Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


Leave a comment

Listen to Him

Here I sit, at 2:50AM and I can’t sleep. Why? Because it’s been 5 months since my last post and I can no longer ignore the almost silent, yet unmistakable whisper in the back of my mind that I need to write. I pray that this will bless someone tonight, tomorrow or in the future, whenever really.

Really that’s why I write. I want nothing more than to bring others to a deep and intimate knowledge and relationship with Christ. I don’t really have that myself but I have glimpses of it throughout my life and I can grasp the beauty and glory of it. So I want to share that with others, these glimpses of eternity, hope, and love. I know God has gifted me with the ability to write, even though it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (of course it would help if I actually got around to writing more than every 5 months).

Well then, why haven’t I written in the last five months? The long version is because a lot has happened and I was going through a really rough patch of self-doubt, depression, fear and rejection. But the short version is that I stopped listening to that still, small voice in my heart that was encouraging me and practically yelling at me to keep writing. So I find myself sitting here at 2:55AM writing about it all, rambling on about how I refused to listen to that still small voice screaming in my heart.

As with the rest of the world, these last five months have been something for the history books. Our world has shut down and fear, chaos and sickness have run rampant. And for these last five months I feel as if I’ve done nothing, as if God had given this time to me (and to most of us) to accomplish all those things that we’ve been putting off because we’re too tired, too busy or too distracted to accomplish. It’s as if He was so sick of our excuses he finally had enough and just wiped away all of our silly excuses so we could sit back and enjoy His unadulterated love.

But what did I do with this gift? I squandered it. I let it slip through my fingers like water and made new excuses, continued to put off till tomorrow what I could do today. So I find myself sitting here at 3AM in the morning finally coming around to write and respond to God’s call.

And there in lies the profundity of it all. I squandered five months of grace only to find myself responding to that very same grace, that still small voice and I discover that I actually did learn and grow in grace, despite my best efforts. I guess I’m discovering the truth of the Scripture passage of Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

I won’t go into the details, but two things converged that woke me up to my foolish slumber, fear and St. Joseph*. In that moment I heard a voice that encouraged me to go to bed early. I did, then woke up the next morning before everyone else and the passing thought occurred to me to spend the next hour in a holy hour. I almost ignored that thought, like I so often ignore promptings to pray or fast. But this time I didn’t. I found a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration website, knelt down and spent the next hour in prayer (yes I fell asleep three separate time just like the Apostles). And it was beautiful!! I actually heard and responded to God’s voice in my life! This was a remarkable grace. And often, since then, I have had similar experiences. Of course I keep ignoring it (like earlier this evening when I felt the urge to write a post, I ignored it and kept scrolling through social media. Hence, it’s 3:05AM and I’m sitting here just now writing this post).

But within these last few weeks I’ve begun to discover the joy and beauty of hearing his voice and responding yes to it! It’s amazing!! Now, to be clear, it isn’t a neon sign, voice out of the clouds type of thing. Rather it is an impulse, a thought or idea that pops into my head, and inspiration that enlightens my mind about something, a person I haven’t heard from or spoken to in awhile. It’s those simple little promptings that we tend to write off as weird, random crazy and fleeting thoughts. These are, in my experience, often the still small voice of God calling me to listen and respond. As the voice of the Father said to the three Apostles in Matthew 17:1-9, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

So let us strive to listen and hear His voice in our lives and go where he calls us, serve and love where he leads us, that we may be his voice and hands for others to hear and respond; even if it is 3:20AM.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Mama Mary, pray for us.

Papa Joseph, pray for us.


Leave a comment

Checking Your List for the Divine Invasion

That awkward moment when you see the horrible things going on in the world around you and you realize that this day, or any day, might be your last and that you aren’t prepared, that there are too many things left undone or unsaid. At the very least, you want to check off a few more things from your bucket list.Bucket

So, what’s on your bucket list? My bucket list has four items on it: To marry a beautiful woman, to have a family, to be published and to become a saint. Thus far I’ve accomplished 3 of my four goals.

What about you? If you haven’t actually made a bucket list, then at least ask yourself what you most want to accomplish in this life before you die. But then ask yourself why you want these things. Most likely there is some story behind your desire or need for each item on your list. Most likely you believe that obtaining those goals will bring you satisfaction or fulfillment of some kind. And most likely they will, to a certain extent.

But now I want to ask you what do you think is on God’s bucket list? The obvious answer is that he wants us with him for eternity. But really, that’s too generic, isn’t it? Your bucket list is most likely specific and concrete, why wouldn’t God’s be?

I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating: why did God create the world?

The answer is simple: to love you; so that you would be here for him to love. You are the apple of his eye, the treasure of his heart, his precious. What God wants is you; simply you. Nothing else, nothing less, he wants you and you alone. Every star in t he sky exists so that God could love you.

But we resist this, don’t we? We look for our satisfaction just about everywhere else. Why is that I think? Why do we continue to seek the satisfaction of his love elsewhere?! I think a major part of the problem is that, for most of us, eternity is so far away, so distant into the future that it’s hard to think about, to live for. Rather, most of us are just trying to survive this week, or this day, aren’t we?

Yeah, I want to go to heaven but right now, I want more to make it through today without giving up, without being hurt, without hurting someone else or embarrassing myself or messing up or disappointing someone.

This, in a certain sense, in a very real sense, is the war we find ourselves in on an almost daily basis… a war with its most evil manifestations in the mass shootings and terrorism around us, but more importantly in the everyday lives of everyday people. None of us signed up for this war, but we find ourselves in it nonetheless.

Each day we find ourselves simply trying to survive the day and all these fears, hurts, dangers and traps are the weapons of the enemy, the devil. We’re so focused on these small battles that we forget the overall war, the goal. We make concessions saying that I don’t think I can obtain salvation, or I’ll worry about it later. Right now, I just want a little rest, a little peace and something joyful. To be clear, delighting in the everyday joys, the little things that make life good or tolerable are not bad. In fact, they are gifts from God. But the danger comes when we begin to make these little pleasures all we’re fighting for.

That’s why the idea of a bucket list is actually a good one. Typically, a bucket list contains things that are life-changing, life-defining, lifetime accomplishment type goals. They are real and concrete and help us focus on the long term, they help us to keep fighting and moving forward. But make sure those items on your list have the right priority. What is your #1? What should it be? If the love of God isn’t your #1 goal then you’re missing the point.

But let’s get back to this war we’re fighting. We’re getting ready to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ, where the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Think about that for a minute, about how in this Great War, a war that has raged through all time and space, there was a moment when God’s plan had come to fruition and it was time to strike. And so he sent his army of One onto the front lines, a beachhead in the form of a baby in a manger… the Divine Invasion began and continues today.Nativity

In our lives, our minds and hearts, Christ comes again and again, in the silence and stillness. Just like he came the first time as a still, small baby; he comes to us now in a still, small voice. Not with guns or bombs or fanfare but in the silence of a still mind, a quiet, searching heart. Mark my words, strength to survive this week or the day will not be found in those small pleasures of things but rather in the stillness of silence.

Sure, silence is a terrifying experience for most. With all the countless distractions of today it’s nearly impossible to know silence. And this, I believe is one of the most potent weapons of the enemy. I know well the fear of silence. I had a difficult time growing up. My inner thoughts were filled with self-hatred and disgust and the thought of spending time with those thoughts, of wrestling with them was a terrifying one. Why would I want that?

But where else am I going to find healing and wholeness? It is in the silence where I am able to confront my wounds, wounds inflicted on me and those I’ve inflicted myself. Then, in his mercy he enters our hearts and minds, often unseen, and begins to heal those wounds and we find peace and begin living the eternity we are destined for.

This Advent, prepare your heart for the coming of Christ. Wrestle with the silence and hear the voice of God say to you, “You are my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” You are his Beloved! Sit with that in the silence. Let this truth overwhelm your fear and wash clean your wounds, you are God’s entire bucket list.