Have you ever looked around and realized that everything is utterly fantastic? It used to not happen as much for me, but I’m working on it, and this morning it really hit me. I’m in Madison, Wisconsin - a city that some people would argue is incredibly ugly with its ecclectic mix of once “modern” architecture, yet a city that others are convinced is the most beautiful place on earth - the capital, two lakes, a beautiful lakeshore area, the list goes on and on.
Well today, I was walking down State Street on my way to class, and I realized the greatness of business. I’m a business major, and sometimes, also being Catholic, I feel extremely guilty about it. Business has this reputation for being evil, of existing for the sole purpose of generating as much profit as possible for greedy executives while exploiting the common man.
However, I argue that business is wonderful. Have you ever realized that every business exists for the sole purpose of making you a happier person? Businesses, at least in capital economies, can only exist if they’re satisfying the customer. As soon as a business makes a decision or starts putting out products or services that upset their customers, that business will be no more. Which means, as consumers, we have an incredible power over our society and our economy. We get to decide what is right and what is wrong practice in the market place.
Now that I’m in college, people are always telling me that I can change the world. And you know what? I believe it. I’m excited to go into an industry that I can affect from the inside and the outside. Majoring in marketing, I am merely performing a service for the people. I am finding products and services that I believe are good for society and getting the word out about them. As a consumer, I can support the products and services I enjoy by spending my money on them. On the other hand, I can also send a message to the products and services I believe are detrimental to society by boycotting them.
We all have this power as members of an economy. When making decisions, remember to keep God in mind. God doesn’t hate business. There is a lot of stuff out there that can do a lot to improve our lives, our society, and bring us closer to the Lord.
So, appreciate the businesses around you. Realize that they have one goal in mind - to make you as happy a person as you can be. That’s what God wants for you too!
I’m kind of over this whole college thing.
I don’t care to study, I don’t care to go out, I don’t care to stay in. All I really want to do is play guitar and read good books and go on pretty runs. It is so beautiful outside all the time. When I run in nature is when I feel the greatest detachment from this life, and it is when I am most calm. I don’t think that is a coincidence. Of course I am more calm when I am alone with nature, alone with God. My literature professor last year told our class that “To look at nature is to read the mind of God.” I believe that is spot on. Nature is exactly what God intended. It’s beautiful and it’s ancient.
Sometimes I get so caught up in everything from this world - the clothes, the celebrities, the expectations. It’s hard to remember that this is all fake. I think that’s why college is starting to get to me. The entire thing is fake. College is something that people have created, and although it was originally intended purely for education and to inspire new ways of thinking, now it’s goal is to place us in jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I know college and education and working are all important things. I just don’t think they are the most important, and I don’t like how they take up basically my entire life right now. I guess I just don’t understand why college needs to be so hard. I don’t understand why we all have to be so miserable right now, studying for midterms. It doesn’t seem like this is how it was all intended to be. Our lives are so crowded and overwhelming that, in order to get a release, we commit sins. We get wasted on the weekends, we get high on weeknights, and we get with each other, just so we can escape our stresses for a brief time. It’s all so backwards.
I know that what I want to do in this lifetime is to live simply and to help other people. However, I often forget that. Being in the business school, I get so consumed with competing with my classmates for the best opportunities, for the best jobs with the most money, so that I can be better off than the person next to me. I get so caught up with how I want to live in the future that I forget to live right now. I overlook all of the beauties that God has put around me and I only focus on what I can do for myself. If I put that much work and that much concentration in my relationship with God, which is the most important thing anyway, I believe that I would be a much happier, calmer person. Instead I fill my life with so many activities that I think will help me to either get ahead or to enjoy myself that I forget that the ultimate form of enjoyment is with me always - the Lord.
I know that seems hard to believe. Why would praying, or going to mass, be more enjoyable than drinking at frat parties with my sisters, than getting high with my friends, or than making out with my boyfriend? But I would just respond with, don’t knock it until you try it. I’m in this philosophy class right now, and we’re talking about moral ethics. One philosopher believed that whatever is moral is whatever makes the most people the happiest. However, the happiness that comes from this world, the happiness that comes from our flesh, is temporary. You all know what I’m talking about! Getting with that guys is fun, maybe for a night, maybe for a week, but eventually he stops texting you back. Or he’s texting you too much and you’re sick of him, and now you aren’t texting him back. In either case, what used to bring you joy now makes you unhappy. It sounds lame to compare God to a boy, but God will always be there, you will never be sick of him, and you will never fear that he will stop responding. Cardinal Ratzinger said, “only by experiencing life with God does the evidence of his existence appear,” and it is SO TRUE. Just give God a chance. You have to. If you want a truly fulfilling, satisfying life, you have absolutely no choice but to pray to God. Daily. It doesn’t have to be for a long time at all, try just twenty minutes. You can journal, you can read the bible, you can just tell him everything that’s going through your mind. He cares. He wants to know.
I’m going to work on it. I want eternal happiness.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).
The Lord takes all of our worries and imperfections and makes them perfect. We must be meek, and have true dependence on God, in order to be truly content and to know peace. So often I try to be strong and take everything upon myself, but this is foolish because without God it cannot be done. Without His will in align with my own I will not be successful. I must trust. I must give Him everything. There is no other option. I will still have to try and do my best, but my best plus the Lord is actually unstoppable.
I’ve been feeling really good lately. I’ve been feeling on top of my shit.
I’ve got a great living situation, sitting pretty in a sorority house with 50 of my closest friends. My amazing boyfriend lives about three blocks down from me. My classes are challenging, but for the mot part interesting and I know I need them all to succeed in the future. I just got admitted into the business school, and the marketing program I’m in is rated seventh in the nation. My sorority just finished recruitment and we have the most wonderful new member class and I honestly cannot wait to get to know all of them better.
I’ve been feeling pretty calm. Sleeping really well, feeling really confident in myself. Being extra thankful to God.
My retreat team has been going well. Everyone is such an inspiration for me, and I look up to each and every one of the members.
But, whenever I start to think about my life too much, I still get the feeling that I’m slowly drowning and trying desperately to stay afloat. It’s become an easier sensation to recognize and poke fun at, or simply try to just push down deep inside of me. But I know that it has to catch up with me and I fear that it has.
The fact is just that I’m overwhelmed. I’ve felt like I haven’t had time to pray, or go to any of the talks I usually love at St. Paul’s. I still make sure that I go to church every Sunday but lately I have felt like an impostor. I know that God loves me. And I know that He wants me to be happy and understands that I am busy and knows that I love Him. But honestly, I think I need that firm relationship simply for my own sanity.
My retreat team has bible verses that we are supposed to meditate on everyday. Of course, I haven’t been doing them because I have felt so crunched for time lately. Now that the meeting is in an hour and a half, I figured I should probably catch up on the past few days’ worth. So I crack open my Bible and turn on my iTunes and I actually laughed out loud.
The verse was Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.” The song was Bug by Phish, with Trey Anastasio singing repeatedly in my ear, “It doesn’t matter.” Honestly, could two more perfect thoughts have entered my mind at once?
First off, I don’t want to say I’m bad at trusting God, but if I’m truly honest with myself, I am much too reliant on my own intelligence. My biggest struggle with religion is the fact that I can’t wrap my mind around all of it.
Secondly, I think I’ve said this before, but one of my mantras is to remember what’s important. Last year when I got really overwhelmed with school I had to write it on my wipe board to remember that all of this school stuff, in the long run, really does not matter. College is a really important time in a person’s life, kind of. Yeah, the grades I get here determine my first job out of college, which determines my second, etc etc. But actually, in the real big picture, in the real long run, in the I-will-die-at-some-point-and-need-to-go-to-heaven scheme of things, the grades I get in college are not a very big deal at all. Obviously I still want to get the best grades possible, but I can’t let that be the biggest focus in my life. The priests at my church always say, “Take the time you set aside to do your studies seriously, but don’t always take your studies seriously,” which makes a lot of sense to me. I just forget about that a lot. So Bug’s lyrics were a perfect meditation.
I like to think that it was more than a coincidence, but even it was simple great timin, I’m thankful.
I’m still frazzled, I still have a ton of stuff to do, I still am not sure how I can balance everything, but at least I know that if I am “mindful of Him” it will “mean health for my flesh and vigor for my bones” (Proverbs 3:6-8).
For I know well the plans I have for you…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. — Jeremiah 29:11-12
So I’m on this retreat team at my church..
And everyone is so fricken holy. They have such amazing relationships with God! And it completely freaks me out.
I am seriously bipolar when it comes to my relationship with God. I know that I want to have one, I know that I want it to be strong, and yet sometimes I doubt that I have anything there at all. Of course, at other times it feels as if I can read God’s mind and we are so connected and so close and it is wonderful!
I know I’ve posted this already, but when I’m really struggling (like I was yesterday at our retreat team meeting), it helps me to remember the basics: Just be love. In fact, I wrote this yesterday while I was feeling particularly overwhelmed:
All that makes sense to me is that love is good. Love needs to happen. If I am love, how can I go wrong?
I believe that one hundred percent. Every time I am overanalyzing and worrying about my relationship with God, I just remember that as long as I am love, I can do no wrong in His eyes. His two biggest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves! Therefore, focusing on love is focusing on the Lord, since He is love.
As I was thinking of all this yesterday, I’m pretty sure I witnessed some divine intervention because one of my teammates said the exact words I needed to hear:
God chose us to lead this retreat.
And it’s true! He chose me to go on this team. Although I may not believe that I have what it takes to measure up to all of these amazingly holy people with such awesome relationships with God, here I am. I’ve been lumped in with all of them, perhaps to help strengthen my relationship with Him, and perhaps to appreciate the strength it already possesses.
Also, I’m going back to comparing my relationship with God to others’ relationships with Him, which is so dumb to do. God is all of our Father, therefore we all have the potential to have a perfect relationship with Him. Yet, the beautiful thing about humanity is that we are all perfect in different ways. God doesn’t want to have identical relationships with every one of His children. He loves each of us and wants a special relationship with each of us.
So that’s where I am right now. I’m feeling good, still a little uneasy, but almost completely confident in my relationship with God. Almost. Completely.
Let us … be overtaken by the reconciliation that God has given us in Christ, by God’s ‘crazy’ love for us: No one and nothing could ever separate us from his love. With this certainty we live. And this certainty gives us the strength to live concretely the faith that works in love. — Pope Benedict XVI
Well, it’s really happening.
My bags are (almost completely) packed, my alarm is set, and the cocoons in my stomach have been transformed into dozens of butterflies.
My parents are driving me tomorrow morning to Madison. We’re picking my boyfriend up on the way, and the first thing we’re doing upon arrival is going to mass. What better way to kick off the new school year!
Like I’ve said before, I really miss St. Paul’s. I foresee myself getting a little emotional because that church has been so fundamental to building my Catholic faith throughout the past year. Additionally, this is the first time that my mom and dad will be at mass with me together, and the first time my boyfriend is thrown in the mix as well. This is such a big transition in my life and I feel like this mass is the culmination of all of that.
But don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to go back. I have had a perfect summer, but I hate just sitting around thinking about how busy I will be these next few months. I would rather be right in the middle of it!
Times like these, when I’m so busy and nervous and excited, are oftentimes when I forget about God. It’s easy to pray to Him when I’m sitting around with nothing else to do, but when I’m my busiest is when I often push Him off to the side. Which is dumb on my part, because of course this is when I need Him most! This is when the challenge really begins. However, there is no doubt in my mind that my relationship with God will only get stronger as I need Him more and more.
I also look forward to these coming months because this is when the blog posts are going to get good. There are so many inspirational people in Madison, and I am constantly learning from them. I learned so much last year, and I can’t wait to share all the awesome things about Catholicism that I continue to learn!
I try to be as honest as possible here, and I recognize that the Internet is a very public place. But my hope is that my faults and mistakes will be not used against me, but rather help inspire others, no matter how far along in their faith they may be! I love Jesus and I love Madison and I love all of the people there and I can’t wait to go back and share it all.
One of the most frustrating, but also the most inspiring, things about Catholicism is that one can never do enough. There are always more prayers to pray, more people to help, more masses to attend. Therefore, the trick is to find a balance that works for every individual.
That is something I have struggled with, and I will probably struggle with my entire life. I love the idea of doing more, but once I add too many responsibilities, I become overwhelmed and resentful.
However, one way that I can ensure that I am always doing God’s will is to allow Him to work through me in every instance of my life. God made us as social creatures. I believe that we are designed to interact with one another and share our thoughts and feelings and beliefs.
So, as I’ve said before, I just try to always be love. That is the best way to live out God’s plan for myself, and the best way anyone else can live out His plan for them. I am confident that God didn’t want anyone to come to this beautiful earth and be a terrible person and make people feel badly about themselves.
I’m not perfect. I don’t pray as often as I ought to, I don’t go to daily masses, I don’t even volunteer as often as I could. Sometimes I feel so guilty about that, I become overwhelmed with all of the things I should be doing, and I feel badly when I just don’t want to do them! But then I remember that the best way to spread God’s message is to be kind. To be loving. To be there for other people. To treat others the way they want to be treated. We hear that all the time, so why don’t we do it? Because it’s hard! It is really hard sometimes. It takes a lot of courage. And most importantly, it takes more than ourselves - it takes God.
And He is always up to the task.
Without faith there is no hope, without hope there is no strength, no fortitude to continue fighting. Faith is everything; it’s what gives meaning to life, especially faith in Christ. — Ingrid Betancourt, political and social activist in Colombia