Tag Archive | Faith

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. 

SEEK2017: God at Work

In early 1999, 20 students from Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas, gathered to learn about scripture, God, holiness, and how to witness the Gospel to others on their campus and eventually on other campuses. The guy organizing this was named Curtis Martin. He had a vision of what Catholic campus ministry on college campuses could look like. He shared it with the 20 students on a cold weekend away from campus. His vision took hold. Those first 20 students worked on campus, and then one campus became two. Over the next few years, they would add more campuses to their network. Eventually, a conference for 200 people was organized. They called it SEEK. The fledgling organization was starting to find its footing, and it gained a huge boost when Martin received a personal word of encouragement from Pope John Paul II for his new movement to “Be Soldiers”. 

Since that time, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students has become one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the country. They now serve on over 100 college campuses including Maine, MIT, George Mason, USC, Alabama, Clemson, Wisconsin, and even two universities in Austria. They serve thousands of college students with Bible Studies, friendship, mentorship, authentic faith, and challenges to learn more about Jesus. In 2011, they came to Boston University, and in 2012, I started my collegiate career on Commonwealth Avenue. I worked with the missionaries who came to Boston, and had many adventures with them. I still room with a former missionary who’s one of my best friends, and I’m blessed to have had that experience. FOCUS is one of the biggest reasons I made it through many difficult times in college, and a part of why the BU Catholic Center was easily the best part of my BU experience. So many of my friends will sing similar songs. FOCUS helped showed us how to live honorable, Catholic lives in college and beyond through all their programming.

Among their most memorable bits of programming were newer iterations of that conference they ran. SEEK continued to expand as FOCUS expanded. The conference went from 200 to a few thousand over the following meetings. I first went to SEEK in 2013, when it was held in Orlando. Six thousand Catholic college students came from across the country. We heard talks about how to be a Catholic man, how free market economics can benefit Catholicism, how to read scripture in a prayerful way, and so many other marvelous topics. We went to Disney World to unwind, and we found ourselves praying in ways we never knew existed. Mostly, we were inspired by the faith of the thousands of college students around us. It’s hard to not be impressed when 3,000 college men are yelling their approval at a question about Disney princesses. Its even harder to not be amazed when these same people are singing their lungs out in adoration. 

SEEK2013 came at the perfect time for me. I needed a lift to get through my freshman year and I needed to learn how to honor God with my work. I got a needed boost, and I maintain fond memories toward the people I met and got close to that week. 

When I got on the flight from Orlando to Hartford on January 7th, 2013, I knew I wanted to go to another one of these major FOCUS conferences. I had an opportunity to go to SEEK2015 in Nashville, but decided not to go. I also could’ve gone to the Student Leadership Summits in 2014 or 2016, but again, decided against it. When I graduated from BU in May, I thought I wouldn’t be involved with any BUCC activities. Except I was and still am. I live in Boston and want to stay in a consistent Catholic community. I still have friends at BU, so I stayed around. I’m an active part of the Graduate and Young Professional Group at BU and I still hang out with the undergrads. When promotion started for SEEK2017, I couldn’t pass it up. I worked out the details, and made my way to San Antonio exactly four years to the day after I went to Orlando. 

When I got there, I realized I was in for a similar experience to Orlando, but SO MUCH BIGGER. This time, 13 thousand college students made their way to Texas. When I walked into the main convention hall for Mass, I saw flags for every school flying, music blasting, and a great party raging. Every large scale gathering except for the morning Masses were like that. It was a huge Catholic party that raged on for 5 days, with plenty of fun moments, like a battle of the sexes game that made a celebrity out of a Texan named Reese, break dancing priests, and nuns with the most ridiculous stories. 

The talks were also better. I heard people speak on Theology of the Body, How to save your Marriage before meeting your spouse, the main difference between Islam and Christianity, and how to respond to the 2016 election. There were so many more talks that I wanted to check out and couldn’t. There was always something to do, be it a talk, adoration, or just hanging out with people I hadn’t seen in a while. The talks were a highlight, because there are so few times when so many intelligent people are gathered to discuss the array of topics that were looked at. The ultimate highlight, however, was the encounter we all had with Jesus Himself.

When I went to Orlando, I was doing some soul searching. I had a rough year and I found solace in my God and friends who were with me there. But I was still unsettled. I wasn’t sure where I was going or what to expect from school or life in general when I got home. This time, I wasn’t in college. I didn’t have the same concerns, fears, or doubts. I was, in many ways, a completely different man. I was more relaxed, more willing to talk about my concerns and doubts, and more open in prayer. I walked with thousands of my brothers and sisters in Christ to confession, and had the most complete confession I’ve ever had. I walked out of the confessional wing of the hall and felt the grace poured out on both me and everyone else receiving the sacrament of Confession. I went to kneel in adoration as a Eucharistic procession began. I prayed my penance and smiled wide. I’ve never felt as clean or as free as I did at that moment. I got up and walked in the procession, singing, and  praising God with all I had. We all were. 

When you are surrounded by grace, there’s nothing you can do but praise God with those feeling the same grace you are. When there’s 13K people surrounded by and filled with the greatest of God’s graces, love and praise of Jesus in the Eucharist, there’s no words to describe the elation. Nothing I write would do it justice. You have to experience it for yourself to understand what’s going on there. 

It didn’t last, but it was never supposed to. When SEEK came to a close, I hopped on a plane back to the northeast, exactly four years to the day after Orlando. I found myself thankful, at peace, and excited for the future. I have a network of friends that I can see and call on when I need to. I had similar feelings after Orlando, but lacked the certainty and confidence in myself, my talents, and my connection to God that I have now. I rested easily, knowing that God is working through FOCUS and is reaching thousands of college students. I reflected on my time at BU, and smiled about all the people I met and got close with in my first SEEK. The smile got bigger when I thought of all the stories that helped lead to. I was happy that I could provide a little veteran presence to the BU delegation that I benefited from in 2013. I was even happier to walk into an uncertain situation called my life with peace of mind. 

I’m finishing up school and looking for more permenant work soon. I don’t have a set schedule or clear direction for what exactly I’m doing. I merely trust that God will guide me to where I am to go. After my week in San Antonio of praying with thousands of brave young men and women, learning about the practicals of living the faith, and being reconciled with the mistakes of my youth, how could I be anything but excited for what’s next?

So thank you to those 20 students from Atchison, Kansas, for saying yes to Curtis Martin’s idea all those years ago. It has made a massive difference for this proud son of New England and thousands of college students from all over this country. I pray we carry the lessons forward, and that those who come after us see the life in Jesus and all it’s graces. If that happens, then SEEK2019 will approach 20K attendees. The Kingdom of Heaven is growing here on earth. I’m happy to have seen it in action in San Antonio this past week. 

2017’s BUCC crowd with Curtis Martin

The new generation

Me with Matt Fradd

Scott Hahn

Discernment: Summer’s Contributions

Discernment seems to be almost exclusive to my Catholic friends. I’ve never heard that word used in conversation with any group other than Catholic folks or in any circumstance other than vocational talks. But I’ve found it to be essential for living the faith correctly and it is how long term goals and trips should be approached. Let me define it before moving on to anything else. Discernment is the process of trying to understand where God is calling you to go both in the short term and in the long run. It’s something I’ve been working on in various ways for my time so far in college. And I’ve actually had the most productive time for discernment this past summer. Great! Wait, how? Do you have to be going out of your way to directly ask God? Well, no. That might actually be the worst way to discern. The more you sit down and ask God where you should go, the more you just sit and ask and look for an answer when you can and should get up, live, and let God give you His answers as they come. I’m guilty of doing that over and over again… especially this semester. I spent a lot of time on my own, thinking, praying, and looking for God’s answers instead of actually working to find the best uses of my time and energy. Needless to say, this resulted in a bad semester for me. 

So what did I do this summer? Not a whole lot of sitting and thinking, and a whole lot of going, doing, and living. My findings? Well let’s just say there’s a bunch of productive stuff. First, a big thank you to the Cape League and Cape Cod Sea Camps for helping me know for certain what I want to do for a living: not food service. Ok more specifically, I want to do sports writing and coverage for a living. I had an amazing time covering the Whitecaps this season, writing the game stories, and doing all the social media work for the team. I loved it. I felt like that’s what I want to do for a living after doing it for a summer. What made it clearer for me is that I enjoyed it while being exhausted from my paying job to the point of literally falling asleep in my seat at some of the games. I’m going to the Cape League championship game today even though I am so tired from work. Yep, I’ve found something I like enough to do even when my reserve energy tanks are empty. Sweet. 

The work discernment also helped me determine another important piece of the process: Vocational discernment. Before this summer I spent a good amount of time thinking if I was to be a priest or to be working and having a family. Around Holy Week, I racked my mind with this question and could not get a good answer. I decided that I would use the summer to help figure out that part of my journey. With the summer close to being over, I can say pretty definitively that I’m not called to enter the seminary. As I stated above, I don’t feel called to the work in the seminary. I feel called to the press box or press row and to tell the beauty of he stories I see, especially the sports stories that I might be able to provide some insight into. I admire the work of the Priest and know that it is essential to have great Priests to make the Church work in any capacity. I also don’t feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be. This hit me yesterday when a friend announced via a Facebook post that he will enroll in the seminary to become a priest. I was thrilled to hear that he will do that and I’m excited for him! He’ll do an incredible job! There’s just one disconnect for me, I don’t feel like I can follow him. I’ve had other friends who’ve entered and when they announced their plans I thought that I could join up be a priest too. I guess that was my mindset at the time or where I was in my faith journey that told me I could do that as a viable option. But yesterday when I heard the news, no. I was happy for my friend but nothing more than that. I’ll always be a Catholic, but that doesn’t mean I have to join the seminary to be a good Catholic male. 

Having the seminary off my list opens up one huge thing that I do feel called to, but in the long term: having a family. I know I have to have a girlfriend whom I marry then have kids with in order to have a family of my own and currently I don’t have that chance now. It’ll be a while before I have that, from what I can tell. And I have no issue with this. I can be patient and find my chances and take them when needed. I feel comfortable looking for them because I am quite sure that I’m called to have a family and kids. I feel comfortable working with and serving them at my camp job, I love making the campers smile, I loved entertaining the kids at the Whitecaps games whenever I could, and I feel comfortable doing the needed parent-roles. I’ll be patient and look for my chances to make that sort of life happen, but I do feel called to that life. 

It’s oddly comforting to have these sorts of details sorted out before I begin my senior year at BU. now to act on it and make it actually happen! I hope people reading this understand an important piece of discernment advice: Live and Learn! That’s the best way to find God’s call. It worked wonderfully well for me! Hope it helps you a bit. 

So what is this place anyway?

My post yesterday was my 200th post. That actually completed the 2nd run through of the 100 Happy Days Challenge I’ve done on this blog, even though I took a long hiatus in the middle of it for Lent. So with the end of the challenge I have to consider, what is this blog to me now? Well I want to keep writing on this page. I don’t want to write on my Curious Observations blog anymore, I’m just not happy at all with the way my material became so 1 track minded and so downright depressing at times. I’d rather keep using this one, where I’m actually pleased with enough of the material to keep writing on it. 

I created this blog a little over a year ago when a few friends posed the 100 Happy Days challenge to me. I liked the idea, so I jumped at the possibility, and I was pleased with the number of things I could talk about here. Political stuff, thoughts on God, my friendships, suits, sports, school, jobs, theatre, and whatever else I wanted to discuss. The challenge ended in the summer and I was in a fantastic place. I was happy with school, in a good relationship with both God and my girlfriend, with whom I did the challenge, and generally happy with my situation. A few months went by, and I kept blogging on my other blog about my adventures that summer, and when I got back to school in the fall, I had to stop blogging so I could focus on my semester. I had a tough fall semester. I didn’t do as well grades wise as I wanted, my girlfriend and I broke up, and my relationship with God got pretty strained. I felt as though I got lost on the road, so I decided to start blogging again and redo the 100 Happy Days Challenge here. I wasn’t quite as successful the 2nd time around. I still had a variety of things to discuss. I still some interesting topics to write about and great stories to share, but my writing didn’t get better and I felt stuck. I took a break for Lent near the end of my challenge, and completed the challenge only yesterday.

So where am I after the second run through of the challenge? Well not as good as the first time, but still pretty good. I’ve had an ok semester grades wise, a great semester with regards to my broadcasting work, an ok one with my relationship with God, and a non-existent one with several friends. I’ve not talked to my ex girlfriend in months and miss her dearly. I count her friendship as one of the best I’ve ever had and I miss just being able to laugh with and talk with her as a normal human being. I guess it was to be expected that I would have some points of awkward separation, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I do want to see her and try to rebuild a regular friendship with her, which yes, I know that’s not an easy thing to do but I still want to. My relationship with God is better now than it was in the fall, thankfully. I’m still working to improve it, and still want to get closer to Him. But I’ll take the improvements I’ve had so far. I’ll have a better chance today to improve it. As I wrote yesterday, I don’t like Good Friday very much. However, as little as I like Good Friday, I absolutely love Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil. It is by far the most beautiful service we celebrate in the Catholic Church. So I’m excited for tonight and I’m sure I’ll get some graces tonight from God. 

Well that’s the story of this blog so far. Where does it go from here? Well I will keep writing on here and will use it as a regular blog. I’ll try writing the good things that happen in my life here. Hopefully people read what I write about here and use my stories to inspire themselves to better things. At least that’s my hope. My goal is to post at least 4 times a week from now on. If I have a week where I post something everyday, sweet! If not, well no harm no foul. As long as I get 4 a week, I’ll be happy. Let’s see where the road takes me going forward. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, thank you so much for following it. I hope I give you more material to enjoy and learn from. God bless you all!

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.

Lectoring at Mass

Sunday’s mean Mass for me. Mass means a chance to collect myself, reflect on the week, and listen to God. It also affords a chance to be involved in the service. For my involvement, it’s usually in choir, or some small in-sundry thing, like doing the collection, or bringing the gifts to the altar. Today, I was a lector. I did the first and second of three readings at Mass. I often read at Mass. I’ve lectored since I was in middle school. It’s a cool way to practice some useful public speaking skills, like diction, pitch, projection, etc etc. While working on useful skills like that, you also learn more about the faith. Today’s readings are here, if you’d be interested in seeing them exactly. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/012515.cfm

The homily explaining these three readings centered on how incredible God is and how amazing the possibility of being with Him is. Also discussed was the idea of Pascal’s Wager. And the notion that God is so incredible, and we have to take a chance on Him. It’s one that I’m willing to take. And it’s one that I bought into a while ago.

Reading at Mass reminds me of that we need to be active in our faith, if we are ever to get closer to God, and that it’s completely possible to be involved in Mass even if you’re not in the clergy, or (and I say this with no offense to members of the clergy) not interested in joining the clergy. I have other places I’m called to be. I still need to be involved in my faith. We all do.

A 2014 Wrap-Up

I know this is late, but I need to write out my wrap up for 2014.

Wow, what a crazy year it’s been for me. Schoolwork, a relationship, musicals, broadcasting, new friends, great trips, and amazing stories.

The year was promising at the start. I had a fun break with family in Vermont, with skiing and books galore. I got right back into Boston and had a blast at the start. I worked a retreat with the BU Catholic Center, loved the people I worked with, and got closer to God working on it. Shortly after that, a few friends pitched the idea to do the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I started this blog for the challenge. I enjoyed doing the challenge. It chronicled schoolwork, the end of my time in the College of General Studies, my consistent love of Boston, my time spent with great friends, and fun sports stories.

At the end of the challenge, I completed a good semester, had a job and musical lined up, and had a nice relationship going with a girl I had become closer with through the challenge. In fact, she helped convince me to do the challenge, and she became one of my best friends, and we decided to date. Over the summer, I had fun doing a show, working my job, going to Chicago on vacation, and enjoying time with friends and my girlfriend. I loved the summer. I got back to Boston in pretty good spirits. I was in a good place when I got back. However, the semester did not go as well as I had hoped. I had a hard semester grade wise, my girlfriend and I broke up, and I struggled with pieces of my faith. There were very good things though. I met good people, I got involved in the broadcasting world, and got some great jobs through WTBU. I felt I needed to remind myself that there are great things in life, so I revisited and redid the challenge. I’ve not been consistent with keeping up on the challenge, but I will do a better job of it for the rest of the challenge. I’m a little over halfway through it, so let’s make it a little fun the rest of the way!

I ended the year the same place physically as where I started, on vacation in Quechee Vermont. I ended in a very different mental place. I had a crazy year, and grew in so many ways I never thought I would. I’m so thankful for all of my experiences. I enjoyed the year, and I look forward to a good 2015.