“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find;”
- Luke 11:9.
This was from the Gospel reading the last weekend of July. It is such a great passage and reminder that we need to develop a relationship with God through prayer, and when we ask in prayer for something we will receive it. But let’s be honest, we have all prayed for something we really wanted, just for that prayer to go unanswered.
Whether it is for our football team to win the championship, for direction or clarity in life, or for a loved one to heal, sometimes it seems like God is not listening. I can recall many, many times during high school and college praying for the same things, over and over again. We live in such an instant and consumer based culture that we want our prayers answered our way and now! Unfortunately, God does not work that way, and yes at times it is difficult and downright sucks. The two things I was constantly praying for that seemed like God was ignoring the most were: “God what is your plan for my life?” and “Please bring that special someone into my life.” The constant prayer without result led to a lot of turbulence in my relationship with God. The hurt and turbulence can be even great if you prayer for a loved one to heal, and they don’t.
There are many reasons I love summer. The beautiful weather brings about such new life every year as my calendar starts filling with baseball games, camping trips, bike rides, attending the numerous festivals around Milwaukee, and relaxing on the lake. But there is nothing that I enjoy more during the summer than grilling out with friends. I love the relaxed feeling of throwing burgers and brats on the grill, grabbing a beer, and catching up with new and old friends.
The conversations I have with my friends can range from what’s new in one another’s lives, recent movies we have seen, issues going on in the news, how our favorite sports teams are doing, and reminiscing about the stupid things we had done together. However, one topic rarely comes up: Faith. This past summer I started accompanying my now fiancé to her family functions. Some of her extended family members attend “non-denominational” churches. While getting to know me, and finding out I work for the Catholic Church, we got on the topic of faith quite a bit. While it is a topic we may at first be uncomfortable talking about, we need to be more willing to discuss (not debate) our faith with our friends. In recent studies, 75% of those who leave the Catholic Church do so because of something “they conceive the church teaches” from others or the media and not due to actual church teaching.
Isn’t it great? The sun is out. The birds are chirping. You can smell brats and burgers grilling in the neighborhood. School is just about wrapped up. Life is good. You know what makes all of this better? Baseball. Baseball is back. My Brewers are currently on a long winning streak and the Cubs are losing, so life is good. And to top THAT, it’s Easter season.
Wait. What’s that you say? Easter? I thought Easter ended on March 31st!
While most celebrate only on Easter Sunday, the celebration continues for 7 weeks! Crazy, right! I love the Easter season, partially because it overlaps with baseball season. It’s when I can finally start drinking soda again, which I gave up for Lent. But now that Lent and Easter are “over,” what now? What do we do? Does sacrifice end? The answer? No.
Happy Easter! While many of you may have started to take down the Easter decorations or consumed most of the candy left for you, the Church continues to celebrate Easter for 50 days past Easter Sunday. Why is this?
This is because in scripture we learn that Jesus spent the 50 days after HIS resurrection from the dead appearing to his followers. He used this time to show them the fullness of HIS teachings in light of HIS death and Resurrection.
My favorite example of this is Jesus' appearance to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35). Jesus walks with two of his followers (without them recognizing him) and they discuss Jesus' life, teachings, and death. They share a meal and it is when Jesus blesses and breaks the bread they realize it's Jesus right as he disappears. They turn to one another and said, "Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorites, for it really illustrates God’s love for us. At the beginning of today’s Gospel The High Priests are questioning Jesus how we can honor the outcasts of society (the tax collectors and prostitutes) by inviting them to dine with him. So Jesus tells them the Parable of the Prodigal Son. How often are we like that younger son? We think we know what is best for us, and try to control our own fate. How often do we forget about the amazing gifts and talents we have been given, and how easily we squander it on material goods and temporal pleasures? How much time do we spend, living in the filth, the mud, with our poor choices and sins before we decide to get up and go back to our father. I will be the first to admit that I struggle with going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It takes a lot for me to swallow my pride and tell another person all my faults.
I tense up at the thought of New Year’s resolutions. Every year I begin with such hope and determination that this New Year will be different and better for those intentions to fall by the wayside by the end of January. Goals to lose weight, save more money, be more social, drink less soda, quickly fade into my old habits of last year and years before.
That’s when I decided to try something new. As you see it’s February and I am now thinking about New Year resolutions. Ok, fine I have been since December – but January becomes a time to relax after the hectic holidays and get back into the swing of my normal routine – why try to add something new to the mix right away? Thus I am writing a blog in late January about resolutions. The other problem is trying to do too many things to change at once. Last year I made one goal in December – stop focusing on trying to date and just enjoy the friendships I have and develop new friendships. I knew that everything else I hoped for: lose weight, watch less TV, save money – would somehow relate to that. And I was right! But that’s a blog for another day.
Like many of you I can get so busy with work I neglect to take time to focus on my spirituality. Yes even those working for the church struggle with finding time to focus on our own spirituality instead of others spirituality all the time. So here are three spiritual resolutions I am holding myself to and hopefully you choose to do them in a way that works for you:
By: Samantha Luedtke
Something was said last night during the announcements at Mass. Did you catch it?
"Mass times for the Solemnity of All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation, will be at..."
I don't know about you, but I tend to zone out during announcements. And, if that's the case, you probably didn't catch that you need to, to the best of your ability, make it to Mass tomorrow.
"Mass on a Tuesday!?" you ask. "And by the way Sam, what the heck is a Holy Day of Obligation?"
By: Nicole Fastabend
Stop and think for a moment about all of the things and people that you have to “take care of” on any given day. Children, parents, spouses, friends, the stack of papers on your desk at work, laundry, grocery shopping, getting the car fixed. The list can become exceedingly long. How many of you include yourself on that list? Or better yet, how many of you include your faith life? I’m not usually a betting girl, but I’d be willing to bet, not many.
To be honest, even though I work for the church and consider myself a spiritual person, it wasn’t the first thing on my “list.” So, when I came across the Theology-on-Tap schedule for this summer, I told myself it was OK to be a little selfish. In fact, it’s important!
By: Amy E. Taylor
Let’s face it: these days, it’s tough to be Catholic. Friends, family, even the media can make you feel as though you’re alone in the faith you profess. However, although being a Catholic at any age can be a tough life, in today’s secular society, young people still choose to follow their faith regardless of the roadblocks they might encounter.
“I think the hardest part about being a young adult Catholic is remembering that God is with you all the time,” wrote Kerri Duerwachter in an email interview with MyFaith. “We all go through tough times throughout these years and it’s really easy to forget that he’s there for the good and the bad.”
The 22-year-old graphic designer, a member of St. Charles, Hartland, has come up with various ways to stay close to her Catholic faith, despite what she hears from negative outside sources.
By: Andrew Schueller
Today is Ash Wednesday and millions of Catholics are heading to Mass. Such an amazing thing! I am sure the news will run some report about why all these crazy people are walking around with ashes on our foreheads, ensuring the public that we Catholics did shower today. Even Catholics who come to mass only once in awhile, show up to Ash Wednesday because it is our obligation on this Holy Day!
Right now some of you are in full agreement of what I have just said, and some of you are ready to post a reply of an error you have already found in my above paragraph. To many people's surprise Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation! I can't help myself to think of all the people who flood churches today thinking they have to! In fact the parish I work at has gotten a few calls from people wondering what time they could come and get ashes (not when our your masses today). People come to Ash Wednesday just to get marked on their forehead that they are Catholic, for the entire world to know.