Tag Archive | Catholic

Good Friday: He is Truly God.

This is a day I anticipate with dread every year. Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Christian year. It’s when Jesus is arrested, is beaten, carries his cross, is crucified, and dies. It is at the crux of the faith, and I dislike this day above all others. 

I’ve written here before that I’ve never liked Good Friday. I understand how necessary it is, but I still don’t like it for one reason: it requires the honest Christian to look into his/her heart and admit the sin bearing down upon their heart in a rather primal manner. The reminder that Jesus Christ was truly man and suffered greatly for all of our sins is wildly sobering. More details of the events that day make it even more gut wrenching.

First, ever wondered what Judah’s actually got for betraying Jesus? Well, 30 pieces of silver was about 5 week’s paying wages. So he betrayed Jesus for 5 weeks worth of money. In terms of actual spending power? Each piece was worth about $20. That means he betrayed Jesus for a total of $600. Yes, it costs less for an apartment in Malden than it does to betray the Son of God. I read that during a Bible Study I’m a part of and my jaw dropped. 

Then the amount of pain he went through is just stupifying. Every year, I watch The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday. The amount of suffering Jesus went through and the way the film depicted it was raw, brutal, and shocking. And he did all that for you, me, the temple guards who beat him up, the man who betrayed him, the holy and sinners alike. All that for us. Truly God does love us. 

There is also one scene in the movie that leaves me in tears every time. After Jesus takes up his cross and walks to Golgotha, he falls under the weight of his cross. In one such moment, he meets his mother. They cut in a sequence of Jesus falling as a child and show Mary’s motherly love when He was a child and an adult. This scene destroys me every time. God was human flesh. God walked the earth and had a mother who suffered as she watched her son be beaten to a bloody pulp of a man. And she loved him. Jesus was true man and true God. 

It’s always a trying day because of how incredible this faith and journey is. Take time today to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for us. 

Retreat! Good for the Soul

Throughout college, I was active in the Catholic community we have at Boston University. I maintain that it was the best part of my collegiate experience. I learned how to pray, reflect intently on my life, and live with true joy. More than anything else, the BUCC shaped me into the guy I have become. And out of all the offered programming there, the semesterly retreats had the biggest impact on me. 

In the Catholic world, a retreat is a time of reflection, prayer, and contemplation. It’s a time when you leave home, get away from your life, and follow the Spirit to see where God is calling you in a much different setting than normal. While in college, there was one retreat each semester. I went on all eight undergrad retreats I was eligible for. They all meant something to me and affected me in some way. My freshman retreats sparked my faith to life. Sophomore year’s Autumn confirmed I was on the right path and the spring let me work on a retreat, so I saw the behind the scenes stuff. Junior year comforted and consoled me through some difficult times. And senior year closed out college with a bang. 

I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do anymore retreats like those after college. They’re special experiences and only happen so often. I stayed around BU this year. I still have friends in undergrad at BU and I got more into the graduate student and young professional group that’s just getting its footing within the community again. We had talked about doing retreats for our segment of the CC, but I wasn’t sure that it would happen. I went to SEEK in San Antonio in January and figured that would be my retreat. I loved it! I was content that God had given me the needed lessons and retreat experience that I hadn’t had in almost a year. Thank God I was wrong about that.

At the end of January, a friend in the BU Grad Group told me about the retreat being discussed and asked if I wanted to help make it happen. Without thinking about the timing of it or considering too much, I said yes. It seemed like I shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to do it and I’m so happy I did. By fortunate timing, the retreat fell on the weekend between the NCAA Regional tournaments in Manchester and Providence, both of which I covered, and the Frozen Four in Chicago, where I will be starting on Tuesday. I didn’t think about that scheduling when I said yes but thank God He did. 

We got to discussing the theme, title, structure, schedule, and we went to work. We didn’t have an existing framework for prior Grad Group retreats, so we took a beat from the undergrad retreats we were familiar with and crafted our own formula. It took months of planning, promotion, praying, and processing to make it all happen. And when the weekend arrived with the snow, sleet, rain, and everything else that happens in winter and not on April 1st, we were ready to go. 

We went to Acton Mass and went Into the Desert for the weekend. It was awesome. The priest who gave the talks was perfect, the witnesses were phenomenal, the meditations worked well(so I was told after leading the first one and experienced the second), and the time in adoration and confession was nothing short of amazing. I barely slept over the weekend, in part because we slept in sleeping bags on the floors of a classroom in the basement of the church and because my sleep spot was right next to the door, but that didn’t matter much. The weekend was just such an awesome time that I didn’t care exactly when stuff happened or how rested I was. I ran on the Holy Spirit for energy all weekend. I completely crashed when I got home, but oh well. It was needed. 

I can add this to the expanding memory bank of incredible moments made possible through the BUCC community. The retreat to St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish was lovely. The snow made things annoying at times and cold, but that was alright. The simple yet deep programming worked better than we hoped it would. And the healthy parish community at St. Elizabeth’s made things better. The working infrastructure at the church made our event possible and reminded us that there is life after college. 

Many of us come from parishes that are older and low in people our age. St. Elizabeth’s has plenty of families with young parents, teenagers, active high schoolers, and adorable children in addition to the older crowd. It’s good to know that churches like this one exist and that they can be formed in today’s world. 

It’s also good to be reminded that God guides us through our deserts and makes good from them. We spent the retreat focusing on spiritual dryness and anything that resembles a desert in the spiritual life. I haven’t processed everything that God showed me yet and I will continue working through my time in the talks, witnesses, discussions, meditations, Masses, and everything else that happened. What I have processed is a reminder of God’s love for me, a purpose for my spiritual battles in recent years, and reassurance that I’m in the right career. 

Retreats have always served as a time for me to reset and refresh. This weekend didn’t physically do either of those; I went home physically exhausted. I fell asleep at 4, woke up at 7, then fell back asleep until 5am. I was rested after that night’s sleep though! Spiritually though, I feel more alive than I have in a while. I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen in a while, met new people, and was reminded of God’s presence throughout my life. It was exactly what I needed. I can say that about every single retreat I’ve been on. I’ve got more to learn from what happened this weekend, but I know I got plenty out of it for now. 

I’m thankful I had the best crew possible to work with on this weekend. The Desert isn’t as bad a place as people make it out to be. 

Holy Thursday Reflection: It Begins

I haven’t written anything here for a while, and with the Triduum beginning, I figured that I would take some time to do a little reflection on the day that’s gone by and on the season of Lent. And this is the first time I’ve done any kind of a religious reflection here since August. It’s nice to get back to talking about faith, and there’s no better time to look at it than Holy Week! And I’m gonna do one of these posts every day for Holy Week. I’ll have my reflection for Monday and Tuesday out later today.

So since February 10th, Christians all over the world have been praying, fasting, and giving alms in attempts to develop a stronger faith life in the season of Lent. I’ll save a full reflection until Lent is over, but I’d say I’ve had mixed levels of success there. I’ve taken good time to read more scripture, reflect on my college career, and figure out where God is leading me next. It’s been a fruitful time and I’ve seen growth in my life. Challenges as well, to be sure, but still fruitful.

But there is much more to follow. Holy Thursday is the start of the most holy time of the year and by some distance. Holy Thursday sees the institution of the most holy sacrament, the Eucharist. This is when Jesus was last able to enjoy a meal with his disciples before his passion. This is the start of the church in many ways. It’s one of the most powerful days of the year, and it hits me over and over again every single year. 

I rarely know how to feel about Holy Thursday. It catches me in an awkward time. I’m not ready for Lent to be over when it arrives, and I’m not fully prepared for the pain and heat check that is in store with the events of the rest of the Triduum. I got that exact sentiment this year. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the events of Holy Week, and will wait to see what unfolds. Holy Thursday has given me that feeling many times before, but even stronger so this year. Why? Because I’m in my last year at BU, my last year singing in the choir at Mass at Marsh, and my last year as a full member of the BU Catholic Center. That hit home when I went up to have my feet washed. 

If you’re unaware, part of the Holy Thursday Mass is a reminder of the need to be servants. This is shown with members of the congregation having their feet washed by the priest. At BU, the seniors are those who have their feet washed. I’ve seen this for years and thought “They served the CC well”. When it came time for me to go up and have my feet washed, it hit me that I have reached that same stage where others can hopefully say “He served well”. 

I still got familiar chills too. I walked into St. Clements Eucharistic Shrine expecting to see the Eucharist there, as they have perpetual Adoration there. Instead, I walked in and there was no Eucharist. There was just a crucifix and an sense of mystery, with the smell of incense still lingering and hanging in the air. It’s eerie every single time. The most eerie thing is that I know important and painful things are coming. The next day is the day Jesus is to be crucified. It always has an impact on me to think of what happened to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he went after the Last Supper, to pray before he was to be killed. Cardinal Sean O’Malley had that as his reflection for Night Prayer at the Cathedral last night. That was more prevelant this year with a priest in Yemen being captured and ISIS announcing that they will crucify him on Good Friday. 

This year’s Holy Thursday was certainly powerful. I have plenty more to think about and reflect on, and that’s bound to be even more true after the events of Good Friday. 

Night out enjoying the funk.

College does not leave me with very many chances to get off campus and enjoy myself. The combination of broadcasting, Catholic Center stuff, and school work often precludes any other activities. Well it’s a Friday night, and I got a chance to get off campus for the night! 

The BUCC has a group of Missionaries from FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) who serve with us, lead Bible studies, and make our lives generally more holy and fun. The male missionaries have a place in Cambridge and they hosted a party for us, complete with snacks, drinks, a conga line, a game of limbo, great music, a smoke machine, flashing lights and a disco ball. It was billed as a funk party and it lived up to the billing. We dressed in as funky a way we could, and truthfully not all of us succeeded. I don’t have that style of clothes, so I didn’t look in the funk style. My friend Wes Woods, as seen in the cover picture for this post made it work masterfully. Though the unquestioned winner of the night was my man Albert. Just enjoy this look.  

  

Here’s a pic of three awesome bros, and they hit the epitome of funk.  

 

I loved the night. Great party, awesome dancing and company, and I didn’t need to have a single drop of booze to have a fun time. And who says Catholics don’t know how to party?

Good Friday: My Least Favorite Christian Day

I don’t like Good Friday. I don’t like what happened on this day almost 2,000 years ago. I’m reminded of why I don’t like it watching the movie: The Passion. It hilights the worst of humanity. 

If you’re not a Christian, or if you don’t know the story, Jesus Christ preached a radical message of Love, Compassion, and following God above all else. This message was threatening to many political and religious powers of the day, so many looked for a way to remove Him from power. Judas, one of his closest friends betrayed Him to the Sanhedrien, and they staged a sham of a trial to condemn Him. They found Him guilty of blasphemy and took him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Govenor of the region of Judea. Only the Romans could execute the Jewish laws in the way they wanted: to execute Jesus. They got what they wanted. Jesus endured unbelievable pain, humiliation, and abandonment. The Romans beat him with whips and chains, ripped him to a bloody mess of a human being. The Jewish authorities denied who He was and what His message was in order to hold on to what earthly power they had. And ultimately, all of Jesus’ closest friends, his apostles, all abandoned him except John, and he was flat out betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter, the closest of the Apostles to Jesus. 

We see many of the worst sins all in this story. Betrayal of friends and loved ones, denial of God’s true power, the love of earthly things over Godly things, and the flat out abandonment of that which we should hold most dear. The worst sins that humanity can reach are on full display on Good Friday. The worst sins that I can reach and I have done at different points in my life, are on full display. 

I guess that’s why I don’t like Good Friday. It is a direct condemnation of the worst of my sins. I have to own up to all of them in a very intense way on this day. Watching The Passion reminds me of the worst things that I’ve done. It reminds me that it is all of my sins, all the ways that I’ve hurt myself and others, that called for Jesus coming down to Earth to die for me. And I am honestly ashamed that I needed it, and that humanity needed it, and continues to need it. We hung God out to dry on a giant hunk of wood, betrayed Him in doing so, and made Him suffer a fate that no man, regardless of how evil he is, deserves. 

For those reasons, I do not enjoy Good Friday. But I recognize how necessary it all is. Because after all we’ve done to God, ourselves, and other people, we cannot be saved any other way than by God’s love. I cannot be saved any other way than through God. I don’t like admitting that, but in this respect, I don’t really have a choice. 

The Passion does show some real redeeming pieces of humanity that show potential good. Jesus’ humanity is the biggest sign of that. The other two are Mary and Simon the Cyrenian. Mary cleans up the blood of her son after the scourging. She gives true motherly love in the worst of the situation, seeing him when he falls and helping pick Him up, and doing the hardest thing for a parent, bury her son. The other example of true humanity, though after some convincing, is the guy I see myself as: Simon the Cyrenian. He’s an ordinary guy who was pressed into service to help carry Jesus’ cross to Calvary when He couldn’t do it anymore. Even Jesus needed help. He still does, and that’s our mission today. At one point, Jesus falls, and can’t continue. The guards and people alike rush to hit the lowly Jesus, and Simon refuses to carry the cross any further if they continue to hurt the innocent Jesus. He refused to comply with sin. That’s the sort of approach I want to have in my life. 

I don’t like Good Friday because I see all my sin holding Jesus on the cross. But it is still crucially important, because without it, I can’t be saved. No one could truly be saved. Thank you God for loving us so, and I’m sorry for all we did to You. 

What a Great Crowd

Since being in college, the absolute best part of being here is the friendships, dealings, and fun that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Today, I got to lector at Mass at the BU Catholic Center, something I enjoy tremendously. After Mass, and a little adoration, members of the BUCC gathered and, as is tradition for us, we went to lunch. It took a while for us to get there, but we did eventually get to our intended destination. We set up a table, I mean took over a table, and enjoyed a nice lunch in some fun company. Stories, puns, jokes, lessons, laughter, and anything else in between flowed like a massive river. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from my cohort of friends. While I expect it, I shouldn’t count on it, or else I’m quite sure I will lose them eventually. Well I won’t worry about that quite yet.
Also, later in the day, I got to be a part of a Bible study. It’s led by an awesome dude who the fellas at BU love, and it’s a study where I’ve learned a lot and grown in my faith. I’m happy to have this, and the friendships that go along with it. I’ll be sure to enjoy my friendships now. And I’ll be thankful for every chance I get to enjoy this great community dynamic in the BU Catholic Center.

Christmas with the Catholics

Every fall semester on the last day of classes, the BU Catholic Center hosts a Christmas party for all to enjoy a little mental break, and each other’s company. Wednesday was the last day of classes so it was party time!

It was fun. We always manage to enjoy company at the CC, a place that feels as tight as a family. It helps to have Christmasy things, like gingerbread house making, Christmas cookies, caroling, and ugly sweaters, among other things. It was a good reminder to have a little fun, especially around the holidays. Now back to finals prep!