Love for Beginners: Recognizing the Dignity in Everyone

“For, by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man.”

– Vatican II

I don’t know if you can remember the first time you struggled with or recognized sin in your own life, but I know I can. Even as a young child, I was often filled with undue pride and arrogance at my self-perceived properness and heightened dignity. Simply, I thought I was better than almost everyone else.

See, I was born into a life that so many would literally kill for. I was raised in home with married parents who were nurturing and supportive. My brother and I get along splendidly and have never one time had an argument or disagreement. By the time I was 18, I traveled to all 50 states with my parents and to the Holy Land with my mother. The little town I grew up in, though insulated, was perfect for raising up children who retained their innocence a little longer than most. In most ways, I lived a healthy, idyllic life.

The Dangers of Privilege 

Unfortunately, an idyllic childhood does come with drawbacks, though it’s few and far between. For me, that drawback was the failure to recognize the dignity in every person I came into contact with. For example, if I scored higher on a test than most of my classmates (which was often), I pondered my own outstanding intellect. If someone participated in hobbies that I found banal (watching and playing sports, not reading voraciously), I determined that person was uncouth and in need of culture. Oh, and people who went to the beach every year for vacation? Get up on my level and go somewhere educational and exotic.

For years, I harbored this belief that I was somehow better than everyone else by the virtue of my family, my behaviors, and my hobbies. I prided myself as someone who would have followed Jesus had I lived during His time on Earth. In reality, I probably would have turned up my nose at the sight of the Holy Family. 

Love One Another

One of the most commonly quoted bits of Holy Scripture is from Jesus when He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). What is originally a profound and deeply influential command is often twisted by our society. It’s turned into a kitschy saying that we decorate our homes with and quip on social media.

But, have you thought to ponder what it means to truly love one another? Jesus does not instruct us to only love those whom it is easy to love. While we are to love those who are the closest to us, it’s also an imperative that we love those who cause our hearts to clamp up in dread. After all, Jesus said that even the pagans love those who are lovable (Matthew 5:47). The simple, yet sacrificial act, of loving those we struggle to see the dignity in is what can change the world.

Love for Beginners

I am convinced that none of us will ever become experts in loving our neighbors, at least on this side of eternity. We have all sorts of hangups: baggage, presumptions, and the scourge of original sin. All of these things distort how we view and love our neighbor. Sin causes us to discard the lowly and to place a preference on our own selves. We fail to see the inherent God-given dignity of those, especially those we don’t like, around us.

Since my conversion to Catholicism, I have grappled more with my own sin of arrogance and judging others. I think this is primarily because, once I converted, my faith became my own and was no longer something I doing just to avoid hell. Often, I thought about Church teachings on the dignity of the human person . Through my journey, I discovered little ways we can learn to value those around us.

Recognizing the Dignity in Others

A few ways to do this are:

  1. Realize that God created each and every person, and knows them intimately (Psalm 139).
  2. Know that Jesus wildly loves each person you encounter. According to Church teaching, every person is assigned a guardian angel. Just think: God loved you and everyone else enough to appoint a supernatural being to protect and watch over you. Knowing that each person has a guardian angel has greatly influenced how I view those around me.
  3. Pray for those you don’t like. This is tough: Easily said but not easily done. Whether you start out with a simple Our Father or Hail Mary for that person, it’s a start. As you progress, watch how God will slowly chip away the barriers in your heart.
  4. Give of yourself. Volunteer for those who are less-fortunate. It’s easy to pity the poor, but the real change is found in working to improve the conditions of those who are the most vulnerable. This very act takes you outside of yourself, and while humbling, it can help you recognize the dignity in others.

Seeing the dignity in others is hard and arduous. It often requires that we step down from our own high places and come face-to-face with the reality of our littleness. Let me know below if there are other ways you recognize the dignity of others. I always love to hear from my readers. May God bless you, always.

 

 

 

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post regarding all of the Catholic places I’d like to visit. Sites included the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. All of these places are wonderful, holy sites that can enrich our faith. But, when you live in the United States and hopping a plane to Mexico City or continental Europe on a whim isn’t an option, it’s favorable to check out the holy places in your own backyard.

Below is a list of a few places I would love to visit, especially in the near future when I move to New York City. Certainly, I will miss some worthy places, so drop a comment below and let me know where I should visit.

Roamin’ Catholic: USA Edition

  1. St. John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.
  2. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
  3. Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL
  4. Shrine of St. Therese, Darien, IL
  5. Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, WI
  6. Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, CT
  7. Our Lady of Good Help, Champion, WI (The only Vatican-approved apparition site in the USA)
  8. St. Kateri National Shrine and Historic Site, Fonda, NY
  9. Shrine and Parish Church of the Holy Innocents, New York, NY
  10. Shrine of Our Lady of La Sallette, Altamont, NY
  11. Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Philadelphia, PA

Where are places you’ve traveled? Drop a note below!

GUEST POST – On Choosing a Nun’s Life: The Road Less Taken by Christina M. Sorrentino

Welcome to the Fifth Sunday of Lent. I pray your time of reflection and sacrifice is bringing you closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we progress through the weeks, I pray that you have found my Lenten series of guest posts to be a blessing in your spiritual walk. Today, it is my pleasure to host Christina M. Sorrentino, a digital friend and fellow blogger. Christina is an aspiring nun and she’s sharing her vocation story today. May you be blessed by Christina’s witness to the faithfulness of Christ.

“And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”

-Luke 1:38

Growing up I had never been around religious sisters as my entire education was in the public schools, and it was not until I was an undergraduate in college that one day while walking to class I happened to turn around and there behind me was a Daughter of St. Paul. I remember how seeing that sister in her blue habit bought a smile to my face that day while I thought to myself, “What are the odds on a public college campus there would be a religious sister”? That is the first time that I remember ever encountering a religious sister.

The thought of becoming a nun never entered into my mind until I was in my early twenties and met a young seminarian who was joyful and zealous about his vocation to the priesthood. I recall sitting with one of my friends at dinner one evening and admitting to her that seeing this seminarian preparing for his upcoming ordination inspired me to begin thinking about my own vocation, and I said, “I think I want to be a nun”. I was terrified at such a thought and pushed it right out of my mind almost immediately after I made the statement. Where would such a thought come from, me a nun? How could I give up my dream of becoming a teacher, a dream I had worked so hard to attain my entire life and instead enter into the convent? I was only a year away from a bachelor’s degree and having a career, and I was not ready to be open to the will of God at that time in my life.

Fast forward after several years of teaching, and having the experience of a lifetime in my dream career I started to think about becoming a religious sister again, and a gentle nudge to consider the convent came back to me. Now in my mid-twenties I finally felt that I had reached a point in my life that I could be open to God’s plan for my life. I loved my job, and I knew that I could go about living the rest of my life working and living a normal life like majority of everyone else, but I felt I wanted more in my life. I had this burning desire to not only be happy in my life, but to have this deep feeling of being content, and ultimately living a life of complete and total satisfaction and fulfillment. There was a moment for me kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament after mass one Sunday when God confirmed for me that I need to be open to His will, and I felt content with such a feeling, although scared of what this meant for me, and how others would respond to this choice.  But I was overcome with this strong desire to want a more intimate relationship with Christ in a way that could only be between a religious sister and her divine spouse. I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me and found such a deep sense of peace in having a call to religious life. I am also blessed to have received support and encouragement from the priests in my life, and through their vocation I have been continuously inspired to fulfill my own vocation.

I will be entering Marycrest Convent with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, a contemplative-missionary religious community, on September 8th, the Feast of the Birth of Mary. How beautiful to receive a date on a Marian feast day! I first learned about the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate from the Council Superior of Women Religious website and the magazine of the Sisters, The Parish Visitor, given to me by one of the

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priests at my parish, which further confirmed for me I needed to visit this community. The Sisters help fallen away Catholics to have a deeper relationship with Christ and to find their way back home to the Church. Such a charism of imitating the Good Shepherd and striving to bring the lost sheep home truly has touched my heart. They have a devotion to Our Lady and pray the Rosary daily as a community, and each day also have holy mass, Eucharistic adoration, meditation, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. Their life of prayer being centered on Jesus that expands out into to their apostolate missions makes them contemplative-missionaries, and searching for a community that is both contemplative and active was an important part of my discernment journey. I hope as a religious sister to be able to help others to come back to the Church and to know the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Christina M. Sorrentino is a millennial, cradle Catholic who is an aspiring religious sister, and a blogger and writer in Staten Island, New York. She is the author of Called to Love A Listening Heart – A Book of Catholic Poetry. She has contributed to Blessed is She, Pursued by Truth, Pilgrim – A Journal of Catholic Experience, Leonie’s Longing, Catholic New York, and the Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals. She blogs about faith and discernment at “Called to Love a Listening Heart”. You can also find Christina on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

GUEST POST: Marian Book Review by Katie Hendrick

Today I am very grateful to have fellow blogger Katie Hendrick as a guest writer. She has reviewed many great titles about our Blessed Mother, which will make for perfect reading this Lent. You can visit Katie at her blog Stumbling Toward Sainthood.

Despite being a “cradle Catholic,” my relationship with Mary is pretty weak. Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to start reading more books about the Blessed Mother (as well as introducing some Marian prayers into my life). In doing this, I have found three books that can help anyone connect with Mary as Christ made clear we are to do.

Mary by Tim Staples

What It’s About: Staples provides “biblical evidence for Marian doctrine and devotion, answers common objections to Catholic teachings, and guidance on how to imitate Christ – which we should do in all things – by loving and honoring his mother.”

The Good: This book draws from a number of different resources (Scripture, Early Church, etc.) and covers a wide array of the common misconceptions about Mary. I also felt what made this book especially beneficial to readers was Tim Staples’ perspective as a Catholic convert. Because he came from a Fundamentalist background, he was able to address the concerns about Mary more effectively than someone who always felt close to Mary.

The Opportunities for Improvement: The only thing I didn’t like about this book was some of the Bible verses got repetitive. Though they were still relevant, I think a simple verse reference would have sufficed.

Why You should Read it: If you want to grow closer to Mary, I think you first need to get rid of all the misconceptions surrounding her. There is so much misinformation surrounding the practice of honoring to Mary, and this book provides clear responses to correct this. If you start turning to Mary with uncertainty or fear fueled by misconceptions, it will be a much more difficult road. Starting by learning will make the path smoother, so this book is a great place to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary/

 Mary: Help in Hard Times by Marianne Lorraine Trouve

What It’s About: “No matter what challenges we may face in life, Mary is always there to help us….Let the prayers and real-life stories of how others have experienced Mary’s intercession open your heart to the care she can provide for you.”

The Good: This is probably the second best book on Mary I have read (only overshadowed by the last book I will recommend). It starts by addressing who Mary is, moves into people’s experiences with the Blessed Mother, and concludes with different practices to connect with Mary. I thought the level of detail was fantastic, and this book was very encouraging.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is such a small criticism, but I did not like the Bible translation they used for The Annunciation because the explanation of it referenced a different translation.

Why You should Read it: If you only want to read one book on Mary, this is the book to pick; it is a good blend of apologetics and devotions. This book was also very practical. For example, when discussing the personal experiences people had with Mary, it didn’t lean heavily on miracles; instead, it focused on how dedicated prayer brought about fruit. It’s also a great starting point for Marian prayer if you have no idea where to start.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-mary-help-hard-times/

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri

What It’s About: “Do you struggle with praying the rosary: finding time, fighting distractions, worrying about your mind wandering? In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri offers practical suggestions that come from the rosary’s tradition and, most especially, St. John Paul II. These helpful tips will make the rosary a constant companions through the different seasons, moments, and challenges we all face. These tips serve as easy on-ramps for those who don’t pray the rosary regularly motivate avid devotees of the rosary to go deeper with the Lord.” In the interest of transparency, I want to make it clear that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Good: This book was very intelligently written without being intimidating. Whether you and Mary are BFFs or you just got past the “Catholics worship Mary” falsity, you can find growth from this book. Though the beginning of the book was solid with its blend of apologetics and history, what really made this book special was the beautiful rosary meditations. If you think that the rosary is boring, these beautiful mediations will change your mind. If you fear that the rosary focuses too much on Mary, the explanations of the mystery in the context of Scripture and Christ’s salvific plan will also change your mind. This was my favorite book from 2017.

The Opportunities for Improvement: This is an even smaller criticism than before, but there was one graphic in the book that was blurry. I really had to dig to find something wrong with it.

Why You should Read it: This book is just beautiful. It’s hard to articulate how much I loved it. The rosary seems like an outdated prayer, but this book shines the spotlight this amazing spiritual practice. It’s hard to read this book and not feel some kind of change.

Link to my Full Review: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/book-review-pray-rosary-like-never/ 

***

Getting to know Mary can be intimidating, but these books lay some groundwork. Mary gives you the most basic information you need about our Blessed Mother. Mary: Help in Hard Times reassures you of her love for her children and gives some steps for growing closer to her. Praying the Rosary Like Never Before will lead you to fall in love with this incredible prayer. Though there are many great books about Mary out there, you can’t go wrong with starting with these three.

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Kate Hendrick lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two cats. She works as an engineer full-time. Kate writes on her blog, Stumbling Toward Sainthood, which discusses the challenges we face as we strive to live authentically Catholic lives. When Kate isn’t sharing her love for Christ and His Church online, you can find her reading, crocheting, or playing nerdy board games with her friends. You can also find Kate on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Abandoning Perfectionism

I have a specific memory of a moment in the fifth grade.

In this moment, I was weighed down with school supplies: three packs of loose-leaf paper, two boxes of yellow pencils, and a box of crayons. I reached my desk, unloaded the supplies, and neatly stacked the pencils, crayons, and paper packs. Paper on the bottom, then pencil boxes, and finally crayons. My ordering was well-orchestrated, the stack of crisp supplies was wonderfully arranged. I was proud of myself as a classmate asked, “Is all of that yours?” For a brief moment, in the top left corner of my desk, I had constructed perfection in the form of school supplies.

This fifth grade memory is not the only recollection I have of self-constructed perfection. Perfectionism, unfortunately, has dotted my life (and usually on a daily basis). From my obsession over straight-A’s in in elementary school through college to making sure the food in my fridge is stacked perfectly, I can think of only a few days where perfectionism hasn’t reared its ugly head. And like me, maybe you can relate to the constant edginess related to seeking perfection.

Most recently, I’ve struggled with balancing my chosen religious devotions. As a new Catholic, I’ve discovered so many new ways to pray to and worship Our Lord: novenas, books, daily readings, the Rosary, and chaplets. Lately, in an attempt to find a steady devotional schedule, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with my own expectations. For example, in the mornings, I typically participate in the daily Mass readings and pray the Rosary (or at least a decade). Throughout the day, I try to pray a few times using the Liturgy of the Hours. At night, I write down my thoughts using an examen journal and my own personal diary. For a perfectionist who is keen on completion, this can be tricky.

Though it’s good to participate in daily readings and prayer practices, I am often in my own worst enemy. I may think “Ah! I only prayed one decade of the Rosary today! If I don’t pray the whole thing, I’ll break my daily streak.” Or, “Ugh! I missed a day in my examen journal and now it’s all off kilter for the month!”

It’s in moments like these that perfectionism takes my attention from Christ and shifts it upon myself. Perfectionism lets me believe that I am in control of everything, that I am the center of the universe. If I forget to read the daily Mass readings, then I’ve messed up my day. This mindset totally ignores the power of Christ in my life and disregards the fact that ultimately, He is in full control. The world’s balance does not depend on whether or not I can complete a task or not.

Now, don’t mistake me for promoting apathy.

As Catholic Christians, it’s critical that we read Scripture and pray on a daily basis. But, lest we fall into the harmful pattern of perfectionism, we must understand that our perceived “goodness” will not help us maintain control. Many people who are devout have also suffered great trials. However, it was the grace of Christ that carried them through. Rather than rely on ourselves, we must learn to rely on Christ.

We must abandon perfectionism, one little error and trial at a time.

 

Abandoning Perfection

Dwelling Together: Maturing in Faith

Hello! Thanks for reading today, I’m glad you’re here. Today is a long-winded post, but I think you may relate to it (especially if you’re anything like me). 

Each week, I attempt to publish one to two quality posts about faith, life, books, and anything else happening in my day-to-day life. If you enjoy what you read, please consider sharing on social media and subscribing through email or WordPress.

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How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together as one! // Psalm 133:1 (NAB)

I have this persistent and terrible habit where I believe I am the only one. Foolishly, I think that it’s just me who struggles with anxiety, or it’s just me whose mind wanders during work, Mass, or while on the phone with my mom. I’m the only one who sometimes pushes the Holy Spirit’s nudging out of my heart when the conviction is uncomfortable. For a very long time (and even still some today), I wrestled with these feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and a sense of floating. I knew I could turn to Our Lord in the times of need, but overall, everything felt like a one-woman show. I had to take care of my own issues, it wasn’t the job of anyone else. These problems were solely my problems and no one else could ever understand my thought process. Unfortunately, this is one of lies that the devil tells us: You must depend on yourself to fix anything, all the time, no one can help.

In high school and college, I suffered from a terrible case of superiority complex. When classes were canceled on campus due to snow, I was out in my boots walking to mid-week Bible study while everyone else was cozy in the dorms. In high school, I purposely did not attend social events because, frankly, I was better than everyone else. Only unintelligent, uncultured simpletons attended football games on Friday night instead of staying at home with a good book.

If you couldn’t tell, I was simply a joy to have around.  Insert eye roll.

Because I believed that I was inherently better than everyone around me, I failed to form healthy communal bonds with those around me. While I formed lovely friendships, especially in college, I believed that only I could deal with my issues. I believed that my issues with anxiety or nervousness were so unique that no one could possibly provide a reasonable solution. In many a silly decision, I bypassed what were probably valuable campus meetings, designed specifically for women undertaking the transitions of adult life. I was determined to help myself.

Thankfully, age is the wonderful, gracious teacher.

Obviously, I am older than I was in high school and college. My faith and life is more of my own, my understanding of my need for others has increased (though it’s not perfect). Since my conversion to Catholicism, I’ve absorbed any resource at my fingertips – especially those tailored towards the needs of women. Podcasts, articles, devotions have been my closest friends in my walk of faith. I’ve realized that yes, I do need support in my walk as not only as a Catholic, but also as a teacher, daughter, and community member.

This morning I read this morning’s devotional from Blessed Is She, an online community for Catholic women. Patty Breen, today’s writer, penned words that cut to my core:

“The most difficult prayers I have prayed in my life (and still do) are ones of abandonment and submission to the will of God. For a type-A planner like myself, it is so easy to tell Jesus what I think the best option or plan is. But that is neither how God nor prayer works. We call that manipulation, not worship.”

Like Patty, I am a type-A personality: high-strung, organized, meticulous. I also struggle with turning over every detail of my life over to God and His divine will. My past habits tell the story: Again, I thought I was the only one who struggled with this. I thought I was too stubborn, too selfish, not worthy enough to let God take control in every nook of my existence. But this morning, I was informed in plain English that I’m not the only woman on the planet who struggles with any given issue.

I’m not alone, I’m not isolated, my struggles are common. Thankfully.

This is why community, and dwelling together, is especially important for Christian living. Reflecting on my past, I know I probably would not have subscribed to a daily inbox devotional as a teenager or college student. I didn’t expect anyone to know my needs, especially someone who didn’t know me on a personal level. As I mature in both age and faith, I realize that I do need community and that I do need support. I’ve finally understood that support can come from the most unexpected places through little acts of faith. I find that I am not the brilliant one-woman operation I used to be.

And that is a wonderful, merciful, graceful thing.

O Fount of life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. // The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Our Lady of Grace, pray for us.

 

 

 

 

Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Sept. 14, 2017

Obviously, if you’re reading this now, it’s September 15th. Due to delays and a generally busy schedule, I wasn’t able to wrap up this post on yesterday, September 14th. But, as today is set aside for Our Lady of Sorrows, this post will also relate. Thanks for reading!

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I’m not skilled when writing about Jesus. For me, it’s very difficult: How do I approach a topic like the King of the Universe, Our Lord? On the other hand, I write with ease about His servants, using their lives as a vessel of His mission and reflecting on my own Christian walk. But, to write directly about Jesus? That’s tough.

Of course, there’s plenty of tough, tricky things when talking about Our Lord. Things like suffering.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Women Beyond Belief, a podcast featuring women who have left religious faiths of every stripe behind in favor of agnosticism or atheism. In the handful of episodes I’ve listened to, many of these women possess troubled backgrounds. Often in these narratives, there are cases of broken homes, sexual and physical abuse, intensely legalistic religious communities, and the absence of a close confidant to discuss feelings of doubt. Many of these women, if only given a brief sentence to mention why they abandoned faith (primarily Christianity), would probably say “There’s too much suffering.”

Certainly, life is full of suffering. There’s brokenness and humiliation, tears and heartache. Even more, for Christians, suffering is not something to be willed away immediately after our baptism, but something to be expected.

On his YouTube channel, Fr. Nicholas Blackwell preaches:

“The cross is a means of freedom. It’s how we are called to live our lives…being a Christian is not about escaping our flesh……The cross bucks that and stares back at us. We are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ and follow His way of love, which takes us to the cross. God entered into humanity through the Incarnation…and felt our hunger and thirst” (“Carmelites and the Exaltation of the Cross,” 9.14.2017).

As Catholic Christians, and today especially, we look to the cross and ponder how our salvation came into the world. Jesus, perfect in humanity and fully divine, took on our every shred of suffering as he anguished on the cross. Surely, He could have avoided the cross and opted for a much more comfortable life. But, He didn’t. He took on our suffering and displayed the greatest act of love. This is a tough teaching that Our Lord lived out for us: love that leads to suffering.

But, I don’t use these platitudes to politely gloss over the experiences of the women featured in the podcast mentioned above. Abuse, abandonment, and strict legalism were not initially in God’s plan. Manipulation and evil should hold no place in the life of a servant of Christ. While reflecting of the stories of the women, I believe that the top cause of most people moving from a life of faith to atheism is due to poor teaching in regards to suffering.

Often (and mistakenly) our culture sells us a cheap approach to religion that is non-sacrificial and uncomplicated: “Follow Jesus and your life will be easy. Sin and temptation will flee you. The devil will never trail your heels again.” It’s no wonder the seats of many prosperity-teaching megachurches are filled to capacity every Sunday.

Yet, this is in a direct opposition to what Jesus said in today’s Gospel:

“…the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” from John 3: 13-17

Moreover, in John 15:18-21, Jesus reminds His disciples:

“If they persecuted Me…they will also persecute you…because they do not know Him who sent Me.” 

The world turned on Jesus, the Messiah, and crucified Him. It’s no exception that as Christians in our current age, we too will experience suffering, abandonment, theft, and maybe even martyrdom. It’s a tough teaching from Jesus, but Christians are not immune to these trials. However, in situations that are uncontrollable, we can choose lean on Christ, the Resurrected Lord and King who suffered the cross, but conquered death.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. // John 3:16

Apart from the Cross, there is no ladder by which we may get to Heaven. // St. Rose of Lima

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.