Lent

This post originally appeared on the Cap Corps Volunteer Blog

It’s that time of year again!  This Wednesday, Christians all over the world are reminded of their sinfulness and of their dependence on the Grace of God. The video above explains Lent and Ash Wednesday in two minutes… only two minutes! Take a couple of minutes, watch, and learn. Often enough, we as Catholics feel that we need to do some extraordinary acts during Lent to show that we are indeed, devout Catholics.

Don’t let your pride get in the way of letting yourself grow spiritually. The Church calls us to pray, fast, and to give alms. What is one thing that you can do to make your relationship with God better this Lent? What is one thing that is keeping you from God? Maybe its netflix, instagram, or checking your phone too much. Fast from it. How can you give of yourself? Whether it’s monetarily, or a giving of your gifts to someone else. Think about it. What would you like to do to share yourself with the world during these 40 days.

Fr. Mike Schmitz has some great advice for what we can do for Lent in this video:

Still not sure what you should do? Check out these resources:
Become a Missionary of Mercy this Lent.
As you know, Pope Francis declared this year a year of Mercy. The Capuchin Franciscans have been made special Missionaries of Mercy for this Jubilee Year. The Mass was Monday. Each Province sent a Friar to be present. Check out the pictures here!
Want more information on how to be a Missionary of Mercy? Check out these links:
Make this your best Lent yet. Prepare your heart for Easter, for the risen Christ by dying to self with Him for 40 days.

Garrison

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As I sat there, feeling down, looking at the blog of an acquaintance from my childhood, I started to feel jealous.

This girl, and others that I knew growing up are traveling around Europe as their post graduation life.

I opened up the main tab of the blog and realized how many places she had been. She wrote about how when she was young, all she wanted to do was travel. And I had this moment where I remembered that, that is all I wanted to do as an awkward middle schooler too. I kept a list of places that I wanted to go, and I would add to it each time I watched a program on the travel channel.

I became really discouraged in that moment. That I have only checked a handful of places off of my list. Sure, I studied abroad in Ireland. But what happened to studying abroad more than once like I had wanted to by the end of high school.

And then I kept reading. And she continued to write about what her dream is for her life. She loves to write. That makes sense since she’s a blogger. But then she said something, and it made me stop.

She wrote that she hopes to write things that touches people’s lives, people she will never meet.

And I was stopped in my tracks.

I had this moment where I remembered that I do that.

I have been published in a major magazine. People commented on the online version about how helpful my piece was.

I write talks about faith, and my faith journey and give them to middle school and high school students every week.

And my hope is, that something I say will touch them and bring them closer to Christ. Because that’s the real goal.

And I realized how silly my jealousy was. Because I am doing something worthwhile. I am giving a year of service to a ministry that touches lives. I have the chance to share my story with dozens of students each day.

I’ll have the rest of my life to travel, but I’ll only be in Garrison for one year.

Here’s to making the most of it!

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Each one of them is Jesus in disguise

This post originally appeared on the Cap Corps Volunteer Blog

“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” 
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
As I’m sure some of you know, the Cap Corps year of service is jam packed with retreats and ministry. Not only does CYFM provide retreats for encounter, and a deepening of faith, but we also provide retreats for confirmation programs and Catholic high schools.The Cap Corps Volunteers along with the Friars give close to 100 retreats each year to complete strangers.
At the beginning of the year, the CCVs took the Myers Briggs test so that we may better know how to care for ourselves. And to our surprise, 4/5 of us are introverts. Meaning that we get our energy from alone time, rather than being around other people. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are all shy people, or that we don’t like to interact with other people, but it does mean that sometimes we need to just be by ourselves for five minutes or ten or two hours.
Now, each of us came into this year of service with the same goal: to serve the youth of the Catholic Church through youth ministry and retreats. However, like anything in life, we were unsure of what this would actually mean. And for this CCV, it has meant learning a lot about myself, my relationship with God, and learning how to care for myself. My personality type, according to the Myers Briggs, is an INFJ. Basically, I get my energy from inside (alone time), I am intuitive, I’m a feeler, and I am judging (I prefer closure and having things planned out). Seeing how these things actually play out in my life, has helped me to better interact with my community, and also how to care for myself.
Almost every day, I meet new people. And at the same time, I am expected to share my faith story, my witness of faith, with these strangers. I am expected to welcome them with true, authentic Christian love. These are some of the ways that a Cap Corps Volunteer serves God through serving others.
For me, when we have multiple day retreats, I become physically drained rather easily, and begin to forget why I am here. I often allow myself to become discouraged. Luckily for me, I have people in my life who remind me of why I am here in the Hudson Valley, and what a blessing it is for me to be here.
One of the things that drew me and my heart to doing a year of service, was the opportunity to encounter Christ through each person I meet, and to help them encounter Christ through my loving actions. I had some incredible experiences on Mission trips in college, and those experiences helped me to see what a gift it is to love another person, even if that is the only encounter you’ll have with that person. When I become discouraged, I often think about how I am never going to encounter this tenth grader again, so if I decide to stay inside of my comfort zone and not talk to him or her, that’s okay.
I have been reminded that the majority of the ministry that we do is with complete strangers. It’s great when we have a group that we know; whether it’s at a parish that we work at, or a weekend retreat at CYFM with “the regulars”. However, that is not the norm. On a day to day basis, we are called to be loving and welcoming to people that we will probably never see again.
I have been reminded of what a blessing that is. That although we may only see these students for six hours on a Tuesday, we still have the opportunity to be Christ to that person. And we should take advantage of that, to get over the awkwardness and talk to that tenth grader who doesn’t want to be at CYFM for the day.
Fr. Fred is constantly reminding us that a Christian is someone
in whom and through whom Christ lives. 
That’s something that we as Cap Corps Volunteers, and more importantly as Catholics, are called to live each and every day. And although it is difficult. And although it is tiring. We may be the only authentic example of true Christian love that that student may ever encounter. You never know how God is planning to use you today. Even if it is in small, simple, loving ways. We are called to love each and every person we encounter as if they are Jesus himself.
And I want to live that this year. Even if it means that I need to hide in the DDA closet for exactly three minutes during a retreat, so that I can better be present to my small group. Or if I need to spend some alone time in my bedroom at the end of the day, so that I can better be present to my community. These are things that I am slowly learning are okay to do. Because God made me the way I am for a reason. And as I learn more and more about myself and how to care for myself, I can see that my rest is just as important as my talk for that confirmation retreat.
 
“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
 
 
With Love and Gratitude,
Mary

Spiritual Reading: 2016

Here it is… I’m making a list that I can stick to for the 2016 year. These are books that have been sitting on my shelf for a year or two that I haven’t made a priority of reading.  So here we go:

  1. My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell (to finish this book)
  2. Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell (to finish this book)
  3. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge
  4. Wife Mother & Mystic: Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi by Fr. Albert Bessieres
  5. Therese, Faustina, and Bernadette: Three saints who challenged my faith, gave me hope, and taught me how to love by Elizabeth Ficocelli
  6. Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
  7. St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton
  8. Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly
  9. Jesus a Pilgrimage by James Martin (to finish this book)

    Being that my year of service is ministry based, my personal prayer life is so important to my work. So I’m making it more of a top priority this year to do spiritual reading. This is something I have always enjoyed, but have fallen out of the habit of doing. Here’s to 2016!

*this post was updated on January 20, 2016*

Saint of the Year: 2016

Hello dear friends,

I hope that you enjoyed Christmas and the New Year. I sure have. I don’t think I have ever slept so much. For the past few years, I have used the Saint Name Generator to choose a Saint to pray with for the year. I have found it to be pretty cool.

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Bl. Anna Maria Taigi

In 2014 I received St. Catherine of Bologna. She was the patron of artists, the arts, liberal arts, and against temptations. Looking back, this was a time when I was really struggling with what I was going to do with my liberal arts degree. I was an english major who really hadn’t thought out the next step. By the end of 2014, I was in contact with America Magazine and was working on an article to be published by them.

In 2015, I received St. Leonard de Port Maurice. St. Leonard was a Franciscan priest in Italy. He is the patron of Parish Missions and was known for his retreats and his writing. I was very confused by this. I had felt a call to move away from Parish work. Little did I know, that I would be working at a Franciscan Retreat Center that serves the Parishes of the Province.

For 2016, I received Bl. Anna Maria Taigi. She is most well known for being a wife, mother, and a mystic. I ordered a book about her from Amazon yesterday, I’m excited to read a little bit more about this Saint!

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Happy New Year!

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For me, 2015 was pretty good. It’s funny though because Instagram didn’t include anything from the first half of 2015 in my #2015bestnine collage.

In 2015 my sister got married in Cancun, I served in Kentucky, I found an organization called CYFM, savored my days at Hofstragraduated from College!!!,  visited Chicago, celebrated four years,  and moved to the Hudson Valley to be a Cap Corps Volunteer.

The bulk of 2016 will mostly be the rest of my year of service. However, I have a few goals.

  1. I watched a video recently about a girl who doesn’t create any trash. While that may be a little impossible for this CCV, I’m thinking of trying to create less trash. Some ways I plan to do this: reusable water bottles, and to-go cups, no k-cups, and packing my lunch in reusable containers.
  2. Make a list of spiritual reading that I would like to do this year, and stick to it.
  3. Make a list of fun reading to do this year, and stick to it.
  4. Self-Care: exercise, good food, spiritual and mental health will be at the forefront of my list this year.

    Happy New Year friends!

On going home and coming back to CYFM

I know for certain that the CCVs needed the short break at Thanksgiving. We all needed that time to sleep and catch up with loved ones. I spent that time making different stops for coffee and visiting my beloved beach. It was pretty hard to come back the Monday after Thanksgiving, but as you’ll see we’ve been pretty busy since then! Here’s a roundup of my time as a CCV since Thanksgiving!

That Monday, we came home to a homemade sauce, a missing painting, and a retreat to run on Tuesday.

The sauce was delicious. We are still trying to crack the mystery of the missing Ghandi quote (if you have any leads please let us know!). And we had an amazing time with St. Raymond’s High School. We marveled at the fog over the mountains, and found that there was a picture of the lady CCVs in the Capuchin Magazine! (aren’t we cute?!)

Paul and I (the english majors of the group) attended a poetry reading with Fr. Bob (one of the friars in Beacon) somewhere in the Hudson Valley. We listened to more experienced poets, drank yummy coffee, and had the chance to read our own poems.

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Amanda, Paul and I spent the weekend at our God’s TYM parish. We stopped for pizza and I just couldn’t get over how big the slices of pizza were! We had to take a picture for proof. The three of us are pretty excited to serve the parish of St. Joseph’s for the remainder of the year.

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I finished working on the CYFM newsletter, enjoyed a yummy latte at Bank Square, and started Graduate School applications (yikes!).

After serving the community at Sacred Heart High School, we attended the December Young Adult Mass with Matt Maher, Audrey Assad, and Cardinal Dolan. It was amazing. It was great to spend that time in prayer away from our ministry. The following night we had an impromptu trip to Sonic in our one very small community car (RIP Impala). It was delicious.

And in a few weeks we are already ready for another break. We go home for Christmas a week from today. It has been a whirlwind for sure! Look out for my recap on Boston!

Graymoor

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A few weekends ago (I believe right before thanksgiving) the CCVs took  a trip to Greymoor. The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement live here and do their ministry here. They do numerous things, including St. Christopher’s Inn. We had heard wonderful things about the work that these friars do, and that they have a pretty spectacular thrift store. So we went and ended up spending our whole afternoon there. We also saw a pretty spectacular sunset.

Until next time friends.

When being silly together is just as important as praying together

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Community life is hard. You’re together all of the time. It can get stressful. We’re supposed to pray together, eat together, and work together.

We took this picture one night, after we had worked all day and realized that we needed to go grocery shopping. It was after dinner, and somehow it was decided that we should wear hats to the grocery store. We were silly. But I think we brought smiles to some faces. We had a few strange looks too, but that’s okay. It is just one of the ways that our community has been able to bond. We’ve bonded through prayer, meals, service, but also through being able to laugh and smile with one another.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
– Mother Teresa

Life Lately

Life lately has been a little crazy, but a whole lot of fun. At CYFM, the CCVs have run a family service retreat, visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, visited some colleges, given a freshman retreat, started a new prayer routine, and went to a chambers of commerce event in Beacon, NY.

So much to write about, so little time. More to come later. Happy Thanksgiving weekend!