Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lord, I Need You!

I am now back home from an incredible, amazing, and truely awesome week-end. It was a week-end, but in some ways it felt like we were gone for so much longer. I think it is that way on really great retreats... you go away and things change in you and you come back a whole new person. Change that big, as it is happening, feels like it takes a while because a whole lot of energy goes into that transformation.

I must say this group truely inspired me. I have never been on a retreat with such respectful young adults who really gave their all into everything we asked of them. Every activity and challenge we put before them they did with smiles on there faces. I never heard one negative comment from any one of their mouths. They were so positive and put their hearts into this retreat, and the outcome  was just beautiful.

I will write more about this retreat I am sure, but for now I am going to go take a nap because I am completely exhausted from the week-end. I will leave you with the retreat theme song we used. I hope it touches you as it did our group...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm gonna be going "In Reverse" This Week-end

That's right. This week-end will officially be our first youth group retreat week-end where us core team members have worked together to lead it. We have had a freshman retreat before, and it was only a day, so this is a pretty big deal. The theme of the retreat is "In Reverse." Why, you ask? Well because we will be going more into depth of the prayer the Our Father, but instead of starting out in the beginning, we will be beginning at the end.

I will be giving the first talk of the week-end... It is called "Rescue" and will focus on the part of the our father that says, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Long story short my talk is basically the confession/forgiveness talk. There is a lot of stress on the first speaker to set the tone of  the week-end so I am a bit nervous, but the topic has become one of the more comfortable topics to talk about.

I am really excited about the retreat because we will be starting out at our parish on Friday night where we begin with letting go of all of our spiritual/emotional baggage there, and then leaving from the parish to the CYO camp where we will continue our spiritual journey free and ready to go even deeper into our faith. I really like leaving everything behind and then going on our journey, rather than waiting till almost the end to have confession.

I know... me helping out with a retreat... no I have not changed much in that area of my life. Once a retreat addict, always a retreat addict, right? Well I think there could be much worse things I could be addicted to. Please keep us in your prayers this week-end as we all face things and learn more about ourselves and grow closer to God. It is in times like this and immediately after that the devil tries his hardest to win us back. The more prayers we have going up the better our chances of defeating him. I will be happy to post more on this retreat later. :) Now I have to finish last minute preparation for the retreat myself. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"The Less You Reveal The More People Can Wonder"

 I saw this and could not be more impressed with Emma Watson. I know everyone has their insecurities about looks. The media does not help anyone much at all. It is very sad to me when walking through the mall and I see girls under the age of ten walking around in mini-skirts. What happened to the importance of modesty? This culture has become so self drivin and it makes me so frustrated. It is all about fun, about what feels good. About getting attention. Some people think that to find love they need to let loose... but that is not what real love is about. We all search for it, but if only people could see that the only real place they can find love, true love, life changing, mind-blowing love, they must turn to God. The media makes God look so cold and filled with rules that hinder their fun, but those of us who know God, know that the media is so wrong. Once we let God in and trust in Him he will show love to us in so many ways, including those called to marriage, and incredible spouse. The less we reveal the more we can wonder.... As much as that goes along with trying to attract the opposite sex... don't people realize that God is using that same strategy to woo and win us over???? He's a pretty smart guy.

M.I.A.... Back for a visit

Wow!!! My long lost friend. I cannot believe how long it has been since I've logged myself on my own blog. I suppose I needed a break from blogging, and honestly would not have come back on here had I not needed to go back and refresh my own memory for a retreat talk I am going to be giving which I have given in the past.... While looking I felt the need to leave a post and what better post than to reflect on the name of my own blog...

Taking it one step at a time...

This year how have I taken things one step at a time? How has my faith journey been going since I blogged last? Where am I in my life now? It's funny how in day to day life nothing seems to change, sometimes it feels like I am doing the same things day in and day out and life feels the same... In reality though there has been incredible change in this life of mine.

SO what has happened in this crazy wonderful blessed life of mine in this past year?

Well first of all I have been blessed to have a wonderful youth minister here in my parish. I have been blessed to hang-out with some of the best friends and wonderful support group known as the core team family. I have enjoyed sharing in a more spiritual way my faith with the youth that come to our Thursday meetings. It has been beautiful to watch the small group of maybe ten or eleven (all girls last year) teens who would come and grow deeper in their relationship with God grow to about three times as many teens this year. To see the excitement in their faces as they enjoy their faith and learn more about it is a wonderful feeling. Being on core team has been more time consuming than I ever imagined it would be with planning meetings on Tuesdays and youth group on Thursdays and then the activites over the week-ends. I would not spend my time any other way! God, You are truely amazing! Thank-you for blessing my parish with such energetic young adults. I can't wait to see what your plans are for them.

Secondly, I not only met the wonderful love of my life this past year, but on July 5th, 2012, I was asked to marry this wonderful man, David. There is a quote that says, "Do what you love to do and you will find someone that loves the same things you do. Don't look for love, beg for love, or search for love. Just live." Well this past year I did just that and next thing I know God brought David into my life and I am so grateful for him. David has helped keep me on track in my faith so very well starting with our first date... Praying the rosary, going to confession, and attending Mass together.... We try to go to adoration and pray the rosary and go to Mass together as often as possible. It is harder to do that everyday as he lives in a town two hours away so we spend our week-ends together. So In the midst planning our wedding and mentally preparing myself for leaving my hometown in just a matter of months he reminds me that now we need God more than anything else. As long as we keep God first everything will fall into place. David and I have most certainly had our ups and downs, as most couples do... the biggest one for us happened almost two months ago. We found out that his mother was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and then just two weeks later she passed away. She was a very wonderful woman and even though I only knew her for eight months she made a huge impact on my life and she will always hold a special place in my heart... I miss her so...

Thirdly, so I mentioned I am now an engaged woman, but I did not mention my wedding date. I will be married on April 6, 2013, which means right now there is four and a half months left until the big day. This means I am very much into, you guessed it, wedding planning. Again I know that if I keep praying to God everything should work out just right, but still it is hard for me to kind of freak-out in my head when I think of all I need to get done. I'm not a huge dressy fancy kinda girl so trying to figure all this decorating stuff out is a bit frustrating. Thank-goodness for my family and friends who have put up with me the past few months as all I seem to have on my mind is wedding wedding wedding. I'm sure secretly they must be thinking, "seriously girl, snap out of it!" but it is kinda hard to do. Praying is a must these days!

Fourthly, work this year has been a mixture of ups and downs as well... I had to remember that the quote "Preach the gospel, use words only when neccessary" daily for awhile there. I don't want to get into everything, but lets just say when you don't want to follow the crowd when you know it is the wrong thing, well it is not always welcomed in an approving way. Needless to say I knew that if I were to eventually win them over than I needed to not try to play their game because it would only feed into their fun... In time things have calmed down, but I still have a hard time trusting some people there. On the other hand I have become closer to some of my other co-workers and have learned a lot from them. I love my job. Working with the kids is still a passion of mine. They teach me so much in their simple childlike way, and I am so blessed to be able to work where I am.

I am still no where near perfect, and I never will be, but right now where I am in my life I am feeling pretty good about... :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Still A Work In Progress

"I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."

The above quote struck me when I first ran across it the other day while I was actually trying to find a different quote. I think it holds pretty true, for the most part... Only instead of the most significant relationship being with yourself, it should be your relationship with God. That's where we should be placing our best effort and the most attention too. Of course our relationship with others is important, but those relationships would not happen if it weren't for God placing them in our lives. Sometimes I have periods of time in my life where I have forgotten that and placed other relationships in front of Him and put more time into them than into mine with God. It is a human thing to do, but it is not something that should keep happening. Once I really have realized I've done that I really try to refocus my attention on the relationship that is the most important... My relationship with Him. Everything in my life seems so confusing when I forget to keep him in the middle. It's only when He is kept my focus than I become centered again and everything comes back together and I can make sense of it all... I thank God for the blessing of my family and friends that He gave me for my journey and am excited to meet those he has yet bring my way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Florida Or Bust!

As I have mentioned before, I just got back from my trip around Florida. It is kind of an interesting crazy ride. What started out as a trip with just my sisters and my baby nephew ended up, literally the last minute, to be a vacation with my mother and younger sister. I had been in charge of our Florida half of the trip, which included reserving our hotel, and when my older sister backed out I realized I was going to make this trip happen no matter what, and so I asked my mother to come along. They say everything happens for a reason, which I am a complete believer of... Especially with this trip, because as we were pulling out to leave in my mom's van, my dad was trying to start my car (which is what my sisters and I were initially going to drive in), and it wouldn't start... It turned out something got loose under the hood and my dad had to put it back in, but he didn't figure that out till we had left.

I must say this Florida trip was exactly what us three women needed. I know my sister and I hadn't taken a decent vacation trip in years and my mom loves the beach so she was a happy camper. I miss waking up to the sound of the waves already, but I was also ready to get back to the normalcy of my life and daily routine... It's funny what being on vacation does to a person. After a few days I kept getting the days mixed up and since I did not have to be anywhere at any specific time, I didn't worry about what time it was either. It was nice relaxing and playing in the water in Daytona Beach, site seeing around St. Augustine, and watching the sun go down while watching the ocean in Destin. On the way back we also made a quick stop in Memphis for a night with my mom's friend and had some great b-b-q and for breakfast I had the best pancake concoction ever made... Banana pancakes with crunchy peanut butter syrup... Now I am not normally one to like crunchy peanut butter, but it was so good that it didn't matter to me. I can't wait to make that here at home now... :)

While in Florida my sister and I climbed two lighthouses... the second and third tallest lighthouses in the country... which after climbing the tallest on in North Carolina when I was eight or so, means that I have now climbed the three tallest lighthouses in the country. I can honestly say the lighthouse keepers did not need to work-out much as climbing up and down those stairs so many times a day must have been a work-out in itself. Each one had over 200 stairs to climb. My mom tried to climb one of them, but could not make it up very high and had to go back down. As tiring as it was climbing up, the view from the top of each was spectacular! :)

St. Maria Goretti Moment.

As I mentioned in my quick little post I was on vacation last week. While gone, my confirmation saint's, Maria, feast day happened. I was having such a great time while on my vacation and site seeing in St. Augustine that I totally forgot it was her feast day... until I was walking through the gift shop for the Our Lade de la Leche pilgrimage site. As I was walking around I stumbled upon this little display and as I looked at it I realized that it was her feast day. It was her way of saying "Hey there, Teresa, don't forget about me. It's my day today." It made my day!

For those of you who have never heard of St. Maria Goretti, let me tell you a little bit about her....

Early life

Goretti was born Maria Teresa Goretti on October 16, 1890 in Corinaldo, to Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. She was the third out of six children.

Before the age of seven, her family had become so poor that they were forced to give up their farm, move, and work for other farmers. They ended up sharing a house with another family which included Giovanni Serenelli and his son Alessandro. Soon, Maria's father Luigi became very sick with malaria, and died when Maria was just nine years old.

Maria's martyrdom

On July 5, 1902, finding eleven-year old Maria alone sewing, Alessandro Serenelli came in and threatened her with death if she did not do as he said; he was intending to rape her. She would not submit, however, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning Alessandro that he would go to Hell. She desperately fought to stop Alessandro from abusing her. She kept screaming, "No! It is a sin! God does not want it!" Alessandro at first choked Maria, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times. The injured Maria tried to reach for the door, but Alessandro stopped her by stabbing her three more times before running away.

Maria's little sister Teresa awoke with the noise and started crying, and when Serenelli's father and Maria's mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia, but her injuries were beyond the doctors' help. Halfway throughout the surgery, Maria woke up. She insisted that it stay that way. The pharmacist of the hospital in which she died said to her, "Maria, think of me in Paradise." She looked to the old man: "Well, who knows, which of us is going to be there first?" "You, Maria," he replied. "Then I will gladly think of you," said Maria. The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, Maria died of her injuries, while looking at a very beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother.

Serenelli's imprisonment and repentance

Alessandro Serenelli was captured shortly after Maria's death. Originally, he was going to be sentenced to life, but since he was a minor at that time the sentence was commuted to 30 years in prison. He remained unrepentant and uncommunicative from the world for three years, until a local bishop, Monsignor Giovanni Blandini visited him in jail. Serenelli wrote a thank you note to the Bishop asking for his prayers and telling him about a dream, "in which Maria Goretti gave him lilies, which burned immediately in his hands."

After his release, Alessandro Serenelli visited Maria's still-living mother, Assunta, and begged her forgiveness. She forgave him, saying that if Maria had forgiven him on her deathbed then she couldn't do less, and they attended Mass together the next day, receiving Holy Communion side by side. Alessandro reportedly prayed every day to Maria Goretti and referred to her as "my little saint." He attended her canonization in 1950.

Serenelli later became a lay brother living in a monastery and working as its receptionist and gardener until dying peacefully in 1970.

Maria's Cannonization

On June 24, 1950, Pius XII canonized Goretti as a saint, the "Saint Agnes" of the 20th century." Owing to the huge crowd present, the ceremonies associated with the canonization were held outside of Saint Peter's Basilica. Pius XII spoke, not as before in Latin, but in Italian. "We order and declare, that the blessed Maria Goretti can be venerated as a Saint and We introduce her into the Canon of Saints". Some 500,000 people, among them a majority of youth, had come from around the world. Pius asked them: "Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?" A resounding "yes" was the answer.