Recent Posts

The Secret Challenge of Lenten Giving

Every time Lent comes around, the perfectionist in me starts showing its face more than usual. I always start the season with the intention of doing more than just giving up chocolate or something simple like that, but sometimes I go a little overboard with my Lenten commitments and end up having to ease up on some of them.

I’m sure I’ll always have this impulse to aim higher than I can reasonably go, even though I’ve learned to temper my expectations and avoid getting down on myself when I fail. My perfectionism doesn’t just apply to what I do during Lent, though. It also applies to the way I do things, which in some ways is even more powerful.

As we hear during the Gospel at every Ash Wednesday, Jesus wants us to “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Instead, we are to pray, fast, and give alms without anyone noticing, so that the Lord, the only one who will notice when we do things that way, will repay us in heaven. 

A Thanksgiving Prayer

During this Thanksgiving week, we’ll surely see a lot of reminders to be thankful for what we have. For many of us, these reminders seem easy to follow. But even if we find it easy to show our gratitude for the blessings we’ve received, it can still be just as easy to fall into some bad habits that prevent us from expressing thanks in the purest way we can. One specific habit that I’ve fallen into without even realizing it is something I call the “All I Want” attitude, and identifying and fighting this habit is helping me develop a deeper sense of gratitude for all the good things in my life. 

Examining Catholic Prayers

Image: Josh Applegate.

One of the best things about being a part of the Catholic Church is the access we have to 2,000 years’ worth of history, traditions, and, perhaps most importantly, prayers. Countless saints, priests, and laypeople have come up with ways to pray since the Church’s inception, leaving us with the ability to communicate with God however we want. One problem with this arrangement, however, is that some forms of prayer get forgotten among the myriad of other forms. Certain kinds of prayer like the Rosary seem to be immune to this process, but one form of prayer that is becoming hugely important in my prayer life isn’t often talked about: the Ignatian Daily Examen.

Serving God, Not Mammon

 Service to God

Image: xhowardlee | flickr.

A couple weeks ago I went to Mass at my alma mater’s Newman Center. Once I discovered that the Gospel reading focused on not being able to serve both God and mammon, I figured the homily would be a pretty standard explanation of what the verse means: avoid mammon—the material goods and worldly prestige of the worldbecause it distracts us from God, our true master.  But when the priest got up to give the homily, he gave me insight into how much deeper the conflict between God and mammon goes.

Some Thoughts on the Devil

Some Thoughts on the Devil
Image: Flickr. 

In my experience, one of the most polarizing parts of the Catholic faith among young people is the existence and nature of demons, hell, and especially Satan. On one side of the issue are people who have a hard time believing in the power or even the existence of the devil. They have a hard time believing that a good and loving God would allow the existence of a place of eternal torture or a legion of spiritual beings bent on our destruction. So, they either walk away from the Church or simply ignore the bits of doctrine with which they’re uncomfortable.

The Blessings of Service

Service to others in Flint | CNSImage: CNS.
One of the easiest things for me to forget to emphasize in my faith life is service to others. I’m usually good about serving others in small ways in my everyday life, like holding doors for other people, saying hello to people I pass on the street, and so on.

But I know that’s not all the Lord has called me to do for others.

Trust in the Lord

College Graduate looking uncertain
Image: Henderson State University.

If there’s one thing that has become clear to me over the past year, it’s that I need to get better at trusting the Lord.  The past 10 months marked the last two semesters of my college career, and during those months, I couldn’t help but feel at least a little afraid of what was coming after I finished school. 

I had no idea what I would be doing once I graduated—no job lined-up, no sure-fire business connections that would land me a position in my field as soon as I grabbed my diploma. 

The Power of the Ascension

Image: The Ascension of Christ, Gustave Doré.

As a graduating college student, I’ve got a lot to think about. On the one hand, I’m excited to finally be at a point where I don’t have to worry about taking exams, doing homework, or studying. But, on the other hand, I’m pretty nervous about taking on the responsibilities of the “real world.” It’s been a time of mixed emotions for me, and it’s specifically posed a challenge to my faith life.