Friday, August 23, 2013

My Mother Mary

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

So, I have started my college life. It was a hard decision at first because my heart has been so set on missions for so long. However, through a series of signs and miracles, God has brought me to a great Catholic school on a full scholarship. Praise Him!

It has been tough adjusting to all of these new things– dorm life, classes, cafeteria food, being without my family and friends– but through it all God has been extremely faithful in His promise to me. He has not left me alone.

I had the blessing to go to adoration and praise and worship. Mostly I sat and talked to God, and tried to keep my heart open for what He was saying to me. I started thinking about my mom, and how much I miss her. Saying goodbye was really hard, and dropping her off at the airport was a farewell to my last bit of home. So I started to talk to Mary, who I am consecrated to, and told her how hard it all is. I looked at Jesus in the eucharist and thought of her amazing love for Him.

Mary, the first Christian. Mary, the first of Jesus' missionaries. Mary, our mother. Mary, my mother.

I kept my eyes on Christ, and realized– she was gazing at Him with me. She was hurting for my hurt with me, and being with my mom with me. In a realest of real ways, she was by my side, loving our Lord with me. She was just loving Him perfectly.

You are never alone when you know the Lord. The Saints, Mary, and the intercession of the faithful are with you. And even when it feels like I have been dropped into this new world by myself, I haven't been. My mom is still with me, just not the petite blonde, blue eyed one.

I just wanted to share my consolation. I know we can all feel alone at times, but we are not. And it's so peaceful to know that.

In Him,
Alyse

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eucharist

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I know it's been a very long time since I updated my blog. A lot has happened since then, of course, but I'm not writing to catch up. Sorry.

I just felt compelled to share a beautiful moment I had with Christ this afternoon. I was sitting in mass, before the consecration, and thought of how great it'd bee to see Jesus come into the Eucharist. I realize that perhaps my weak faith desired this visible sign- Thomas all over again- but I asked for it nonetheless. I figured that if it was God's will, I would see.

And I did. But not in the way that I had thought it. While Father elevated the host and spoke the words of consecration, it looked just like it always does. And I realized, or I guess God graced me to see, that His substance residing in the host, his total being entering into this one little circle of unleavened bread, was the greatest kind of vision that He could offer.

I thought of "Peralandra" the book by C.S Lewis, in the closing chapter. Ransom, the main character, sees as many circles come in and out of focus, all contained within each other but each one containing them all. Of course Lewis' words are much more eloquent than mine, but the image stuck with me. God almighty fulfills His promise time and time and time and time again. "This is my body" the words Jesus spoke, come alive each time that we celebrate the sacrifice of the Eucharist. All of God's splendor comes to dwell within the Eucharist. All of Jesus' self takes place of  the substance of bread- transubstantiation. He enters with all of Himself into matter that is so fragile, that dissolves on my tongue and gets digested by my body. All of Him, all of His love, which is what holds all of us, comes into me. How humbling. How marvelous.

And I thought to myself, "this is worth blogging about". Of course, it is worth infinitely more than that, worth leaving everyone and everything and following God to the nastiest slums at the end of the earth; worth being skinned alive for, or crucified upside down; it's worth getting your arms and legs broken over, or your fingers gnawed off; and it's worth it because God showed us our value to Him by suffering more, by giving more, by loving more than we can. More than I can. More than any of us can. God loves. And He comes each and every time that the Priest offers that sacrifice on the altar and offers forgiveness for our sins and the salvation of all of the earth. Every time. It's a promise that He will continue to offer, and a promise that requires our accepting it.

I am not sure about what comes next, but I am sure that it's been worth my time to share it. I promise it's worth our time to share Him.

Peace and love in Christ,
Alyse

Monday, July 23, 2012

Faith Camp 2012 - Challenge Accepted

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Faith Camp this year was incredibly blessed. I can't say that I'm all that surprised that it was, considering that I truly believe that it is one of the great works of the kingdom of God, but God still blessed me in a special and unique way this year. For the week of July 16-20, I served as a CIT (coordinator in training). Me and six other truly wonderful individuals had been working for nearly six months on ironing out all of the little details that go into one extraordinary week of service, fun, and closeness to our most high God.

I was so blessed to see so many hearts be opened up to God in such a powerful way. God blessed me throughout the week by revealing Himself to me in little ways, little reminders of His awesomeness. At adoration on wednesday night I realized that the kingdom of God was there. It was like at WYD, and my heart was torn open by the beauty of all of these junior high kids adoring our Father, knowing Him. His love never ceases to amaze and humble me.

After Faith Camp, I came home and wrote something like this, I would like to share it.

July 20th 2012


    I can't express the profundity of what I experienced and learned at Faith Camp because I haven't fully digested it yet. Working every second, every day, on the front line with living saints, to build the kingdom of God for real people, is an incredible blessing. How dare I push my own agenda, my own plans, when God's plan and love for me are so spectacular?
    We'd get excited to do a favor for some famous person who's never done anything for us. So many fans would leap at the opportunity to buy coffee for some movie star, singer, artist, writer; yet we don't, I don't, jump at every opportunity to serve God who authored the universe, who loved me into being. God is so good!!! So much better than the idols of this world.
    To love and serve, and suffer, and fail, and cry, and get back up, and to do it all over again for the glory of the most high God is a privilege. It is my PRIVILEGE to know God, to be able to live in His love, to be able to share that love, to be able to give my life for Him. Not everyone has that incredible blessing. Not everyone knows God, not everyone knows His love. And I complain when I get to serve Him every day. I am so blessed! Yet I complain, and whine, and hide behind the opinions of others who don't follow the one guy who can get our butts to Heaven. To Heaven!
    I go to school, to work, to hang outs, and I waste my life- God's life in me- on stupid, insignificant, suffocating sins instead of sanctifying my everyday life. How dare I. And then I fall and feel like God can't pick me right back up because I am so sinful. As if God is limited to my sins- no matter how big. 
St. Paul screwed up all the time, but because he let himself get picked back up it didn't stop him from shaping God's kingdom in a way that nobody else could. Who am I to say that God, the unchanging, eternal master, has a different, less perfect love for me? How dare I stop that grace with my petty pride? The only thing that can stand in between God and I is that stuff that I let stand in the way. The person who determines my proximity to God, and His will, is me. What stands in the way is my sin.
    Stand up, let God. Let His love love me, love others through me. Accept the challenge that God has blessed me with. Then I can worry about the stupid things that I fret about, if only to find that they aren't worth worrying about in the first place.


In Him,
Alyse

Friday, July 6, 2012

Faith Camp Fast Approaching

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing this brief post to ask you to please pray for Faith Camp 2012 "Challenge Accepted". The planning this year is going very smoothly, and God is working it out as usual. However, we are always in need of your prayers. Please pray for all of the prep, staff, and coordinators right now. Please especially pray for the camp itself, in all of its' details, the week of July 16-20. We are expecting the best year yet, but we need prayers for that to happen!
God bless all of you, and thank you in advance for your prayers and spiritual support.

In Him,
Alyse

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mexico- Summer- Life

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Being that it is summer, I have no excuse not to post what has been going on in my life. The main theme that I have to share right now is the beauty of missions. The beauty of missions does not lie in its difference, it does not lie in its difficulty. The beauty of missions lies in its absolute applicability to every individual who is living. Each and every person, when truly following God, becomes a missionary. This is particularly difficult for me to grasp. I love being in foreign countries, serving my brothers and sisters, preaching the gospel, and living radically for Christ. Because of this, it is hard for me to hold on to the beauty of the life God has given me.

This past year, being in the United States for the third year in a row, has been difficult in that regard. I sometimes forget that this is where God wants me right now. I cannot understand God's plan. I still do not know why He called my family out of foreign missions, but I do know that He knows. I also know that even in my reluctance to be here, He has blessed me abundantly.

Because I haven't posted much this year, I will share a bit of what has gone on. First off, the school that I attend has been a tremendous blessing to me. God has sent me some very good friends who draw me closer to Himself, and teach me how to be the stateside missionary that I want to be.

Also, my lifelong friend Hollis and I started a group called "Faith in Action". We started it about 5 months ago now, and it has been a blessing to see how God has let it grow. The purpose of the group is to offer a support system for high school students who want to see their faith in God be actualized in their lives. This group has been a blessing to me, and to those people who have come to our monthly meetings.

Since January, I have been meeting weekly with the coordinators of Faith Camp to help with this year's "Challenge Accepted" Faith Camp.  I am a coordinator in training, and so I am learning all of the behind-the-scene work that is poured into Faith Camp. I am so blessed to be able to help in the camp that has been so instrumental in my spiritual formation, and I can't wait to see how God uses it for His glory this year.




One of the absolute biggest blessings of my life was born April 18th of this year. My precious, miracle, brother Isaac Joseph was welcomed into the world. My mom suffered 7 miscarriages, and I have 8 little siblings in Heaven. I was truly able to see the fruit of a community's prayer and fasting when my little brother was welcomed into this world with so much love, and with no problems whatsoever. He is truly a testament of God's love for our family.

The next huge blessing to share with you is my trip to General Cepeda. I hadn't visited in two years, and my heart was aching to return. Going back to that precious town which I love so dearly was a true gift of God's infinite love for me. I was able to see so many old friends, and the families that have become my family. I was able to visit with some of the living saints that I have been anxious to see for so long, and visit ejidos of people who still pray for my family daily. God reminded me of the desperate need for simplicity in my life, and the call to sanctity my life for His glory.

Another gift God has given me is my job. I am working this summer as a babysitter, which is my absolute favorite job. I am so grateful for this job, and it really came at such a perfect time that I know God's hand was in it.

Well that is the basic update for the year, but there is more to come. Now that it is summer I will hopefully be posting more frequently, so that I can give more glory to God who deserves it all. Keep persevering in prayer, and in serving God more perfectly every day.

Peace and love in Christ,

Alyse

Friday, May 25, 2012

John Paul the Great Academy

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


I know I have mentioned to you how much I am blessed by the school that I have been attending this past year. I am truly blessed to have found such a fantastic community of people to be a part of. I have grown spiritually and intellectually this past year, in ways that I didn't think possible. 


I would like tell you a little bit about John Paul the Great academy. It is an independent Catholic school. Because of that, we are not attached to a diocese or parish, instead we fully rely on the support of our community. Thankfully, our community is the entire Catholic church. It is the duty of every Catholic to support those ministries- wether it be in prayer, spirit or finance- which fulfill the great commission, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." JPG is certainly one of those ministries which values this call above all else. 


At our school, prayer, and service to God and His will always come before everything else. We are a small school, 160 students K-12, but we are a community made up of spectacular individuals. JPG accepts many students who aren't able to afford the tuition, including my family, and tries their best to accommodate everyone according to their finances. 


The class sizes are small, and so the teacher to student interaction is fantastic. Not only that, JPG cultivates an environment of learning which brings about both learning, and discernment of vocation. There are five seminarians from our graduating classes, which is a great testament to what our school does. 


Right now, due to a series of unforeseen events, JPG is in need of your help. Our school needs to gather together a large amount of money before the 31st of this month. Please, I beg of you, keep our school's needs in your prayer. Offer up rosaries, masses, our fathers, chaplets of divine mercy, and whatever else you can offer. Also, please pray about donating to our school to help it continue its' mission. You can do this at www.jpgacademy.org . Please, wether you donate or not, visit this link to learn more about this great work of God.


I wish I could share more about how JPG has blessed me and others, but I am headed to General Cepeda, Mexico. I am extremely excited about being able to visit again, so please keep my sister and I in your prayers during this week.


Peace and love in Christ,
Alyse

Friday, April 6, 2012

Umbrella In the Desert- Easter Triduum

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Once again I begin my post by apologizing for not blogging in so long. I am so busy with school and everything else all of the time, that blogging slips out of my mind. However, when I was in chapel yesterday at school, and had time for adoration, I thought of all of my fantastic blog readers. Ms. Jen, our campus minister, shared a beautiful reflection, and I want to share it with all of you.

Imagine that you are in the desert, and you are dirty, tired, and extremely thirsty. All of the sudden you see an enormous black rain cloud rolling through the sky, and it's coming right towards you. Imagine that you take an umbrella, a rain coat, and rain boots, and run into a cave and hide while it rains.

There is something wrong with that picture, right? It seems like you would grab buckets, throw your head back and take in the rain falling from the sky. Any thirsty, dirty, tired person would do that instead of running to a cave where they would stay the same way. Even though grabbing buckets and getting drenched is the logical answer, sometimes we are the person with the umbrella when it comes to our spiritual journeys.

God gives us this time of the Easter Triduum that He fills with abundant blessings for us. He opens the sky and pours out His love and grace on us like a rain cloud. All that we need to do is grab our buckets and have them filled with grace! Those buckets are times of prayer, attending services, reflecting on the way of the cross, and so on.

I ask you all to take advantage of this beautiful Easter Triduum to do just that! Grab your buckets, throw back your heads, and get drenched in God's love and grace. He died to give it to you.

Peace and Love in Christ,
Alyse