“In the Silence of the Heart…

…You speak.”

Audrey Assad’s song, “You Speak,” speaks volumes about how we can listen to God. With constant noise from the world, it can be painfully difficult to hear God’s voice. He is speaking to us, but the main problem is we’re not listening. I used to be among the many people who pondered how others “hear” the voice of God.

People usually credit their vocation with hearing the voice of God, but what does that even mean? Do they actually hear an actual voice? Is it loud and booming, or is it sternly soothing? I had all these questions before I finally heard the voice of God.

Even in 1 Kings 19, Elijah realizes the Lord is not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, the Lord is in the “sound of a gentle blowing.” The truth is, God is found in the stillness and silence. I know for myself, it can sometimes be difficult to focus when everything is silent. But, God does speak in those moments of silence.

The distractions of this world are usually too loud for us to truly be in the Presence of the Lord. For many, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful opportunity to leave all the worries of the world and to come into God’s presence with an open heart and eager ears. Personally, the first time I really heard the voice of God, it was during Adoration as I was kneeling in the confession line while looking at the Host in he monstrance.

One thing that is interesting about hearing the voice of God is…you usually cannot physically hear it. It is not a voice that you expect to resonate in your ears. Instead, the voice of God is like a silent feeling, thought, or image that comes into your being. Some cases, it may be unsure where these thoughts come from, but that is why the discernment of spirits (by St. Ignatius of Loyola), is so incredibly helpful. It can help you to realize whether these thoughts are actually divine inspirations, or just something that you think of.

So, if you want to hear the voice of God, the first thing I would tell anyone would be to listen. And to actually listen. Don’t just sit there and let your thoughts wander off, truly immerse yourself in the moment that you are with the Lord. Calm your heard and recollect your thoughts. Pay no attention to whether you’ve been sitting there for an hour or 10 seconds. In that moment, truly open your heart and mind to the Lord. An idea, image, phrase might come to mind or maybe you’ll feel an immense sense of peace. When you hear God speak to you, there is such a beautiful peace that is simple indescribable, but I hope you all can experience it as well.

I’ll be praying for you, so please keep me in your prayers, too!

 

 

 

 

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Religious Sisters & Habits

I’ve been struggling to find topics to right about and also the time to write them, so I’m hoping this blog post will be somewhat interesting and detailed enough. Among the many drafts I’ve started, a few of them are related to the religious life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the most clearest idea of where this blog post is headed, but I’m sure it’ll be somewhat interesting anyways!

So, this morning I went to Mass and since our parish is the only one with Mass on Saturday mornings out of six parishes in our city, there’s typically a large crowd reaching almost 150 people. As I was looking around (yes, I get distracted…a lot) I noticed there were three different women religious orders being represented. There was a young Nashville Dominican, four sisters in a blue habit and white veil (I still haven’t figured out their order, but our pastor calls them the “blue sisters”), and several sisters belonging to the Rochester Franciscans. While I was observing these women, I gleefully noticed that the ones in habits were probably half the age of the ones without habits.

Now, to explain why that’s significant to me. For those that do not know, I have been thinking about the religious life since about second grade. After writing about that in an essay, my teacher made me pen-pals with a friend of hers– a Nashville Dominican. This Nashville Dominican’s parents are at the same parish as I am, so every summer I’m able to talk with her while she’s home on a home visit. She was and still is such a vibrant part of my discernment. When I grew a little older, there were several years in which I did not want to take part in any discussion about the religious life. My extended family always liked talking about the religious life and would encourage my cousins and I to discern the religious life or holy orders (for men). So through all that discussion, I did not want to hear them constantly talking about the religious life, and tried to get rid of any thoughts of the religious life.

But, I really couldn’t. I started going to immersion retreats at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in LaCrosse hosted by Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. For multiple years, I went to the retreats, and every year I left with my heart being a little more open to the religious life. And I do have to say, I admire the FSGM sisters a lot, and think they’re really really awesome.

So now, going back to a more general topic! All the schools I’ve attended have all been influenced by the Rochester Franciscans. As I was recently reflecting on which Sisters had impacted my discernment the most, I realized that I had never once thought about becoming a Rochester Franciscan. Many say that the habit does not make a religious sister, and I would agree…but it is the habit that can be a subtle sign of Christ and His love in the world. Also, I’ve honestly understood why someone wouldn’t want to wear a full habit. I mean, you’re basically proclaiming to the world that you’re married to Christ!! But even if it relates to humility or that’s a reason, there’s something about a religious sister in a habit that makes people revert their thoughts to God, even if just for a small fraction of a second.

On the retreat that I go to with about 10-15 other girls in the summer, one thing we all were looking for in a religious order was that they wore a full habit. As we searched through bins of religious orders, we focused our gaze on those with full habits. In this time and age, it’s harder to outwardly show that you love your faith without the fear of being persecuted. I mean, just a few weeks ago, someone related to me that I could be seen as intimidating to others since I talk about Catholicism and our faith too much. Although at first I thought that made perfect sense, I then realized it didn’t. Why should I be afraid to express my faith? After all, should I deny the wonderful Lord just because I wish to be accepted by everyone? No, because God deserves the best from us and the best does not include being afraid of expressing our faith.

Back to the topic of religious habits, I’ve heard people talk about how LCWR orders are receiving the same amount of vocations as CMSWR orders. But if you take into account that LCWR accounts for about 80% of religious sisters, then the numbers going into each CMSWR order would definitely be higher than those entering LCWR order. There’s got to be a reason why right? One thing for sure, is that the youth of today yearn for the truth. Our world is so filled with lies and innuendos about what happiness really is. It isn’t the material possessions or lustful relationships. That’s why those that realize those things bring about nothing but temporary happiness, try to find the Truth.

So what should anyone take from this entire blog post, mini rant (maybe?) of mine? It’s that young women and girls are thinking of the religious life. But to prevent these people from seeing more “traditional” sisters in their full habits, is something that should never occur. Most people appreciate the full habit because it is such a beautiful sign of a bride of Christ! Also, I don’t mean to be negative of any sort, but to share my experience and perspectives on this. Of course, not all religious sisters in one order or another may share the exact same views.

Also, it was another glimpse at my life and my ongoing discernment process. I would really appreciate all your prayers, and please let me know if I can pray for you! I found out this morning that the parochial vicar at my parish passed away, so prayers would be very helpful once again.

 

Vote for Hanoi Vietnamese Catholics!

Recently, on Vietnam’s Got Talent, a group of young Vietnamese Catholics from Hanoi participated in Vietnam’s Got Talent. This is incredible that they’ve made it to the semi-finals! Vietnam is typically known as a country mostly atheist and communist, but there are still very many Catholics strong in their faith.

Here are some of their videos:
Their first audition when they received a gold X: 

Their semi-final performance: 

One thing I especially found moving was their semi-final performance. It was performed the day before the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. I myself am a Vietnamese Catholic, and my parents became refugees in America to have religious freedom. Over the summer at Marian Days, I also listened to a beautiful talk about the strong Marian devotion that Vietnamese Catholics have. I really do encourage you all to vote for these young people who are so courageously living out their faith in a country where it’s difficult. Many have been persecuted for their Catholic faith, so this is definitely a beautiful way they’re evangelizing about Catholicism.

With this opportunity, let’s vote for these young Hanoi Vietnamese Catholics and their choir! Even though you might not live in Vietnam, you can still vote for them. Here’s how:

Type in or click: google.com.vn

Next, type in the search bar or copy and paste: “Tim Kiem Tai Nang”

You should then be able to see:

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The Hanoi Catholic Youth Choir should be the picture with the most people or “Dan Hop Xuong Cong Giao Tre Ha Noi”

Just click on their image and raise the bar to three votes.

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Press Continue.

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Now, do not forget to press “Submit votes!” This is extremely important!

After you’ve pressed “submit votes,” this following screen should appear:

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And there! You’ve voted, and I want to thank you for doing so. I really hope that we can show how beautiful Catholicism is throughout the world!

~VibrantCatholic

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Discernment/Vocations

Discernment…I’m mostly going to focus on discerning your vocation in life.

Once, a very wise seminarian told me, “You’re never too young or too old to start discerning.” And I think that’s something that everyone should keep in mind. Even if you’re only in middle school or already have a stable job, it’s never the wrong time to listen to what God really has planned for you.

I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the process of discernment and meaning of their vocations. Often times, when the word vocation is mentioned, only religious life is thought of. But, that’s not true since vocations includes all states of life; married, consecrated single life, holy orders/religious life.

Discerning a vocation is something I think everyone should spend some time in their life doing. To be honest, I was scared at first of discerning my vocation. What if it’s not what I want it to be? That’s the biggest question I had for a number of years, but through the past year I realized something. True happiness and joy doesn’t come from doing what I want, but it comes from doing the Lord’s will in whatever he wishes for my life. Even if I become what I want, but without considering the Lord, I’ll never be truly happy.

After I got through the stage of fear, it came to the point where I had to consider how much I trusted the Lord. For my confirmation saint, I chose St. Faustina. One of the most important sayings from her is “Jesus, I trust in you!” Taking from that statement, I devoted myself to put less trust in worldly things and trust more and more in the Lord and his incredible plan for my life.

One thing I think is crucial in remembering while thinking about discernment/vocations, is that all these things are revealed through God’s time. There’s a purpose to everything, even if we can’t tell what it is. Discerning our vocation is one of those things that takes time and trust, we can’t expect to get answers quickly. Sometimes the answer might be something we didn’t expect, but it’s the right one.

Some tips I’ve been learning as I’m still figuring out my vocation:

  • Find a spiritual director (most likely a priest, religious sister would be best. But, there’s also great lay people that can really help your spiritual journey)
  • Prayer and trust…always!
  • Adoration and speaking with the Lord can really help you develop communication with the Lord.
  • Mass and the Sacraments are other great ways to develop a better relationship with the Lord.
  • Talk to people! (Discerning the priesthood? Talk to the vocations director of your diocese! Discerning the married life? Talk to possible future spouses that will bring your closer to Christ!)

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you have any other thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments, or contact me! 🙂

Just know I’ll be praying for your discernment and vocations as well! Please pray for me also, since I’m still unsure of my vocation.

Have a wonderful day, and possibly just say, “Jesus, I trust in you!” And really mean it.

 

Tridentine Mass in Rochester, MN!

Hi everyone! If you’ve read my blog for awhile, or see my tweets…you’ve probably figured out that I’ve wanted to go to the TLM for quite an amount of time now…

And today I found out some great news about a Tridentine Mass in Rochester, MN this Saturday!! I thought I should spread the word just in case anyone else around the area would also like to go.

Date: March 19, 2016 at 12 PM

Address:

Fatima House

825 Forest Knoll PL SE Rochester, MN 55904

 

The priest that will celebrate the TLM will be Fr. Niehaus, and it will be a Low Mass.

Also, “Please contact Oscar Delgado by tomorrow (Thursday) if you plan on attending for he will need to know a count for food preparations. His contact is 773-573-6890 or email daidel@aol.com.”

Check out http://www.rochesterlatinmasssociety.org/ for more information about the TLM in the Diocese of Winona.

Music-List Mondays: Anthem

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Anthem by Tom Conry

Listen to it here: Link (although it’s not the full version, it gives you an idea of how it goes)

We are wonderful, we can be weak, but we are created beautifully by God. We are so splendid in many ways, we are each unique, and made in God’s image. We all have a vocation, and we need to discern it.

Okay…did you see that up there. That was me trying to write as many “we’s” as I could. It reminds me of a certain song, and that song is Anthem.

Let’s first look at the refrain:

“We are called, we are chosen, We are Christ for one another,
we are promised to tomorrow, while we are for him today.
We are sign, we are wonder, We are sower, we are seed,
We are harvest, we are hunger. We are question, we are creed.”

There’s an abundance of the word “we” in the refrain. Thinking about this song during a Mass, it would seem that everyone is just singing to another person. Seems like a song used to empower a group to be closely bonded on their mission. But, wait, isn’t our mission as Catholics more than just becoming a community? Aren’t we essentially forgetting the reason as to why we would be at Mass together?

More than half of the refrain deals with us, the things we are, and what we will be. I don’t necessarily understand the meaning of the entire refrain, since how are we question and creed? That’s the one that really stumps me. Although, the refrain seems to bring about a sense of unity, especially trying to state that we are called to be a multitude of things, it doesn’t seem to bring about a good strong message.

Now, the first verse:

Then where can we stand justified? In what can we believe?
In no one else but Christ who suffered, nothing more than Christ who rose.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

It seems to say that we should only believe in the suffering and Resurrection of Christ, and other aspects of his life. How about other key factors of the Catholic faith, such as Scripture or Tradition? Also, the “no one else” seems to state we shouldn’t believe in anyone else, but Christ. How about the Trinity? This verse raises questions, but does not give the listener a fulfilling answer at all. It does glorify Christ, but it is in a past sense. Christ is “justice for the poor”, He is “rage against the night. He is “hope for peaceful people, and He is light. Not was, but is. 

Second verse:

Then how are we to stand at all, this world of bended knee?
In nothing more than barren shadows, No one else but Christ could save us.
Who was justice for the poor, Who was rage against the night night,
Who was hope for peaceful people, Who was light.

“This world of bended knee.” Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with humility or humility. And I think that’s what this line is saying. We can’t stand if we’re humble or modest? If we’re being reverent, and kneeling or genuflecting? “In nothing more than barren shadows,” is it all just an act that has no meaning. Of course not! There are reasons why do we do certain actions!

Take a look at James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” and James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” With that being said, we need works! Not just plain faith. We hope to earn salvation by both our works and faith. The second verse seems to say we don’t need acts of reverence or humbleness, we just need to have faith, no works or anything.

Finally, the third verse.

Then shall we not stand empty at the altar of our dreams?
When Christ promised us ourselves, Who mark time against tomorrow,
Who are justice for the poor, Who are rage against the night,
Who are hope for peaceful people, Who are light.

So I’m still confused on this verse. I hardly have any idea what it means. Let me try to sort my thoughts…What exactly is the altar of our dreams? Is it a physical destination, maybe a point in our spiritual life? Could it be heaven? The wording is confusing and not specific at all to the meaning. The second line is no less confusing. Is it about us having free will? The second part is just terrible grammar, honestly. While the second half of the verse is now in present tense, shouldn’t it be “is” instead of “are?” The “are’s” remind me of pirates…

Honestly, if anyone has any idea of what this verse was supposed to mean, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it!

Overall, I don’t like this song. Not only for its lyrics, but also because of the way it musically sounds. It doesn’t sound like a song that should be sung at Mass when we are partaking in such a breath-taking sacrifice, and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Thoughts? Please let me know.

 

An Inspiring Pro-Life Performance

So recently, there was a Vietnamese actress, Puka, who went on a show that was made to test celebrities in fields that were not their expertise. Puka had chosen to do “magic tricks,” but inside her performance, was something very meaningful. Her performance was a very pro-life performance, clearly with the portrayal and the music/audio in the background.

The performance starts out with Puka as being in her mother’s womb, then she seems to be looking at several things she could do in life, such as singing or dancing. Then, the mood darkens, and she gets taken by men in black clothing, while pleading to her mother to save her. The rest of the performance shows her doing circus tricks while the emotional song is played in the background. Then, she has a short moment when she spoke on her personal views on pro-life, and I agree with everything she has.

I would recommend you all to watch the video! It was an inspiring performance, although when I was translating, I wasn’t entirely able to translate the fullest message. It was inspiring to see a young Vietnamese actress with the strong belief that all life is sacred.

 

Silence Before Mass

Silence. Just that word is intriguing, there’s something different that each person thinks of when they hear that word.

This morning at my school Mass, I was sitting on the risers for the choir watching as classmates, upperclassman, and underclassman all walked into the auditorium. I noticed something…silence and reverence were not there. People came in talking to their friends, maybe about the class before, or the test afterwards. It might’ve even been something completely unrelated to school or the Mass. Even those in the choir were talking among themselves.

I sat there, realizing something I hadn’t before. These people and myself had walked into the auditorium numerous times, with no preparation of our soul for the Mass. It’s recommended to have silence before Mass, but there was none of it. It only quieted down when the cantor welcomed everyone and said the song number.

Something was pulling on my heart, I was apologetic to Jesus. How disappointing it must be for him to see the people He died for not appreciating His sacrifice! It was my determination to spend the rest of the mass in reverence. If the others disregarded the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist during the celebration of the Mass, I wanted to at least be reverent myself.

I found it curious that no one had ever mentioned to stop talking before Mass. Shouldn’t we know the tremendous opportunity that we are able to partake in? Many other Catholics in different countries have to celebrate Mass in secret, but it seems that we’ve disregarded the meaning of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

“Mass is so boring,” we’ve probably heard it at some point. I think the problem does not lie within the mass, but the person’s understanding and faith of the mass. If a person truly comprehends the sacredness of the mass as bridging us between heaven and earth, I doubt they’d be speaking about their crush just minutes before Mass began.

Silence gives us the opportunity to listen to God’s voice, our lives are already too filled with constant noise. We need silence in our lives, there’s no doubt of that. So, can’t we spare a few minutes before mass to remain silent and prepare ourselves for the Mass?

I’d just like to end this post with a few quotes/bible verse:

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

“We are realizing more and more clearly that silence is part of the liturgy. We respond, by singing and praying, to the God who addresses us, but the greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence.”  [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 209] (Pope Benedict XVI)

” A soul that has never tasted
the sweetness of inner silence is a restless spirit which disturbs the silence of others.” -St. Faustina Kowalska

 

A Catholic Teen’s POV: Priest on a hoverboard

Although I wasn’t planning on writing another blog post this soon, I was scrolling through comments about this, and felt that I should write this up.

Ah, where do I begin…

Many comments wrote that the priest might’ve been doing this to appeal to the young people. But, then he was suspended, and people said that the church officials are complaining about church attendance and, “I wonder why…”

As someone who’s considered to be a “young person” at mass…I wanted to say how I felt about this situation. First off, if my parish priest decided to try and do this one day at mass, I would do either of two things at that moment; kneel down and start praying for more reverence, or simply walk outside/away.

To some extent, I can see where people would say it can bring in young people, but I think the idea that the Catholic Church needs to “be/fit with the times” is unnecessary. Just a year ago, I’d totally be on the bandwagon for modernizing things in the Catholic Church, but now I’m more informed.

The mass does not exist for there to be a performance or show of any sort. When we gather for mass, we should be focusing on Christ. I personally do not think a priest on a hoverboard would help us focus on the True Presence of the Eucharist. Some might argue that there are already other distractions in the mass. I agree, but, that doesn’t mean we should allow for more.

When the sacrifice of the mass is made into a performance or a simple event of fellowship, we lose sight of why we are there. Not to hear someone sing, or to see our friend, but we are at Mass to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.

The priest might be attempting to relate to the young people, but I believe that there is greater power in the beautiful Tradition that the Catholic Church has. For many years, the Catholic Church has stood firm without needing to adjust to the ideals and beliefs of the current times, so, there isn’t really a reason to incorporate popular culture into the liturgy.

I don’t think the diocese did wrong in suspending the priest. It might seem harsh, but I believe that the priest will reflect on having more reverence to the Eucharist. Honestly, I think we all need to! This is a time that we should pause and see how much reverence we actually have and should have for the Eucharist.

There is an increasing amount of disrespect and lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and this is simply another example of one. Many have gone unnoticed, but I’m glad this one was brought to light and dealt with appropriately.

I pray that there will be increased reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

Music-List Mondays: “Bread and Wine”

Music-List Mondays: Where VibrantCatholic chooses a song and talks about it.

Song of the week: Surprise! There’s actually not a specific song this week…I’ll be discussing the words “bread and wine” in countless songs.

I was paging through the Gather hymnal the other day looking for something to play as a communion reflection when I noticed something…the majority of the songs had the words bread or wine written somewhere in the lyrics or title:

  • “Bread of Life from Heaven”
  • “Jesus, Wine of Peace”
  • “Let Us Be Bread”
  • “One Bread, One Body”
  • “I Am the Bread of Life”
  • “Jesus, Hope of the World”

And those were just a few.

So, I continued on with my thought process. If these songs constantly tell the listener that all the Body and Blood of Christ is just a simple bread and wine, then wouldn’t the listener not fully understand or believe transubstantiation?

I see this happening when people refer to the Body and Blood of Christ as merely bread and wine. By using those two words, it takes away from the full beauty of what happens during the Eucharistic Prayer. Simply put, it waters down the True Presence of Christ.

By replacing the words with more general terms, the reverence and meaning is condensed and fails to remind the congregation what is truly happening. When many left Jesus for saying they should eat his flesh, they didn’t accept his teaching. They couldn’t believe it, and they wanted him to speak of it symbolically or metaphorically.

As Catholics though, we do believe that the bread and wine is then transformed into the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at transubstantiation. When we simply reduce it to terms like “bread and wine,” we are forgetting the basis of what we believe.

Many who state they’re Catholic say they don’t believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I think one of the main reasons is because we have songs that get into their minds with the message that it’s just simply us “eating bread and drinking wine.” It also is a part of the reason as to why the Eucharist isn’t as revered as the Body and Blood of Christ ought to be.

These are just my recent thoughts, I’d love to hear your perspective on this, too! Thank you for reading!