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When Eyes [and Hearts] Are Opened…

When Eyes [and Hearts] Are Opened…

My day started off with a Diocesan Youth Retreat planning meeting. How great it is to be in the company of people who are as dedicated and enthusiastic about the faith as you are! And as dedicated to the formation of youth and young adults as you are! In this Lenten season when March Madness has indeed made everything in March, just that – mad…because of the busyness that we all get wrapped up in, it is nice to pause and it is refreshing to be rejuvenated with energy and faithful spirits. Lots of exciting things ahead and my eyes have indeed been open to the number of opportunities available to see God moving in my life.

From moving homilies, to songs with lyrics that tug at my heart strings, to God-centered conversations with friends, to hugs to hanging out at the park under the warm sunshine…God’s hands are all over it all, holding everything together.

When I visited the correctional facility today, my eyes were opened to the great insight that I sometimes forget. I was reminded that when others may treat me in a rude manner or may come off as non-friendly, I must not forget that they may be going through something, or perhaps they are having a bad day. Instead – pray for them. This reminder that came through from one of the women I visited today rolled off her tongue as if it was a mantra she repeated to herself throughout the day. Watching women shepherd and support one another through verbal affirmation as it comes through in our scripture study is absolutely beautiful. It is a gift for me to witness, and my eyes were opened today with a new sense of warmth, compassion, and peace.

Being filled up with energy and enthusiasm from the morning prepared me for my visit that afternoon. And from that visit from the afternoon, I was then ready to start my week. I love how that works out so perfectly! God, you are good!

Let It Be Done Unto Me…

Let It Be Done Unto Me…

Above: One of my favorite pictures of the Annunciation entitled: The Annunciation, (1898), Henry Ossawa Tanner. (Courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1899)

On this Feast of the Annunciation, here is a beautiful reflection on our “YES!” and the struggle that comes with it too.

Here is a song by Danielle Rose, Let It Be Done Unto Me, that always comes to mind on this special feast day:

The Lord sent me to Mary
As she was praying in the sun.
I said, “Hail Mary, favored one,
The Lord is with you. Mary it is true.”
She did not understand.
She said, “Shall I touch the sky
With these small hands?”
A peasant girl from Galilee
Destined to become the Queen of Peace.

[Pre-chorus]
And all the heavens and the earth
Stand still in silence,
Waiting for her soul to reply.
She is free to choose:
God will never abuse
The sacred Yes she cannot be denied.

[Chorus]
“Let it be done unto me!
With one small yes the world will be redeemed.
What was impossible is now a possibility.
Let it be done unto me!”

“Mary, do not be afraid.
Behold, you will conceive a son
Through whom the world is saved.
Humility will be your throne,
And in your womb our God,
Our God will find a home.”
“O Lord, how can this be?
I have not given any man my body’s purity!”
“The Spirit will come down,
Like once-barren Elizabeth
Can now with child be found!”

[Pre-chorus]
And all the heavens and the earth
Stand still in silence,
Waiting for her soul to reply.
She is free to choose:
God will never abuse
The sacred Yes she cannot be denied.

[Chorus]
“Let it be done unto me!
With one small yes the world will be redeemed.
What was impossible is now a possibility.
Let it be done unto me!”

She said Yes to the Father,
Yes to the unknown,
Yes with all her strength,
Yes to God alone.
The first Holy Communion
Took place that blessed day.
Christ came into her body
When Mary chose to say
When Mary chose to say…

[Chorus (x2)]
“Let it be done unto me!
With one small yes the world will be redeemed.
What was impossible is now a possibility.
Let it be done unto me!”

Let it be done unto me [x3]

Pray for the Farmers

Pray for the Farmers

Pictured: Coffee beans from the hills of Yagyagan in Northern Luzon, Philippines

It’s been a super busy week with different events going on at school, but I am so grateful that each of the “busy” things I have going on right now, are really good things. Sure, there’s the tedious busy work that just needs to get done…and not all of it is super fun, but today, we had the great privilege of having Javier from JSM Organics come and share his story AND FLOWERS with us!

Many of us don’t take time to think about where our vegetables, fruits, and flowers come from. I know that prior to a few years ago, I never took extra time to think about the origins of my clothes, or why Forever 21 was so cheap or thought twice about the difference between organic and non-organic food. Learn more about Ethical Trade (via Catholic Relief Services) here!

Javier shared his experiences about what life was like as a farmer starting off on low wages, and now, shares his current set-up as a landowner who runs an organic farm and provides his farmers with just wages. Researching the different videos out there and reading about the plight of migrant farmers, especially here in California is mind-blowing to me. Who knew that California farms (specifically in Salinas, CA) provide the majority of strawberries and lettuce that are distributed to the rest of the United States?!?

I have yet to visit the farms and meet the migrant workers, but I know that many parishes in the Diocese take time to meet these farmers and do work alongside them. I hope to make a visit this year!

One thing is for certain: Every time I say a prayer before eating our meal, I take time to recognize the hands that truly brought the food to our table. From the farm, to the cashier at the grocery, there are many hands involved, and unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I know that there were unfair wages paid.

This past April, Pope Francis focused his prayer intention on Farmers:

Call to Justice

Call to Justice

For the past couple of days, I have been reflecting on what I will share at our monthly Cursillo gathering. I was asked to share some words on my work in the diocese with regards to Catholic Relief Services (how appropriate during this lenten season!), as well as some type of sharing about the social justice ministries that I have been involved with.

What a broad topic! Not sure knowing where to start, I opened up Google Slides, and the Title Slide popped up. A blank slide…”Uh, oh,” I thought to myself. Where am I going to go with this talk? Suddenly, I immediately typed three words: Call to Justice.

I realized it is impossible for me to talk about my work with CRS and my commitment to social justice, without first talking about my call to social justice. Without a doubt, I have been called to this ministry in the church and in the world, and it has been such a gift. The intersection I have found between my faith and justice has been such blessing in my life. I can’t talk about where I am now, without mentioning where I have been – what I saw, what I felt, what I experienced. I can’t share my dedication to global solidarity, without first taking time to share some of the initial images I saw when I first stepped off the bus from my first missions trip to the Philippines with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, as a sophomore in college. That changed everything for me. My concept of how big and vast this world was, had forever been shaken. Everything was now different through my being.

My concept of the body of Christ, forever changed shape, and now had many faces, talents, names, ailments, challenges, and joys.

And on Thursday, I have received yet another opportunity to share this with others! What a responsibility. Pray for me!

Encounters with Christ

Encounters with Christ

I saw Jesus today as I drove to the local Catholic Worker and passed through many streets where people were living. I saw Jesus today on the stoop, bent over, tired, battling and enduring, and suffering. I saw Jesus today in my schedule where I had a couple of much-needed free hours to spend with a good friend.

When we have spiritual reading at meals, when we have the rosary at night, when we have study groups, forums, when we go out to distribute literature at meetings, or sell it on the street corners, Christ is there with us. – Dorothy Day

Whenever I have the chance to meet up with my friend, Lisa, I find myself filled with joy and gratitude. Yes, our friendship is that good. Catch up is always fun, and real conversation and authenticity in that, is hard to find nowadays. Not in a creepy way – definitely not! But absolutely in a God’s grace kinda way, that Lisa and I were able to meet and since then, share a friendship where we can process different things with one another, share stories, and ponderings with one another. About things that matter! And are relevant! 🙂

I very much have been drawn to the Catholic Worker movement since I was in junior high school and I was first introduced to the Catholic Worker in Santa Ana. I remember making brownies and bringing them to the Catholic Worker over Thanksgiving, and over various holidays with my youth group. After discovering the Catholic Worker, I remember bringing my mom over with me, and we would volunteer whenever we could. I remember being a high school student surrounded by people experiencing homelessness. It was one of my first experiences catching only a glimpse of what that life could look like and be like. I don’t think I ever had a chance to process those experiences, but the people I met, the experiences I had in that backyard in the Catholic Worker Santa Ana, also known as Isaiah House, has never left me.

Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. Yes, I see only too clearly how bad people are. I wish I did not see it so. It is my own sins that give me such clarity. – Dorothy Day

Fast forward to today, and I am still an advocate for the Catholic Workers and the Catholic Worker movement. I am grateful to have a Catholic Worker closeby, and have the opportunity to ring the doorbell and be warmly greeted by friends at the door.

When I reflect on people who talk the talk, and walk the walk, the Catholic Workers are some of the first people that come to mind. There is so much richness and authenticity there. While living in community is challenging, I suppose when a one is moved by the spirit of charity, justice, faith, and love, I am confident that anything is possible.

Today, I saw Jesus in my friend Lisa. What a wonderful friend to have in my life!