Browsing Category

Catholicism

Catholicism

What I Love Most About Lent

February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday is finally upon us and I am totally pumped up!!

Wait…What?

Who gets psyched for Lent aka the liturgical season of sacrifice, penance, and suffering?

You guessed it.

This girl does! (Amanda, not Adele, just to clarify. She might love Lent too but I’ve never asked her.)

Don’t mistake me for some pious and holy person, let me tell you that’s certainly not the case.

I must admit my melancholic temperament is drawn to the darker and deeper stuff in life such as pain, injustice, suffering, death, and mortality.

Ew, right?

Don’t be deceived by how happy I appear. I may be often smiling but I can assure you I am actually thinking about Sarah Mclachlan dog commercials.

Kidding.

Sort of.

All that to say that sure, I might be more inclined to enjoy the Lenten season, but I think it’s awesome for people of all temperaments.

Here in this post, I want to share with you a few reasons of why I love Lent and why I think you should too.

Intentionality

First, I want to say I absolutely love being Catholic for a host (wink, wink) of reasons but particularly because of the liturgical calendar. 

Weirdo alert again, amirite?

But seriously, it’s amazing that the Church makes sure her children’s spiritual lives don’t get imbalanced by neglecting certain parts of the life of Christ. This is why we have the rotating Mass readings that essentially take us through all of scripture every three years in addition to all the rotating seasons such as Advent, Lent, Ordinary time, Feast Days, etc.

So much wisdom in the liturgical calendar.

My point is that I love how Lent is an annual season set aside to go deeper in reflection on the life and death of Jesus Christ.

It’s easy to hang with joyfully resurrected Jesus but I absolutely need to occassionally remember what he went through to win Heaven for mine and the souls of all mankind. If I don’t deeply enter into the pain he endured and the wounds inflicted upon him, I will miss something in my spiritual life. I will be stunted from growth. I will be disconnected from Christ in a very intimate way I may not even be aware of.

I’m just so darn thankful that the Church gives us this supreme gift of being able to take 40 days to draw closer to Jesus in his suffering and death. Through this intentional time, we’re given the chance to draw closer to him and obtain strength for our own trials in life as we unite those to Christ.

Lenten Sacrifices

download

Don’t even get me started on this one.

We live in a world (at least in the USA) that is so convenient. We don’t have to wait on much of anything anymore.

At the drop of a hat you can download a song, watch a YouTube video, Facebook message you friend from around the world, order Jimmy Johns, binge a Netflix series, buy something on Amazon that will show up less than 2 days later, Google any question you might have, etc. Technology has essentially taken away many immediate needs.

We don’t have to wait or give up anything…which means our sacrificial muscles are atrophied severely.

It’s not just a spiritual belief that fasting is actually GOOD for you. We know that ocassional fasting from food actually has health benefits but this principle applies to sacrificing other things too like time spent in front of screens or on the internet among thousands of other things you could temporarily step away from.

Sure, the fasting from foods, activities, and habits is a good thing in and of itself but what’s beneficial about giving things up is that it creates space in your soul and schedule for more prayer and an opportunity to draw closer to Christ, who gave up everything for us. We can unite our desire for coffee, Facebook, and Netflix to Jesus and allow him to draw us into his own sacrificial love.

Again, so much wisdom the Church is inviting her children into.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Last but not least, I think there is no other season like Lent that provides the opportunity to do some serious spring cleaning within your soul.

Just try watching The Passion of The Christ without being deeply moved.

Now spend 40 days meditating on and mulling over the passion and death of Our Lord and prepare to get rocked.

When we GET IT and truly realize not only who Jesus was and what he did for us out of love, we can’t help but be changed forever. He paid the price for us and gave us what we didn’t deserve because of our own mistakes. What mercy!

Each Lent is an opportunity to have a deeper conversion. To unite your suffering and pain to Christ, who can redeem everything. To allow the light of God to cast out the dark parts of your life through the Sacrament of Confession. It’s a new beginning every year. A set aside opportunity to heal. It’s truly a beautiful opportunity.

 

Here at True Good & Beautiful we wish you a Lent filled with mercy and grace. May you draw closer to the heart of Jesus, the one who wildly loves you and wants to draw you closer to him these next 40 days!

If you are looking for resources on how to go deeper this Lent, check out Lentsanity. Jonathan is the brain-child behind almost everything you’ll see over there! 🙂

God bless!

Catholicism, The New Evangelization

Essential Lenten Infographics

February 9, 2016

Jonathan here. Six of my Illustrated Guides are part of FOCUS’ Lentsanity Campaign. I designed these to help you have a great Lent. Check ’em out:

ash-thumbThe 10 Types of Ashes You Might Get on Ash Wednesday

fasting-guideAn Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

lectioDo the Lectio 3-Step: A Guide to Praying with Scripture

solemnitiesWhat’s the Difference? A Guide to Solemnities, Feast Days, and Memorials

triduumAn Illustrated Guide to the Triduum

paschal-candleAn Illustrated Guide to The Paschal Candle

If you like those Illustrated Guides, be sure to check out the rest of FOCUS’ Lentsanity and download the Lentsanity App!

Catholicism

We’re Still Figuring Out How to Do Advent And That’s OK

December 2, 2015

Advent.

A beautiful season the Catholic Church has given her people to direct their hearts and minds to the ultimate gift – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It’s designed to be a season filled with prayer, repentance, and most of all a JOYFUL anticipation of Jesus’ arrival.

I think it can be a hard season to fully embrace as a Catholic today.

Why do I think that?

Well, as soon as Thanksgiving is done (who am I kidding, its when Halloween is done) Americans get busy. They start decorating, shopping, feasting, partying, music-ing, etc. to celebrate the Christmas season. The problem is that Christmas hasn’t happened yet. Liturgically, we are supposed to be waiting, reflecting, anticipating, and slowing down to make room in our hearts for the arrival of Christ.

The Christmas season is coming…and all those things should happen.

Just not yetright? Or can we do them while still waiting?

This is where my husband and I butted heads in a MAJOR way as newlyweds…and if I am being honest we revisit this topic Every. Single. Year.

You see, I want to just go along with what the culture is doing. I want to buy and decorate with ALL THE THINGS, listen to cheery Christmas jingles, host and attend parties, go caroling, bake until my oven breaks, and be so saturated with Christmas that by the time it arrives, I am really really really ready for it. Of course I want to do these things in addition to Advent devotions as well.

I blame it on my melancholic nature…I don’t shift gears quickly or easily so it’s actually hard for me to flip a switch and suddenly become excited about something. I need a buffer time to get excited before the thing actually happens. So in some ways, I NEED to begin the Christmas activities early so that I am actually ready when it arrives, right? 😉

But my better half wants to approach the season a bit differently and if I am being honest, he wants to approach it in a way that is liturgically correct. He wants to wait on Christmas music, decorations, baking, parties…you name it, he wants to wait on it until it’s officially the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Instead he wants to protect and preserve Christmas because it’s sacred and holy. He wants to give our family the gift of well prepared and quiet hearts to embrace Jesus at Christmas. He wants to make sure we haven’t Christmas-ed ourselves out before it even arrives and like the general culture, be done with celebrating December 26th when there are liturgically twelve full days to celebrate.

So this year we’re trying some new things. We’re two adults who respect one another’s opinions and are willing to experiment with how we ought to celebrate as a family. No one is a dictator around our neck of the woods and one person isn’t going to decide our traditions. We will mutually explore options and decide together.

What are we doing this year then?

We are decorating the house in pink and purple for Advent. We’ve got a Jesse Tree devotion we’re doing each evening around the Advent Wreath. We’re spending more time in prayer and plan to go to confession as a family. We’re keeping things simple so we can make room for Jesus at the “Inn” of our hearts. We will switch gears and bust out all the Christmas music, turn on the oven, and change the decorations…but we don’t know exactly when because we will be traveling on Christmas Eve and Day.

I want to clarify and say that I don’t believe this to be a moral issue. If you listen to Christmas music, you are not in sin. Please, nobody run off and take this post that far out of context. We’re just exploring this topic out-loud here on the blog as we process it ourselves. Yes, I continue to Google “How to be a good Catholic and be a?ble to listen to Christmas music” and Jonathan continues to interview families who’ve held off on celebrating.

We’re researching as a family and are trying to figure out what helps us enter more fully into Advent. That’s what this is about – being ready to receive our King into our hearts on Christmas. Whatever facilitates that best is what we will do in the Teixeira home.

I know this is a highly debated topic and I would love to hear from other perspectives in the comments. What have you chosen to do? What helps you get ready for Christmas? How do you embrace Advent?

Catholicism

You Don’t Need To Be Married With Kids To Start Your Life

November 9, 2015

Confession: In true Melancholic fashion, this topic is something I’ve been mulling over for two solid months.

What sparked this internal pondering?

I read this blog post from another Catholic blogger and the wheels began to turn.

Hold on though.

I enjoy Haley’s blog a whole lot and the things she has to say. I am not dumping on her post but rounding it out with a different perspective…because my life experience has been vastly different from her’s and because of that I interpreted her message differently than she intended. We can have different opinions from others while still wholeheartedly respecting them and holding them up with high esteem.

OK now that we are clear, let’s get back to what I’ve been ruminating on…

I get it.

Her post was a breath of fresh air for all the other women who also married straight outta college and began having babies soon thereafter. No, they absolutely did NOT waste their 20’s as the general culture might suggest…they got to experience some of the most meaningful things in life at an earlier age that most. But she essentially equates getting married and having babies as the rite of passage to “starting your life.” 

That’s what hurt.

Because what about the rest of us? Those who God did not call to marriage or religious life that young. Or those who battled infertility for years if we were married. What were we dong with our 20’s? Wasting time and doing unimportant and frivolous things while waiting to “start our lives?”

No. Absolutely not.

Sure, I got to go on some seriously awesome adventures in my 20’s…many because I was not married for a majority of them and did not have children yet. But in no way did I ever sit back and think my life hadn’t truly “started.” I think that is the temptation in the Catholic world though, particularly for women.

It’s easy to think that we’re just cruising on auto-pilot, waiting for our vocation to arrive and then and only then will life really  “start.”

This isn’t how it works though, friends. Our life starts when we are given life in our mothers’ wombs. It doesn’t really begin when we cross a certain line or get to a milestone like marriage or children. And although I am speaking about generic “us” I’m mostly speaking to ME, who spent way too much precious time being jealous my life hadn’t “started” when we were battling infertility.

Your life is NOW and that is in whatever circumstances the Lord has given you today, in this moment. Your life has “started” and to do God’s will in the present moment is the best thing we can ever do – whether you happen to be married with several children by age 30 or not. Stop waiting for some external thing to happen to define the “start of your life.”

Our joy is in surrendering ourselves to God’s will in the present, not wishing it away for the past or the future. This is important because the more each one of us become conformed to God’s will for us, in whatever capacity that may be, the more we fulfill the Kingdom of God and our role in it.

We have to stop wishing we had “so and so’s life” and embrace the one right in front of us. The one that has very much “started” and is inviting us to dive all in. So whatever life is yours in this present moment…please know that is HAS started and embrace it! 🙂

Catholicism

I Was About to Leave the Church Then THIS Happened

September 11, 2015

I arrived on campus planning to leave the Catholic Church. I’d become disillusioned with religion over the last few years, and now that I was out of Mom and Dad’s house, it was time to stop going to church.

Then I got a phone call.

Matt, from Catholic Campus Ministry wanted to get together. He got my number from a contact card I filled out (under Mom and Dad’s insistence) when we visited over the summer.

I wasn’t against the Church or God, I just didn’t care that much. Matt seemed nice enough, and I thought I’d be a jerk to say no to meeting, so we set a time to grab a bite.

We got together, and it turned out that Matt wasn’t some crazy religious nut. He was actually a pretty cool guy. After talking for a bit, Matt invited me to a new student event at the chapel. I had no reason to say no, so I said yes.

At the event, Matt introduced me to some other freshman guys. They were cool, friendly, stand-up dudes. These were guys I wanted to hang out with. They also happened to love Jesus.

I hung out with these guys, and they started rubbing off on me. They were all going on a retreat, so I did too. That retreat sealed the deal.

At that retreat I met 40 people who cared about me like nobody else I’d met yet on campus. These people had a joy that was unknown to me. I went to confession, (and laughed in it!) I prayed in Eucharistic adoration for the first time.

When I got back to campus, I joined Matt’s Bible study. I decided to spent more time with my Catholic friends. I attended daily Mass several times a week. Matt taught me how to pray. Before I knew it, I had a new way of looking at the world. I learned that God loved me, made me for a relationship with him, and became man and died to ensure I’d be able to enter into that relationship. Everything had changed.

And it never would have happened if Matt wouldn’t have called, if those other freshman guys didn’t welcome me in, if the Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason University wouldn’t have made the decision to share the Gospel and evangelize the Campus. When we choose to leave our comfort zone and share Jesus, lives change. I know, because mine did.

Catholicism

5 Destinations for Your Catholic Road Trip – Northeast Edition

August 9, 2015

There’s nothing like a road trip to bring together a group of friends, and nothing makes a road trip better than great destinations. For all of who live in the in the Northeast or have a desire to road trip there, here are a few places I suggest you visit (paired with some great eats nearby):

1. The Abbey of the Genesee – Genesee, New York

This Trappist monastery, located in rural Western New York, is home to about 30 cloistered monks. They spend their days (waking up at 2:15 AM!) praying and working. To support their monastic lifestyle the monks of the Abbey of the Genesee bake bread which they sell at the monastery and in grocery stores throughout western New York. Not only can you buy every variety of Monk’s Bread at the monastery (including monastery exclusive unsliced maple cinnamon) you can join the monks in praying Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day!

Tip: After spending time with the monks, head into nearby Geneseo and go to Pizza Paul’s for the half-sub, half-calzone subzone.

 

2. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Montreal, Quebec

254_365_sep10

St. Andre was the main driver behind building an oratory in honor of St. Joseph, which has been enlarged multiple times over the years. There’s a lot to explore and see nowadays, but my two favorites were seeing St. Andre’s heart (they took it out and put it in a glass box!) and the hall honoring a dozen or so of the many titles of St. Joseph (e.g. Terror of Demons). There are also multiple places throughout the grounds that are covered in old crutches that people left behind after miraculous healings.

Tip: While in Quebec, you’ve got to grab some poutine, which is french fries and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. Yum!

Bonus Tip: While in town, check out the amazingly beautiful Notre Dame Basilica.

 

3. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette – Attleboro, Massachusetts

1206042773_4692

This shrine dedicated to Mary’s apparition in La Salette, France is a great visit any time of year, but is exceptional during Christmastime, during which they pull out all the stops with the Christmas Festival of Lights. They deck out the grounds with over a quarter of a million lights.

Tip: Bliss Bros. Dairy is only a 1/2 mile away from the shrine! Stop in for a sundae or milkshake, and be sure to take home a ice cream pizza. Yes, such a thing exists, and yes, it’s everything you want it to be.

4. Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs A.K.A. North American Martyrs Shrine – Auriesville, New York

shrinepan2

This shrine is built where the Mohawk village of Ossernenon stood. This is where St. Isaac Jogues and two of his lay companions were martyred. The other North American martyrs are also celebrated here. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also the birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha!

Tip: Auriesville isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis, and this is the one location on this list I haven’t personally been to. I searched Yelp and found Forever Young’s diner less than 10 miles away. They’re known for their korean-inspired Bolgogi (fire meat) omelet and their thick-cut made from scratch cinnamon raisin toast.

5. Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica – Lackawanna, New York

www.ourladyofvictory

Father Nelson Baker’s heart broke for the poor and beat for Our Lady. Throughout his life, he did much for both. The orphanage he ran was so well known that children were put on trains all over the country with “Father Baker’s” pinned to their clothes, and they railroad staff knew exactly where to take them and made sure they got there. He spearheaded construction of a new church in honor of Our Lady of Victory (a personal favorite of his) and the absolutely beautiful basilica was completed in 1925 for over 3 million dollars without going into debt. (You know I love that!)

Tip: Lackawanna is right next to Buffalo, so head on over to Anchor Bar, birthplace of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, and chow down.

This post highlighted Catholic road trip destinations in the Northeast. Please list any Northeast favorites I missed in the comments, as well as spots to list in future posts about other regions of the country!