Monday, April 21, 2014

A Passion Walk with Jesus

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 
John 3:16
         Every year on Good Friday, my church parish puts on what is called A Passion Walk with Jesus where they walk nearly 12 miles from Immaculate Conception church, to St. Mary's church. It begins at 6:30am, early Friday morning, and ends with the 3:00pm Mass. The walk consists of going through the stations of the cross(one each rest stop), praying the Rosary, singing, and taking turns carrying a wooden cross.
          This year I was able to go. I've been two or three times before this year, but I was much younger. I was expecting really nothing more than to be able to get in some awesome prayer time and time with my friends who also went on the Walk. But, God works in mysterious ways.
          I started the Walk after getting only three hours of sleep the night before. Wasn't to excited about that. My group started out carrying the giant Rosary in this picture -->
Being made of wood and chain, it wasn't the lightest thing, so not something you would want to carry early in the morning, but we did. Being that it was on Good Friday, we are called to fast and abstain from meat, so I had a handful of grapes for breakfast. Well, after walking for about six hours, with frequent rest stops, we stopped for lunch. We were over our half way point and getting quite sweaty and sunburned by then. Couldn't really eat much at lunch because of the heat and it being a fast day. Well, it finally came time for my group to carry the cross. The last group to carry it.
       I had never actually carried it before in the past years. I just never really wanted to. But I did this year. And although I knew Christ's cross was heavy for him to carry, feeling the weight of the cross on my sunburned shoulders was an eyeopener. And this cross has a wheel on the bottom, so I wasn't even carrying its entire weight. I was tired, hungry, thirsty, sore, and carrying a replica of Christ's cross on Good Friday. That really struck home for me.
        I just kept thinking of the pain Christ went through for us. He must have been exhausted. He was covered in sweat and blood. His own blood after being scourged, tortured and beaten for the remission of our sins. For my sins. He was forced to carry that heavy wooden cross on his bloody and bruised shoulders. He was thrown onto that cross, which was already covered in His blood, and nailed onto it.
      When we reached St. Mary's, we went straight into Mass. We kissed the Crucifix in remembrance of Christ's passion and death which we remember on that day. Then we received Him in Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity. We received God!

       After Mass, I'd realized that I hadn't drank or eaten very much all day, despite being in Louisiana heat and sweating all day. I'd only had 8oz. of water. I realized this when I walked into an air-conditioned room, and felt like I was going to pass out. On the cross, Christ said "I thirst." After all He had been through and was undergoing, those simple words were surely an understatement. Going on the Passion Walk made the extent of Christ's sufferings and sacrifice even more real to me. Feeling the weight of that cross made it more real. The hunger, thirst, sunburn and soreness made it more real. So incredibly real. It was hard to keep back tears as I carried the cross. God certainly had more in store for me during the Passion Walk than I ever anticipated. His sacrifice and sufferings are not only known in my mind, but also deep within my heart. He revealed to my heart the extent of the pain Christ felt during his passion and crucifixion. How he suffered for me in atonement for my sins, and the sins of the whole world. Although I have always known this, growing up in a strong Catholic family and all, Christ truly used my experience to reveal deep within my heart the extent of His love for me and each and every person He creates so uniquely. Christ suffered and died for you and for me! Open your hearts and love Him and receive His love as we celebrate His miraculous resurrection in this time of Easter! My He bless you always and keep you close to His most Sacred Heart!

Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.
 --St. Faustina--

For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.
--Saint Maximilian Kolbe--

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Marriage or Religious Life?

     After two years of discernment, I came to the understanding that I am not called to the single life. So that left two possible vocations for me. Marriage and Religious Life. Finding God's calling to us on vocations isn't always an easy question to answer. Typically much discernment and prayer takes place before the question gets an answer. We are all called to a specific vocation, we just have to find out which one.
  The Answer 
     And after about three years of discernment and prayer, I have my answer. It honestly wasn't the answer I was expecting, but I know I can and will be happy living out my vocation of marriage. After receiving the signs which I knew were meant for me, I felt like I was floating on air! As if God had spoke to me face to face! I felt filled with love and peace, the Holy Spirit! I litterally skipped through the rain to the car!

My Signs 
The first sign: Last summer I attended a Steubenville Youth Conference which marked two years of discernment for me. All that weekend I prayed for a sign, or even a hint towards my vocation. Friday came and went and nothing seemed to have answered that prayer, so I continued to pray that prayer throughout that Saturday. I've been taught not to come to retreats with any expectations, that way, you won't be disappointed if your expectations aren't met. So not receiving any sign that Friday didn't really disappoint me, because I wasn't expecting one that weekend. But God had a different plan. Saturday evening after woman's session, my small group decided to walk to the church for confession. After going over the Examination of Conscience, I began to pray. I had just finished my vocations prayer, when I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard someone whisper that a priest was free and ready to hear my confession. So I went, and after confessing and receiving absolution, I was about to go, when the priest looked at me and said, "One day, you are going to be a wife and mother." I was so shocked! Then the priest just smiled and said "God Bless you." I went back to a pew to do my penance, and I was so shocked, it took me a few minutes to remember what the priest had given me for my penance! I continued to discern after that because I concluded that it could be taken two ways, marriage, or becoming a sister and taking God as my spouse and becoming a mother to all the children of the earth.

“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is "timing"
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.”
― Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The second sign: This time, it was everywhere. People would randomly tell me that I'm going to be a great wife and mother, which brought back the memory of what the priest had told me at Steubenville. I'd pray for direction in my vocation, then be watching or reading something and a wedding or proposal would be in the book or TV show I was reading or watching. Signs like that led me to pray for a big and final sign that I was called to marriage. 

 Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Pray for us!

The third sign: On February 11, 2014 I attended daily Mass a friend in celebration of the anniversary of her Baptism day. We walked into the church knelt, and began to pray. Before I took my seat, I prayed the same prayer I had prayed before receiving Confession at Steubenville the summer before. Just after the priest processed in, before the Mass began, he announced that we would not only be celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but also the Sacrament of Marriage! I was completely and utterly shocked! What are the odds of attending a wedding during a daily Mass, on a day that I just happen to be able to make it to daily Mass, and after praying my vocations prayer!? It was amazing! After Mass, the priest placed the Eucharist in the Monstrance, on the Alter where we were able to spend some time in adoration. And after this, I skipped through the rain to the car. Just such an amazing night! And many prayers of thanksgiving for answered prayers have been said since! 

     And now, I continue praying for my future husband to seek God with all he is, to put Him first before all things, and to stand strong when faced with weakness, and to be a light of the Church that he may lead others to God through his actions and words.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
-- Matthew 19:4-6 --

 "Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous.
It is not inflated, it is not rude.
It does not seek its own interests.
It is not quick-tempered. 
It does not brood over injury. 
It does not rejoice over wrongdoing,
But rejoices with the truth.  
It bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things."
--1 Corinthians 13:4-7--

Monday, May 27, 2013

Christ in control of His Passion and Crucifixion.

  So I've been working on finishing school for the summer, and while working on a religion test I came upon the last of the essay questions asking me to "Explain how Christ was in control during His Passion." Something I never really thought about until then.

I'll begin in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ went willingly with His Apostles, knowing what was to happen there. At this point He takes upon Himself the full weight of our sins, realizing all the agony and alienation caused by sin, realizing all the horror and disgust that a perfect person would feel at sin; realizing that many people would reject Him in spite of all that He had done for them. He began sweating drops of blood. This is called Hematidrosis. It is a very rare condition which may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. At the arrest scene, Christ is in complete command; He gives himself up voluntarily, much to the amazement and consternation of those who came to arrest Him. He even heals one of them who was wounded when Simon Peter attacked with a sword and struck off his ear. He is interrogated, as His enemies hope to obtain incriminating evidence, but Jesus is in total control, not they. They learn nothing and are angry and frustrated. The first of His trials, the witnesses, most probably bribed, cannot agree, and even in a rigged court the evidence is not sufficient for the capital punishment that the Pharisees desire. So Christ Himself speaks the incriminating words: “But hereafter the Son of man shall be sitting on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69), thereby claiming equality with God. To the Jews this is blasphemy, a crime calling for the death penalty. The man who was executed by hanging or crucifixion was considered cursed by God. So the Pharisees not only wanted to kill Jesus but to see His soul cursed by God. That is why St. Paul stresses that Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Considered the most horrible death imaginable because they thought it destroyed a man’s soul as well as his body. Before the Roman court, Jesus accepts Pilate’s civil authority, but at the same time claims authority over all earthly rulers: “Thou would not have any power against me, unless it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11) He even tries to convert Pilate: “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37) However, Pilate is too skeptical to be moved: “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Jesus carries the 100-pound crossbar of the cross about a half mile. He is nailed to the cross with one nail through each wrist and a single nail through both feet. The pain would be the most excruciating known to man because the wrist nails pierced the median nerves, but Christ remains conscious, having already refused the pain killing drug offered at Calvary (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23) On the cross, He first forgives His enemies, interceding for them with His Father. (Luke 23:34) Then he canonizes the good thief, promising him eternal salvation that very day. (Luke 23:43) Christ announces, “I thirst,” (John 19:28) and is offered a vinegar-like sour wine to drink. Though a trivial seeming incident, it shows Christ’s control. One of the prophecies has said, “In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 68:22) Now Christ fulfills the Prophecy. He is now ready to die. He has two last phrases to utter: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46) and “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us that He “cried out with a loud voice.” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46) This cry is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s rose in His own passion and death. The normal cause of death by crucifixion was asphyxiation. When a man hung on a cross, he could not exhale. In order to expel the carbon dioxide from his lungs, he had to raise himself up on the nails in his hands and feet. Pain and exhaustion quickly weakened the victim so that he could no longer raise himself and he would die. After many hours of this, the crucified man would be so weak that he could scarcely utter a sound. However, Christ not only spoke just before he died, He uttered a loud cry. He thereby showed us that He was not dying of asphyxiation brought on by weakness and exhaustion, instead, he had chosen this precise moment for His own death.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Modesty in Clothing 
            Growing up, we've always had a hard time shopping for clothes. Even winter clothes because it is so hard to find something that fits right and is modest. Summer is always the worst because of the shorts and swimsuits. How do girls feel comfortable wearing a bikini, I will never know. I've heard my fair share of comments about what I'm wearing is "ugly" or that I'm weird because I don't wear "normal" clothes, but in the end, that's just less Purgatory time for me. Yes, it hurts, but, I'm not going to compromise my modesty and purity because the world tells me these things. Nor am I going to lead others into sin because of my own actions and immodesty.
"You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury , but out of foolish vanity and pride." ~ St. John Chrysostom
Even a brides' wedding dress is often immodest with the low and revealing neck lines. A wedding dress, white to symbolize the brides purity.
 "After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable…..People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair."-Prophecy of Saint Nilus
 St. Nilus couldn't be more right. For example..Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Marylin Manson. Our society has changed so much in the past 50 years! Modesty is considered a thing of the past. Personal appearance has become the priority of women as they try to dress "attractively" so they can find "love". But by immodest dress, love is not present, lust takes it's place. In order to find a pure love, a girl must dress in a modest way which encourages respect from the right guys and repels the wrong type of guys.
  "A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her."
Pray to the Blessed Mother for her help with modest dress and purity!

For helpful tips on modesty, click here! It's guys opinion on girl's clothing and more! Really and awesome thing to have! 
"Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity. Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet."
~The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2521-2522~

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Confirmation and the road of preparation.

                                 My Godmother/Sponsor, Bishop Muench, and I at my Confirmation.

I made my Confirmation this last February after about 4 years of preparation and it was amazing! Everything I thought it would be and more! When Bishop Muench said the words and anointed my forehead with Holy Chrism leaving the indelible mark on my soul, the feeling of the Holy Spirit washing over me was amazing! I couldn't stop smiling for quite a while!! On top of receiving such a wonderful sacrament, several of my best friends came to share that wonderful moment with me! Including a non-catholic friend who took it more serious than over half my class actually receiving Confirmation! I'm so blessed to have such awesome friends!
During my Confirmation, I kept looking up to the stain glass window above the alter with depicts Pentecost Sunday with the tongues of fire descending upon the Apostles and Mary in the upper-room. The lyrics of the song Set A Fire kept repeating in my head. It set my heart on fire and I don't think I've ever been that happy before in my life!!
"There's no place I'd rather be, No place I'd rather be, No place I'd rather be, Than here in your Love, Here in your love! So set a Fire Down in my Soul That I cant contain that I cant control! I want more of you God, I want more of you God!"
Preparing and choosing a saint name.
Being homeschooled, I began my preparation a few years earlier than normal. In ninth grade I started attending retreats and confirmation meetings put on by St. Mary's parish and directed by the Directer of Religious Formation/Youth Minister. They were incredibly educational and I grew to understand the true meaning of Confirmation through these events much better than before. 

Choosing a saint name for me was easy I guess you could say. Saint Clare kinda chose me. A year before my Confirmation I started praying that I would find a saint for my Confirmation. I was strongly thinking of picking St. Rose of Lima because I really liked her, but there was another plan I wasn't aware of yet. In the summer of 2012 I went to Ohio for the Steubenville Youth Conference.  Right before I left, I kinda fell in love with the movie Frances and Clare of Assisi. While I was there, the name Clare kept popping up along with St. Clare of Assisi. From meeting people named Clare, to looking at saint medals in the gift shop and finding a St. Clare medal in nearly every saint medal box, and even staying in Clare hall on campus. So during Saturday night Benediction, I was praying and asking if I should pick St. Clare for my saint name. I was sitting between a priest and a friend of mine so when I felt a hand on my elbow, I thought little of it until I realized neither of them were touching me. There was no one there, but I could feel a hand holding me there giving me strength to stay on my knees. So I continued to pray, feeling the presents of God  while gazing at the Monstrance. And I remembered a scene from the movie I mentioned above where Clare had crawled out of her bed on Christmas morning when she was very sick, and made her way to the Church nearby and was found by the rest of the Sisters in the convent with her standing near the alter beneath a blank San Damiano Crucifix, and holding a baby in her arms! 
The next day, the last day in Ohio, I was looking around the gift shop for a present for my prayer partner when I was walking down the book aisle and the light from the sun hit my face through the window and it was sudden so it was blinding, and I stepped back and turned my face away from the light and when I did, I saw the light from the sun illuminated one book. The Legends of St. Clare of Assisi. So I grabbed it, picked out a present for my prayer partner, and bought the two items
When I got home the next day, my mom told me that my sister and brother-in-law, who were expecting a baby in December, picked out a name for the baby if it was a girl. Lucy Claire! So I took that as the last sign and picked St. Clare for my Confirmation Saint! A few weeks later, we discovered that my sister was, in fact, going to have a girl! Lucy Claire was born and baptized a month before my Confirmation!
Lucy Claire!

God answers your prayers in a way you sometimes least expect it! 
"Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love." - St. Clare of Assisi

Monday, April 8, 2013

Courtship and my thoughts.

                                                       St. Clare of Assisi pray for us!

Ok, so first off, my name is Maria Jeaǹne Clare LaGrone. St. Clare of Assisi being my Confirmation saint. I've been Catholic all my life. I'm homeschooled and have been for 11 years now. I am 16, creeping up on 17.

So after reading the Complex Infrastructure Known as the Female Mind by Relient K(one of my favorite bands) I've realized that guys really don't understand women. So hopefully this blog will clear up a bit of the confusion and show what's going on inside a Catholic girl's head. So I'll now take you inside the mind of a Catholic girl, me!

 So with society today pushing to men and women to be treated equal, they've distorted the view of equality and the unique purpose of women has been nearly forgotten to the point that they sometimes kill their own babies at their weakest, most dependent time, in the womb. Also, the respect for women has fallen so low that we are seen as objects to be used rather than a person created by God. Also, because of this, chivalry is rare in men, but very much appreciated by a Catholic girl. It also shows that a guys respects women and treats them as a special gift from God. Respect is on my list of requirement that a guy should have before I ever enter into a relationship with him. And yes, I have a list. I'm picky, but in a good way.
"If a woman raises her standards, will she find herself alone? Initially, she probably will. Although it may sound counterproductive, a woman must deliberately decrease her odds of finding a guy in order to increase her odds of finding a soulmate. Things such as modest dress and high moral standards will diminish the number of men willing to pursue her. However, it will also increase her appeal to those who are worthy of her … The wait to find a decent man may feel excruciating at times, but why not hold out for a guy who loves you for who you are, not for what you give him?" - How to find your soulmate without losing your soul By Jason & Crystalina Evert
That leads to another thing. After nearly two years of discerning my vocation, I, for the most part, believe I am called to marriage, so here is my thoughts on a relationship for me in the future. There is so much dating now-a-days and it usually doesn't last very long. That's why after reading Arms of Love by Carmen Marcoux(A great book for girls and guys! Please read it!) I've decided to court instead of date. At the mention of "courting" it may bring to mind the Amish lifestyle, but it is in fact a beautiful, and modern way to have a relationship! Dating and Courting are different in many ways. The reasons I'm choosing to court is because dating is now more of a physical relationship to our society and well, I'm saving myself for my husband and even my first kiss for my husband on my wedding day! And I'm not saying that dating is only a physical relationship, but simply that the world has corrupted dating in my eyes and I don't want a part of it, but rather, a more Jesus centered relationship with a guy.

And that about sums it up. Thanks for reading and God Bless!

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.