Among my favorite saints is the Spanish Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila. Her spirituals works bring peace and comfort to my life. I discovered a simple, but powerful prayer, a poem Saint Teresa wrote, that brings comfort in distressing times.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
We thank God for the wonder witness of the life of Saint Teresa of Avila. May we look to her as a faithful spiritual toward Jesus Christ. St. Teresa pray for us!
The process pearls are created is a wonder of wonder. A speck of sand or small piece of a shell finds it’s way inside an oyster. Due to the irritant, the oyster secretes a substance called nacre. It covers the irritant and over time (on average seven years) the nacre builds up to form a beautiful pearl.
Rita of Cascia— Beautifully Holy Saint
God often works in a person’s spiritual life like a grain of sand provokes the oyster. Over the course of time, God allows individuals to suffer, participate in the Passion of His Son Jesus Christ, as a means to grow in holiness. One of the greatest saints whose life mirrored the beauty of a pearl is Saint Rita of Cascia.
Rita was born in 1381 in the republic of Cascia. In the local dialect her name meant “pearl” (what a coincidence!). Growing up, Rita became acquainted with the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery. Their lifestyle attracted Rita but her parents wanted her to marry. Rita had an arranged marriage to Paolo Mancini and had two sons.
The political climate of her time was volatile (not unlike today). Fighting between families broke out often. Rita’s husband was murdered as a result of this violence. She already was following the will of God when she gave forgiveness to her husband’s murderers. Shortly after, both of her sons fell seriously ill and died. Instead of allowing the loss of her entire family cripple her spiritually, Rita plunged further into trusting God’s Providence.
Rita sought to join the religious life after 18 years of marriage. Initially, the Augustinian nuns rejected her requests because Rita’s extended family still refused to forgive her husband’s killers. Her peacekeeping and persistence finally helped her family (and others in the region) reconcile and give up hatred.
At the age of 36, Rita was accepted into the religious life under the Rule of Saint Augustine. She lived out this vocation for forty years. Shortly before dying, Rita received one of the wounds of Christ— the crown of thorns.
Patron Saint of Impossible Causes
One of the things Rita of Cascia is most known for is her patronage of impossible causes. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways. He allowed Rita to experience the full gamut of life: daughter, wife, mother, widow, and religious nun. Seemingly ordinary vocations, the process by which God allowed Rita to follow those paths was anything but ordinary.
Forgiving those who have hurt you may seem like an impossible task sometimes. How can you find it in your heart to show mercy to those who bitterly rejected or hated you? Rejection is a natural part of life. But continual rejection? It can make even the most ardent wills downcast and doubt God’s plan.
Three years ago, my wife and I thought she was going to miscarry our youngest daughter. She had some bleeding and other same signs as our previous miscarriages. We implored the intercession of many saints—Rita of Cascia was one of them. Since Mother’s Day 2017, my wife and I had never forgotten to include Saint Rita in our nightly litany.
Rita is an excellent saint to petition for help. We all experienced chaos, tumult, and confusion the past year. No matter your circumstance please take refuge in the fact God uses all things for good (Romans 8:28).
Dear St. Rita,
during your entire life on earth
you found your happiness by following the will of our heavenly Father.
Help me to be as trusting of God in all His plans for me.
Help me this day to give myself to Him as you did,
without limit, without fear, without counting the cost.
Help me to be generous in serving the needs of others,
patient in all difficulties,
forgiving toward all who injure me.
Help me to learn more deeply the great mystery of the Cross of Jesus,
so that by embracing it as you did,
I may come to experience its power to heal and to save. Amen.
Music has the ability to infuse the human heart, mind, and soul with energy and joy. Singing has helped me on my toughest days. There exists a certain universal quality to music that draws all mankind together.
The Catholic Church promotes unity (one of its four chief characteristics). Music is an important facet of the faith. While one might first think of liturgical music, God can use many kinds of music to promote unity and truth. Father Mark Baumgarten is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Perth, Australia who uses his musical gifts to evangelize. I had the pleasure of talking with him about his debut album Now and Not Yet.
Fr. Mark wrote and performed the songs His music in the album ranges in style, due to his eclectic taste in music. The first half of the album is from his pre-seminary days and wrestle with philosophical questions about life, whereas the second half relates to his life as a priest.
The Australian priest showcases his skills as a musician, singer, and promoter of truth. Though his songs aren’t overtly Catholic in lyric, his music provides assurance about God’s Providence while being fun to listen to.
Listening to Now and Not Yet during the day helped ease my stress at work and got me nodding to his upbeat, jazzy tracks like Wake-Up Juice.
I highly recommend listening to this positive piano 🎹 infused album by Fr. Mark.
Saint Patrick lived in the 5th century and was a Christian missionary. He was instrumental in converting Ireland to Christianity. Known most for his usage of the shamrock to help explain the Trinity, Patrick’s successfully converted the pagans.
Several posts on this feast day focus on “little known facts” or about whether Saint Patrick was actually Irish. I’m going to on something a bit different. Saint Patrick’s Breastplate prayeralways provided me a great comfort. This article will examine the various aspects to his prayer.
Here’s the short version of the prayer (for the long version check out the link in the related resources at the end of this article):
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Put on the Armor of God
Immediately, I think of Saint Paul’s description in Ephesians 6:10-18. The Bible acts as a defense against the temptations of the devil and the world. Reading and listening to the Word of God shields one with truth. The Devil enjoys sowing discord and twisting truth to fit his desire― draw people away from God.
Christ is always with us but sometimes it can be easy to forget. Sometimes we push God away or turn our back on Him. Saint Patrick’s breastplate prayer uses directional words to help remind one the closeness of Jesus. Jesus is beside you. He is with you. On the right and left. Christ’s presence envelops you as a protection like how armor surrounds a soldier in battle.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
In Matthew 22:39 Jesus tells the Pharisees, “The second (greatest commandment) is like it (the first): You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Saint Patrick loved God first, but he followed the second great commandment too. He served the Irish peoples by leading them out of the errors of paganism and towards the truth of the Gospel.
In praying Saint Patrick’s Breastplate prayer, one is reminded to see God in others. It’s easy to get frustrated at strangers who commit a wrong: cutting you off in traffic, providing less than helpful advice at a call center, or even those who annoy you at church. Patrick was a foreigner in Ireland (contrary to popular views he wasn’t Irish!). But he accepted God’s call to spread the message of Jesus Christ as Savior. And you and I are called to do the same in our words and deeds.
Drive Out the Serpent(s)
The above image is a p(f)unny way to describe how Saint Patrick drove out the snakes from Ireland. Joking aside, it was because of his cooperation with God’s will Patrick had the ability to perform such as miracle (herpetologists might disagree). Christ with me. Those opening words to the Breastplate prayer can give us hope. The battle and journey through life doesn’t have to be done alone. God is with us. He was (and still is in Heaven) with Saint Patrick during his early years when he was captured as a slave. And God was with Patrick as he drove the snakes (and the pagan ideologies) out of Ireland.
Saint Patrick pray for us to put on the armor of God, to love God and fellow men, and to relay on Jesus to help us drive out the spiritual serpents in our lives. Amen.
Deciding on which college to attend is a large part of a high schooler’s life. So much time and pressure are spent boosting our GPA, participating in extracurriculars, and volunteering so that we get accepted into our ‘’dream school.’’
I was not one of those people.
My GPA was good, but I didn’t have to put in much effort to earn it. The only extracurricular activity that I was involved with was theatre. And for volunteering, I spent some summers helping the public library in my town plus being one of the leaders for Vacation Bible School at the local church.
I applied to four colleges in my state: a private Jesuit university, a private Catholic university, and two public state universities. I ended up deciding on attending Western Connecticut State University. It’s public state college about 45 minutes from my hometown. I picked WCSU because of the financial aid they awarded me, its smaller size, and the opportunity to have a fresh start.
When move-in-day finally arrived, I was surprised at how quickly I adjusted to college. In a matter of weeks, I was able to walk around campus without getting lost. Plus, I had found a group of friends to hang out with.
The Life Changing Experience of the Newman Center
Around the end of September, however, my entire life was changed when I was introduced to my university’s Newman Center.
The Western Connecticut State University Newman Center.
At the time, I was a Catholic at surface level. I was raised in the faith as a child and attended religious education classes. I also received the sacraments of First Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and Confirmation. However, I did not have my own personal relationship with God. Daily prayer was something that I did not partake in. Nor did I attempt to go to Confession or read the Bible.
The only time that I thought about Jesus was once a week.
Four FOCUS missionaries resided at the Newman Center. It was the first time I witnessed young adults live out their Catholic faith. All the missionaries prayed daily, went to Mass daily, and received Confession often. What was more amazing was the fact that they interacted with others in a welcoming manner. Not only that, but everything they consumed, said and did was for the glory of the Lord. Their actions reminded me of this Bible verse:
Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ―Philippians 4:8
Challenges of Being a Catholic in a Secular College
As I spent more time at Newman, I got to experience many things that I have never experienced before: engaging in fellowship, attending a Bible study; being in the presence of the Lord during Adoration. By learning and growing in faith, I realized that I must do a very important thing; the most challenging thing that I have ever done (or ever will do): being of the Word and not of the world.
Attending a small, secular, state school has made this no easy feat.
Being a Catholic at a college where faith isn’t a priority in many students’ lives can be frustrating. I have encountered the following challenges along the way:
Questioning whether I should wear my Miraculous medal or the shirt with Our Lady of Guadalupe on the back out in public instead of during a time when I’m in my dorm room more.
Whispering the rosary at night, hoping that my roommates don’t hear me and call me out on what I’m doing.
The awkwardness of discussing with classmates why I haven’t seen an episode of Euphoria because ‘’that show is something that I am not a fan of.’’
It’s watching some of my friends outwardly (and proudly) state that a woman has the right to decide what to do with her body, even if meant killing the innocent human being that was inside her.
Honestly, there have been times I’ve been upset and wished I attended a Catholic university. In the moment, it seemed ‘easier’ to be surrounded by people who were just like me.
Living the Christian Faith is Worth It
But walking with Christ has never been (or never will be) easy. If it was, then we wouldn’t be able to grow in our faith. The temptation to go with the crowd and abandon my beliefs is something that I will always have to fight against.
But it is something that’s worth fighting for.
No matter what my peers say about the Church, I will continue to advocate for Her. I have experienced faith, fellowship, love, and servitude, and I know just how beautiful it can be. More than ever, college students are chasing sin to fulfill the emptiness in their hearts. But what they don’t realize is that those desires of being seen, wanted, and loved can be satisfied in Christ.
The Lord wanted me to attend a secular college so I can discover Him in a non-traditional setting and to become a vessel of His love for the campus community.
For a girl who never obsessed about which college to attend, I ended up at the school where I was meant to be. And that’s all because of Jesus.
About our guest blogger:
Erica Lynn is a third-year Communication and Marketing student at Western Connecticut State University and is Secretary of her college’s Newman Club. Erica is passionate about fellowship and the power of social media to evangelize within the Church. Follow her on Instagram @_catholit_ to see more Catholic content.
The Italian mystic St. Paul of the Cross boldly said, “Be as eager to break your own will as the thirsty stag is to drink of the refreshing waters.” I emphasized the phrase break your own will as that imaginary stood out as quite audacious. To break the will seems such a violent thing to do to yourself.
After researching a bit on this saint, I learned that Paul was the founder of the Passionists a religious order dedicated to a penitential life in solitude and poverty. Since Paul of the Cross lived in isolation from the world do his words hold any meaning for a regular, ‘normal’ people who hold down jobs, have a family? Should not “super-holiness” be reserved for priests and nuns?
You are Called to Holiness
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2013, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”65 All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We are coming up on the perfect season to increase our holiness— Lent! The Lenten season is modeled after Jesus’ 40-day time in the wilderness. Because Jesus is God, he was able to stave off the allures of the Devil. His witness showed that both praying and fasting disable the weaponry of the Evil One. The practice of self-denial is absolutely essential in growing in virtue! Saying YES to God through prayer allows us to say NO to those unhealthy pleasures of the world—through the practice of fasting.
Say NO to Sin
struggle mightily with the pressures of the world, and those self-imposed. Anger, resentment, and impatience come as a result of succumbing to the things of this world. Self-reflection and renewing a practice for saying YES to pray helps begin a habit of saying NO to: impatience, pride, greed, envy, power-control, etc.
Saint Francis de Sales affirms the message of Paul of the Cross, the Catechism and Christ by stating, “The more one mortifies his natural inclinations, the more he renders himself capable of receiving divine inspirations and of progressing in virtue.” Be fast to practice fasting. If you struggle at first remember to say YES to God (pray!) in order to say NO to yourself.