Category Archives: Devotional

Beautiful for Jesus: Accept Who You Are

Jam 1:17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

This blog post by Sarah Anne Sumpolec is exactly what I was waiting for today. I have the same problem that the blogger, Sarah, does. Sometimes I just don’t post because I don’t have anything to say. But after reading her blog post, the Lord revealed to me my problem: I’m waiting for what can be considered a big thing by my standards, by human standards, to write about. I’m probably waiting for something groundbreaking that I could brag about. What we really need to realize is that it’s the little things that God really shapes us with. It’s the little things that we should be looking out for.

The little things are only little to us because we are greedy–for power, for pride, for something big. This is what blinds us from seeing the little blessings that God pours down on us daily like a gentle rain. We see people who have “more eventful” lives than us, and we think that ours aren’t interesting; we become so envious of the big blessings other people get that we are blinded to our own.

I can identify my own problem right now, so I’m going to confess it. I want to be a Catholic Christian speaker and have a big audience with messages to preach every day. I want to have that power to show people the Narrow Path, but when I don’t get a huge blessing every day I start thinking that I can’t lead people to the Narrow Path if I’m not already sure I’m on the way there.

Then, my Guardian Angel whacks me.

This is my greed. I think that to be able to tell the Truth to others, I need to feel closer to it than them. I need a huge miracle. I want to see a green chair turn red daily or something (I’ve never actually seen an object change colors, by the way.) When I come back down to earth and see what I do have, it humbles me. We all struggle with the sin of pride, right? I struggle with wanting to do something I can be proud of. This is, of course, me trying to glorify myself with what God gives me–which isn’t how it goes either.

Today the Lord revealed to me that He is disappointed: I don’t appreciate the little blessings He gives me daily. Even if it’s a seemingly boring and uneventful day, there’s always little blessings coming down on me. Waking up in the morning is the first blessing. Having something to eat is another blessing. Being literate is a blessing. These are all things I can see.

But then there’s the things I can’t see: The angels that protect me, keeping me balanced with every step I take. The joke my brother cracks that gets me laughing for hours on end. My parents doing everything possible to them in order for me to be happy. Reading old prayer journals and being reminded of how my life has changed in three months. The freedom to accept Jesus and the promise of great things to come. My whole life is like a hundred million blessings put together. I could blog about all of these things, if only I’d stop staring at the moon waiting for some kind of prophetic apparition!

Then there’s the things that I probably won’t see until I’m old. Blessings I will continue taking for granted until they’ve passed. There is so much I could write about if I’d accept my own life God gave me. If I’d only remember that He crafted it especially for me. I can’t want more than I have, because this is what I’m meant to live.

Not until I learn to be grateful for what God gives me, will I ever be able to teach about Him.

Count your blessings–and if you can’t see them now, make a mental note to remember them later. This life comes and goes. We’ll all leave a mark , but only if we are humble enough to be ourselves. A beautiful woman is humble and grateful for who she is.

Beautiful for Jesus is a devotional blog post series I host at my personal website, A Catholic Sheep. 

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[PURE: The 90-Week Devotional Series] Week 2 – Who Determines Your Worth?

de·ter·mine

   [dih-tur-min] Show IPA verb, -mined, -min·ing.

verb (used with object)

1. to settle or decide (a dispute, question, etc.) by an authoritative or conclusive decision.

2. to conclude or ascertain, as after reasoning, observation,etc.

3. Geometry . to fix the position of.

4. to cause, affect, or control; fix or decide causally: Demand for a product usually determines supply.

5. to give direction or tendency to; impel.

The good old dictionary shows how powerful a word it is: Determine. The first definition means to settle or decide something by an authoritative decision. When the thing they’re deciding is as personal and defining as your own worth, to whom will you bestow that authority?

What does worth even mean? Let’s check.

worth

1    [wurth] Show IPA

(…)

noun

4. excellence of character or quality as commanding esteem:women of worth.

5. usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose: Your worth to the world is inestimable.

6. value, as in money.

7. a quantity of something of a specified value: ten cents’ worth of candy.

8. wealth; riches; property or possessions: net worth.

That’s even more powerful. Somebody of conclusive authority is determining your usefulness or importance to the world. Now, how many times in your life have you stopped to consider in whose hands you put that authority? It depends on the judge, what the verdict is. If you put the authority in the hands of the secular world, you’re going to be judged by your appearance and compared to skinny women in magazines. You’ll be compared to rich men with mansions. Realistically, how many people will be worth anything when compared to that?

The problem here is that many kids nowadays choose to give this authority to people who are only going to make them feel worthless. Because if we’re letting someone who edits a fashion magazine judge our usefulness or importance…to put it quite bluntly, most of the world won’t be useful or important. That’s why it’s such a sad world! These people don’t even deserve to hold your value in their hands. Why? Jesus said: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat 10:28, RSV

I think it’s important to point this out. While most people will go straight to the next verses about the worth of a sparrow, we need to let the world know that these people don’t deserve trust regarding your worth at all. A lot of kids will question how we know we shouldn’t fear these forces, but we need to remember that right before Jesus told us how God determines our worth, He also said who can’t determine it and why. It’s in the Bible. How many of you knew that?

Rebecca says:

My tendency was to live with a sense that God was disappointed in me—that I was not good enough. Through study and prayer and time alone with Him, the Lord assured me that I am loved and secure. I know that I’m His princess, accepted and cherished. Pure, page 6

We are all princes and princesses, not by how the world judges us but by how God loves us. He told us not to listen to the world, so why are we? Finally, I’ll share the passage about the sparrow:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matt. 10:29-31

I don’t think this passage quite does it justice, because it’s been read so many times that our brains watered it down. But this is nothing less than a picture out of a fairy tale: We are royalty of Heaven! We may not ever feel like it down here on earth, but our rewards will be great.

St. Patrick put it well:

If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.

As did Rebecca:

How much time do you spend in the morning thinking about how others will perceive you based on what you look like each day? How could you spend some of that time contemplating your worth in God’s eyes? Look in the mirror and realize how precious you are to Him.

Have you put the authority to judge your worth into worldly hands? Turn back now, because the only one who can judge you justly and determine your worth is the Lord. He knows what’s best for you. And He’s watching you…everywhere. Read Psalm 139:

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee.

How many magazine editors can claim that authority?

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[PURE: The 90-Week Devotional Series] Week 1 – Are You In Tune With God’s Purpose?

Day One in the book Pure is about being in tune with God’s purpose. It speaks about how everything the Lord creates has its place and purpose in this world, and an important part to being pure is finding your purpose and sticking to it.

Rebecca says:

One definition for pure, when being used in the sense of a musical tone, means “free from harshness or roughness and being in tune.” God has a purpose for every one of our lives, and He invites us to get in tune with His plan. … If we want our lives to have an impact, that begins and ends with discovering and living our our God-given purpose. Without purpose we have no clear direction, and we may not know which decision to make when we’re at a crossroads. (Pure, pages 2-4)

It really does make a lot of sense that to live a pure life you need to know what you’re made of and see what you’re doing, in order to discern what you’re supposed to choose for yourself and the life you live. I’ve read this chapter over several times and I’m still not sure if I’ve discerned my purpose.

As Catholics, after all, our ultimate purpose is achieving sainthood; however, God has different paths planned out for us to get there, and we need to know what we’re doing in order to make the correct decisions so we’ll arrive at that destination.

It’s a given that our purpose is sainthood. God’s plan for us is sainthood. This is the big picture, the destination, if you will. But we also have missions to carry out on this earth that we have to pursue while in tune with His desires, so that we won’t mess up. We need to be in tune with Him to get it right and become saints.

That being said, what’s your mission?

When I got the idea from God to start Universal Faith and I tried to get people in my parish to help me out, they just kept asking me, “What do you want me to do for it?” And all I could reply with was, “Do whatever you’re good at!” Most of them just looked at me with puzzlement, pretended to be interested, and walked away; they wouldn’t bring it up again. I think they didn’t believe that it was as easy as pursuing what you’re passionate about—there has to be something more to serving the Lord and “starting a movement,” as I called it. But believe me, finding your purpose—it’s all about what you’re good at; it’s all about the gifts God gave you.

Finding your purpose is easier, perhaps, than carrying it out properly.

For example, me. I spent almost all my 18 years of life writing (I went overboard because of it, but that’s another story.) The things I spent my earliest teens writing were fiction and fantasy. I created my own world and lived there. I was good at writing, but I wasn’t using it to help God at all. I became so absorbed in my writing that I stopped praying at night and my hobby became my false idol. I was so out of tune.

I’m not saying that I should have been writing religious commentary or devotionals (as much as I’m going to give them a try now.) But I got so out of tune with my purpose, I let the writing get in the way and I distanced myself from Jesus. He’d given me a gift, I took it selfishly, and wouldn’t give anything back—not even a few minutes before bed in prayer.

A year of misery followed when I got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I couldn’t write at all! I’d reached the point where I’d become so out of tune, I was now a total wreck with no purpose left at all. At least, that’s how it felt. I’d abused my purpose and messed it up.

I had no choice then but to stop and face the Lord and apologize. And He forgave me. I sank into a depression for the majority of the past year, and I know there are times when I was crying and miserable where He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort me. Though I didn’t quite think of it this way when it happened, I believe He was helping me get back in tune; now I write to serve Him and my fiction works have become an aside. When I do get to working on my fiction again, I feel like my writing style has matured like I have.

I spent a year looking for that balance so I could get in-tune with His plan for me, using the gift He gave me, and I’m starting to find it. I think I get more and more in-tune every day.

So, look at yourself. Look at what you enjoy doing. What are you good at? Your passion comes from God. Whatever you enjoy doing is a gift God gave you. How can you use that gift to serve Him? I believe that’s the first question you should ask yourself when trying to discover your purpose, and a huge priority to getting in-tune with the Lord. Do your hobbies with passion, or don’t do them at all—but if you haven’t yet, find a way to take that gift God gave you and give back with it a little. He never gives you anything for selfish enjoyment: Everything has a purpose.

Take this week to think about what you’re good at, and what you can do to give back to God with it. To be in-tune with His plan for you, it’s very important that you remember: This gift isn’t for idle enjoyment. Everything He gives you has a purpose. Use that gift to change the world.

Find your purpose, and later we’ll work on purifying it and how it affects the way you live.

If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze! -St. Catherine of Siena

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[PURE: The 90-Week Devotional Series] Introduction

Hi. If I haven’t already introduced myself three times, well, I’m about to do it again. My name’s Mariella Cecilia Hunt. I get my ideas from God and am excited to get us started on a series (especially a long one like this is going to be: I love meditating on things and being able to take time on the subject!)

I’m going to host a 90-week devotional on the book Pure by Rebecca St. James. It’s meant to be a 90-day devotional but I expanded it for the sake of the blog and post quality.

Some of you might have the question on the tip of your tongue: Is Rebecca St. James Catholic? The answer is, no, as far as I’ve read, she’s not a Catholic. But this just makes it even better. We are not going to restrict ourselves to purely Catholic books on this blog because there’s loads of books written by people from other branches of Christianity that have absolute gold to offer us. This book is one of them. I chose this book, not just because I’m genuinely impressed by it (not many devotionals actually impress me) but because I really want this devotional series to be a milestone towards interdenominational understanding. Purity is an issue that every Christian can relate to and that we need to work towards together, in a world where it’s become so lacking; together, with this series, maybe we can clean up the world we live in by purifying ourselves with Rebecca’s amazing advice.

I will be featuring excerpts from her book, but also putting in relevant stories and quotes from Saints to make sure that we go deep, deep into the issue of purity–and make it a little more Catholic. There will be questions at the end (some I will compose to go with the ones Rebecca already came up with, which really make you think!) If you have the book, that’s amazing, but I’ll try to make the series as accessible as possible to people who can’t get a copy of their own.

Together, let’s take a look at our lives and work towards three forms of purity: Mind, Body, and Spirit. What I enjoyed about this book was that she really, really digs into the issue of purity, covering everything to help us get as clean as we possibly can. It’s not a light read. You have to read it several times to get all the challenges done; it’s actually a book you should have with you all your life on your bedside table, so you can go through it again and again. It’ll help you every time, and each day you’ll find yourself more and more on the path to purity.

The book is directed mostly to girls, but in this series I will try and make it accessible to guys as well. I might ask advice from some co-workers for that part, when it gets too girly. I hope there’s volunteers!

This is only the introduction. Coming right up will be the first week’s post; look for it either today or tomorrow. God Bless!

Be Christian First, Then Catholic

A few weeks ago my Youth and Young Adult Minister shared with us what he gained from participating with LA Catholic Congress last March. What he said completely changed how I viewed myself as a Catholic.

“Before you become Catholic, you need to be Christian. Being Catholic is your faith, being Christian is to be Christ-like”

Jesus left Saint Peter to build the church and from that point on the Catholic Church was born. But if we looked into the life of Jesus he didn’t preach about Catholicism but rather he shared a lifestyle. A life of being righteous and just. A life filled with love, compassion, service and selfishness. Christ taught us to be more like him, a lifestyle of saying good, doing good and being good.

So where does this fit in with our lives? Simple – it redirects in how we share our faith with the people we come across. Our actions are a reflection of what we believe. St. Francis of Assisi understood this concept in his quote “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” We should being living the Gospel because as Catholics we believe that God is present in the Word.

To share our faith is simply sharing Christ with others. So if Christ is Love we share our faith by sharing love to others. We are all called to live the Gospel, to be Christians or Christ-like. Our purpose is to share and receive LOVE not our religion. Choosing to be Catholic is the choice of the individual. To be Christ-like is the life Christ called all of us to accept.

Share Christ. Stay Blessed.

-jon jon-