelita!

no greater love than this

Family life, and all of its struggles, has taught me about Christ’s sacrifice for me, His love for me, all of these years. In a family, sacrifice, patience, and humility are key to surviving.

During various times of my life, I have grown used to living in a single household of 8 to 10 people. Things are just bound to go wrong with numbers so high (and even with two people, you have two very unique individuals who are bound to disagree about something). But we never gave up, and we continue to never give up.

Not only that, I come from a large Filipino clan on my mom’s side– and we have certainly weathered it all. My extended family has also taught me what a true “all for one and one for all” spirit looks like.

When I used to think of romantic love, I would very much idealize it. I would fail to take into account all of the sacrifice, patience, and humility that would be necessary in a future relationship– the same kind of virtues that I was learning about growing up in my family.

Now that I am in a courtship with a wonderful young man, I am constantly reminded, from my own past experiences with my family, how I cannot run away from Cross of Christ, even in this most exhilarating experience. (Yes, he is my first boyfriend. Shocking!)

In dating, there will be crosses to bear, most especially if we are to marry and start our own family too, one day! Namely, our own two crosses, which we are discerning uniting under the one Cross of Christ for life.

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My dashing boyfriend and I in front of the Memorial Church at Stanford University. I am learning all about how to give pure, brave, Christ-like love with this young man. 🙂

Christ Himself told us: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Well, I consider my boyfriend my best friend. No wonder love can get hard sometimes. There’s no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend– let alone the person who is nearest and dearest to you.

I can confidently and conclusively say…

It’s a challenging task, to love.

And yet, every day, in little and big ways, I discover that LOVE is truly that “thing” for which God has designed me! After all, He is Love (1 John 4:8).

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Perpetual Adoration of Our LORD Jesus Christ– He who models Perfect Love for us–  in the middle of hippie town. Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. My boyfriend and  — and my best friend, our tour guide– took a visit!

am I just the girl he’s looking for?

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Some awesome young adult Dominican sisters at WYD 2011 Madrid. (c) WordOnFire

Warning: #CatholicNerdingOut.

And the more she ignores me
The more I adore her
What can I do?
I’d do anything for her…

‘Cause she’s bittersweet
She knocks me off of my feet
And I can’t help myself
I don’t want anyone else
She’s a mystery
She’s too much for me
But I keep coming back for more
‘Cause she’s just the girl I’m looking for”

–from “Just the Girl” by the Click Five

I randomly happened to listen to this song tonight. Brought me back to my college days when I’d plug into my iPod while walking to and from class, as it was a favorite.

The lyrics got me thinking… Is this how God feels about me? The more I ignore Him… the more He adores me? How lovely, how enamoring. That He would pine for me that much.

I also got to thinking about vocations in the sense of married life versus consecrated life. I know, I know. I have a boyfriend. But sometimes I wonder. Though I have met someone who I could envision marrying, I am still trying to be open. After all, it ain’t a thing till there ain’t no ring! 😛

I bolded the lyrics that especially struck me as translatable about how God really pursues me and wants my heart.

I really admire sisters and nuns and consecrated religious. Their love for Our LORD must be so strong, so pure, so deep, so eternal.

I admire friends who are married too– and heck, those married in my family. I know the LORD is present in their lives too, strongly and beautifully so! And working with kids, teens, and families, I can see how married life truly is a vocation filled with grace.

Yet I can also see how religious life truly sets one apart for the LORD in a very special, unique way. As a consecrated religious, you are already living like you would in Heaven, like the angels who are already fully consecrated to our LORD. For instance, if a sister, you ARE the bride of Christ… or, if a priest, you ARE the bridegroom of the Church.

Does God want me to marry? Does God want me all to Himself? These are questions all Catholic teens and young adults should ask themselves. I know that my boyfriend and I ask ourselves these questions occasionally still.

If God does will me to marry, I know He’s still pursuing me. I feel that every day. But how in tune am I to that? And what should my response be? Am I doing enough? I want to love Him to the best of my capacity! Receiving and resting in His love, yes. But giving back my entire self to Him: I’d like to do that too!

It’s truly a beautiful gift to be a daughter of God, to be one of God’s creatures– but still to be  pursued as a complete “mystery” to Him, whom He would like to unveil!

Like the song says… no matter what God has in store for me…

God adores me, He’d do anything for me, He doesn’t want anyone else, He thinks I’m a mystery, and I’m just the girl He’s looking for.

Well, now.

I’m completely flattered.

YOUNG ADULTS: YOU ARE “MARTYRS OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM”!

WE are the martyrs of the third millennium! That’s exactly what Blessed Pope John Paul II said when he greeted the young adults at the first World Youth Day in 1989. He proclaimed: “I have come to greet the martyrs of the third millennium.”

Teens and young adults, WE are called to live a “culture of LIFE,” showing the world that Jesus saves, the Gospel can come alive, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Instead of writing about it myself, I want to share a snippet from a blog post I found online– it’s too good to pass up!:

“Why Martyrs of the Third Millennium?
In 1989, young people from around the world gathered in Spain for the first ever World Youth Day, around 500,000 to be exact. The world watched in complete and total atonement. What had all these young people come to see? What did they plan to receive from such an event? A journalist asked Blessed Pope John Paul II what he had come to see. Like many saints before him he had a way with words and responded simply yet with great power, “I have come to greet the martyrs of the third millennium.”

We are the change we wish to see in the world. Christianity started with 12 men and it is now the largest religion on the planet. How much power lies in God? Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can be the change the world needs, with Christ all things are possible!

This blog is going to be mostly about my journey in my faith and my life. Everyday is a learning experience and that is wisdom from God! This wisdom is something that needs to be shared. My hope is that through my sharing of my journey it may inspire those around me and those reading to take the first step on theirs! If you are already moving forward than maybe it will be encouragement to continue through the hard times.

In Christ immense Love and Compassion,
Nickolaus Burns”

I want to be a saint in the making… I want to be a martyr of the new millennium. As the prophet Isaiah said: “Here I am, LORD! Send me!”

God will decide how I will “be the change” every day that I live. “My” vocation is not set in stone… because it’s actually His vocation. And He will call me wherever He wills; the Spirit will blow me wherever He wills! (John 3:8) (“vocare” = “to call”)

Perhaps Our LORD will call me to do the same thing every day, or a different thing day by day, moment by moment. In any case, I hope always to follow Him, to help renew the face of the earth!

Step 1: Live a Eucharistic life… and, with Him as my source and my summit… my all in all… to rest in Him… to live in Him… to let Him renew me!

A picture is worth a thousand words…

World Youth Day MADRID 2011. TWO MILLION teens and young adults ALIVE in Jesus. ONE pope. Pope Benedict XVI, our PAPA BENEDETTO… we will miss him! We weathered the storm that night on a gigantic air field. I remember nearly freezing to death while I slept with millions under a bright clear moon. It was simply amazing. We are the saints in the making and the martyrs of the new millennium!

 

God wants your heart.. AND SO DOES SATAN.

Spiritual warfare exists. Every day, God pursues your heart. And so does Satan.

I swear. I just experienced it very keenly about an hour ago.

Yet I realize… it’s an every day battle. In the little things and the big things. There is always a battle for our heart.

Satan wants to detour you from staying in God’s Kingdom, from forever residing with God. And boy, is Satan deceptively cunning. He attracts. After all, He was one of God’s highest and most beautiful angels.

He wants your soul for all the selfish reasons… because he does not want you to experience happiness– the happiness that he willingly lost.

So ask yourself… and be honest…

Who are you living for? Who will you die for? Who are you fighting for?

God? Or Satan?

If we’re not for God, we’re against Him. Perhaps we’re running away from the Light for which we were made. Perhaps we’re hiding. But it’s not bringing us any closer.

Yet God is pursuing us… Are you listening? Are you watching out for Him?

Oftentimes, I find I am not. But I want this to change. I want to keep getting better and better at these practices. I don’t want my heart to be stolen without my knowing.

Saint Benedict is awesome because he reminds us about our mortality and our consequent propensity to weakness. In fact, Saint Benedict is often known as a “patron of a happy death.” The front of his medal reads: “May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death.”

The back of the medal of Saint Benedict reads: “May the Holy Cross be my Light! May the Dragon never be my guide!” (The “Dragon?” Satan.) And under the word “Peace,” it also reads: “Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!

Now what’s “the poison,” you ask?

According to the legend of Saint Benedict, during a Mass in which he was to consecrate bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ, hostile monks attempted to poison him, and poisoned the communion bread and wine. However, when Saint Benedict tried to bless the wine, the cup in which it was contained shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it. This cup is featured on his medal. Supposedly, a raven (also featured on the medal) flew in and carried away the poisoned bread before Saint Benedict consecrated it as well.

Saint Benedict is said to be one of the greatest saints to call upon for deliverance from evil spirits. The Benedictine Crucifix– a crucifix with the medal of Saint Benedict on it– is used in exorcisms.  And with Whose power does Saint Benedict ward off demons? CHRIST’S.

Let us never forget that while we can experience the amazing, wonderful power of GOD, another opposing power equally exists, and it is that of Satan.

We must be keenly aware of spiritual warfare and how Satan wants our heart. More importantly, we must also be confident and vigilant in knowing that, so long as we continue to follow Christ’s Light, God will protect our heart with all that He is!

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(c) SouthernFriedCatholicism. Read more about the medal below!

“Southern Fried Catholicism” Blog

set me as a seal on your heart

“Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.”

Song of Solomon 8:6

Every day in my courtship, I am never ceased to be amazed by how drawn to my boyfriend I am. Song of Solomon 8:6 captures how I feel. Water cannot quench the flame of this “charity,” this love that I possess. At least I do not think it can.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not happy to hear from my boyfriend. Morning, noon, and night, I long to hear how he is doing, how his day has been, how his day was, how he is feeling, what tomorrow will look like for him.

When I hear from him, I am excited.

And if and when I get the chance to see him, to be with him: far better!

Thinking about my love for my boyfriend… and how I love to just see, hear, and be with him… makes me realize that this must be just a TINY picture of how Our Lord loves ME and is excited to see, hear, and be with ME when I visit Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament: in Eucharistic Adoration!

Our Lord must be pining for me to see Him in Adoration.

He is drawn to me.

…How crazy is that?!

He is enamored with me.

…Why?!

He LOVES me unconditionally!

He is “in love” with me.

…How in the world do I deserve Perfect Love?!

I often wonder these same things about my boyfriend. Why did he pick me? Why does he still “put up” with all of my flaws and shortcomings? Why does he love me? I am flattered by the charity that my boyfriend shows to me. He has decided to love me. It confuses me and delights me.

Yet when  I wonder these same types of questions about My Almighty God, I am just baffled. After all,  He is the Creator of the Universe! Why did He create me personally, with all of my unique traits? Why does he always forgive me all of my sins? Why does He love me?

Why does He yearn to see me in Eucharistic Adoration?!

Because He has made me out of love?! Because He hopes that I feel His unconditional love?! Because He loves me that much?!

….Crazy. 🙂

No greater love have I ever known…

the Passion of the Christ = my passion and purpose

When it all comes down to it, it’s all about living in His Passion.

It’s all about journeying towards Him.

Towards His open arms on the Cross.

Towards His life, death, and resurrection.

Towards Heaven.

It’s really that simple.

Is the passion of Christ my passion? Is the passion of Christ my purpose? How can I lead others into the Mystery of the Cross, which sustains me, fuels me, keeps me going?

#Lent2013

I’m on fire when You’re near me. I’m on fire when You speak. I’m on fire burning at these mysteries… Your mystery…

 

no radio for Lent?: PURITY is God’s work, not mine!

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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a young adult with a pure heart on fire for the LORD. He was truly a living tabernacle of JESUS in the middle of the world!

“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
And precious silver

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
Pure gold

Refiner’s Fire,
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord

I choose to be
Holy
Set apart for You, my Master,
Ready to do Your Will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within,
And make me holy

Purify my heart,
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within”

–“Purify My Heart,” Brian Doerksen

Do I love others with a pure heart? How do my selfish intentions and how does my pride get in the way? Who cares about how others see me… when what really matters most is how God sees me?

Do I love God with a pure heart? Do I love myself with a pure heart… or do I simply want to make a god of myself and think highly of myself?

As I journey through Lent, the idea of purity of mind, heart, and body… has been on my, well, mind, heart, and body! (God designed us as truly integrated beings.)

This particular Lent, one of my sacrifices is not to listen to secular music or the radio. Instead, I am listening to either Christian/Catholic music or audiobooks.

Most of the songs on the radio are about romantic love, Eros (sexual desire), lust (disordered Eros), and incredible lows/highs. After just over a week of not listening to secular radio for a couple hours a day, I feel my mind focusing on higher ends, such as God’s love  and IDEAS that I have always wanted to ponder more deeply over!

I once heard a priest say that listening to a song on the radio is, in a sense, agreeing to let your emotions be influenced or controlled by whatever lyrics or melody you happen to hear. This priest’s “anti 24/7 entertainment” stance moved me.

I don’t want to simply experience life as a reaction to entertainment. I want to LIVE life as a journey that I venture! I do not want to be a product of society; I want to help shape society.

This Lent, I hope that my thoughts will gradually become more oriented towards the Divine. I hope that I will be more focused on living out my vocation as a disciple of Our Lord. I want to be centered on what is holy, noble, and pure… and most importantly, on Our Lord Who is Love.

Moreover, I increasingly realize that it is GOD who cleanses me from my worldly detachments and purifies me.

PURITY: not my work or power that is effecting the change within, but GOD’S work and power that cleanses me and makes me holy!

A living tabernacle, holding Jesus, in the middle of the world: now that’s what I want to be!

I pray that Our Lord keep the faith in me forever young.