One of Many Spiritual Aha Moments

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Hello everyone! I am back in the beautiful town of Blacksburg, ready to start my senior year of college at Virginia Tech (where did the time go?). I am active in the Newman Catholic Community and have started attending some of the events at the Newman House. So I was in night prayer tonight, and the reading really spoke to me. In Ephesians 4: 26-27, Paul says “If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.”

I was so taken aback by what Paul said here. It really got me thinking about my own spiritual/faith journey. First, I have been angry with my brothers and sisters multiple times and I have let my anger get the best of me. I also realized that I am at my weakest when my mind is idle, i.e. when I give the devil a chance to work on me.

I distinctly remember one time when I was on a run and I was thinking angry thoughts about someone I love very much. This person was frustrating me to no end and I had let myself become so consumed by this frustration, that I was actually forming this horrible and negative image of them in my head. Obviously, that anger and frustration wasn’t being fruitful at all. My anger had become so intense, that I was forming an image of that person in my head that was simply untrue, or at the very least, quite exaggerated. Overall, I think what I, and by extension everybody else, needs to do is take that anger to prayer. What can I do to make my relationship with that person 5068203_orig-300x199better? How can I keep from becoming so angry? Pray for that relationship. Pray for patience and understanding. Now obviously, relationships are not perfect and we can’t fix ourselves instantaneously, but God will always be there to help us in our anger and frustration.

Moving on to the second thing that really stood out to me, the devil working on me. Now I know that the reading specifically mentions the devil working on you when you’re angry, but that last little bit made me think; when else does the devil work on me? I have found that the devil works on me when I am not doing anything productive or when I am away from a faith environment. My great-grandmother always used to say “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and I have definitely experienced that in my life.

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Whenever I am aimlessly surfing the web or procrastinating during a night that is supposed to be filled with doing homework, I always feel spiritually empty. Not only am I not getting work done, but I am stressing about the work that is not getting done. The problem is, I don’t want to do it. At these moments, God is pretty much the last thing on my mind, and that is a real problem. God always needs to be the center of my life, and that includes the moments when I am writing an article for my communication classes.

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I also struggle to keep sin at bay when I am not in a fruitful faith environment. What does that mean you may ask? Usually, when I am at mass, in a faith-sharing small group, or at a retreat or talk, I feel so pumped and motivated. “Yeah, I am going to tackle this sin that has taken over my life” or “I can definitely work on this frustration or anxiety.” When a1563986445_10I am at those events, I am a “spiritual Superman” who can get the job done. But then I leave those events and ultimately fall back into the cycle of sin and it is really frustrating. Ultimately, that part of my faith life is still very much a work in progress. How do I keep that “spiritual Superman” mentality when I am in a more secular environment?

Wow, it is crazy what one little moment in night prayer can inspire? I hope my little moment has inspired you in your faith and hopefully, you can find your little moments in life as well!

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Jacob Clore

Contributor

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You Are in the Song I Sing, You Are in the Melody I Play

Ah, music. How I love your notes, melodies, lyrics and all that jazz (pun intended). A lot of us have that one thing that we really feel passionate about, something that makes us really excited or happy or a whole bunch of emotions. For me, that thing is music.

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Photo Credit: Brenda Perez

Music is something that completes me. Without music, I feel my life would be like the minions without their boss in the Minions movie. I know, way out there reference.

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And on another level, music adds so much to my faith life. To hear people express their love of Christ, Mary, the saints, the Eucharist and many other faith-based topics in music is beyond amazing.

Now I know that the Mass is not all about music, but the music selection has the potential to add so much to it. Whenever I hear certain songs, like I am the Bread of Life or The Supper of the Lord (both of which I heard last Saturday), I feel so alive. I get that spine-tingling, heart leaping joy that helps me realize that God is there with all of us in the ceremony. We have another way to listen to God’s word, through song!

And you know the great thing about singing in the pews, who cares what you sound like? In the pews, everyone’s voice blends together into this sound of awesomeness. Even if your voice isn’t perfect (like mine) you can still let out your emotions and feelings for Christ in the Eucharist in a very special way. I mean, it isn’t a Gospel choir, but it is something special.

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I remember one time when I felt very connected to God through music. I was playing guitar a retreat during adoration, performing songs that I loved and hoped everyone else would love as well. I looked up for a good look after a few songs, and I saw some people kneeling with their eyes closed, singing their hearts out. I saw some sitting in the chairs with their hands out. I saw some standing hanging on to the chairs in front of them. Right there, I saw it. I saw that the music united people in their love of Christ. Needless to say, I had an amazing time performing music at that adoration.

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Photo Credit: http://deusnobiscum.com/online-adoration/

Bottom line is, I really hope that you find that something that makes you really feel connected to Christ. If it is music, then yay! Join the Newman Musicians and I at Virginia Tech! If it is poetry, be poetic! If it is painting, paint God a masterpiece! If it performing random acts of service all day, surprise us! Do whatever positive and morally sound act makes you feel connected God! I am sure he will be pleased with whatever work you make out of it!

Blog Profile Pic Jacob Clore – Editor and Contributor

Fellow Young-Adult Catholics: I Need Your Advice

A lot of us have siblings. Sometimes you love them with all your heart; sometimes you get really frustrated with them and “hate” them.

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Sometimes your siblings frustrate you on a much deeper level than the typical sibling conflicts. Sometimes, they don’t share the same religious views as you do. Well, I face that reality with my two older sisters, who currently do not practice the Catholic faith. I am a cradle Catholic; my mom was born and raised Catholic and my dad converted a few years after he married my mom. My family went to mass, my siblings and I went to CCD and junior/senior youth group; heck even my middle sister and I went on a few Catholic Heart Workcamps. However, my sisters ultimately made the decision to stop attending Church.

Long story short, my oldest sister stopped attending church when she went to college and my middle sister disagreed with the Catholic Church on many social teachings, so she left as well.

That leaves me. I still try to practice my faith with great zeal. I am active in my Catholic Campus Ministry where I participate in faith-sharing groups, mass music ministry and service trips. I also attend Mass on a weekly basis and heck, I even have a faith-based internship. On a relational level, I pray with God almost every night and read the daily scriptures to see what God might be trying to tell me on any given day. Needless to say, I try to be the best Catholic and Child of God that I can be.

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However, I often struggle with my faith in one aspect; evangelization. And I mean the talk about your faith evangelization, not the “do good works so everyone sees Christ in you” evangelization.

I am a people pleaser and I absolutely cannot stand the idea of people being frustrated or upset with me. I also tend to get really worked up and nervous when it comes to talking about intense topics like religion and politics, so I tend to remain silent.

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So what does all of this have to do with my siblings who no longer practice the Catholic faith? Well I always feel like I am failing in one aspect of my faith and that is somehow convincing my sisters to start practicing the Catholic faith again. Now I know that it is ultimately their choice whether they start practicing again, but I feel that it is my responsibility to at least talk to them about it.

But I can’t. I am so afraid of breaking the status quo and actually letting them know my thoughts. I am afraid of getting nervous while telling them or making them upset with me and creating a divide in our relationship. I know simply being a “Good Catholic” in front of them isn’t working, but I am fearful of actually talking to them about it.

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So I am looking to you, the readers, who have been in a similar predicament. How have you dealt with having siblings who do not practice the Catholic faith? Have you ever tried getting them to come back to the faith? Have you been successful? Because I sure do hope that I can be.

Blog Profile Pic Jacob Clore – Contributor and Editor

Open Letter to Millennials

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I see you at Starbucks. I see you watching Netflix. I see you at $5 PBR night. I also see you struggling to make it.

I feel you. I feel it. I also wish someone had written this to me.

Dear Millennials,

You (and I) know the times right now are not the best. We are in the wake of terrorism, political elections, finishing school, entering the workforce, leaving our faith, poverty in our communities, environmental problems, opposition to the faith, personal relationships and families. We have student loans, car payments, more bills, young children, emails to send, one last appliance to fix and a house to buy. Not to mention, we face the constant challenges associated with faith.

We get lost.

We also see that our generation of 18-35 year olds has an expectation of being the fixers, the innovators, the outspoken, the leaders, the passionate and even the best generation yet (I may have made that up).

It is interesting, however, that we are not known as the generation who has masculine, confident and committed men or feminine, confident and committed women.

Why are we not seen as these virtuous men and women?

Sarah Swafford states that in order for us to be our best we must use our head in a way that our hearts can follow. Pope John Paul II (JP2 for the win) stated that, “Man must reconcile himself to his natural greatness.”

So, obvious question:

How can we, as the fixers, innovators, outspoken, passionate leaders use our head and hearts to strive for ‘natural greatness?’

Simple answer: We need to ignore society’s expectations of growth.

Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, says it perfectly:

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received: Ephesians 4:1.

In other words, grow up and live like the grownup God made you to be.

Discern your vocation.

Yeah, you may be the fixer, the innovator, the outspoken, passionate leader, or you might just be the person behind the open letter.  Yes, the times are not the best, but you cannot be the modern Marvel superhero without looking toward our actual superhero–our Savior Jesus Christ.

Millennials, we are in this together with the ultimate cheering squad. You are all awesome, virtuous people. Start living like it.

I am rooting for you.

Taylor Profile Picture Taylor Ferebee – Contributor


What are some of the challenges that you face as a Catholic Millennial? Feel free to comment in the section below!