Can I be a Saint?

The Saints as heroes
Because I went to Catholic school, I was blessed to be surrounded by pictures and stories of the Saints throughout my childhood. From a young age, these holy men and women were my heroes and role models, and I wanted to be just like them. I loved hearing the stories of Saints like St. Francis, who showed gentleness and compassion to all of God’s creation, and St. Thérѐse of Lisieux, who loved God and her neighbors by doing little things with great love.

As I grew up, my role models became St. Mary Magdalene, who was a close disciple and friend of Jesus, St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered to die in the place of another prisoner in Auschwitz, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, who debated and defended the faith so well that pagan philosophers converted to Christianity.

Can I be a Saint?
Can I be a Saint?

Sainthood is within reach
As I got older, I began to give into the lie that holiness was out of reach. The gap between myself and the Saints grew, and I began to view them as distant and completely different than me. Listening to the world, I thought that holiness and Sainthood were reserved only for a select few. Who was I to think that I was special enough for that? Giving into despair, I allowed myself to believe that I could never become a Saint.

Fortunately, when I went to college, my lukewarm faith caught on fire when I went to the Newman Center and joined a vibrant Catholic community. I understood what it meant to be a Saint, and I realized that God desires Sainthood for all of us! Now, I truly believe that we all can be Saints. God desires Sainthood for you and for me, and we should desire it too. Nothing is impossible with God, so holiness and Sainthood are within reach for all of us as long as we keep choosing God and living how He guides us.

From learning about our faith and the lives of the Saints, I ascertained a few things they did that made them Saints. Because we all should strive for holiness and Sainthood, I wanted to share them with you.

1 Pray every day.
Prayer is the cornerstone of your relationship with God. In prayer, we talk to Him and get to know Him more. We share our joys and struggles with Him, we entrust Him with our intentions, and we praise Him for His goodness. We become more aware of how He’s working in our lives, and we conform our own will with His. If we want to be Saints, then we need to make God our best friend. Our best friend is someone who we talk to as often as possible, so we should talk to God as much as we can.

2 Receive the Sacraments often.
If prayer is how we talk to God, then the Sacraments are how we spend time with God. The Sacraments give us real, tangible opportunities to be with Jesus, particularly because He’s fully present in the Sacraments. The priest acts in persona Christi in Confession, and the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. By frequenting Confession, Mass, and Adoration, we receive His graces in special ways. When we experience the person of God, we come to want what’s good and holy for us, and we’re more likely to avoid near occasions of sin.

3 Read the Bible, the Catechism, and other holy books.
Whether you’re a reader or not, these resources are great ways to learn more about God, the Church, and even ourselves. Understanding these things helps us to deepen our faith, and when we know more about God, we fall more in love with Him. No matter how long we’ve known our best friends, we can somehow always learn more about them. Until He gives us the beatific vision in Heaven, we can always keep learning about God.

4 Do little things with great love.
Some of the greatest Saints didn’t necessarily do “great” things. They loved deeply and were intentional about serving God through others. Their example should encourage us because we can easily do little things with great love. Although it might take some practice at first, we can humble ourselves to always put our neighbors first.

5 Consecrate yourself to Mary.
Have you ever been on a mission trip? Mary is the most perfect missionary, and her mission is to bring all of us to the Heart of her Son. According to Fr. Michael Gaitely, MIC, Marian Consecration is “the surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means” to become a Saint. It’s a way to entrust ourselves to Mary so that she can share her graces with us. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, she brings us closer to Jesus and helps us to love Him more. Some of the greatest Saints were devoted to Mary and consecrated themselves to her.

6 Fast and sacrifice.
Fasting and making sacrifices can make our prayers more powerful, and they can also shorten our time in Purgatory. The more penances we do for our sins on earth, the less time we’ll spend doing penance in Purgatory. Hopefully, we’ll do all the penance we need to do on earth so that we can go directly to heaven. It’s a fact that we’ll have to suffer in this life, but when we suffer well and intentionally offer it up for God, our suffering will sanctify us. The Saints often gave up good things in their lives so that they could pursue God. When we fast from food or sacrifice things like social media, and sleeping in, we give up something good for a greater good.

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Worthy of God’s Kingdom
God wants us to spend eternity with Him in His Kingdom, so the way that we live our lives should prepare us for that. In St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he encourages us to “lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). In other words, the way that we live should reflect God’s glory, which we’ll share with Him in Heaven someday. This is exactly what the Saints did. Whether they were single, married, in religious lives, old, young, cradle Catholics, or converts, they lived their lives in ways that made them worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

No matter how God is calling you to spend your life, there are always ways to choose Him. If we keep God at the forefront of our lives and do our best to follow His will, then we’ll surely be Saints.

Stay radiant!

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Proclaiming the Gospel: This Sunday’s Gospel 5/16/2021

For this Sunday’s Gospel and other Mass readings for the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, click here!

After three years of being with Him for His public ministry, the Apostles were about to say goodbye to Jesus. The last thing that He told them before He Ascended into Heaven became known as the Great Commission. He instructed the eleven to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). It’s a big task, but Jesus gave it to them knowing that it was something that they could do. As His disciples, we’re also called to do our part in proclaiming the Gospel to every creature.

We’re all invited to be part of the Great Commission. By our baptism, and as followers of Christ we’re called to share the Gospel. At first, this might seem like a daunting endeavor. You might wonder how you can make Christ known to others, but God gives you the ability to do this. We all have different gifts and talents, so we all share the Gospel differently.

Teachers can share the Gospel by teaching it to their students. Missionaries and volunteers can also do this by being like Jesus to others and sharing His love and mercy. Priests, deacons, sisters, and those in religious life give us examples of the love that Jesus and the Church have for each other. Wives and husbands show us what sacrificial love looks like, and when they become mothers and fathers, their children are their disciples as they raise them in the Church.

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Whatever your gifts are and whatever your vocation is, you have a role to play in the Great Commission. Jesus calls us to share the Gospel in unique ways, and the way that He invites you to share the Gospel is the way that only you can. However you proclaim the Gospel, proclaim it with joyfully, overflowing with the love you have for Christ.

Stay radiant!

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How I Find the Book of Judges Relatable

Catching up on the Bible
I’ve been delving into scripture a lot this year. One of my spiritual goals for 2021 is to read the whole Old Testament, but during my break in April, I had lost a lot of my momentum. As my break came to a close, I found myself catching up on my reading plan to get back to where I wanted to be. In hindsight, this was probably a good thing, because when I got to the book of Judges, I didn’t want to put it down. This was my first time reading Judges, and it was so much more exciting and intriguing than I had assumed it would be.

How I Find the Book of Judges Relatable
How I Find the Book of Judges Relatable

What Judges is Really About
With a name like “Judges,” I didn’t expect this book to be such a page-turner. The image that comes to my mind when I think of a judge is someone in a long black robe and a white wig. But the judges in the Bible were heroes who God raised up to fight for Israel. Although God’s chosen people had promised to be faithful to Him, they often forgot about their covenant with Him. After Israel had entered the Promised Land, it went through cycles of turning away from God, falling into sin, and becoming oppressed by other nations. Each time this happened, they would repent and call upon the Lord, and every time, He would raise up a judge to liberate Israel.

If you think that all of the judges were perfect examples of holy people who followed God closely, you might want to think again. God helped the judges do great things, but the judges weren’t always great people in the sight of the Lord. Some judges made idols, like how Gideon made an idol which Israel eventually worshipped as a god. Some judges gave into sin, like how Samson became violent and promiscuous. Some judges failed to know who God really is, like how Jepthah sacrificed his own daughter. Although they did some terrible things, God still used them as instruments of His justice. Despite their sins, He worked through them to liberate Israel.

Many passages in Judges shocked me, and I often asked myself “Why would they put that in the Bible?!” I never expected to read about so much murder, treachery, and sexual sin in one book of the Bible. But of course, God still works and does good through flawed people, and that’s what the book of Judges taught me. I learned that God can take the sin, challenges, and bad things in our lives and turn them into something good because He is the most good.

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Remembering Whose I Am
Reflecting on my own life recently, I haven’t been pursuing the good, at least not as much as I should. With my break after Easter, I fell into a prayer slump and neglected my much-needed time with God. I’ve found myself slacking with my responsibilities and choosing to be lazy. While this initially came from the need to rest, I let myself get carried away with my season of restfulness. I gave myself and inch, but I took a mile. I felt awful about myself for giving into acedia, but in His goodness, God brought me back to Him and reminded me of who I am and whose I am.

I recognized in Judges that God worked through the flawed judges of Israel. He works through imperfect people all the time, so He can easily work through me. God reminded me of my worth and my identity as His beloved daughter. He patiently waited for me to return to Him, and when I went to pray for the first time in a while, He was there and ready to welcome me home. After reading the book of Judges, I’m more confident in God. I know that nothing can overcome His goodness, and nothing I can do can exhaust His patience or His love for me.

Stay radiant!

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Jesus’ and a Mother’s Love: This Sunday’s Gospel 5/9/2021

For this Sunday’s Gospel and other Mass readings, click here!

Jesus and His disciples are gathered around the table. Having finished the Last Supper, Jesus gives His friends a few last words of wisdom before His Passion begins. I can imagine the disciples listening to Him intently. He shares important instructions, theological truths, and most of all, His love.

Although it might seem like a stretch at first, I think this Gospel passage applies a lot to Mother’s Day. I think of all the meals I shared with my mom, and all of the lessons she taught me. I remember our after dinner conversations while we’re still sitting around the table filled with stories, lessons, and post of all, love.

Jesus repeats His command to love each other often, saying “Love one another as I love you” (John 15:12). As He stresses His love, Jesus gives us a glimpse of His infinite love. As we strive to be like Jesus, we’re called to love each other unconditionally. Some of the most beautiful examples of unconditional love that I’ve witnessed have been in mothers. The reminders from my own mom of “I love you no matter what,” show me that unconditional love is real and give me an idea of what Jesus’ love for me is like. Loving as perfectly as Jesus does is difficult, but my mom shows me that it’s possible.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Here, Jesus is talking about sacrificial love. I used to think that this verse only referred to actually laying down one’s life for someone. Now, I know that you can sacrifice for someone without literally dying. It might be a small death to yourself, but it’s worth it because it’s for someone else’s life. Moms do this all the time. Aside from Jesus, I think of mothers when I think of sacrificial love. I see in my own mom the ways that she sets aside her own wants for my needs. She prays while she cleans the house and listens to Catholic speakers while she cooks dinner. With such a constant example of sacrificial love in my life, I remember Jesus’ sacrificial love, and I’m inspired to grow in this virtue.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, godmothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law, step mothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, and all women who generously give a mother’s love.

We’re All Called to be Disciples

Growing in Discipleship
I noticed that I write about discipleship often in my blogs. This subject has become an important part of my faith journey, and as followers of Christ, we’re all called to be His disciples. You might think that the only disciples lived 2000 years ago and encountered Jesus face-to-face, but we can still be, and we should be, His disciples today.

I always knew about the disciples from Mass and Catholic school. I knew that the first disciples were 12 men who followed Jesus and evangelized after His Ascension. In college, however, I understood and appreciated the concept of discipleship. When I met the FOCUS missionaries, they taught me about discipleship, invited me into it, and prepared me to make disciples of my own. Growing in discipleship had its difficulties, but they were all worth it. Now, I think discipleship is one of the most beautiful gifts in the faith, and I love sharing about it.

We're All Called to be Disciples
We’re All Called to be Disciples

What is a disciple?
Disciple comes from the Latin word discere meaning to learn. Back in Jesus’ time, young Jewish boys would go to school and study the Torah. If a young boy was very apt and passed his tests in school, he would be invited to discipleship. A Pharisee would say to the boy “follow me,” and he would follow the Pharisee everywhere and do everything that the Pharisee does to learn from him and be like him. They even had a saying that went, “May you be covered in the dust of your discipler,” meaning that they would follow their disciplers so closely that they would catch the dust that flung off of their discipler’s sandals!

Jesus invited the first disciples to follow Him in a similar way. When He met Andrew, Peter, James, and John, He invited them to follow Him. From that point on, they went wherever Jesus went. They did what He did, learned from Him, and became like Him.

Discipleship is how we follow Jesus in order to learn more about Him and become like Him. Although we can’t physically follow Jesus around in the same way that the first disciples did, in His goodness, we can still be with Him.

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How to be Jesus’ disciples
One way that we can be with Jesus is through the gift of the Eucharist. Because Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, we can encounter Him when we go to Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. In Adoration, we can pray, talk with Him, and simply be with Jesus. When we receive the Eucharist at Mass, we receive Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, and come into communion with Him.

Another way that we can follow and be with Jesus is through prayer. I love to think of prayer as spending time with Jesus. When we pray, we don’t just ask for things or check things off our list. Prayer isn’t all about praying for a certain amount of time, reading a specific number of chapters, or saying the right things. Time that we spend praying is time that we get to know Jesus. When we pray, we open our hearts to Jesus and grow closer to His most Sacred Heart.

When going to Mass, praying Lectio Divina, or studying scripture, pay attention to the passages where Jesus is with His disciples. I listen carefully to passages that begin with “Jesus said to His disciples,” because I am His disciple and He’s speaking to me. As followers of Christ, we’re His disciples, so His words to His disciples 2000 years ago still apply to us today.

Making Disciples
Finally, an important part of discipleship is to make disciples. During the parable of the vine and the branches, Jesus says “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples” (John 15:8). Naturally, when we follow Jesus and become like Him, we’ll share His love with those around us. Then, our brothers and sisters will come to know Him through us. When we share the Gospel and help our neighbors to know and love Jesus, this not only fulfills God’s will, but it also glorifies Him.

Jesus stresses the importance of making disciples again before His Ascension. When He gives the Great Commission, He says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Whether that be our friends, our students, or our children, Jesus desires for us to make His presence known to everyone around us. He calls us to be instruments of His love, share the Gospel, invite those whom we encounter to encounter Him.

Perfectly Reflecting Him
The more time that we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Him. Like how we reflect the friends who we spend the most time with, we come to reflect Jesus when we grow closer to Him. Jesus desires us to be like Him and His Father, and He encourages us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Through discipleship, we strive to be like Him. The most beautiful thing about discipleship is that it’s for everyone! Through discipleship, Jesus gives us a way to grow in holiness and become His faithful followers and close friends.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: May 2, 2021

For this Sunday’s Gospel and other Mass readings, click here!

I sat on a beautiful porch in Florida, changed forever after returning from a mission trip in Nicaragua. My team and I sat in a circle for a debriefing session before we parted ways and returned to our respective campuses for the rest of the spring semester. As we have done so many times over the past week, we opened our Bibles to pray Lectio Divina together.

This passage filled my mind with images of vines and branches drenched in the light of Christ. Prior to my time in Nicaragua, it was just another lovely parable. Now, I read it with a new perspective. I experienced Jesus working through me as I served as an instrument of His love. I imagined myself beautifully intertwined with Him like twisting and turning vines overtaking a sturdy branch.

Jesus nestled the word abide into my heart. This beautiful word brought a smile to my face when I discussed it during Lectio Divina. It truly describes Jesus’ desire to dwell with us and be close to us, and I began to joyfully feel the same way. I eagerly wanted Him to help me grow, to bear fruit for Him, and for Him to prune me so that I’ll bear more fruit.

“Pruning hurts though,” Becca lovingly pointed out. Wrapped up in consolation, the difficulties of discipleship didn’t cross my mind. As I continued my journey with Jesus throughout college, He began the pruning process, holding nothing back. Knowing that I desired a relationship with Him, holiness, and Sainthood, He strengthened me with trial after trial.

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Although I didn’t always endure the pruning gracefully, I know that it happened for a reason. He helped me bear more fruit because I longed to abide in Him. I wouldn’t trade the pain of pruning for anything because it’s the price I pay for abiding with Jesus, and apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5).

Let’s strive to be as close to Jesus as a vine is to the branch. Let’s abide with Him and let Him wrap Himself around every part of us.

Stay radiant!

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Resting to Restore

It’s been a while!
I’m back! It’s been a minute (about 28 days) since I posted a blog like this on Radiant with Joy, and it’s simply because I needed a break. It started as a short one, but I didn’t realize until I was in the middle of it that I needed more time than I thought. Because transparency and vulnerability is my mission as a writer, I want to share what happened during my break and how I’m doing.

The Big Break
Around Easter Sunday, I found myself taking an unannounced, unplanned, but certainly necessary break from blogging. I don’t think it was because I was tired of Radiant with Joy, but I was just tired in general. I feel like I always talk about how crazy life is, but it’s my reality. Although I enjoy being busy, I feel like my days are always booked. When I look at my planner, each week brims with work, activities, and things to do. For Easter, Franciscan Mission Service gave us Good Friday and Easter Monday off. I relished in having a few days to rest, but as I usually do, I didn’t notice how much I needed those days until I had them.

Sometimes my body is smarter than my mind, so when my body tells me I need rest, it’s great at making sure I get it, whether I like it or not. It’s nice to have designated time to do nothing, but it also makes me feel bad about myself. As someone who likes to stay busy and be productive, I find it hard to make time to relax and to value that time.

Resting to Restore
Resting to Restore

Too Much Rest
Some time to rest is good, but as always, indulging too much of a good thing doesn’t end well. I began my period of rest by doing life-giving things, like reading and enjoying the beautiful weather, but sooner or later, I started I staying inside and scrolling on my phone for hours. Before long, I felt myself turning to laziness, and wasting my free time became a bad habit. I began to neglect my time in prayer, which only made me feel worse. This month proved what I had always known about myself. If I don’t make time for God and pray every day, the other areas of my life seem to deteriorate. When I don’t pray, I’m constantly anxious because I don’t have the peace that only God can give.

God desires us to work, but He also wants us to rest. The word “rest” comes from the word “restore,” which implies that rest should rejuvenate you so that you can return to work from a place of abundance. With this being said, work and rest go hand-in-hand. We need to rest so that we can work well, but we also need to return to work after we’ve had adequate rest.

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Now that I’m back…
Returning to blogging has been difficult. Caught up in doing nothing, I had lost motivation and inspiration to write. In my despair, I didn’t think that I could or should write anything meaningful. I wanted to get back to writing so badly, but I didn’t know how. Fortunately, I remembered “This Sunday’s Gospel,” which gave me a low-stakes way to return to Radiant with Joy. I had set myself an unspoken goal of writing something like this by the end of April, and by the grace of God, I did it in the nick of time.

Our God is a God of second chances and new beginnings. I feel like I’ve had enough time to restore my desire to write, and especially because of my return to daily prayer, I’m ready to begin again. Now that I’m returning to blogging, I’m reminding myself why I started and why I write. During my break, I learned that if I neglect my prayer life, my writing will suffer. More importantly, my relationship with God suffers. Moving forward, I plan to make spending time with God a priority in my life again. By doing this, God will become the forefront of my life again, and my writing will outpour from my relationship with God.

Stay radiant!

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This Sunday’s Gospel: April 25, 2021

For this Sunday’s Gospel and other Mass readings, click here!

When I think of sheep, I think of them as adorable fluffy animals. They always look so pure and perfect for snuggling. But they’re also and fragile, and they need to be watched and cared for. Because sheep are so precious, they need to be protected. This is how Jesus views us. We’re His flock of sheep that He guards and keeps safe.

On Good Shepherd Sunday, I’m reminded of Jesus’ gentle love for us. I think of images of Him holding sheep with tender loving care. On one hand, I like to contemplate these sentimental images, but on the other hand, they seem watered down. The cutesy pictures of Jesus snuggling lambs don’t do Him justice as the Good Shepherd.

More than simply the fact that Jesus loves me, Good Shepherd Sunday reminds me of the depth of Jesus’ love for me. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus explains the lengths that He goes to to protect us and find us when we’re lost. Unlike a hired shepherd who flees when his sheep are in danger, Jesus says that He will lay down His life for His sheep, and He did on the cross.

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While sheep are adorable and fluffy, Jesus thinks of us as His sheep because we’re precious to Him. He doesn’t make any profit or gain anything from keeping us safe. He does these things for us out of His infinite love for us. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus constantly protects us from evil and leads us closer and closer to the Father.

Stay radiant!

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Good Friday: The Most Passionate Love Story

The Greatest Love Story
I used to love dramatic romance novels, the kind where a couple fights to protect their relationship against all odds. I would root for them as they clung to each other through obstacle after obstacle. I would swoon over grand gestures of one’s love and passionate scenes of intimacy. Oftentimes, the story would end with a climactic sacrifice of one lover laying down his or her life for the other. These stories inspired many a daydream for me, and (understandably) stirred up unrealistic expectations for my high school relationships. As a teenager, I would delve into these romances and dream up a love who would at least be willing to die for me.

As it turns out, I had the most perfect lover all along, and He already died for me on a cross before I even knew Him. When I realized this, I began referring to Christ’s Passion as “the greatest love story of all time.”

Good Friday: The Most Passionate Love Story
Good Friday: The Most Passionate Love Story

Passionately Suffering
During the Easter Triduum, we remember Jesus’ Last Supper, Passion, and Death. I always wondered why we refer to Jesus’ Way of the Cross as His “Passion,” and fortunately, I found out why from a podcast a few months ago. As a lover of words, I learned with interest that “passion” originally referred to suffering. Passion in it’s truest sense isn’t merely steamy scenes of physical intimacy. However, both intimacy and suffering require the body. Because of this, we can see why this notion can be skewed.

If Jesus’ Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane wasn’t the beginning of His Passion, then it was certainly a prelude to it. Overcome with anxiety, He shed His first drops of blood in the form of sweat. This condition results when someone undergoes extreme levels of stress, which causes capillaries to burst and blood mixes with sweat. He shed even more blood as He was scourged at the pillar the next day. I can only imagine the pain He felt when whips tore the flesh from His back. When He was crowned with thorns, fourteen sharp thorns pierced Jesus’ scalp, and they only dug in deeper while He carried His Cross. Exhausted from the weight of His Cross, it bit into His shoulder with every step. Finally arriving at Calvary, Jesus was stripped of His clothing and left completely vulnerable. I’ve always cringed at the thought of Him being nailed to His Cross, so I can’t bear to describe what it would have been like. Jesus hung on His Cross for three hours, gasping for air the whole time before He breathed His last breath.

Grand Gestures
It truly is hard for me to imagine Jesus bruised, bloody, and humiliated. When I really think of it, I can hardly bear to picture the face of Jesus in the midst of His Passion. I love Him so much, and it’s hard to think of your loved one suffering. Jesus teaches us that suffering is the price we pay for love, and His Passion and Death is the epitome of sacrificial love.

When I used to see grand gestures of romance, I found it hard to believe that someone would ever do something like that for me. Now that I’m older, I’ve definitely experienced some lovely gestures, but of course, none of them will ever top the greatest act of love of all time. Honestly, reflecting on Jesus’ love, especially during His Passion, can be overwhelming. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that Jesus was thinking of me during His Passion. I sometimes stop and think that He suffered and died for me out of His infinite love. Despite all of my past, present and future sins, all of my shortcomings, and the times that I chose other things over my relationship with Him, Jesus died for me so that He could welcome me with open arms when I return to Him. I remember this because each time I look at a crucifix, I see His outstretched arms and remember His perfect love.

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Passionate and Sacrificial Love
Whether we refer to passion in the context of romance or suffering, passion cannot exist without love. To be passionate with a romantic partner without love would result in lust and use. To suffer, especially for someone else, without love would be pointless. All of this reminds us that authentic love requires sacrifice, and sacrifice is supposed to hurt and be difficult in one way or another. In other words, sacrificial love requires suffering. Amidst His Agony, Scourging at the Pillar, Crowning with Thorns, His Way of the Cross, and His Crucifixion, Jesus without a doubt suffered tremendously for us. “Passion” appropriately describes His sacrifice, as it was the greatest act of love of all time.

He loves you and me more than we can ever imagine, and every time we look at a crucifix, we can be reminded of His never ending love.

Stay radiant!

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How the Annunciation Reminds me of Discernment

Revealing His Will
I love to reflect on the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would be the Mother of God. It resonates with me for several reasons, including Mary’s fiat, or her response to the Annunciation, meaning “let it be done.” In this moment, Mary learned of God’s plan for her, and it was life-changing to say the least. In college, I would look forward to the day when God would reveal His plan for my life, hoping that I would learn of it in a blaze of glory. I know now that this won’t be the case, but I still find myself musing over the Annunciation and romanticizing it. I think I do this because I realize that the Annunciation can teach us a lot about discernment.

How the Annunciation Reminds me of Discernment
How the Annunciation Reminds me of Discernment

Growing While We Wait
It goes without saying that none of us are born knowing what we’re going to do with our lives. God doesn’t share His plans with us on day one, and understandably so. We have a lot to learn and we need to grow a lot before we can say “yes” to God’s will for us. Needless to say, Mary had a life before the Annunciation. Born without original sin, Mary always chose God and followed Him perfectly. Mary’s plans for her life probably didn’t include being the Mother of God, but when Gabriel revealed this plan to her, she graciously said “let it be done.”

Like Mary, we won’t immediately know how God will call us to know, love, and serve Him, but this is a good thing. He calls us to use our seasons of waiting well. While we wait and discern, we can learn more about God and fall more in love with Him by strengthening our faith. Saying “yes” to God in little ways, like spending time with Him in prayer, doing acts of penance, and loving the ones He placed in our life will prepare us for the big “yes” that we’ll give Him later. Praying, receiving the Sacraments, and serving will make us more open to God’s will for us so that when the time comes, we’ll be able to say “let it be done.”

Discerning with Openness
Mary is always open to God’s plan for her, and she always seeks to do whatever God wants. As much as we desire this openness, it’s often easier said than done. I remember the days when I radically claimed that I would do whatever God wanted me to do and I would go wherever He wanted me to go. Then when I was discerning missions, I realized that I wasn’t so open to go just anywhere. I recognized that I didn’t want to be too far away from Nathan. I know you’re probably thinking that I turned down mission for a boy, but this turned out to be a good thing. In discerning out of something that would potentially take me far away, I was free to discern marriage with Nathan, which was the vocation that God had planned for me all along. As it turns out, God was asking me to be open to His will in a different way.

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Some Encouragement for Your Discernment
When I was unsure of God’s plan for my life, I would pray and ask for the wisdom and courage to say yes to His will for me. I think that Mary was gently leading me to the path that God forged for me, like the perfect mother that she is. Now that I’m consecrated to Mary, I notice the ways that she leads me towards her Son, and I strive to be more like her. If you’re in the middle of discerning and you’re wondering what God has planned for you, know that you’re not alone. It’s not fun when you’re in the thick of it, but God will journey with you and you’ll make it out with clarity and confidence in Him. Dive into prayer, ask Mary to intercede for you, and know that you’re in my prayers.

Stay radiant!

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