Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Celebrating the Priesthood and Religious Life

"Peace is the best thing about following God's will".
-Sr. Theresa Marie, PVMI

It was a blessed experience to not only be able to organize and implement a priestly and religious vocations event, but to also look around the room the other night and see the fruits of our labor; an event that our faith sharing group, the Sons and Daughters of Mary, had been planning since last September. How did we get here? Can this really be happening that high school teens who are discerning the priesthood and religious life are before me and are publicly admitting their interest in discerning such vocations without fear? I sat there as I watched these excited teens beaming with a smile from ear to ear as they listened to every word of the priests and religious sisters on the panel, and I thought, "Be not afraid," the infamous quote of St. Pope John Paul II. There was a joy that simply radiated around the room.

Rewind back to last July I was volunteering at a Goretti Group event at a parish, and these two older gentleman from another parish approached myself and a friend to ask us if we could accompany them on their journey of planning a vocation event to encourage young people to consider a vocation to the priesthood or to the religious life. Last summer after recently leaving religious life I was quite hesitant to jump into an effort that involved religious sisters; that was the truth of the matter at the time. There was something stirring inside of me that kept nudging me to go for it; to use my experience to help especially young women, to not only discern, but to respond to that call, and to find a healthy religious community that of which I was on that same journey myself.  My doubts turned to excitement and motivation, and from agreeing to only help in the background to plan the event to taking a front row seat in the planning process. There were challenges along the way, but I experienced a community within a Church working together for a common cause; promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. There were times of disagreement and disappointments, but overall we built each other up; we worked together, and we became a spiritual family. Not even being a member of their Church, I felt welcomed, and inspired, and even though they probably do not even realize it at that time I need them much more than they needed me. 

The Vocation Summit was such a blessed success, and to see the teens connecting instantly with the young men and women of the priesthood and religious life was beautiful, and I am confident that although next year I will no longer be around to be a part of the event physically, I will definitely be there on a spiritual level by praying for everyone involved with supporting the priesthood and religious life. Young people often do not get support from their parents at home, as I discovered even just talking with several of the teens at the event and from my own experience, so it is important that Catholic schools and parishes need to be that support system; to let these young people know to "Be not afraid". God is surely calling young people to answer His call, but it is up to us to help them to respond to that call. We need to encourage them to spend time in the silence and listen to the quiet of their own hearts, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work within them. I ask all of you reading this to please pray for these holy vocations even if the priesthood or religious life is not your vocation:

LORD of the Harvest,
BLESS young people with the gift of courage to respond to your call.
Open their hearts to great ideals, to great things.
INSPIRE all of your disciples to mutual love and giving—
for vocations blossom in the
good soil of faithful people.
INSTILL those in religious life, parish
ministries, and families with the confidence
and grace to invite others to embrace
the bold and noble path of a life
consecrated to you.
UNITE us to Jesus through prayer and sacrament,
so that we may cooperate
with you in building your reign of mercy
and truth, of justice and peace. Amen.
— Pope Francis

Adapted from the Message on the 51st World Day
of Prayer for Vocations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

At the Foot of the Cross

As the Triduum is approaching us I find myself reflecting on the most solemn day of the liturgical year, Good Friday. We meditate on the Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ; our Savior who redeemed the world by making the ultimate sacrifice on the cross by giving His own life to save us from our sins. I find myself thinking about Our Lady, and what she must have been pondering in her mind and in her heart. While she watched her Son hang on the cross with hands and feet pierced although no words spoke from her lips we know that she understood then the words of Simeon, "This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:34-35).It is not simple imagery to place Mary at the foot of the cross watching her Son die, knowing that He chose to be nailed and placed up on that cross because it was the will of His Father. In her intense grief from the death and suffering of her only Son this sword of grief pierced her soul.

There were few words exchanged between Jesus and His mother in scripture, but we know that their emotional bond as mother and Son was so strong and powerful that there were not many words that needed to be said. A precious relationship between a mother and a child is so intimate in nature that it is difficult to even describe in such a way that captivates its true essence. 

The relationship of Mary as the Mother of God first begins when the angel, Gabriel, visits her and she responds with the words, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38). Then at the Wedding at Cana we see that Mary tells Jesus simply, "They have no wine" (John 2:3), which shows her trust in Jesus, as the Son of God to be able to do something to remedy the situation, and then her words to the servants "Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5) again shows her relationship with God in knowing that whatever Jesus does will be according to the Father's will. It was in in that moment at the foot of the cross when Jesus said to the Blessed Mother, "Woman, behold your son" that Mary understood the words of Jesus in which she became the spiritual mother to all of Christ's disciples; she became the Mother of the Church.

I know on Good Friday this year while I spend time in the silence that I will focus on trying to be more like Our Lady in trusting her Son even through times when it can be difficult or even times when things may seem hopeless. Jesus is always there in the mist of our sorrow and our woe. He is with us when we are grieving and when we feel as if the entire world is laying upon our shoulders. He is with us through persecution and suffering. I hope that all of you this Good Friday can take the time to stand at the foot of  the cross and try to give all of your burdens to Christ so that He may give you rest. Christ died for us, and He wants us to turn to Him in times of need as well as times when we are thankful. The bottom line is Christ has been and always will be there for us, and by giving His own life for us He has shown us that He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Article in Catholic New York "A Culture of Vocations"

I wrote a Letter to the Editor for the Archdiocese of New York Newspaper, Catholic New York, and my article, "A Culture of Vocations" was chosen to be published in the March 15, 2018 paper; XXXVII. NO. 14. The article is in response to Fr. Christopher Argano's announcement of his new column for vocations that he discusses in "Vocation's Are Everyone's Business" from the previous issue of Catholic New York.

Catholic New York is one of America's largest Catholic newspapers, and I am excited that another piece that I have submitted for publication for the paper has been accepted by them. The piece that I wrote is a positive reflection on creating a culture of vocations and to promote the priesthood and religious life. I hope that young adult Catholic men and women will read this piece from the Letter to the Editors because often articles that focus on the positive aspect of something are overlooked, and instead articles with a negative spin or gossipy edge are shared throughout social media.  

Here is an excerpt from my piece:

God is still calling men and women to the priesthood and religious life, but because of a culture that does not promote vocations they are not responding to His call. Father Christopher Argano, in his new column, sums it up when he says, “Most people do not really know what is involved in someone pursuing a call to the priesthood. Even fewer have a good sense of how they can discern, or figure out, whether or not God is calling them to follow Him in the priesthood or religious life.” (CNY, View on Vocations, March 1).  

Read the rest by clicking HERE 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Write Out Loud

 "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words".
-Robert Frost

I have been writing for what seems like forever and a day. I remember in pre-school and elementary school writing short stories about everything and anything, such as the seasons, my family, friends, and nature with lots of drawings. There wasn't much to them back then, they were simple and to the point based on my observations of the world around me.

As a freshman in high school I began writing more poetry about my life experiences and the words captivated the challenges of being a teenager who rejected the cultural norms and immoral behaviors of majority of high school students that walked the very same halls as me. It was in high school that the love I have for my faith blossomed and I just couldn't get enough of it. I remember looking forward each week to Fridays where our parish youth group would get together and we would do faith-sharing and volunteer activities to help the vulnerable in our neighborhood most in need. On Sundays I looked forward to seeing my friends at mass, and I remember when we would see each other in our public school on the staircase or in the hallways we would smile to one another because we had that Catholic connection that brought us all together even in our non-parochial school. My poetry reflected the beautiful experiences of that time, and throughout my life even in tough times because of my faith I have been able to allow the words to flow out of not only my mind, but from my heart.

I continued to write poetry in college and when I started discerning the consecrated life as a religious sister the words could not get out fast enough onto the page. The Holy Spirit has truly been an inspiration in my life, and has given me the strength and courage to speak the words necessary that shares the emotions that I feel within me. I have been asked a number of times, "Christina, when are you publishing your poetry". I would answer with a smile because I was not sure if I wanted to share my poetry with everyone, and the thought of humility kept popping into my mind. How can someone aim to publish a book and still have humility? 

Well, as a writer I have learned that it requires much humility because time and time again your work gets rejected, and it takes a lot of submissions before something you wrote is accepted to be published. And by being rejected at times it is encouraging to be able to look at the work of others and to learn from them. I cannot tell you how much inspiration I have received simply by reading the poetry of others. Especially, poems I have read about spirituality and faith that truly touched my heart and gave me the motivation and encouragement to open up my laptop and begin typing on the page.

Now that I have finally had my book published I am humbled that I have received so much support from family, friends, and even my followers on social media. We need to encourage one another to follow our hearts and to let the Holy Spirit guide us. 

Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
-Mark 10:27

The book, Called to Love A Listening Heart - A Book of Catholic Poetry on faith and discernment can be purchased here:



Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT! I am thrilled to say that my new book, Called to Love A Listening Heart - A Book of Catholic Poetry on faith and discernment has officially been released and is now available on Amazon, Blurb Online Bookstore, and Barnes and Noble Online Bookstore. Here are the links to check it out:



Barnes and Noble 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Announcing My Book: Called to Love A Listening Heart

I have a book coming out soon, and I look forward to sharing it will all of you!

It's called Called to Love A Listening Heart - A Book of Catholic Poetry - more will be forthcoming - but for now here is an excerpt from the Introduction...

"God calls us all to answer to the personal call to holiness in our lives by loving and trusting Him with all of our hearts. Once we recognize that we all have a call to follow Him we ask ourselves: What vocation is God calling me to in the Catholic Church; priesthood, consecrated life, single life, or married life? What can I do to be able to discern God’s voice in this noisy world? What is the plan that God has for me for my life? How can I offer my gifts and talents to the Lord in a way that is fulfilling God’s will?" 

This book of poetry has been years in the making, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share through poetry my Catholic faith journey with you in experiencing all of the beauty that Catholicism has to offer us, along with the challenges, questions, and joy that comes with discernment of one's vocation. I first discovered my love of writing, especially poetry, in elementary school, and by high school I was entering poetry contests and having my work published in student anthologies. I hope the poems in this book will inspire you to enter into a deeper relationship with Christ, consider the calling that God has for you in your life, and then respond to that call.

Stay Tuned...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I Must Confess

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
-John 20:21-23

Why do I have to receive the Sacrament of Confession after committing a mortal sin before I can receive the Eucharist?  
When in a state of mortal sin the sin corrupts the purity of our soul and prevents us from receiving the grace that the Eucharist brings to us by consuming the Body and Blood of Christ. When we receive Jesus we have to have our whole hearts and whole minds available to him, but if we have a grave sin on our conscience and within our hearts it acts as a barrier that does not allow the light of Christ to penetrate through, and then we cannot share that light with others. Only the Sacrament of Confession can tear down that barrier and enable us to receive the grace promised to us by the Eucharist. 

When we are baptized we receive grace as Catholics, and mortal sin takes away the grace that can only be restored by the Sacrament of Penance.  If we are no longer in a state of grace due to mortal sin how could we then receive more grace from the Eucharist? It would not make sense that we can receive the grace promised to us in the Eucharist if our relationship with Christ needs to be reconciled and we still need healing for our hearts and minds. 

Can't God just forgive me?
I recall from a homily once given by a priest explaining how we as human beings by our very nature need to be able to free ourselves from heavy burdens that we hold deep down in our hearts and we desire to be able to obtain forgiveness. Jesus understood the need that we have to be able to receive the powerful sense of freedom by being able to talk out loud to someone else about what is burdening us. I know in my own experience simply by talking to someone after going through a challenging or difficult experience I always feel so much better to be able to get the words out by speaking to a friend or family member.  
The Sacrament of Penance not only give us the ability to discuss our transgressions, it also gives us the ability to be forgiven. After walking out of the confessional I always feel this amazing sense of knowing that I now can start anew, and have a fresh start in working to keep strong my relationship with Christ because now I can truly let go of my sins. After my last confession the line from the Frozen song, "Let it Go" came to mind:

"Let it Go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door"!

Once we leave the confessional the sacrament truly frees us from our sins, and we do need to let them go to be able to embrace and accept the grace given to us by the sacrament. Jesus gave the disciples by the power of the holy spirit the ability to forgive sins. Why would Jesus give the disciples that power and then not want that power to be passed on through the generations? Why would Jesus want the people of his time to be able to have the burden of their sins lifted from them and yet today not want that for us? 

When we confess our sins to a Catholic priest and receive absolution we are set free. Our hearts and minds are no longer held captive by our sins and we receive the grace to reconcile our relationship with both God and our Church. When we commit sin, especially grave sin, we affect the entire body of Church, and we affect all of our brothers and sisters in Christ by weakening our relationship together as "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church".


Monday, February 5, 2018

See You in the Eucharist

"With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind." --Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Recently, I found myself thinking about the first time that I really understood that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Before receiving the sacrament of my first Holy Communion I remember after mass one day my mother decided it was time that I really understand what was happening during the mass, and although she could have explained it to me she insisted that I should learn from the priest. My mother wanted me to truly understand the sacrament, and to be able to realize the incredible gift that I would be receiving on the day of my first Holy Communion; Jesus in the Eucharist.

I remember how delighted the priest was to oblige to my mother's request when she asked him after mass that day. He took my hand and walked me to the altar, where I stared up at this beautiful, marble structure. He picked up his chalice and pointed to the stones on the side of it, which were his mother and grandmother's stones from their engagement rings. Father told me it was a special chalice that was used to hold the precious blood of Christ. I remember not saying a word, and I must have been trying to make sense of it in the best way that I could make sense of it as a six year old. Then he guided me towards the tabernacle and pointed to it, kneeling down beside me and asked, "Do you know WHO is in there?" I remember staying silent for a moment, then telling him that I knew the hosts were in there, and he smiled at me. Then he said, "Yes, but WHO is in there?" This time I recall just staring at the tabernacle with my eyes fixated on the golden structure, until finally he pointed again, and said, "JESUS is in there, JESUS is in that tabernacle". I was completely and totally awed by these words, and my life was never the same after that day.

As a young child I always tried to have my mother stay longer at the Church after mass. I would always ask, "We're going to the Madonna room, right"? It was this beautiful, blue room with images and statues of Our Lady with an area that overlooked the altar. I would kneel by the area that overlooked the altar and watch the sacristan clean up after mass and just stare at the tabernacle. I was deeply intrigued, and knew even at that young age I wanted to be close to Jesus.

If you know Jesus is present in the Eucharist how can you willingly give up that truth? Once you know we as Catholics believe in the real presence how can you dismiss it? Jesus, actually gives himself in body, blood, soul, and divinity to us in the Eucharist. During the holy sacrifice of the mass the priest actually consecrates the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ. Jesus wants us to receive the precious graces that come to us through reception of Holy Communion. He wants us to want him, and in every tabernacle around the world Jesus is waiting for us. He's really there, present to us in the Eucharist.

How amazing is it that the Son of God is present here with us on this earth in the Eucharist? Through Holy Communion in the Catholic Church we are able to receive Jesus who unites us into an even deeper relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The amount of love that Jesus has for us is love beyond words because the gift of himself in the Eucharist I mean how can we even begin to describe his relationship with us? How do I begin to describe my relationship with Jesus? In that tiny host holds the most profound love imaginable that the gift of the priesthood brings to us during every single Catholic mass. A Catholic priest 'in persona Christi' is given the power by the holy spirit to bring to us Jesus in the Eucharist. How absolutely amazing is that? Seriously, doesn't that just blow your mind?

We as Catholics are united together at the table of the Lord by receiving the flesh and blood of Christ. The Eucharist conquers division and brings us together as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We may never meet one another in person, but by receiving Holy Communion we become united as brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are all a part of one Catholic family. I hope to see you all in the Eucharist.

"I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh".
-John 6:51 

See You in the Eucharist
By Danielle Rose

I will meet you at the table
I will meet you in His heart
In the company of angels
In the place where all things start
We receive each other's presence
We are all made one in Him
Though I cannot see your face
I will see you in the Eucharist

Come and meet me at the table
Come and meet me in His heart
We'll be singing with the angels
Each man playing his own part
In the symphony of praises
We will join our song with His
Though I cannot hear your voice
We'll be speaking in the Eucharist

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

When we gather at the table
We are closer than our breath
Even nearer than the angels
When we touch His very flesh
Dwelling in each other's presence
I will hold you close inside
Every soul in heaven and earth
Now is present in the Body of Christ

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are headed for the throne
Carried on the wings of angels
Oh we do not walk alone
All our prayers we lay before Him
And His grace will pave the way
To lead us to our one true home
Where we'll see each other face to face

And do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

I will meet you
I will hear you
I will hold you
I will receive you
I will see you in the Eucharist...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Vocation: A Calling from God

When we are able to listen to God in the silence of our own hearts we can hear Him calling us to our vocation; the single life, the married life, the priesthood, or the consecrated life. As I was able to settle into the quiet of my own heart by spending more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I became more and more aware that God wanted me to give the gift of my life to Him as a religious sister. If we are able to pull ourselves away from the noise of the world and truly spend time with our Lord we are able to feel within ourselves His ultimate love for us, and what it is that God wants for us for our lives. It was when I was truly ready to let go and open my heart to wanting whatever it was that God wanted for my life that I could accept that my vocation is to the consecrated life as a religious sister. Once God calls you that gentle, divine, nudge always returns and I know that even after pushing the thought out of my mind in my early twenties and then in my late twenties hitting roadblocks and challenges in my discernment I still feel that my vocation is to serve God and His Church as a religious sister.

 Love Calls the Heart 

The stirring of desire
ignites a burning flame.
A love calls the heart
with silent words her soul engraved.

The soft echo gently whispers
in the solemn, stillness of the night.
A divine nudge from within;
the beautiful gift of her life.

The invitation of divine romance
sparks a crimson fire.
Wrapped in a sacred embrace;
the arms of her Beloved.

A white shroud of snow conceals
the dusty surface.
With the sweet breath of spring,
the buzzing bees hum softly.

A little violet emerges
into the shimmering, sunlight
as the golden glow illuminates
the rose-colored glass.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We are the Pro-Life Generation

There is so much misunderstanding when it comes to the pro-life movement. Often the Millennial generation is labeled as being too concerned with only an anti-abortion agenda, and not having any concern with the care of the child after he or she is born. This is so far from the truth because we understand that human life is sacred from conception to natural death, and ALL life deserves respect and dignity and should be protected by everyone around the world. 

It is important that the unborn are recognized as having the right to life just as much as the poor, marginalized, immigrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking. The unborn are often forgotten as a part of the social justice agenda in the twenty-first Century and that is why young adults have become so passionate about protecting these innocent lives. The unborn cannot create an awareness for the issue of abortion as it is especially our responsibility as Christians to fight for their rights as a human being, and fighting against the evil of abortion is just as much a social justice issue as is fighting for the rights of those outside of the womb. 

It is also our responsibility to continue to support a child after he or she is born because pro-life also means providing for an individual by meeting his or her basic needs. We cannot be truly pro-life unless we are also willing to provide for the babies that we have supported in the womb by promoting an overall charism of life. It is our obligation to help provide care for mothers during their pregnancies, and then to help those same mothers to care for their children once they are born.

Some of these babies will grow up and become a part of the class of poor, marginalized, immigrants, refugees, or victims of human trafficking and we need to also be concerned with providing aide to them at these stages of their lives too. Then when these same children journey through the stages of life and become elderly, we need to ensure that these same individuals still receive our attention, care, support, and love during this crucial point in their lives too.

I am a strong advocate of protecting the unborn, and I am a strong advocate of protecting ALL life from conception to natural death because a baby in the womb is a stage of life just as much as a child or adult who walks around on this planet. It is important that those of us who have a voice use our voices to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Social justice covers a broad spectrum of issues, and all issues deserve the same amount of attention and support by Christians as well as non-Christians. We need to come together to solve these issues and stop causing division among one another. The right to life is a moral issue that we all need to address together, especially us Catholics. When we create division we are hurting those affected by these social justice issues because too much of our time is being spent on arguing with one another. We need to come together and support one another in defending ALL life.