Category Archives: Uncategorized

God’s Plan for my Lenten Season

Kate Walsh, Senior Anchor Intern

I remember a certain Lent during my high school years where I stuck to my Lenten sacrifice like glue. I had given up gluten, for several reasons. For one thing, I really love bread, pasta, and baked goods, and knew this would be a tough sacrifice. My other motivation, however, was that my mom had celiac disease, and I wanted to have a greater understanding of her daily sacrifice. God helped me be really consistent that year, and I had a grace-filled Lent that prepared me to welcome Easter with more joy and anticipation than I had ever experienced before! Talk about a shot in the arm for my faith life.

Fast-forward to this year, where I am a busy college senior trying to figure out, among many things, how I want to claim my faith life as my own once I leave this wonderful place. As I prayed about what I wanted to do for Lent this year, I kept feeling a pull to get to know Jesus in a more personal way; I craved to grow in deeper relationship with Him. Because of this, someone suggested to me that I engage in Lectio Divinia every day in Lent. Lectio Divina is a way to read Scripture that involves more meditation and trying to listen to what God wants to say to you through His Word. I made my checklist of which readings to do each day, and was ready to go!

Via Dolorosa // David Swenson

Well, unlike that year in high school, this Lent did not go so perfectly. I fell a little behind on my list of readings, and though I did feel like I was growing in my faith life, sometimes feelings of failure (which should not be what Lent is all about) started to creep in. As I sit here reflecting on the second half of Lent, however, I am realizing that during this time, God was just providing for me in an unexpected yet huge way.

I fell behind on my agenda for Lent in part due to my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As a campus ministry intern, this trip was my main focus all semester, and going on the pilgrimage itself was an incredible experience. Though the busyness of our days and my jet lag-induced tiredness at night hindered me from sticking to my mapped out reading plan, God was allowing his Word to come alive in my heart in a new way by allowing me to walk the paths of the Gospels. We had the chance to walk the Via Dolorosa, the way of the Cross. At the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu on Mount Zion, we entered into the events of Holy Thursday by praying in the underground caves where Jesus was held and abused by Caiaphas and his guards. At Calvary, when I was too overwhelmed to know what to do or say, God gave me the time and space to sit and listen to Him. And now, each time I open my Bible or listen to the readings at Mass, my experience of Scripture has been transformed by the gift of my time in Israel.

Church of St. Peter, Gallicantu // David Swenson

So whether you feel that your Lent was a rich time of spiritual growth, or if you fell off the bandwagon several times, do not worry. Jesus has risen from the dead, and never stops wanting you to grow closer to Him! I encourage you, much like you do in Lectio Divina, to just spend time with God and be open to whatever He has in store for you. God’s plan for my season of Lent this year was more incredible than anything I could have planned myself, and for that I am so grateful! As it is written in Constitution #119 of the Congregation of Holy Cross, “Resurrection for us is a daily event…We know that we walk by Easter’s first light, and it makes us long for its fullness.” I will be praying that you have a blessed Easter season and experience the joy of God’s daily Resurrection!

Food for the Way

Brianna Casey, Senior Anchor Intern

I think a lot about God. I talk about Him a lot, too. But sometimes, I feel that I forget to spend enough time praying with God.

When it comes to ministry, I would say that my approach is primarily a relational one—I try to have conversations with people that may help them to see God in light of their own experiences, in terms that make sense to them. This comes pretty naturally thanks to my tendency to search for connections between everything, including seemingly opposing modes of belief. Similarly, the way I approach my faith is intensely holistic. I feel the need to be able to connect what I read in Scripture with what I’m learning in my biology and neuroscience classes, and to let what I learn from traveling and having conversations with others inspire my prayers.

Most of the time, this approach to faith and ministry proves itself to be extremely fulfilling. Guided by the belief that God is found anywhere there is truth, I have been able to find what connects me to others and what connects us all to Christ. Still, sometimes conversations and internal dialogue like this can leave me feeling mentally and spiritually drained. Inevitably, there are times when the constant questioning and casting my beliefs in new light in search of deeper truth will overwhelm me with how little I really understand. Oddly enough, sometimes my efforts to increase my faith will leave me with more questions and doubts than when I started. However, maybe these feelings are more related to how fatigue at the end of a workout is a precursor to growing stronger, rather than a sign of getting weaker.

Still, at times I think I make the mistake of doing too much talking about God and not enough praying. It makes sense that despite the time I spend learning about God, I can still feel distant if I fail to spend time with Him. The beautiful thing is that once I realize this, all it takes is to spend time with God to intentionally slow down, thank God for what He’s shown me, and ask Him to fill me with His peace. Whenever I am surprised by feelings of spiritual exhaustion, I try to determine if my prayer life has fallen short, and I renew my conviction to spend more time in intentional prayer.

This is also why the Eucharist has been so important in my journey with Christ. Coming to Mass and receiving the Eucharist makes me whole when I feel like I’ve been spread too thin, and centers me back on what is most important. The spiritual filling I’ve experienced through Mass serves as a reminder that, for me, it’s not enough to know about God; I need His presence in order to be refueled and renewed.

While one’s faith journey may be marked by a series of “landmarks”—significant moments of clarity and encounter with Christ that are easy to look back on as shaping one’s relationship with Him—I have learned that the small moments with God are no less important. It is for this reason that Mass and consistent prayer are essential for the active Christian life—for when we encounter Christ in this way, He offers us food to sustain us on our way, allowing us to continue His work on Earth and ensure that we always remain close to Him.

Hope to Bring

Adam Wood, Senior

“We must be men [and women] with hope to bring.”

I think about these words from Constitution 8 of the Congregation of Holy Cross every day as I drive onto campus and begin my search for a parking spot. Statistically speaking, there won’t be an open spot for me at the front-most part of the lot.  Considering it’s already 1 p.m. and I’m just getting to campus for my first class, I probably don’t deserve one. But this is a Holy Cross institution, and I’m a man of hope! So you better believe I make a pass through the section with the best spots, even if prior experience says I’m wasting my time.

As Notre Dame students, we hope for a wide variety of things. We hope for a seat near an outlet at the library, we hope the line at Starbucks is short, and we hope to win a coveted RecSports championship tee shirt. We hope that we can score a ticket to the Keenan Revue, a date to a Dome Dance, or a part in the PEMCo show. We hope that our duct tape and plywood vessels don’t sink in the middle of the Fisher Regatta. We hope that the Irish will do better than 4-8 next season. We hope we can manage to finish two problem sets, an essay, and an exam by the end of the week. We hope for good grades, good internships, and good jobs when we graduate. We hope that we can find the time to enjoy all of the things this great university has to offer us.

But sometimes, I think, I have hoped for so many things at once that I started to lose hope altogether. I allowed my hopes to transform into stress, and forgot to have hope in the most important thing, or rather, person. All these things that a Notre Dame student hopes for are good things, but the men who wrote the Constitutions of Holy Cross weren’t talking about hope in tee shirts or tickets or even parking spots. They were speaking of hope in the person, Jesus Christ, who transcends and fulfills all of our hopes.

The Cross and Anchors is the symbol of the Congregation of Holy Cross. It represents hope in the Cross of Jesus Christ as our one true hope.

Many times in my four years here I have let stress overwhelm me to a point of despair. Over time, however, I learned to cultivate hope in Christ and his love for me. I invited him into these moments, and was able to see my burdens more as opportunities for victory. I came to see more of what the Congregation of Holy Cross means by finding hope in the Cross, both the Cross of Christ and the smaller crosses that I bear in my own life. In a student’s life, stressful times are all but guaranteed. We can’t avoid them.  Most importantly, we can respond in the best way possible by having hope in the great gifts we have been given. Take a little inspiration from Constitution 8 of the Congregation that founded Notre Dame:

“There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory.”

I’ll put my hope in that!

 

Walking in Faith in the Dark

Erica Pereira, Senior

Last semester, I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. A few of my friends and I had the opportunity to spend a few days backpacking in Patagonia, which is the wilderness in the southern-most part of Chile, at the end of the world. It truly felt like another planet in the great beauty we encountered there.

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The highlight of the trip and the pinnacle of beauty in Patagonia are the Torres del Paine. They are huge towers of rock that shoot up into the sky. The best time to see the Torres is at sunrise when the light from the sun rises and casts a bright orange color on the rocks. To see this once in a lifetime sight, we rolled out of our tents in the pitch black, snapped on our headlamps, and started the strenuous 45-minute hike up. No one could see particularity well, and next to us was a huge, black crevasse with depths we could only imagine in the dark. All we could see were the steps in front of us and the lights of the headlamps of the people behind us and ahead of us all in a line—all hiking to the same destination.

Our sleepiness quickly waned as the number of steps and rocks we were climbing increased. When we finally reached the top, the excitement was unbearable. It was still pitch black, but I could just barely make out the silhouette of the three giant towers. I had seen so many pictures of it before, and here it was! Right in front of me. I had never experienced such an atmosphere of exciting anticipation.

We sat down in the cold and windy weather and waited for the sun to rise. Each moment was more exciting than the next because in each passing minute we could see just a little bit more of the Torres. As more and more light came, we could see that there was a small lake in front of them—something we had no idea was there in the dark. And the true and glorious beauty of the Torres was revealed. We sat there (slightly shivering) in awe of its wonderful beauty. My friend Anna said to me that this moment was a lot like heaven. Right now on earth, we only have a glimpse of heaven like we only had a glimpse of the Torres before sunrise. But when heaven is fully revealed to us, the glory of it will be awe-inspiring. My experience at the Torres was truly a glimpse of that eternal peace and glory.

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On our hike back to the campsite, I was reminded of the saints and their headlamps walking in front of me, leading me to heaven. I could only see the present moment—the step right in front of me, but I was guided by their light. We are all walking in faith in the dark to something we cannot yet fully see. We are all headed to the same place, with the same goal.

The reality of heaven and the hope of what we cannot yet see are so present in our lives. Each day is a tiny glimpse of the eternal love that has been offered to us. It is a reality that we are called to be in awe of, and to bask in each day. Let us rest in the hope and awe of salvation in Christ.

“For this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”-2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Patagonia