faithful friends

My husband and I love the Book of Sirach in the Sacred Scripture so much that we call Sirach “our man Sirach”! Recently, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to meditate upon this verse from Sirach– which was my favorite Bible verse in my middle school days:

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.

Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship,
for as they are, so will their neighbors be”

–Sirach 6:14-17

Fast forward to now, when I’ve lived the length of that middle school life-span two times over, and I still value friendship as a gift of infinite worth.

Friends shape you and they help you to become the “best version of yourself” (a la Matthew Kelly).  As Christians, we are made to sharpen one another like “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). So often, spiritual growth is not solitary, but together, in fellowship. In my life, this means that spiritual growth occurs largely with my spouse or friends and alongside friends old and new. Deeper than that, we are made by God to be shelters to one another, in good times and in bad (Sirach 6:14).

As friends, we are called to sharpen one another into saints– and so often, this means being figurative “homes” to our friends: to hold their hearts, to value their lives and their dignity, to remind them of their worth, and vice versa. To “tell them like it is” (whether they like it or not) and to just hold them and to be gentle with them (if that need that). 

Friendship, in essence, is a shared sacred space, a shared duty, to honor and to love the other with their best interest at heart.

So may we journey together. May we run in this life side by side, towards our singular destination: Heaven.

“Make me a channel!”

In light of the new pope, Pope Francis, I’d like to share a “Culture of Life-ism.” As coined by my youth minister friend, a “Culture of Life-ism” is a short catchy saying that someone can use to promote, you guessed it, the Culture of Life.

Culture of Life-ism for today: “Make me a channel!” A short, handy-dandy saying that you can pray all throughout YOUR day so that you can be fully alive.

So when can you use “make me a channel!”? Why, any time!

In the morning, when you wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. Hop out of bed, and onto the floor on bended knee. Clasp your hands together, and pray: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re talking to someone who’s challenging your Faith and your beliefs, and you’re about to loose your cool, or you’re just at a complete loss for words. Smile at that person and silently pray: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re sitting in front of a pile of textbooks that you have been dreading cracking open. On the top of that juxtaposed pile of lined paper, write: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re on the job, filling out some tedious paperwork, get out the sticky notes and write: “Make me a channel!”

When you find yourself at your wit’s end with either your significant other, or a parent, or a child. Whisper under your breath: “Make me a channel!”

When you’re having a bad, bad day, and someone does something that really irritates you, like cut you in line or cut you off on the road. Start to hum: “Make me a channel!”

Sanctity is not about doing great things. Sanctity is about letting Our LORD use you as His channel in the smallest things imaginable, and in your every day life happenings!

Sanctity is everyday discipleship.

Grace is the life of Christ in us. We can only be fully alive in Christ (as St. Irenaeus says) if we first let Him use us in the littlest of ways. Only then can He use us in big ways! Let us always let Our LORD make us a channel of not only His peace, but moreover His eternal life!

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love, with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

–The Prayer of Saint Francis (song version)

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This one is mad that Pope Francis is in the Chair of Saint Peter.

saints in the making… together!

What is the most exciting aspect of being in a courtship?

The hugs and kisses? The friendship? The companionship? The romance?

I’d have to say it’s none of those. It’s the sanctity. That’s what’s most exciting!

Spiritual growth and holiness are at the center of my relationship with my boyfriend. Christ is at the core of our courtship. Not in a dull, mechanical way, but in an alive, organic way!

Do we ever get sidetracked and forget that? Sure.

(Life’s busy. And we’re two laypeople in the world, with in-the-world schedules and interests like everyone else… It’s not like we are monastic like St. Francis and St. Claire– though they are two awesome patrons of ours!)

Does it get hard not to get caught up in the “eros”? You bet.

(Just because we strive to be devoted Catholic twenty-somethings doesn’t mean we don’t feel physical desires normal to any romantic relationship! But instead of listening to the world, we try to be rebels and listen to Our Lord… and embrace chastity. Best decision for us.)

But when it all comes down to it, my boyfriend and I are building not upon our “eros,” but rather upon our “agape” — our Christ-like love for one another and our shared love for Christ!

Why? Because we figure that the “eros” is strong enough anyway. Focusing on it is unnecessary and tempting. However, building our “agape” is truly investing towards a possible vocation to marriage together! And stronger agape will make for stronger eros, so it’s win-win on both accounts!

It’s exciting to think that the whole purpose and wildly beautiful meaning of our relationship is to see Christ in one another, to love Him in one another, and to bring one another to Him.

We’re building up the kingdom of God… In one another!!

That’s something that will last beyond our time here on earth. How beautiful and how amazing of a gift is that task?! We are called to help one another to grow spiritually, to grow in holiness, to grow in sanctity!

Yes, my boyfriend is the cheese to my macaroni. In so many ways!

Yes, my boyfriend and I are each others’ first official sweethearts. (Don’t gag!)

And yes, we are best friends.

But best of all…

We are two saints in the making, together.

MISSION: HEAVEN.

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