“You Never Changed”

I was sharing a paleta (Mexian popsicle) with my friend, Maddie, last week. She went to undergrad with me for the first three years and we’ve continued to spend time together when she graduated early.

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We reminisced on our freshman days with a whole lotta laughter. With my and my roommates’ joint graduation party a week before, I shared with Maddie what another of our friends wrote in a card to me. One of the sentences was, “I’m so glad we were hall mates freshman year or else we wouldn’t have had our banana convos and Big Joe!”.

I thought it was hilarious and left it at that. In our freshman dorm, I whipped up a list of hundreds of silly questions and whenever a core group of our hall was hanging out, I would grab a banana and use it as a microphone to go around in a circle and have everyone answer questions to learn more about each other. Big Joe is a brand of bean bags. I had one and the name stuck because I wanted to run a cookie business out of our basement and call it Big Joe’s Cookies. That idea never became a reality but it brought our friend group together because pitching my idea with a sample menu and delivery details to three different rooms of girls eventually made friendships that turned into sophomore, junior and senior year roommates.

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As I laughed at my freshman year self, Maddie took a different approach. She found it comical too but her analytical self shone through as it always does. She shared with me a simple sentence that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. “I’m so glad you never changed.”

Maddie went on to say that during our freshman year, our current friend group used to make remarks like “Who is this girl?”. Now, those same ladies who I lived with all four years don’t even acknowledge my quirks, ideas or random thoughts. Not in an ignoring sense but in a, yup, that’s Kerigan for ya.

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I embrace change. I (hope that I) always will. But I believe Maddie when she pointed out that my identity never wavered. I didn’t change for others. I tried my very best to resist conformity. I never became embarrassed by sharing what was on my mind or in my heart because, well…it was there! Just last week, one of my freshman to senior roommates even told me that she has never seen me embarrassed because I just laugh at myself.

Sure, I messed up along the way and still do. There are days when I care what others think of me more than I want to acknowledge. But by holding on to that child-like joy that I see washed away from too many of my loved ones, I have learned one very important concept. One principle that is grounded in knowing my worth.

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Conforming will bring you comfort. And no human being was made to be comfortable.

My favorite quote of all time is by Pope Benedict XVI. So much so that I wrote it on this wooden slab at a lil’ Christmas party I hosted for my high school friends. He said, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

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Human beings are unrepeatable, inexplicably intricate and undoubtedly in God’s thoughts at every moment. Each one is worthy of all the world’s respect and love. Losing sight of this is a series of unfortunate events. Not the book series (although they were pretttay great!) but an exhausting cycle of attempting to meet unattainable standards from yourself and the world.

In Leah Darrow’s podcast (season 2 episode 9), she reminded me that the world will still go on without me.  It really really will and the same goes for you. But during our lifetime, it wasn’t meant to. We were all gifted a plan and the world desperately needs it and not a modified, more comfortable version.

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I’ve found that knowing the Creator of my plan is the only way to be truly confident in myself. When you believe who He says He is, you will believe who He says you are (heyyy, Father Mike). That right there is the reason why I haven’t changed. It’s why I chase greatness.

More Than Just an Opportunity

Hey there! One of my brothers, Brennan, is taking it away with his second guest blog post! He is a wild adventurer and does it all for God. Watching him grow throughout the past two years as a college student and specifically in the three experiences he wrote about below brings me theee greatest joy! I bolded the parts where I noted his immense learning but read it all. All 2,604 words. The words of one man (who has a second mission to perfect the handstand) making a difference by serving the Lord.

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The last time I wrote for Kerigan, I talked about how I was given the privilege to serve as a summer missionary at Camp Covecrest in Tiger, Georgia. The semester to follow (August-December 2016), I would be heading to Gaming, Austria to study abroad. I am going to tell you about camp in a little bit but first, I want to share a situation with you that arose in Austria.

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During my study abroad experience, we traveled on the weekends and were also given the opportunity to have two free 10 day periods in which we could do anything we pleased. For the first 10 days, I was ready to lead a mission trip to Romania with seven of my other classmates. I was very honored to take on this role and even more excited to be able to travel to a place as unique as Romania.

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My plans were cut off when five days before we were going to leave, I was injured while playing soccer. I went to the hospital a few days later because of the intense pain and was diagnosed with a contussion in my leg. This meant that I would have to be on crutches for 4-6 weeks while my leg healed and that Romania was no longer a reality. I had to pass my leadership position onto another one of my classmates. While the rest of my classmates were leaving for 10 days, I stayed back on campus.

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I felt as if God had taken away such a great opportunity in my life. I felt like He stole a month from my life; one month that could have been the best of my life. Over those 10 days, I watched 19 movies because all I was able to do was rest and elevate my foot. Now let me tell you, Ice Age 4 is just not a good movie to watch. The Shawshank Redemption…now that movie was worth it!

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Anyways, over these 10 days, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life. I realized that I was losing my faith and I was losing any sense of hope. I felt as if God had abondened me and I was simply alone. I just couldn’t understand how my chance to lead a mission trip to Romania was diminished because of an accidental injury. I was angry and confused and as the semester carried on, I never found peace over that week being taken away from me.

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Continuing on into the current semester (beginning January 2017), I was still not at peace about what happened in Austria. It was too hard for me to get over the fact that I lost a month of traveling. I had plans to go to Sweden to visit the hometown of my favorite soccer player, plans to go to soccer games and simply just plans to not sit around on the couch. However, my frustration over all of this was put to rest a few weeks ago. 

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Gabe Salamida, a senior at my school, came up to me one day and told me he had an opportunity for me. He is the leader for the Belize mission trip and said that two guys who had previously signed up for the trip dropped over winter break. Gabe said that he heard good things about me from other people and wanted me to fill one of the open spots.

I was in shock because all of the hope that I lost in Austria was regained in that conversation. I ended up saying yes. That yes changed my life.

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The Belize mission trip entailed my teaching partner, Kara, and I going into high school classes three or four times a day and teaching them about anything we desired. We decided to teach on joy and prayer. Kara and I realized that living with joy makes life more endurable and that prayer is the foundation for life. In forming our lesson plans, I started to discover more about myself, who I am and who I am meant to be. As I taught about these subjects, I started to truly believe the words I was saying. 

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All 21 people in my team headed to Belize on March 11, 2017. I was extremely nervous because I was expected to teach high school students about God and different ways to encounter Him and live for Him. As I taught these classes, I came to realize that without the personal experiences in my life, I would of had nothing to say to these teens. However, because of tough times in my life right alongside the extremely good times, I was able to share myself with these Belizeans. I was able to tell them about God in my life and in doing so, I realized what a big part of my life He is.

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Becuase I grew up Catholic, I always knew who God was but I just never got to know God in a personal way. Once I chose to get to know Him, I realized how great He is to me. Right now, I can tell you that God is the reason for all the good in my life. He is the reason I have joy and the reason I find purpose. God is a good Father to me and as I came closer in my relationship with God, I realized that my earthly father is a good father. Because growing up, I never appreciated my family. I never recognized all the good they did for me.

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I was able to tell the Belizeans about my dad, in relation to God as my heavenly Father. The ONLY way I was able to do this is because I have come to realize how great my dad truly is. I can see comparisons between him and God in my life. As I came to understand God’s love for me, I also came to understand my siblings love for me. I came to realize that my family is a truly great family, loving me and finding ways to support me every day. Without my family’s support, I would not be able to go to Austria to study for four months or go to Camp Covecrest to serve for seven weeks or to spend a week in Belize. My family is a blessing on me.

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After spending time in Belize, I realized how broken the families I encountered there were. Very few of the kids had married parents and many of them only had one parent in their life. They found it so hard to trust because the ones they grew up with so willingly left them. I talked to one girl specifically whose dad left her and her eight siblings behind. He just got up one day and left with another woman. Her two older sisters left the family as soon as they turned 18 because her family was so broken that they didn’t want to stick around to fix it. This girl told me that she has no one to trust and the only reason she was trusting me with all this information is “I trust you, mister, because you gringos come here for a week every year and you are nice to us so I want you nice people to know our struggles so then you guys will come back and volunteer here to help us.”

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The thing is that there are about a dozen or so volunteers teaching at the school I was in which is an amazing influence on the Belizean teens. They want us to come back because for some reason, they want to trust the gringos. These kids want so badly to love, but more importantly they want to be loved. Unfortunately, many of them don’t encounter this in their homes. They feel our love for a week because it is easy for us to be kind to them and for us to listen to them during our one week obligation. However, the full time volunteers are expected to discipline these students and control the classrooms thus, having to give tough love at times resulting in the students becoming upset. The volunteers also must plan lessons each day in their different classrooms while facing the challenge of forming relationships with these teens so that they can get to know their students better and know how to serve them better.

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I say all of this because as great of a week I had in Belize and as much as I enjoyed it, taking a role like that on for a year would be one of the hardest tasks to assume. However, I feel called by God to eventually do such a thing. God is calling me to do ministry and missionary work in my life because for some reason, He blessed me with the ability to be good at it. To be good at connecting with high schoolers and sharing my experiences with them. That’s the whole reason why Gabe approached me. He heard others say I would be good at that type of missionary work. With that, I want to tell you about Camp Covecrest and what it did for me.
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At camp, I spent two weeks preparing/training and five weeks of being assigned with a parish group with a partner or two. I journeyed with the 20 or so teens and lead small groups for them just trying to see where their faith life was and what advice I could give to push them further in their faith. I wanted so badly for each and every one of these teens I encountered to know God as much as I do. To know His love and His support and especially, to know His forgiveness.

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In these five weeks, I was drained waking up every morning at 6:30am and going to sleep every night at midnight. I was pushed to my limits to love these teenagers and to be an example of joy that they would like to imitate. To show them the love of God and by the end of the week, to hope that they put in the effort during their time at camp to get enough out of it so that they would be willing to go home and direct their life towards God’s plan.

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In this seven week experience, I realized that it was difficult but in every challenge, the reward was so much better. To just see one teenager by the end of the seven weeks going home with God on their mind was enough to find my time spent there as a success. It wasn’t only one teen though. I saw dozens of teens that I encountered leaving with a desire to know God better. I ended the summer realizing that I myself wanted to know God better. Even though I could stand in front of these teens and tell them about God, I knew I needed to go home and get to know God better. I realized that I needed to recommit myself every single day to seeking out God and his plan for me.

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Now this timeline I laid out may not make a lot of sense because I went to camp last summer and then flew to Austria for the fall semester and then traveled to Belize this spring. But it shows that even after my amazing experience at camp, I didn’t have it all figured out. I came to realize that life is a struggle and once you stop struggling, that’s when you have given into the devil and his temptations. Every day that I seek out God and decide to take on the struggle is a win for me. The hard times make life worth it. The hard times give you a sense of meaing and purpose because as you strive to overcome challenges, you are striving to do better with your life and to do better means you have a purpose in sight.

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I want to live my life taking on the next challenge because I don’t want my life to be boring and easy. I want it to be exciting and thrilling and I am so blessed to be given such great opportunities in my life. The thing is, I have a new challenge coming this summer and I am so blessed by it.

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After every summer, you can’t reapply to be a summer missionary because Life Teen’s goal is the send you out into the world and evangelize back home. However, each team has about 12 guys and 12 girls at the different camps and each team has one guy captain and one girl captain. A week after I said yes to going to Belize, I got an email from Lizzie G, the camp director for Life Teen, aka who runs Camp Covecrest. She asked me to go to Camp Golden State in California for a month this summer as the guys’ captain. I will be leading them in formation and preparing them to lead teens closer to Christ.

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For some reason, she and the other full-time missionaries saw me do well at camp. So much so that they were willing to ask me to take on a leadership position. This priveledge that I will get to take on this summer brings me confidence that I am able to do ministry well. More importantly, it provides me with the humility to know that the only reason I can succeed in it is because God has blessed me with the talent.

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Whoever is reading this, please know that I am blessed. God has provided me with the best possible life to live and I am so glad that I have decided to live according to His plan. High school me would have never dreamed of doing the things I am priveledged to do now. My dream job in highschool was to make YouTube videos of me playing FIFA on my Xbox (“Yes, this is most definitely true” – Kerigan) because that was the only thing I could really find much happiness in. But now, all my happiness comes from God and the experiences and people He has put in my life.

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I am so joyful each day because I realize how far I have come. Let’s face it, I’m not the best at what I strive to do but I am always pushing myself to be better. I am always looking for the next challenge that will push me in ministry. I want to live my life bringing others closer to God and showing them that God is so willing to forgive them, love them and give them a plan that they are perfect for.

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My purpose of writing this is to share a little bit about myself and for me to reflect on this past year of being pushed more and more out of my comfort zone. When I first felt called to do ministry, I feared social encounters because I was uncomfortable with putting myself out there. Now, God is asking me to put all of myself out there so that others can hear of my witness and in doing so, may chose a life with Him.

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I realize now more than ever that with God by my side, I can do anything. “Jesus said, With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27. God has formed me into the man I am today. He has provided for me. He has blessed me with such a great life. All I want to do is give it back to Him by serving Him each and every day.

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May the joy of the Lord be my strength. Thank you for reading! Be safe and God bless.

Never Too Young. Never Too Old.

Sisterhood is one of my favorite things this sweet life of mine contains. Biological and spiritual and just feminine relationships between us women are so nurturing and life-giving and ahhh…bliss! I don’t think brotherhood has a chance on this but then again, I wouldn’t exactly know, ya know?

My lil’ sis, Teazzy Baby (most likely Teagan to you), is a beaming light of love, humility and wisdom. By just being her beautiful self, she gently pushes me in my faith. She also does this by sending me things to read all the time and one in particular applies to this splendid March 3; the feast day of St. Katharine Drexel. Teags (still most likely Teagan to you) sent me a quote from St. Katharine a while ago that reads, “Holiness consists in one thing: to do God’s will, as He wills it, because He wills it.” I responded before the picture came through heheee oops!

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These words are piercing. At least to me, they go straight to the heart because God’s will reigns and mine never will. How ridiculous does this sound: “Holiness consists in one thing: to do my will, as I will it, because I will it.” That’s pure awfulness. But boy OH boy, is it a reality for many of my days.

But we’re turning the emphasis back to God! If we are in constant conversation with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, the Father will will us away from societal standards (gettt on ready). When this time comes (and it’s not a one time thing so gettt on ready x3902), people pleasing will suck life out of you. We should never feel pressured into having to justify ourselves in response to shame. Shame is directly from the devil – don’t ever forget that. God is God and we are not so if He wills it, He wills it and there is nothing we can do to change His perfect mind.

A few days after my sister sent me the quote and I reflected a whole lot on it, I saw it liiive. In action. Basically a Broadway show. Except it was in the metro in Washington D.C. during the March for Life.

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I hopped on to the metro to make my way down to the March with a group from my school and was content with the standing room only. A 45ish-year-old man got my attention, scooted over and told me to take a seat next to him. You may be thinking this story has a creepy ending but I promise it’s the absolute opposite of creepiness and leads to total awe!!

I accepted his request and we got talking. After working for 25 years as a single man, he discerned a call to the priesthood. He quit his job as a police chief, moved to Boston to go to a seminary that specializes in sems age 30+ and will be ordained a priest in 2021 if that is what God wills of him!

WOW. How remarkable is that story?! God is gooooOd. I shared with him that I also recently changed my life path (not as drastic but due to listening to God indeed!). If all goes as we are currently planning for, this seminarian and I will graduate in the same month and enter the “workforce” at the same time with our new callings. On that day, we promised to pray for each other throughout our new studies 🙂 The best part is that I just discovered the seminary’s “Meet Our Seminarians” page on their website so I found him and his contact info and an email has been sent!

25 years in. A police chief. The kindest of men who fervently prayed and asked God daily what He willed of him. I didn’t directly ask this man but I guarantee you that this wasn’t the easiest decision he ever made. To drop everything, explain to his friends and family that he would be leaving Missouri because God willed him to religious life and carry through with this radical transition. What a beautiful example of devotion to the Lord! I really did think after we said our goodbyes, ‘was that even real because I sweeear, that story is almost too fairytale-like (Catholic surrender genre) to be true.’

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The theme goes on because as our group was preparing to leave for the March the day before, we were gathered in a local parish’s lobby and I found a CD. I love Catholic resources so much so that my Bible study kindly laughs at me for all the podcasts, blogs and videos I talk about. But a girl can’t attribute borrowed wisdom to herself, right? The CD by Matthew Kelly  was called “The Best Way To Live.” I’m a Matthew Kelly fan, I strive to live in the best way and I was told it was free so I called it mine with the biggest smile on my face!

In Mr. Kelly’s talk, he passionately shared, “Most people spend the first half of their lives saying ‘I’m too young for that stuff’ and the second half of their lives saying, ‘I’m too old for that stuff’.” He went on to go through this [paraphrased] list in his darling Austrian accent:

  • Tiger Woods – 3 when he broke 50 for 9 holes of golf
  • Mozart – 8 when he wrote his first symphony
  • Charles Dickens – 12 when he quit school to work in a factory pasting labels on shoe polish…to get his father out of jail
  • Anne Frank – 13 when she began her diary
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson – 14 when he enrolled at Harvard
  • Paul McCartney – 15 when John Lennon invited him to join a band
  • Bill Gates – 19 when he co-founded Microsoft
  • William Shakespeare – 31 when he wrote Romeo and Juliet
  • Thomas Jefferson – 33 when he wrote The Declaration of Independence
  • Mother Teresa – 40 when she began her work in Calcutta
  • Pablo Picasso – 55 when he began a revolution in the arts
  • Dom Pérignon – 60 when produced the first glass of champagne
  • Oscar Hammerstein – 64 when he wrote The Sound of Music
  • Winston Churchill – 65 when he became Britain’s prime minister and picked a fight with Hitler
  • Nelson Mandela – 71 when he was released from more than 20 years in South African prison and four years later at 75, he was elected the President of South Africa
  • Michelangelo – 72 when he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
  • Benjamin Franklin – 79 when he invented bifocals
  • Frank Lloyd Wright – 91 when he finished his work on the Guggenheim Museum
  • Dimitrion Yordanidis – 98 when he ran a marathon
  • Ichijiro Araya – 100 when he climbed Mount Fuji

Age 3 to 100 and everything in between! Not too old nor too young to accomplish the unbelievable. Whether they were after holiness as St. Katharine referenced or not, there is no limit to what the sacred human life can accomplish!

I hope you seek God’s will with a pure heart. I hope you seek it without questions. I hope you do it just as He wills it because He wills it and for no other reason. And I hope you continue to seek it in a new way each morning. Your age may come with life event standards but my friends, God is outside of time so when He calls (and He has, is and will), I can guarantee you that nobody is expecting it.

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Let us look to our ladies, St. Katharine Drexel and the Blessed Mother (and all the more who make up divine sisterhood), as faithful models of following God’s will to the extent that their actions forever altered the world. Yes, this surely includes contributing to all of humankind’s salvation…hi, Mary! Because that is how powerful God’s will is and that is how much he trusts in his daughters (and sons). The God who has a distinguished plan for you has not changed and never will. Age aside, go do God’s will and set the world on fire!

Ps. the image above is what I responded to Teagan with…I highly recommend it as a phone wallpaper 🙂

 

17 Reasons Why I’m Dying of Joy

This side of heaven is flooded with flawed people. We (myself ENTIRELY included) are sinful, tired and longing for more. Our temporary bodies are wasting away as our eternal souls are hungry, maybe even starving.

So Jesus gave and continues to give us the most intimate solution in the Mass. He offers Himself in the Eucharist EVERY SINGLE TIME. This communion is nothing less than heaven on earth. It’s an awe-filled encounter as we become a tabernacle of our Lord. As St. John Vianney says, “If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”

I clearly have not died of joy but boy oh boy, am I joyous! And humbled and vastly thankful and mind blown to the extreme! Why Jesus would make His most praise-worthy self into a tiny host is inconceivable to me. Even more so, when you think about the past, present and future Church uniting together to bow down and receive His goodness.

I’m going to let the saints (and two popes and one archbishop and one special fella) take this one away and explain their devotion to His Body and Blood. And then I’m going to re-read each 17 of these accounts 82 times because THIS IS OUR REAL ATTAINABLE GOD. This is the sweetest gift and the best nourishment we could ever choose to fill our bodies with! Again, this is heaven on earth!

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  1. “If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.” – St. Angela of Foligno
  2. “God is everywhere, in the very air I breathe, yes everywhere, but in His Sacrament of the Altar He is as present actually and really as my soul within my body; in His Sacrifice daily offered as really as once offered on the Cross.” – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
  3. “How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.” – St. John Chrysostom
  4. “I fear the day when I do not receive Holy Communion. This bread of the Strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me. The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me – it is the Eucharist.” -St. Faustina
  5. “When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then, when you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  6. “When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
  7. “I hope I do not offend God by making my Communion in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.” – C.S. Lewis
  8. “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” -St. Maximilian Kolbe (wasn’t going to play favorites but this one may be it!)
  9. “Until we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament we shall accomplish nothing.” – St.  Peter Julian Eymard
  10. “The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
  11. “When we leave the holy banquet of Communion, we are as happy as the wise men would have been if they could have carried away the infant Jesus.” -St. Jean Vianney
  12. “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” – St. John Vianney (orrrr this one!)
  13. “The Eucharist is essential for us: it is Christ who wishes to enter our lives and fill us with his grace.” – Pope Francis
  14. “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen (just kidding, I give up because they are all life-giving!)
  15. “Without the Eucharist, the Church simply does not exist.” – Pope Benedict XVI
  16. “The Eucharist is far more than just a meal; it has cost a death to provide it, and the majesty of death is present in it. Whenever we hold it, we should be filled with reverence in the face of this mystery, with awe in the face of this mysterious death that becomes a present reality in our midst.” –  Pope Benedict XVI
  17. “If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive.” – St. Augustine

Here’s to a new year with a deeper yearning to encounter our God in the Eucharist! I am not a superstitious person but I did notice that we have 17 reasons in 2017. Ahhhh. Sweet Lord!

Recent ReeeaDs

I love love love to read (just about anything that nourishes the soul – yes this image below is a Seth Cohen quote for you OC fans). And I love love love to write but only when I have thoughts collected and a passion to write on a particular topic.

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Lately, I’ve just been reading blogs and articles and soaking up ALL of the knowledge without much inspiration to write some of my own. Maybe it will change soon and maybe it won’t…we shall see!

Below is what I recommend to you/Christians/Catholics out of what I’ve been reading! Read it to Johnnyswim’s Christmas album (or about any rendition of Ave Maria because it’s my recent obsession) while eating this gingerbread banana bread (gingerbread > pumpkin, no doubt!) and you have found blisssss.

PS: I capitalized the R and D because I’m a #RD2Be aka Registered Dietitian in the making.  The holiday season = countless conversation with relatives and friends I haven’t seen in a while so informing them of this new path is endless…yipppeeeee!

On joy: “Nothing empties the power of the gospel faster than a Christian who laments their daily walk.”

On being pursued in a relationship: “You deserve a relationship that is certain and steady, not uncertain and dramatic.”

On…well…life. You’re going to want to read every last word: “Your worth is endless as it is not connected to a world tied to an end. It is connected to a God without ending.”

On soulmates: “We should not expect another person to complete us. Let God do that.”

On Mary: “From the moment of conception to the foot of the cross, she is the perfect embodiment of the obedience of faith (CCC 144).”