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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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Can I Be A Saint? Part 1: The Hardships

Some people are wondering why it’s so important to become saints. Most people don’t even know what a saint is. Here’s the definition of a saint, credits go to saintspreserved.com:

Beginning with the early Christian martyrs in the first century, saints were chosen by popular acclaim. Legends of their lives were spread through word-of-mouth. Their stories evolved into some wonderfully fantastic tales, probably arising from our intellectual, moral, and spiritual need for heroes. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, defended the defenseless – never expecting (and virtually always refusing) payment for their (sometimes miraculous) services.

St. Cecilia, Martyr

From this, we get that a saint is someone who does good works to help their neighbors and do it out of love and with full willingness. A saint does good works from the bottom of their heart, never expecting something in return. Anything received in gratitude does not belong to the saint, because everything they did was in service of Christ with no reward in mind.

saint
/saynt
noun 1 a person who is acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death.
2 a person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the Church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession. (informal) a very virtuous person.

verb 1 formally recognize as a saint; canonize.
2 (sainted) worthy of being a saint; very virtuous.
– DERIVATIVES sainthood

nounsaintliness noun saintly adjective.
– ORIGIN Old French seint, from Latin sanctus “holy.”

-Definition from Oxford English Dictionery

You don’t need a formal canonization to become a saint. There are probably thousands of saints that are known only among their brethren up in heaven. They didn’t get a canonization and they aren’t demanding one. I will blog more on the subject of canonization later. Right now I’m addressing the question, Can I be a saint?

The answer is YES, absolutely so! We’re all called to be saints. We’re called to imitate those already in heaven. It’s going to be hard in our own personal lives, but it’s going to be worth it. Sainthood today is far different from sainthood a hundred years ago. You probably won’t be burned at the stake for proclaiming yourself a Christian, but people will look down on you and mock you in different ways.

Read Hebrews 12 for encouragement about the suffering you’re going to endure on this journey: (NIV)

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”a

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees13“Make level paths for your feet,”b so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. The devil is glad that so few people are seeking sainthood anymore. We’re about to turn that around. Starting Christmas Eve, pray about your calling and see how you’ll pursue it. It’s a hard journey full of sacrifice, but it’s worth it. Get ready to join us.

Note: I used the NIV because I couldn’t find the NAB resources for this on the Internet. I’ll edit when I’m able to, but this is basically the message GOD wants you to hear.

Mariella made invites to give to friends!

You guys should do something similar to help spread the word! It’s fun!

Mariella’s Introduction: “Study.”

Hi. I’m glad you stumbled into Universal Faith. It’s my prayer that you learn much, make friends, and begin your journey to sainthood with renewed vigor while you’re here. We’ve tried to make our movement as homey and accessible as possible; we are a family, after all.

My name is Mariella Cecilia, but I also go by my Confirmation name, Catherine-Rose. Somehow I was blessed enough to get two patron saints for my Confirmation: Catherine of Siena and Rose of Lima. Back then I didn’t know them very well, but now I understand how these two great saints are going to help me through life. I also consider St. Cecilia one of my patron saints; we share a name, and I attached to my Rosary a St. Cecilia relic medal (yes, they do exist) so she prays with me. Recently I’ve had an increase in my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I turn to St. Faustina for advice on all my religious projects–reading her diary, I’ve found we have a lot in common as far as devotions, goals, and fears. But everything I do is for the sake of Jesus and His Sacred Heart, because He died for me and loves me more than I deserve.

Among many other things He gave me, the LORD gifted me with a passion and talent for writing novels. I discovered this talent early, when I was eight–I remember hiding under the table with a notebook because it felt so epic. In the years between that and my 17th birthday, I’d written 16 novels and even more unfinished drafts. I abused the gift GOD gave me, and wound up with a severe case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that put all my projects to a halt when 2011 came. The last significant thing I achieved with my writing was getting one of my novels to the top 5 on a website called inkpop; it got reviewed by a HarperCollins agent, and then all my projects just…stopped.

My hands hurt too much to write anything else.

May through August 2011 was excruciating. If you’re an artist, you’ll probably understand the agony of having to drop your art–and only means of expression–completely, after having let it define you all your life. I felt empty, devoid of personality or purpose. I sank into a depression that I still struggle with now. All I could do was read, but reading Young Adult Fiction only gave me more ideas that I could not write; they would torment me. I put all those books away.

That left my shelf full of books about Jesus and the Church. Here’s an old blog post from back in those awful days, where you can see how my perspective changed.

Go back three years. I was clueless about my religion, and all my friends were Christians of different denominations who would pull me into debates which I would lose. Without meaning to, my beloved friends damaged my faith in Catholicism, so I was left to wander without a clue regarding the spiritual life. When I searched the Internet for answers, I ran into anti-Catholic websites that rubbed salt into the wounds and sometimes made me cry. Where was I? I can say now that nothing hurts more than damaged faith–not even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

But GOD gave me strength from nowhere and whispered, “Study.”

So I gathered up books on Catholic theology, joined Catholic Answers Forums, and finally learned the reason why I’m Catholic. Nothing can shake my faith in the Church ever again, and while I was suffering with CTS I read about her and fell even more in love with her. I dedicated my life to sharing this beauty with other teens going through what I did.

That’s why I started this movement, with the prompting of Jesus. There aren’t enough people trying to be saints anymore, and this saddens Him greatly.

The Church helped heal me when I had nothing to look forward to, and was at the verge of losing hope. Now, I want you to discover this beauty too.

I live in the United States, somewhere in the west. I’m 17 years old, 18 on December 14. I’m obsessed with country music. Every single day, I love Jesus more. I was baptized in 2005, and I’m grateful for my parents and brother. I love them all dearly. I have lots of stories to tell, and I can’t wait to share them with you. I pray that you warm up as we get ready for Christmas Eve, and ready to change the world.

Through a great miracle and the wonderful mercy of GOD, I finally got surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on September, and am still recovering; in the meanwhile, I remain in prayerful study, waiting for my chance to serve the LORD and His Church. Thank GOD for my mother and father, and my brother, who saw me through this agonizing episode of my life. Now, on the verge of my 18th birthday, I’m ready to start anew–a different creation in Christ.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless. My other blogs are:

A Catholic Sheep
MariellaCecilia (the Tumblr)
The Escapism Project