Two Million Hearts United

IMG_3042A week ago I was exhausted to a degree I never knew my body could handle.

A week ago I was soaked to the core having been caught in a down-pouring of rain unlike any I had ever seen. A week ago my feet pulsed with every step I took. A week ago my shoulders felt as if I had carried the weight of the world for days on end. A week ago I was so thirsty I felt my tongue was as rough as sand paper. A week ago my back ached, my skin was 10 shades darker than it had been a few days prior, my body reeked, my eyes drooped and my hair looked a straight-up mess. A week ago I was on the edge of my physical, emotional, and spiritual capabilities. A week ago I was happier than I had been in a really long time.

A week ago I had just experienced the end of World Youth Day 2016.

The vigil and morning Mass with the Pope are iconic events of every World Youth Day. All WYD pilgrims trek out to a designated campsite to spend the night under the stars awaiting Mass with the Holy Father the following morning. The Catholic international youth conference culminates with this epic finale. The energy and sheer joy of the week builds up to the final events everyone looks forward to–at least everyone thinks they look forward to them until they  have to brave the heat and the crowds….

The vigil begins with a 9 mile hike to the field outside the city,  equipped to handle 2 million people. Our journey began as every Catholic endeavor should, with the Eucharist. After celebrating Mass with Bishop Kevin Rhodes we set out on the hike to Campus Misericordiae.

After hours of trekking along in the hot scorching sun alongside millions of other pilgrims from around the world, we finally made it to our campsite. That night Pope Francis spoke to the young Church exhorting them to live out the Faith courageously. Words can’t describe the energy the Holy Father sent flying through the crowd or the magnanimity of the moment when he asked 2 million people to hold a moment of silent prayer and just that ensued– a total, deep, prayerful silence.

Two million young people united in prayer. Two million hearts turned towards the Lord. Two million souls reaching for Heaven, hoping for peace.

Pictures from that night will never do the moment justice. Looking out into the sea of candles lit by a people who’s hearts are on fire for Christ is something you must witness to truly grasp.

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The night of the vigil is one that knows no sleep for many pilgrims. While some pilgrims lay their heads to rest on mats and inflatable bedding, many go out to meet their brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world. Everywhere you walk people encounter each other in Christ. The beating of drums can be heard in every corner of the camp. Guitars strum and voices praise the Lord in every language known to mankind.

To put it simply, it’s an all-night, huge, international, Catholic party. It’s pretty amazing.

The following morning is one of continued rejoicing. Mass with 2 million people and the Vicar of Christ is out of this world. Despite the unbearable sun, the inevitable exhaustion that has set in by now, and the discomfort that comes with a lack of showers (we won’t even speak of the port-a-potty situation), people manage to keep the joy of the Gospel alive.

Once the Mass is over, the pilgrimage has hardly come to an end. Two million people still have to make it out of the camp and back home, wherever that may be. Nine miles had never seemed so far to me before. The small group of us that walked back together prayed the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet to help pass the time and to give us the strength we needed to move forward.

It took us a while to emerge from the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds but once we had made it through we were beyond ready to find shelter back at our hotel. Yet, Jesus had different plans. On our way back we stumbled upon a beautiful church. Despite the exhaustion that threatened to overtake our bodies, four of us decided to stop for a moment and explore this beautiful Polish church.

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As we walked into the church my body screamed at me, demanding rest. All I wanted was a shower and a chance to finally put my feet up. And it was then that St. Augustine’s words came to mind: “Our heart is restless until it finds rest in You.” As I walked around and took in the beauty of this church I couldn’t help but feel refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the final steps of our journey. I was reminded that no matter what Jesus asks, no matter where He leads, everything works out if we remain in His house. He takes care of us. He always gives us the rest our hearts long for.

Little did I know the last leg of our walk back would be marked by a remarkable rain, the kind that’s accompanied by hail and comes down so hard you can’t see more than 5 feet ahead of you. Good one Jesus.

And yet, despite all of the difficulties that inevitably come with a pilgrimage like WYD, it was well worth it.

Now that a week has passed and my great World Youth Day adventure has come and gone, I am still trying to process the events of the pilgrimage. I feel that, as was the case with the last WYD I attended, I will be unpacking WYD 2016 for years to come and I’m OK with that. World Youth Day is a precious gift to receive and I am more than happy to unwrap it for many years.

I leave you with one of the hymns we sang at Mass today. World Youth Day officially ended a week ago and yet even today when I’m halfway around the world again I am reminded of the lessons learned there. It only goes to show World Youth Day has only just begun.

Jesus, Ever-Flowing Fountain

Jesus, ever-flowing fountain, give us water from your well. In the gracious gift you offer, there is joy no tongue can tell.

Come to me, all pilgrims thirsty, drink the water I will give. If you knew what gift I offer, you would come to me and live.

Come to me, all travelers weary, come that I may give you rest. Drink the cup of life I offer, at this table be my guest.

A Wonderful Adventure

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Pope Francis in Juarez, Mexico

On Wednesday I had the privilege of seeing the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church for the fourth time in my short 23 years of life. I’m truly left speechless when I ponder just how much the Lord has blessed me; few Catholics get to see the Pope once in a lifetime and I have already seen him 4 times at such a young age. I feel so blessed! What’s more, I can still look forward to seeing him a fifth time this summer at World Youth Day in Poland.

I must wonder and ask: Why me Lord? Why have you given me so much, why have you  chosen me?

There’s no doubt the experiences the Lord has gifted me are not for myself. God has sent me and He has called me, not so that I may selfishly keep these blessings, but so that I may live them for my family, my friends, and all of the people I have known throughout my life. There hasn’t been a journey, pilgrimage or experience that I’ve lived only for myself. I’ve always brought along with me the petitions, intentions, and prayers that have been entrusted to me by many. My heart has always traveled full of love for I have always carried many souls along my way. And of all the people I have carried in my heart, there is one woman in particular I have carried in a most special way.

I saw the Pope for the first time in 2011 at the World Youth Day held in Madrid, Spain. I’m unable to describe the love and passion for the Faith that were cemented in my heart thanks to this encounter with Pope Benedict XVI. In that same year, a few months before my trip to Spain, my beloved grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. It all began like this, with a terrible diagnosis and a visit to see the Pope.

These last 5 years of struggling with my grandmother’s illness have been difficult. Watching a loved one suffer fills your soul with a pain that is unbearable. I would give anything to suffer in her place. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. I can’t take my beloved grandmother’s suffering away. But I can carry her with me wherever I go in my thoughts and prayers. There has not been a single day since that dreadful first diagnosis that I have not thought of this woman who has filled my life with so much love and affection.

These last 5 years have also been full of adventures and blessings. I’ve visited 6 different countries. I’ve seen and done things I never imagined were possible. It would take me years to relate every adventure the Lord has taken me on over the last 5 years. Yet, of all the wonders I’ve had the privilege of living, the most beautiful experience has been seeing the Pope so many times. And on every occasion I have seen him, it’s my grandma that I carry first and foremost in my heart. With every shout of joy that I have greeted the Pope goes a cry of hope that belongs to my grandmother.

Perhaps some think it’s not so grand to see the Vicar of Christ in person. In reality, what can a few seconds of quickly gazing upon a simple human being mean? For those who question the peace and power the Holy Father possesses, I have no words to convince you otherwise; you’d simply have to see it with your own eyes. The euphoria that is lived while waiting for the Pope is indescribable. The ecstatic joy of the people, that feeling of being among family, the excitement of knowing we are united by a common Faith and of having a leader who we know truly loves each one of us, and the incredible love that is palpable in the midst of the crowds– these are things that words simply cannot adequately describe.

Of course, it’s also uncomfortable being among the great multitudes of people that a Papal visit inevitably attracts. Apart from the warm temperatures, all concepts of personal space are virtually nonexistent. Your feet get awfully sore from hours of standing without rest, your back aches, the sun burns, thirst is unquenchable, and the odors, we’ll say, aren’t the most pleasant. And yet, despite all of the inconveniences, the discomforts are lived out in joy and these small sacrifices are offered up and united to the great Sacrifice of Christ.

The usual hassles of a Papal visit weren’t missing this time around in the city of Juarez. And just like on every occasion I’ve seen the Vicar of Christ, one could feel the great love of the Catholic Church and the energy of peace, joy and tranquility that accompanies the Holy Father wherever he goes. However, this time around was different. My encounter with the Pope this time was unplanned and unexpected.

I didn’t travel to Juarez to see the Pope, instead I came to see the woman who fills my life with light. After five and a half years of courageously battling cancer, it would seem my grandmother is losing the fight. And yet, even if this be the case, she is the one that comes out winning! Despite the pain, suffering, affliction, and agony that accompany her on a daily basis, my grandma continues to be a woman who is strong, valiant, elegant, grateful, courteous, compassionate, caring, joyful, loving and much more. No other woman on this earth is like my grandmother Martha; she is indubitably unique. No other woman on this earth has inspired me like she has; she is my greatest source of hope. I need no other role models; in this life she will always be my greatest hero.

I know the Pope specifically chose to visit the city of Juarez for many reasons of great importance. His reasons are significant on a political, humanitarian, and spiritual level, to name a few. This visit was historical, monumental and strategic. Yet, I feel in my heart that Pope Francis also came for my grandmother. Call me crazy, but I’ve always said there are no such things as coincidences. The Holy Spirit is always at work and I believe He chose to bring the Holy Father to my fighter of a grandma.

Life is full of surprises and unexpected gifts. If we open up our hearts to the movements of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Lord, Jesus will never disappoint us. Saint Pope John Paul II said that, “life with Christ is a wonderful adventure” and I cannot disagree. The greatest adventure I’ve lived as a Christian is being the first grandchild of Martha Graciela Dominguez Santos.

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My beautiful grandmother 🙂

Una Maravillosa Aventura

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El miércoles tuve la dicha de ver al Sumo Pontífice por la cuarta vez en mis cortos 23 años de vida. La verdad me quedo sin palabras al reflexionar lo mucho que me ha bendecido el Señor, son pocos los católicos que logran ver al Papa una sola vez, y yo tan joven he tenido la bendición de verlo ya 4 veces. ¡Me siento tan dichosa! Y todavía me espera verlo por quinta vez este verano en la Jornada Mundial de la Juventud en Polonia.

Me pongo a pensar y a preguntar: ¿Por qué yo Señor? ¿Por qué me has dado tanto, por qué me has elegido a mi?

No cabe duda que todas las experiencias que me ha brindado el Señor no son para mi. Dios me ha enviado y me ha llamado, no para que egoístamente me quede yo con sus bendiciones, sino para que yo las pueda vivir por todos mis familiares, amigos y conocidos. No hay viaje, peregrinaje, o experiencia que he vivido solamente para mi. Siempre llevo las peticiones, intenciones y oraciones que me encomiendan. Mi corazón ha viajado lleno de tanto amor pues siempre voy cargando a tantas almas en mi ser. Y de todas las personas que llevo en mi corazón, hay una mujer en especial que siempre he llevado conmigo de una manera singular.

En el año 2011 vi al Papa por primera vez en la Jornada Mundial de la Juventud en Madrid, España. Es imposible describir el amor y la pasión por la Fe que fueron cementados en mi corazón a raíz de ese encuentro con el Papa Benedicto XVI. Ese mismo año, unos meses antes de mi viaje a España, fue diagnosticada mi querida abuelita con cancer. Asi comenzó todo, con un terrible diagnóstico y una visita a ver al Papa.

Estos últimos 5 años en los que hemos lidiado con la enfermedad de mi abuelita han sido difíciles. Ver el sufrimiento de un ser querido es algo que te llena el alma con un dolor insoportable. Daría yo lo que fuera por sufrir en su lugar. Lamentablemente, así no funciona la vida. No le puedo quitar el sufrir a mi amada abuelita. Pero lo que si puedo hacer es llevarla siempre en mis pensamientos y oraciones. No ha pasado ni un solo día desde aquel primer diagnóstico en el cual no he pensado en esta mujer que me ha llenado la vida con tanto apapacho y cariño.

Estos últimos 5 años han estado al igual llenos de aventuras y bendiciones. He visitado a 6 países diferentes. He visto y hecho cosas que nunca me imagine fueran posibles. Duraría años en relatar cada aventura que me ha brindado el Señor en estos 5 años. Pero de todas las maravillas que he tenido el privilegio de vivir, lo más bonito ha sido ver al Papa tantas veces. Y en cada ocasión es a mi abuelita a la que llevo en primera en mi corazón. Con cada grito de emoción con el cual que he saludado al Sumo Pontífice llevo un grito de esperanza que le pertenece a mi abuelita.

Tal vez a algunos les parecerá que no es la gran cosa ver al Vicario de Cristo en persona. ¿Pues en realidad, que pueden valer unos pocos segundos de echarle un vistazo a lo que simplemente es un hombre? Para aquellos que duden del poder y la paz que carga el Santo Padre, no tengo palabras para poder convencerlos; hace falta simplemente tener la experiencia de verlo con tus propios ojos. No hay manera de describir la euforia que se vive al esperar la llegada del Papa. La alegría que se transmite entre la gente, el sentirse en familia, la emoción de saber que tenemos la Fe en común y a un líder que realmente nos ama a todos, y el amor increible en general que es palpable entre las multitudes, estas son cosas que las palabras no pueden adecuadamente describir.

Claro, estar entre el gran gentío que inevitablemente atrae una visita del Papa es incómodo. Aparte del clima cálido, todo espacio personal es virtualmente inexistente. Los pies empiezan a calar después de estar parado sin descanso por horas, la espalda duele, el sol quema, la sed es insoportable y los olores, digamos, no son los más agradables. Pero aún así, a pesar de toda incomodidad, los malestares se viven con gozo y los pequeños sacrificios se unen al gran Sacrificio de Cristo.

No faltaron las molestias usuales en esta última vez que vi al Papa aquí en Ciudad Juárez . Y como en toda ocasión que he visto al Vicario de Cristo, se sentía el gran amor de la Iglesia Católica y la energía de paz, alegría y dulzura que acompañan al Santo Padre a donde vaya. Pero esta vez si fue diferente pues este encuentro con el Papa fue inesperado.

El motivo de mi viaje a Juárez no fue ver al Papa, sino ver a aquella mujer que me llena la vista de luz. Después de cinco años y medio de luchar valientemente en contra del cancer, parece ser que mi abuelita va perdiendo la batalla. ¡Pero si aun así fuera, ella es la que saldra ganando! A pesar del dolor, del sufrir, de la aflicción, y de la agonía que la acompañan diariamente, mi abuelita sigue siendo una mujer fuerte, valiente, elegante, agradecida, cortés, compasiva, amable, risueña, amorosa y mucho más. No existe en este mundo mujer como mi abuelita Martha; no cabe duda que ella es única. Y no hay otra persona en este mundo que me haya inspirado más que ella. ¿Si algún día yo llegaría a ser una cuarta parte de la mujer que es ella, que más podría pedirle a Dios? No me hace falta ningún otro modelo a seguir, pues ella siempre será mi gran héroe en esta vida.

Yo se que el Papa eligió visitar en especial a la Ciudad de Juárez por muchas razones de gran importancia. Razones de valor humanitario, político, espiritual, y más. Su visita a esta ciudad fue histórica y monumental; pero yo siento en mi corazón que el Papa Francisco también vino por mi abuelita. Aunque me digan loca, yo siempre he dicho que en esta vida no existen las coincidencias. El Espíritu Santo siempre se manifiesta y en esta ocasión le trajo al Santo Padre a mi abuelita luchadora.

La vida esta llena de sorpresas y de regalos inesperados. Si abrimos nuestro corazón a los movimientos del Espíritu Santo y a la gracia del Señor, Jésus nunca nos dejará decepcionados. El Papa Juan Pablo II nos dijo que “la vida en Cristo es una maravillosa aventura,” y la verdad que no lo puedo disputar. La aventura más grande que he vivido como Cristiana ha sido ser la primer nieta de Martha Graciela Domínguez Santos.

 

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Happy Feast Day of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati!

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There are certain days of the calendar year that innately demand our anxious anticipation. What child doesn’t burst out of their skin on Christmas morning when the day they’ve been waiting for since July is finally here? We all count down with giddy excitement to Thanksgiving, birthdays, Halloween, anniversaries and more. That’s just what holidays do to us. But I honestly think I’ve taken counting down to an important day to a whole new level. I like to call it: Frassati Frenzy

Ok kidding, I literally just made that up on the spot. Though I do kind of like the sounds of it… Frassati Frenzy. 🙂

Anyways, what I’m trying to say here is that today is a VERY important day in my life. I know that it seems totally absurd that the 90th anniversary of an Italian guy’s death would have astronomical significance in a Mexican 23-year-old chick’s life, but that’s simply the case. Honestly, words can’t describe just how special July 4th has become to me.

I often ask myself, “how can it be that I have fallen so madly in love with a dead man?” It seems crazy and unreal that someone who is dead can move my soul in such a way. I know that I sound like an insane person when I say things like this, but it’s true and I can’t help it: sometimes I forget that Pier Giorgio is dead because he is so very alive to me.

It’s not even just that so many of his interests and passions in life align with my own; I feel some other strange sort of connection with him that is impossible to describe. He is with me. He knows my pain, my worries, my struggles. He shares in my joys, dreams, and triumphs. I can’t explain how, or why, but I know that he understands me better than any other human being ever has.

It makes no sense, I know. But it’s just the way it is.

Someway, somehow, God has chosen to unite my soul with a man who died 90 years ago and I have no complaints. My life is all the better because I have Pier Giorgio in it. When I have been down, it is this Italian dead man that has brought me back to life. But above all else, the way in which Pier Giorgio has enriched my life the most, is how he has drawn me into an ever deeper relationship with Christ. And for that, I am eternally indebted to the Man of the Beatitudes.

May his spirit always live on and en-kindle the love of Christ in the hearts of the faithful.

And may we always reach for the heights. Verso l’alto!

I’m not 15 but my Birthday was 15 years ago!

38251_10150236866795576_3288952_nFifteen years ago today my life was forever changed.

Fifteen years ago I was united with Christ in one of the most intimate ways possible. I tasted the sweetest thing I would ever encounter. I communed with the angels and saints, with young, old, rich, poor, dead, and alive all alike and all at once. I entered into the greatest Mystery mankind has ever beheld and I consumed the entire world in one simple bite.

Fifteen years ago I made my first Holy Communion.

Fifteen years ago I also turned eight years old. I had no idea what the heck I was doing. All I remember is being excited to wear a pretty dress, get my hair professionally styled, and pose for elegant pictures with perfect poise. Jesus was just the crazy dude hanging half-naked on the Cross and the white little thing I got to eat now was just that, a white little thing. However, even though I didn’t understand it, I’ll never forget what my wise mother told me: “This is the greatest birthday present you will EVER receive.”

Oh how right she was.

Truly, the Eucharist has been the greatest gift I have ever received and I am sure that will remain true until the end of my days and beyond! Looking back on the past 15 years of my Eucharistic union with Christ I am amazed at the power and grace this Bread of Life has given me. In the Eucharist I have received Life itself!

The Eucharist has been the greatest source of strength in my life, even when I didn’t recognize It for what It is. The Eucharist sustained me all throughout the years I didn’t believe, It nourished me as I began to open the doors to God and it was this same Eucharist that finally led me to my conversion of heart. It was in the Eucharist that I first encountered Christ as a living person, my Lord and Lover! It was in the Eucharist that I first fell in love with Jesus!

Even in recent years there have been dark moments of deep struggle, but time and time again it is Jesus in the Eucharist that sees me through. How many tears have I shed as I gaze into His white round existence in that beautiful Host? How many times have I run to this Bread of Angels feeling lost and alone? How many times have I laid down my burdens at the base of the monstrance–the foot of the Cross? I couldn’t even count them if I tried!

I fail Jesus every day. In my sin I drive the nails into His Holy Hands every day without mercy. And yet still He comes to me in the Eucharist! Not once has Jesus refused me. Not once has He denied me the privilege of receiving His Precious Body into my very own body. He always allows me to become His home, His resting place. I am always honored with the grace of becoming His tabernacle!

My life may have started 23 years ago, but it was 15 years ago that I was given New Life in the Bread of Life!

**This blog post is an updated re-post from last year on an old blog I had.

You are as Joyful as you are Selfless

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As Uncle Albert from Mary Poppins gleefully sings in the timeless classic— I love to laugh. Who doesn’t love a good laugh? And better yet, who doesn’t love a good comedic movie that makes you cackle so hard the tears can’t help but squeeze through your eyes? I love myself a good comedy and a good laugh.

So I headed to theaters last week to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 as it promised to produce some hearty laughter. I was not disappointed. I also couldn’t pass up the chance to see my two favorite Catholic actors Eduardo Verastegui and David Henrie on the big screen. They didn’t disappoint either 🙂

The sequel proved to be just as entertaining as the original movie, with Segway Scooter chases, hypoglycemic interruptions, and humorous platonic romances in full swing. I expected to come out of the theater with stomach pains from the laughter (which was the case) but I never expected to leave with my head spinning as I pondered the comedy. Paul Blart got deep.

During an epic speech where Blart outlines what’s it’s like to lead the life of a mall cop, he also enlightens the emotional audience of officers on the meaning of life:

“If you believe the purpose of life is to only help yourself, you have no purpose. Help someone today.” – Paul Blart

Sure, it’s hard to take a man with a bushy mustache and an addiction to M&Ms seriously, but these words resonated in my mind and etched themselves into my thoughts. Paul Blart may be regarded by many as a joke, but his unprecedented wisdom allowed him to recognize one of the greatest truths in this life: a life lived for yourself is a life not lived at all.

We established in my last post that living a life of selfishness leaves you miserable. So it would stand to reason that the opposite is true as well: a life of selflessness brings great joy. This reality is evidenced by the way Blart lives out his own life.

By the world’s standards Blart should be miserable; he’s single, over-weight, unattractive, unappreciated, probably under-paid, in a career that’s often ridiculed, lives with his mom, loses his mom (to a milk truck at that), and relies on his daughter for affection (who goes away to college and leaves him alone). And yet, despite what the world says he should be (depressed, discontent and in despair), he’s a jolly guy. Sure, he has the occasional “down in the dumps” day, but who doesn’t get into a gloomy mood once in a while?

Overall, Blart is a pretty upbeat person. So what’s the origin of Blart’s cheer? Maybe it has a little to do with his semi-delusional self-confidence, but I think it comes down to his prophetic words. Blart has a clear purpose in life. He lives in service to others.

No matter how degrading his job gets, he still manages to line his mustache with a smile. No matter what people say or do to bring him down, he gets back up and keeps fighting the good fight. Blart finds fulfillment in helping others. He isn’t living for himself.

It’s this life lived for others that fills his heart with joy. The more we step out of ourselves, the more we step into joy. The kind of joy that not even chocolate can bring. Mother Teresa tells us “you are as miserable as you are selfish,” so it would stand to reason that you are as joyful as you are selfless too.

What more could we want than to live a life of joy, a life filled with purpose and meaning? Nothing. So, channel your inner mall cop, go help someone, and serve yourself a piece of delicious happy pie by doing so!

You are as Miserable as you are Selfish

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“Living for myself is no way to live at all. I wake up one day everybody’s gone. We already know the ending of the story. We don’t have to worry about the little things. Look out for your sisters, don’t forget your brothers, gotta take care of each other.” – The Vespers

I recently discovered The Vespers whilst obsessing over Matt Maher’s newest album “Saints and Sinners” where they sing alongside Maher in the beautiful song “Rest.” The unique vocals and folk feeling to the song immediately caught my attention— this is not your typical Matt Maher P&W jam. Upon further investigation of The Vespers (by that I mean I’ve been listening to them nonstop) I have concluded that Maher’s song “Rest” is certainly much more in the bluegrass style of The Vespers.

The opening lyrics of this blog post from the song “Sisters and Brothers” have been floating around in my head nonstop for a while now. They’re simple and obvious and maybe even a little cliche’ and yet they strike a cord in my heart. Perhaps it’s because they are profound in their simplicity or maybe they move me because from the moment I first heard those words stringed together with music they immediately took me back to around 7 months ago.

“You’re living selfishly. You’re living for yourself and you need to start living for others,” Brother Leo scolded me on a hot September afternoon when I finally showed face at the Friary after avoiding the Franciscan Brothers I love for weeks. This was exactly the sort of thing I knew my good friend would tell me and this was exactly the sort of thing I did not want to hear. It was true and I knew it. Could I just slip away, never come back, and pretend I never had the truth thrust into my face?

That wasn’t about to fly with God. And I’m glad He wasn’t cool with it. It was time to wake-up from my selfish fantasy. A life lived for yourself is a life not lived at all.

At the time of Br. Leo’s reprimand I was unemployed, admittedly depressed, angry at life, throwing myself daily pity parties, wasting a lot of time on useless activities (hello Netflix), and reveling in my selfishness. I could have been doing a myriad of different productive things with my ample free time. But I was so ticked off at God that I had no desire of doing anything for anyone other than myself.

It was a pretty rough time in my life and yes, I had been through some of the most challenging trials I had ever had to face. But that was no excuse to turn away from God and draw into myself. Instead of picking myself up, dusting myself off and continuing to fight the good fight, I decided to get bitter. I let resentment and anger toward God tarnish my heart. I no longer wanted to live for Jesus, I wanted to live for myself.

I was obviously miserable. But I wasn’t miserable because I had lived through difficult things. My misery had nothing to do with my life’s circumstances and everything to do with my attitude on life. Mother Teresa was spot on when she said, “You are as miserable as you are selfish.” In choosing to serve my self and only myself, I denied myself the true joy that comes with service to others. I served myself a big fat plate of selfishness and it tasted like miserable sadness—a bitter flavor indeed.

“Scavenging with urgency, gotta get the best for me. Why am I in such a rush? I’ve already got too much. I could die in just a blink, sipping on my selfish drink. It don’t matter anyway, nothing here is here to stay.” – The Vespers