Thursday, July 25, 2013


I was reading an article from the Catholic News Service today reporting statistics on Pope Francis's twitter acount (@Pontifex). At the end of the article I read the following:

A word cloud shows the words used most often in the pope's tweets are "God," "Jesus," "lives," love," and "let."

I almost skimmed past it. But something caught my eye. God, Jesus, lives, love...all that seemed like typical "Pope tweet" material. But "let"...where did that come from? At first I dismissed it as just a common word, but then I really stopped to think about it.

No wonder the Pope tweets the word "let" so often. In the advice he shares via Twitter, it would make sense that he would urge us to "let." After all, don't we have free will?

Our life choices are OURS. God has a plan for each and every one of us, but we must LET Him guide us our lives if we wish to live according to His plan.

So much of our life and our relationship with God is about "letting." Letting go of the past. Letting go of sin. Letting God take control. Even just merely letting Him into your life to begin with.

If you want a relationship with God, you've got to open yourself up to it. God forces nothing upon you. 

He mercifully gives us all the choice: choose Him or turn away. Holiness or sinfulness. If we want to grow close to Him, we must let Him work in our lives.

It's easy to turn away. It's easy to say no to Him and live life according to our own standards. But that's not what's best for us. God knows it, and we should, too. 

God calls us to carry our Cross for Him. God calls us to answer His call, to hear His voice, to live a holy life. If we do so, He promises that one day our hard work will pay off. We will enter into a complete union with Him, into perfect love and happiness. But if we even want to take the first step down this road to perfect love, we've got to be able to let God have our lives.

By "let God have our lives," I mean fully and completely, without any hesitation or regrets. We need to approach God and hand Him everything that makes us who we are. All of it must be set down at His feet. We must give Him every part of us, and then we must trust Him and LET Him work. Then, right before our eyes, we will see Him take each part and rebuild it into His very own beautiful masterpiece.

So often we try to control our lives. We interfere with God's work. We'll give Him some of ourselves, but we have reservations. After all, it is quite difficult to hand over our entire lives to God and trust He'll see us through it. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Don't worry about tomorrow. Sounds impossible, right? How could we not worry about our future? About college and majors and careers and families and money?! 

Easy. Trust God. Let Him work.

It is easy. I promise you, it is. The problem is that we complicate it. All the time. We take it upon ourselves to figure life out, to find our own happiness. But that's impossible. We can't do it alone. We can't map out our life according to our plan and our schedule and expect perfect results. We can't even make everything fit our standard of "perfect." Because we're not in control. God is. And right now, in my life and in your life, He's working. Or at least He is trying to. He is trying to show you the way, to reveal to you how He is calling. 

If only we stopped trying to control our lives, then maybe we could see that there is really nothing to worry about as long as God's will is above all else. Then maybe we'll see that, all along, God was trying to lead us down His path, the path to true happiness and true love.

Right now, you may be tugging at a door, waiting for it to finally open so you can start down your planned-out and straight path to whatever your goal in life is. But stop tugging. God's knocking at another--perhaps completely unexpected--door somewhere else, but you're too preoccupied with that sealed door to hear Him.

I invite each of you to offer up your life to God. If you start to worry about the future, it won't be easy. But if you realize that God is holding your life, now and forever, in His hands, you will see there is no need to worry. God is trying to build a wonderful life for you, so why not let Him work?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Anything but Blind

St. Augustine once said, "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."

Is faith blind, then? If we believe in something we can't see, how do we know it's there?

Let me start by saying faith is anything but blind. Yes, we must follow a Lord who does not always visibly reveal Himself to us, but that doesn't mean we follow Him blindly. Not in the slightest. We do not follow Him blindly because there is so much more to faith than sight. We know He will not abandon us; He has told us this since the beginning of time. He has proven it to us time and time again. We have no plausible reason to doubt Him, to believe He is not present, caring for and loving us constantly. Even when we don't feel or see Him, we KNOW He loves us. We KNOW He is there. Deep in our hearts, we know we're not following Him blindly--and yet, we allow ourselves to be convinced otherwise.

I struggle with this often. Just because I don't see God at work in my life, I assume He is not there. My favorite band has a song called "Be Concerned," in which they address a similar feeling in regards to their relationship with God.

Where'd You go, huh?
They all think I know You.
It's so hard to motivate me
to devote a single inch of me
to something I can't see.

Why do we struggle with this devotion? Has God not proven His love to us? Did He not prove to us that He would be with us when He gave His life for our sake? 

I approach this situation from the completely wrong direction. God's not "something I can't see." I see Him every day. The problem is that I don't recognize Him. I don't see Him because He's not a burning bush or a figure in a vision.

The absence of God's visible presence does not mean we should give up. It does not mean we should stop believing. Imagine if we approached everything in our life with such wild accusations. Imagine if we claimed that air does not exist because we cannot see it. How irrational. Shouldn't the fact that we are breathing be enough to prove that air is present? Similarly, shouldn't everything around us prove to us that God is there? The breaths we take. The fact that we have woken up alive. The love we give and receive. The miracles of creation we witness each second. The list goes on and on. God is present. He is present in the burning bushes and barely audible whispers. He is everywhere we turn; we just choose to ignore Him.

Faith--true faith--means believing in God when we see Him, and believing in Him even more when we don't. It takes a faithful person to realize that God is still present even when He is imperceptible to the senses.

Only when we stop listening to our doubts will we notice the "reward of faith." Only then will we see the benefits of our faith and realize that God had never left us in the first place.We must believe God when He says, "I will be with you always" (Matthew 28:20). He's not lying. He has not left us. We may not see Him, but how could we possibly claim He is not there?

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Church of Today

God needs a YOU.
St. Therese of Lisieux, who knew God
was calling her to the religious life
at an early age.

Think about that. No matter how old or young you are, no matter how educated/qualified/religious/etc. you are....GOD NEEDS YOU. He needs you to proclaim His message, whether you are simply loving your neighbor or preaching from a pulpit. He needs you!

Youth especially: Do you ever feel like we are brushed aside and labelled "too inexperienced" or "too naive" to know anything? Even when people give us a chance, they sometimes do so only to prepare us for the future, when we will become the adults, the leaders, the decision makers. The "future" is our place, not the "now."

Well, guess what? We don't have to wait until we're all grown up to make a difference. This applies to everything we try to make a difference in, but especially the Church. 

We may not be saints today. But that doesn't mean we're not too young to try. Look at spiritual powerhouses like St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joan of Arc, THE VIRGIN MARY (who, by the way, is said to have had Jesus at the age of FOURTEEN)! They didn't let age stop them. They accomplished more in just a few years than many accomplish their entire lives. And when I say "accomplished," I'm not talking about wealth or power. I'm talking about the stuff that really counts: spreading Christ's joy, leading others to Christ, giving of themselves, service, etc. 

I am not the Church of tomorrow. I am the Church of today.

While at Notre Dame Vision this past week, a speaker told us to repeat these words. The power with which my peers and I stated these words amazed me. It was as if, at that moment, it had really hit us. Sainthood wasn't something to work toward eventually. It's something to be grasped at right now by ALL people, including even us!

St. Catherine of Siena once said, "If you are who you were meant to be, you will set the world on fire."

God is calling us to be His. He's calling us this very moment. The only thing stopping us is ourselves. Why do we place limits on our abilities? Why do we allow ourselves to sit on the sidelines as future saints like Therese and Joan of Arc and Mary pass us by? He has a plan for us, and if we follow this plan, we WILL set the world on fire. 

God needs a YOU...right now. Mother Teresa would tell those who gave up everything to join her work in Calcutta to leave. "Find you own can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see." 

God is calling you to be a saint, but not a Mother Teresa, St. Therese, or St. Joan of Arc. Those spots have been filled. He's calling you somewhere else. So, by all means, use these powerhouses of devotion as models to strive toward, but at the same time, find your own Calcutta. Find your calling, be God's unique St. [insert your name here].

God needs you. He needs you right now. All of you. You're not too young. You're not too old. You're not too bad, too unholy, too anything! You are God's. So go be His this very moment, and you will set the world on fire.

Building Walls

We build walls around ourselves. It's part of being human. It's part of our fallen nature that we feel compelled to hide our imperfections from God. After all, what was the first thing Adam and Eve did when God called out to them after their disobedience? They hid.

You hide, too, don't you? Don't be ashamed. We all do it. I do it all the time.

You hide because you're afraid. You hide because you think God shouldn't see that part of you. You hide because the Devil has convinced you that God doesn't WANT to see that part of you, that you are unworthy of love, that God will not miss you.

Our hearts are easily buried behind walls that we construct out of the Devil's lies. You are not worthy of love. You are alone. Nobody cares. You aren't skinny enough. You aren't smart enough. You aren't athletic enough. You aren't GOOD enough.

We present a facade that we are okay when in reality, our true selves are buried beneath walls that trap us and make us believe we will never escape.

"And where is God?" we wonder. "Why has he buried me? Why has He forgotten me?"

The truth is, if anything, we have buried ourselves. We have hidden ourselves the moment we believe Satan's lies, the moment we accept that we are not enough, that God does not care for us, that God has cast us aside and labelled us as unworthy.

God is still there. God has not forgotten us. He is there pursuing us as we constantly block ourselves off from Him, and shut away our true selves. We ask ourselves why He has not freed us. "If He is all powerful, can't he help us?"

He can. But if we want Him to free us from the confines of these walls, we must free ourselves. We must believe Him when He says to us, "Fear not, for I have called you by name. You are are precious in my eyes and I love you." He actually says that. Look at Isaiah 43 if you don't believe it. He said it in the past, says it today, and will say it--to YOU--forever.

St. Augustine once said, "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us." This message of love is both universal and unique. God has called YOU by name. And we each have different names and different places in God's eternal heart. No matter what, He speaks these words to you. YOU are precious and He loves YOU, just as His Father loved Him (John 15:9).

You must believe these words when you hear them. You must constantly choose to remove your walls, to remove your weaknesses that keep you rooted in sin instead of rooted in Him. You may think you are secure behind your walls where nothing can hurt you but yourself. You may have accepted long ago that living behind walls was just the way life had to be, that you had to hide and present a mask, a facade, to God and to others. But the thing is that you must be willing to take the risk of opening up if you want God back in your life. You must stand up and tear down the walls that have been cemented into your mind through sin. You must tear down your false notions of beauty, worth, and love.

God has called you by name. You are precious to Him and HE LOVES YOU. He is calling you, but you can't answer, let alone HEAR him, because of your sound-proof, light-proof, walls.

He has not abandoned you. He is knocking on your door, but your walls are too thick for you to hear Him. So tear them down. Let your prayers penetrate these walls. They're getting through, even if you don't hear God's response through the walls. It won't be easy. You will need to put your blood, sweat, and tears into destroying them. And you will not emerge from the rubble without scars. But it will be worth it when you finally find the breath you've been searching for, the light you have been blind to, and the knock you have gone so long without hearing. After all, it was there all along.

If you're behind walls now, it's still there. This wonderful life God has in store is just outside your reach. God is waiting eagerly for the moment you decide to choose Him, the moment you decide to tear down your walls.

Belize Reflection: One Drop

(See post from 7/1 for background)

At one point on my mission trip to Belize, my school group and I traveled to Sacred Heart high school to meet with the Principal. She spoke to us about the economic difficulties families face in sending their children to high school. A high school education, similar to a college education in our society, is just about necessary to support a family. Without it, people are tempted to turn to prostitution and the drug trade to make it through. High schools try to accommodate families' economic situations, but they are already struggling to find funds and can only make tuition so low. Though they hate to do so, local high schools find themselves turning away students once their capacity is met. Even more students don't even have hope of this education if their families can find no way to afford it. Thousands of children in Belize find themselves thrust into the real world around the age of 12, expected to work to support their family though they lack many of the skills necessary to do so.

When I had first arrived in Belize, I subconsciously brushed aside the poverty I was seeing, trying to make it "okay" in my mind by noting that these people were genuinely happy with their lives. And they are...but that doesn't mean they refuse to wish for better circumstances.

Meeting with this Principal, hearing about the reality and struggles the youth in Belize face, made me feel insignificant. It made me feel helpless. What could I do? There are so many struggles, so many obstacles. These kids don't even have a fair shot at life; how can I eradicate poverty and save them all? What is the value of this trip if, when I leave, the same problems remain?

These questions haunted me all day; they were all I could think about. I couldn't help but picture an 8th grade girl I had grown particularly close to and ponder all the obstacles she would face on her path to a good life.

Why wasn't she--and all in a similar situation--given a fair chance in life? What could I do to help?

God answered these questions that night through the advice of an adult chaperon, who, when I voiced my feelings of helplessness, told me of a Mother Teresa quote:

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

This quotation changed the way I viewed my time in Belize, and the way I now view service as a whole.

What we are doing may just be a tiny drop in the ocean, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

I can't eradicate poverty. I can't give that 8th grader a perfect life. But I can equip her--and all in need--with the tools necessary to fight the good fight. I can give these tools financially, or I can give even more; I can give my time, my prayers, my words of wisdom, to help those in need succeed. It may not change their lives entirely. Perhaps it won't even produce any visible changes. But all that matters is that I am trying. I am helping to the best of my ability, in both big ways and small.

We can't solve all the world's problems, at least not single-handedly. But we can contribute our strength to the battle many of us face each day. We may think our contributions, our prayers, our advice, won't help. We may think, what's the point? What is one drop in a giant ocean? But to God, and to those in need, one drop is everything.

If everyone adopted that mindset and gave up because "one drop" was insignificant in a giant ocean, then the ocean would not exist. What is the ocean, after all, but a pool of millions and billions of tiny drops?

Our efforts, when evaluated alone, may seem insignificant. But when we combine our drops, when we combine our efforts, we can move mountains. We can fill oceans. We CAN change the world.

Striking a pose


Vocation. Let's break that word down. It's not just about being called to religious life. A vocation means answering God's invitation, fulfilling the role that God is calling you to play in this world, no matter what this role entails. The interesting thing is, however, that your vocation isn't about you.

This past week, I attended Notre Dame Vision, a retreat-type experience on the University of Notre Dame's campus during which we focused on a variety of topics. One overlying theme of the week was vocation. This is where I first heard that our vocations are not about us. Yes, answering the call is a conversation, a conversation between YOU and GOD. But in the end, it's not about what you want. It's about what God wants.

Does this mean that God is asking us to give ourselves, and consequently our happiness, over to Him? Does this mean that He doesn't consider what makes us happy in life? NO!!

Our vocation is about what God wants....and what God wants is for us to be happy. When God calls us each (uniquely), it may at first seem like we're being led away from happiness, away from what we want. But in actuality, God is leading us to what He KNOWS will truly make us happy: doing His will. By dragging our feet and running the opposite way, we convince ourselves that His way is not our way, that His way will lead us away from true happiness.

When God calls us to follow Him, He cares about our needs, but He also cares about the needs of the world. I'd like you to share with you all a quote I stumbled upon on a friend's tshirt this past week. It has helped me rethink my own approach to discovering God's call for me:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes YOU come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (Howard Thurman)

Notice how Thurman isn't saying, "Ask yourself what you want in life and go do that." And he is not saying, "Ask yourself what others want you do to in life and go do that." No, he specifically throws "come alive" into the mix. Because doing what you want or doing what others want you do is rarely the same as doing what makes you come alive. "Coming alive" is much deeper than the fleeting happiness that pursuing selfish desires brings. Coming alive requires passion, dedication, and commitment---commitment to more than one's own desires.

God is calling us to serve others and to serve Him. How can we do that? By finding passion in our work. This is how we can serve the world. We can devote whatever it is we do to God, whether that means proclaiming His Word or merely living as a Christian. We can come alive with Christ's love and SHARE IT, no matter how we do so. This is what the world needs.

Regardless of your vocation, you can share God's love. Whether you are a priest/nun/sister/brother, teacher, student, doctor, lawyer, waiter, garbageman, or [insert your profession here].....GOD CAN BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF YOUR WORK. You can allow His light to shine through you to all you encounter, regardless of what it is you are called to do.

This is what will satisfy you. This is what will bring you happiness, not following your own selfish pursuits.

So, readers, if you have not yet discovered it, be attentive to God's call. And even if you feel you have answered the call already, look for ways God is asking you to dedicate yourself to Him even further. It may not come to you in a cloud of smoke or a burning bush. Listen for the whisper, and know, no matter what, that God is calling you to help others through your life. This--this giving of yourself--is what will allow you to bring Christ's joy to others, and to attain this joy in your very own life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Belize Reflection: One Body

(See post from 7/1 for background)

The day before I left for Belize, I was having a discussion with someone about the Catholic Church. This person made a common argument: what's the point of religion with all of its rituals and rules; can't a relationship with God be a personal matter? There are many responses to this argument from a Catholic standpoint. I focused on the need for an established set of moral guidelines, in particular. The minute we remove "the rules" from our life, we give way to moral relativity and can easily be led astray by what our culture dictates as "moral" and "immoral."

Then this person brought up another point, mentioning that they did not understand why reciting a Creed was of any benefit. I didn't have an immediate response. Why are the rituals so important? Well, yes, they remind us of our past, a past founded on Jesus Christ Himself. Additionally, they remind us of our role as an active member of the Catholic Church. However, I did not see a clear-cut answer that I felt could really answer this person's question...until I stood in Sacred Heart Church in San Ignacio, Belize.

On the first Sunday of our trip, we ventured to this church for Mass with the community. As we recited familiar words and sang familiar songs, it hit me. I stood in the Church just thinking about that conversation and how crystal clear the answer now was to me.

These traditions and rules, though sometimes seemingly pointless, unite us to each and every member of the Body of  Christ. How unique. How amazing. I was entering a foreign land, surrounded by people I had never met and a way of life I was unfamiliar with, but in that Church, I felt at home. I felt linked to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in a unique way. I would've felt this even if they had said Mass in a whole different language. Because at the end of the day, we speak the same words Jesus once spoke. We recite our shared beliefs. We consume that very same Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. We all are members of one universal Church, no matter where we are in the world.

Saying the words to the Creed alongside my Belizean brothers and sisters reminded me that as a member of Christ's Body, I serve not only my community, but my fellow humans throughout the world. Looking at it from an even broader perspective than the Catholic faith, as human beings formed by God's hands, we share common ground with and owe respect to each individual we encounter.

This is the power of God's love. He can unite us to one another deeply, regardless of the distance between us, our different cultures, our different languages, and more.

Amazing, isn't it, how two individuals can come from completely opposite walks of life, and still, they can stand side by side and find a deep connection through shared faith, through our common roots in Jesus Christ?

Sacred Heart Church

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mission Belize 2013

Earlier this month, I traveled with my high school to Belize for a mission trip. As Catholic missionaries, we prayed together in our community, taught Catechism to local students, completed various work projects at the school, and fostered relationships with the local community.

Cut off from the internet and our cell phones, we stayed at a former monastery, currently a retreat center in Santa Elena, Belize. There was no air conditioning, as is the norm in Belize, and as a result of the ceaseless heat and humidity, we learned to accept being constantly sweaty. There were many bugs/geckos, and the shower water was usually cold--a relief from the heat. It sounds quite different from American standards, but we were comfortable and happy. Everything was bearable and worth it when we took into consideration the countless blessings we witnessed each day.

The video below highlights some of the memorable moments I captured on tape:

Our typical schedule looked something like this:

6:30- Wake up

7:00- Morning Prayer (Lauds--Liturgy of the Hours)

7:30- Breakfast

8:30- Arrive at Bullet Tree Falls, the community in which Immaculate Conception school is located (about a fifteen minute drive from the monastery)

After that, we just went with the flow and I rarely looked at my watch.

Finished products
Picking oranges in the tropical depression rain
Work projects- building bike racks, cleaning and repainting exterior of buildings, building shelves, installing windows (more like shudders) and pouring cement to fill gap beneath them. I learned quite a few things about operating power tools, and felt quite accomplished when my group completed two wonderful bike racks.

Lunch in the community- The people of Bullet Tree did not have much; they lived in mainly cinder block homes with tin roofs. But they were willing to share, nonetheless. Rice & beans and chicken were the norm, and I ate more than my fill. Each family welcomed us with open arms and truly made us feel at home. I even got to pick oranges from our first host's orange tree.

Teaching- My travel companions and I prepared five lesson plans for our students, one for each day of the school week: The Body of Christ, God is Love/The Trinity, 2 Pillars of the Catholic Church, the Sacraments, and Our Call to Holiness. Developing these themes gave us a whole new appreciation for our teachers' hard work...

We each had a teaching partner with whom we taught two 30 minute classes: a young class and an older class. My partner and I taught Standard 2 and Standard 4, about the equivalent age of our 3rd and 6th grade here in America.
Playing outside
Battling for the Camera...

Play time- We often found ourselves playing with students during their breaks (2 before lunch and 2 after). They would tirelessly chase us around, tickle us, ask to be spun around, throw a ball with us, put us in "jail" (Kelly....), or attempt to teach us soccer. That wasn't too effective, as we faced an intense loss to the students in our USA vs Belize soccer match on Friday...We had fun, regardless. The children especially enjoyed playing with our cameras, and we all ended up with quite a collection of their unique photographs on our cameras when they got back to us.

3:30- Return to monastery/ free time possible before dinner

Dinner- Again, we often saw chicken and rice & beans. A lot of fresh fruit juice.

Evening Prayer/Group Reflection- Vespers. Small group and large group reflections. 

10:30- lights out

I'm probably missing a lot in the description above, but hopefully that gives you a general idea.

Other miscellaneous adventures included a trip to the Belize Zoo, visiting Mayan Ruins, seeing Jason Anthony (a popular American chalk artist and Christian inspirational speaker who was visiting with another missionary group), swimming in the Mopan River, and writing raps with my best friend Vivica, a "8th grader" at the school.

Jason Anthony, "the Chalk Guy"
Jaguar at the Belize Zoo

Stay tuned for upcoming posts in which I'll reflect on the life-changing realizations and experiences I encountered on this trip.

For day-to-day details of our amazing trip, visit:    

Monday, July 1, 2013

Wood and Fire

I am a piece of wood. God is a flame. God's heat touches me, and I feel as if I am on fire. Sometimes, it is a good burn. Sometimes, it is painful. But it is all part of a beautiful process.

I am heated by God's flame. His light changes me. It burns into my very core; it burns until there is nothing left to burn. I turn black; I turn to ash. After all, I am dust, and to dust I shall return. Christ strips me of my false sense of security, my belief that a plain old piece of wood is enough for me. He reminds me that I am nothing. I am dust. But He also reminds me that, with Him, I can be so much more than a simple piece of wood. Through His power alone, I endure the burn and I endure being reduced to ashes because at the end of the day, I am no longer a piece of wood. God has transformed me. 

First, I begin to glow from within. And then, the wood is gone and I am a flame. I radiate Christ. His flame consumes me, and I become one with it. God has rid me of my sinful state, the part of me that had resisted Him. Now I am a whole different being, united to the brightest Light. Christ's light is within me, shining on the world. Christ's light is me. I am the light of the world.

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Think about that for a second. I am a light for this entire earth. Wonderful, huh? But we must not forget where we get this light from. In John 8:12, Jesus calls himself the light.

I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.

So, yes, we are each lights of the world, but this light stems from Jesus Christ, the one true Light, the giver of light and love and life.

The metaphor referenced above is drawn from St. John of the Cross's The Dark Night of the Soul. It so accurately describes the union with Christ that we strive for. Observing Christ's light from afar is not enough for us. We must become this light.

Mediocrity is not acceptable to Christ. He doesn't want lukewarm followers...He wants followers who are flaming hot, on fire with His love. And sometimes, we must accept a complete remodeling to get to this point. We must be willing to be stripped of our imperfections.

If we want to join fully into union with Christ, we must be willing to let it all burn away: our material attachments, our worries, our imperfections and weaknesses. All of it must disintegrate. Only then, when we have let these impurities turn to ash, can we unite ourselves to Christ. 

The more of ourselves we allow God to consume, the more His fire will burn and grow. If we want to experience His presence in our lives, we must be willing to give up our lives as fuel to Christ's fire. And not only will we help ourselves grow closer to Him, but we will also allow those around us to see His love reflected in us and experience a similar conversion.

Christ has the power to transform us into vessels for His light. However, we first must be willing to drop our chains, our imperfections, and our weaknesses at His feet. 

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).