Catharsis, Wonder, & Samaritans

In fall of 2013, near the feast of Christ the King, I attended the National Catholic Youth Conference. Even more specifically I was in one of the major breakout sessions, this one happened to be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was an amazing feeling being in a room with 5,000+ fellow teens raptly adoring our God. I remember being towards the back on some bleacher type seating, and right before we started they had everyone cram together so as to get more people in the room. The reason I say this is because to my right was this girl I didn’t know and we spent a lot of time trying to not elbow each other.

Towards the end of the holy hour it was as if I’d been hit by a brick wall. Just absolutely everything came up in my prayers. I began to tremble thanking God for bringing me through the darkness of the year and a half before that. Seeing me visibly shaking, the girl next to me decided to tap my knee as she leaned over and made sure I was okay. Tears of awe and relief running down my face I croaked out a “yes,” and we both returned to our prayers. Afterwards I remember thanking her for being exactly what I needed in that moment. Her response was that she doesn’t normally say a word to strangers, but felt compelled to say something. Giving me a bracelet she asked if I would pray for her at my next holy hour.

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It was no mistake that I randomly  found the bracelet again tonight. You see I’ve been spiritually low these past months. Just today I had another catharsis moment. Where through the help of another person who didn’t quite know how much they were helping me, I remember just how quick God is to forgive me. I was reminded that I’m the snag, I have to forgive myself and choose the embrace of God’s love. This bracelet reminds me of that love and what it’s like to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

For us Catholics today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which means that once again we hear and pray on the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s small acts of mercy, it’s treating each other as neighbors, that’s how we grow and become holy.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

On being Wonderous

“Our faith is not an idea but an encounter with the living God who is our Father. Who in his Son Jesus Christ has assumed human nature, who unites us to the Holy Spirit and who in all this, remains the one and only God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Conformity plagues our world, and pulls us down. We are so concerned with appearances and trying to match our lives to that of modern society that we become oblivious. This happens far too often, and I suggest that by trying to be relevant we are seeking to fill the wrong emptiness in ourselves. You see, what we describe as modern society is nothing more than an ever-changing speck of time. Perhaps instead what we should question is whether or not something or someone helps us to become an absolutely authentic version of ourselves? Does it help us encounter the living God? You see, we don’t need relevant people. No, what we need is real people. People who love life, who see beauty everywhere, and who seek the truth in all aspects of life.

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I have a friend who was studying abroad in Europe. After two weeks or so she had taken the opportunity to explore the city where she was living. Awestruck she struggled to find the right words to describe the city to me. Though there was something she said that really stays with me. Her narration was that “the streets wind everywhere, and all the doors are so colourful. It’s kinda wonderful.” A beautifully poetic view of one’s surroundings, but it hit me for another reason. She was seeing the city through wondrous eyes, through the eyes of a child. In those moments it didn’t matter that she could get lost, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t fluent in the language, and it certainly didn’t matter what people thought of her amusement at the colour of doors. Rather she found beauty, and in it joy. She was in love with life in that moment. Not pretending to be someone else or to be relevant for others. Entirely herself. She was more than a token piece of society.


Similarly, neither is our faith a social concept. It is not relevant to modern society. Much like a “real” person, the authenticity of our faith elevates it above the shallowness of this world. It is more than an idea that can be declared outdated, irrelevant, or non-feasible. It is a living, breathing relationship. “An encounter with the living God” as Pope Benny so aptly wrote. The only relevance worthy of note is that which strengthens our communion with God our Father. To be who we really are we must focus on that. So don’t take yourself so seriously. Be like a child. Remain wondrous at His presence, and find joy in everything that draws you towards Him.


Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

 

Each moment

Think about yesterday. What do you remember? I remember pouring my coffee; I remember jamming out to my favorite song; I remember speaking to that one awful customer that nobody really wants to deal with. What I don’t remember is yesterday as one whole memory, rather yesterday is a slightly disjointed sequence of smaller memories. Because we don’t remember entire experiences, just moments within them.

I went and saw the movie Deadpool with a couple friends a few weeks ago. I’ll admit it was probably one of the best comic book to movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Though it was morally offensive so I’m not actually going to suggest you watch it. Towards the end of the movie a member of the X-Men by the name of Colossus tries to instill in Deadpool (and the movie) with just a hint of morality. Colossus explains that to be a super hero is not a constant job. It’s not something you do 24/7 365 for your entire life. He says that a person only has 4 or 5 opportunities in their life to prove who they really are. And it’s what they do in these moments that determines whether or not you are a hero.

Matthew Kelly once said that the saints did not live holy lives. The saints became saints by living holy moments. They chose to make the most of the moments that presented themselves. We can all apply this to our entire lives. We need to recognize the power within each moment and ask ourselves, am I making the most of the opportunities that present themselves?

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Speak now

I’m trapped within my own humanity. Therefore every experience is personal. It’s true. Though we all try to distance ourselves from our surroundings the thought comes lingering back. I’m here, I exist, I must engage. Far too often we remain silent, a fly on the wall simply watching. What if everyone of us chose to take the next step? Let’s learn to communicate just a little bit more. Share the joy of the good times, and embrace the support through the rough times. We are social creatures, we need this. I tell myself that maybe if I learn to do this someone will see a light. They might just see a way to rise out of the muck of this life. Maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. That I have joys and sorrows, passions and struggles. That I most always have butterflies in my stomach and that I still find courage to say what I do. If I can inspire but one person and show them why they are meaningful, it will all have been worth it. We are capable of doing so much with our short lives. So I encourage you, Be more.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Discord & Harmony

We must strive to Be more

to give more than the minimum effort

We find that just “Good enough”

is far from satisfactory.

Discord and outrage dwell among us

We yell, we fight, we forgive,

and then we repeat.

This human condition

is not Fatal

Though it requires our full effort

in order to combat it

we must strive to Be more

to rise above who we were

Our only competitor is ourself

and yet, friends often come to our aid.

Together we improve each other,

our very own Band of Brothers

we must strive to Be more

to be inspired by those around us

There is harmony to be learned.

I see inspiration everywhere

everywhere a story to be told

If only we listened

If only we chose to Be more

———————–

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Common Ground

We are all looking for something, and everyone one of us shares the same call to holiness. So where do we find the common thread in our own pursuits? First let’s establish one of the most basic things we already have in common, our humanity. We also share an eternal soul that out lasts even our human condition. Those two traits intersect at our greatest common ground, Christ. You see Jesus Christ stepped off his throne and became a man like us. We call it Christmas.

Think about that first Christmas. Those who were there did not stop to question what was politically correct. No they didn’t. Instead angels, kings, and shepherds gathered to pay homage to the savior of the universe. To glimpse our bridge to eternity born in a lowly stable. What if we all acknowledged Christ in each other? What if we found our common ground between all of us? What would the world be like?

We are given a tremendous opportunity in the Eucharist. To see and adore the physical presence of our God become man. He becomes one of us again, and again, and again. When the priest says those sacred words we become witnesses to the incarnation just as the angels, and those kings, and the shepherds were on that first Christmas. Go to mass. Join in communion with Christ. O come, let us adore Christ, our savior, present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I promise in this common ground you’ll find what you’re looking for. Merry Christmas.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe
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Viva Cristo Rey!

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“…Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

On this feast of Christ the King I thought I’d take a moment and discuss my blog’s name. You see kingsman is not a pop culture reference, but rather a dedication and a realization. A dedication that everything I write be for the greater glory of God our father through Christ Jesus his son. And a realization that I we are called to share in Christ’s role as Priest, Prophet, and King.

Priest. We are called to, like Christ, sacrifice ourselves to the father. We as christians are to be mediators, bridges between God and our fellow man. Prophet. We are called to be messengers of truth sent by God. We are witnesses to the glory of God. How could we possibly be silent? King. A king is an authority. We are called to be authorities on morality and holiness. We must bear in mind that Christ our King ascended to his rightful place by suffering on the cross. Through our suffering may we be united with him and each other.

With everything I write, I seek to fulfill my part of this threefold mission of Christ my King. For I am the King’s man.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Choices to be made

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That is my go-to bible verse for when I’m uncertain about my life. It reminds me that yeah it might have been really rough and it might get worse; but what’s important is that I keep moving forward. God promises that if we love him and seek to imitate his love, then he can do great things through our actions. I can discern all day long, and the act of doing so has its virtues. But God has given me free will and requires that I use it to seek his will. So we all have a choice to make. Do we stand still and wait for life to move us where it will? Or do we take that step in good faith and let God do with it what he will? Recently a friend asked me to pray for her and this is the prayer that leapt to my mind.

Lord God, you have called each one of us to love and to serve you. Be with me now, be my guide as I go about this phase of my life. Please give me the wisdom to know your will, and the courage to do it. Amen

All for the greater glory of God!

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

I am Bernard

This All Saints day I’d like to take a moment and give you a view of my patron, Saint Bernard

My name is Bernard. I am a gentleman. I am an adventurer. I am a scholar. I will always be a friend of the traveler and of the lost. I love the outdoors. And I pursue mountains, both real and metaphorical. I am a saint. I am a sinner. I am Bernard.

You should go listen to this like a good person… “Litany” –Matt Maher

Who is your patron saint? Is their someone living who you model your life after? I strongly encourage you to find a saint and a mentor. One to pray for you, the other to call you to the carpet every once and awhile…

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Strong & Steadfast

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“I will be with you; I will not leave you nor forsake you… I command you be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5, 9)

Have you ever felt completely alone? It’s not an uncommon feeling really. IN fact it’s a very natural fear. It starts as an emptiness that we try to fill with pointless things. At a certain point we may fall to the temptation of just giving up. We risk despair of ever finding what will fill that emptiness.

The other end of that spectrum is wanting to be alone. Similar to its counterpart, it is usually a selfish desire. Often driven by a desire for something better. It can be triggered by an endless array of things. It seeks solitude, an over exaggeration of our own independence,

My question to you is, what is missing from both of these conditions? I see that they both ignore the constant presence of God in our lives. Just as God promised Joshua when he called him to lead, and Christ re-iterated to his apostles before ascending into heaven.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… and behold I am with you always, even to the end of time” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

God is always present in our lives both when our problems seem to big and we feel alone, and when we believethat we alone should worry about our problems.

So yeah, I will remain “Strong and Steadfast” knowing that Christ walks with me. Ready to aid me when this life gets to hard. As Matt Maher sings, “Lord I need you. Oh I need you! Every hour I need you.”

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe