Sunday, September 25, 2011

Another Week on the job

Another great week at Seton Hall, God is so good!

On Monday night we had the 1st Student Athlete Mass of the semester. And there was record attendance! Almost 40 athletes were there, last year I think the highest attendance was around 25. And it was great because there were so many athletes that had never attended anything that Varsity Catholic had put on before. A great night of sharing the Eucharist with the student athletes.

On Tuesday, I had the chance to watch the #1 men's soccer team in the country play against an unranked Seton Hall team. Seton Hall really played their hearts out and played Maryland to a double over time 0-0 tie. It was such an exciting game, I enjoyed sticking around to talk to some of the players after the game to congratulate them on competing so hard.

On Thursday, I had my first Bible study of the semester. 12 men showed up, I invited probably close to 30, so not a bad turnout. For 4 guys it was their first Bible study at Seton Hall, so great to see new men desiring God in their lives. The other 8 were guys that were there were involved last year and it was great to. But we had a great discussion on John 3, talking about why Nicodemus questioned the teachings of Jesus and why we settle as men and humans to live in the darkness instead of stepping into and sharing the light, Jesus Christ.

This weekend I had the opportunity to share my work with a parish in Nutley, NJ. This is one of the ways that FOCUS missionaries develop their financial support teams, buy speaking at parishes and not asking for donations but asking to meet with individuals, couples, or families to intimately share the work of FOCUS with them and then invite them to play a crucial role in our mission by becoming a monthly mission partner. There was pretty good response and I am looking forward to meeting with those that were interested.

Please pray for the men on the baseball team that are committed to Bible study, for men in other sports to be open to Bible study, and that I will be able to increase my monthly support to stay on staff with FOCUS well into the future.

God bless you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Praying with Pirates

What a great week for Melissa, my Varsity Catholic teammate and I at Seton Hall. The fun really started on Friday with the women's volleyball game which they won in 3 games. From there I went to the men's golf meet at Rutgers University. I got to see all 5 of the Pirates players out on the course, after day 1 they were tied for 1st and they finished in 3rd place, 3 of the men placing in the top 10! It was very impressive to watch them, I like to golf, but wow those guys hit the ball well and far!

I rushed back to the Seton Hall campus for a meeting at 4 that Melissa and I had with the softball team. NJ traffic had other plans. I didn't get back to campus until about 4:30, so Melissa waited outside of the team meeting room. We waited there for about 20 minutes as we didn't think it was appropriate to interrupt coach during his rules meeting. Just before 5pm the women's soccer team started showing up, they had a game at 7. They were a little loud so one of the softball coaches peeked out and asked them to quiet down and at this time Melissa and I were invited in to speak and share what we offer as FOCUS Varsity Catholic missionaries. We have been blessed to have shared ourselves with half of the teams here.

As we left the meeting one of the soccer players asked us if we could "pump" them up before the game. Melissa and I laughed and kind of hesitated and I said, "we could pray with you." The soccer player thought that was a great idea. Melissa and I were really surprised since last year no one on the soccer team was involved in our Bible studies or other events that we held, we really didn't even know more than a girl or two on the soccer team. We went in and prayed with them for a few minutes, many of the players thanked us as we left and we wished them good luck.

After that we went to the 2nd volleyball game of the day as the women took on Boston College. Melissa played volleyball at Pittsburgh so she is a volunteer assistant coach for the volleyball team and gets to sit with them on the bench. This match went to a 5th game and during a timeout in the 5th game Melissa got in the middle of the huddle and fired them up with a pep talk that really pumped the girls up. The girls went on to win the 5th game and the match.

Immediately after the volleyball game I rushed outside to catch the end of the soccer game. I got outside just as the Seton Hall women scored a goal to untie the score at 2-1. A few minutes later Georgetown scored a great goal on a cross pass to tie it up at 2-2 and the game went into overtime. Almost 6 minutes in to overtime the Seton Hall women scored a goal from just outside of the box, the girls rushed the field, it was really exciting.

I went home and got to bed because in the morning Melissa and I were scheduled to speak to the men's and women's cross country team before their meet in Delaware. We spoke to the team on the bus at 8:45am and prayed with them before we left. After that we grabbed breakfast and went to the park where the teams would be running.

We walked from the finish line back into the race about a quarter mile. We found a spot where they would run through just after they started. From there the track looped around but we cut across to where they would run through again as they neared the finish line. We had a lot of fun cheering on the men and women as they competed and I think that the team and coach really appreciated our support. We had a great time.

Just another tough weekend on the job!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Saint BFFs

It has been an exciting first few weeks at Seton Hall and great first week back with all of the students and staff back on campus. It’s crazy what a difference a year makes. Melissa (my Varsity Catholic teammate) and I have felt so welcomed in by the athletic department this year. Not to say that we weren’t last year, I guess what I’m saying is that last year was a little intimidating approaching some of the coaches and athletic department staff. This year I have not felt that way at all.

My daily prayer has consisted of a crazy, legit, and zealous for souls combination by reading Visits to the Blessed Sacrament & the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori and Set All Afire by Louis de Wohl which is about the ministry of my new favorite saint, St. Francis Xavier. Let me tell you more about this combination.

St. Alphonsus totally gets me grounded and focused on serving and living for God only and completely, I get in the mindset that everything I do, everything must be done for God and for the furthering of His Kingdom. Then I read Set All Afire which is St. Francis Xavier demonstrating one of the greatest, if not the greatest, examples of doing everything for the glory of and building of the Kingdom of God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. In this post I want to share a few excerpts from each book, share my thoughts and challenge myself and anyone reading to take a step further (or 1st step) in your daily evangelization, after all that is what we’re called to do as baptized Christians (evangelize/set all afire).

First, let’s get grounded. This excerpt is from the 19th visit, “Oh, if only I could remain in Your presence always to adore You and make You acts of love! I beg of You to arouse me from my lethargy whenever, because of coldness or preoccupation with worldly affairs, I neglect to visit You.” From the 20th visit “…to wash from our souls all the stains of sin that remain after the faults of the day. When any one of us commits a fault, is there any better remedy than immediately to go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?” And “No, it is not just or fair that one who is so good and lovable as You should receive so little love.”

And now, St. Francis, this excerpt is when he is meeting with a Brahman in India who believes in the idea that people are in a caste system, that there several gods, and that (if I understand correctly) people in a lower caste can offer sacrifices to this Brahman to improve their standing in the sight of the gods. The Brahman then attempts to bribe St. Francis with gifts (so that St. Francis will stop preaching to Paravas in this area). To which St. Francis stands right up to and says (through a translator) “I have no intention to be bribed by you or by anybody else. Truth makes no bargain with error. Take your presents. I cannot accept them. I shall not rest until all Paravas have become the servants of the one, true God. And I tell you that many of them whom you call low caste dogs are more pleasing in the site of God than those who strut about as you do, believing themselves to be so high and exalted. Instead of parading your arrogance before men, evoke in yourself humility towards God and you too will be pleasing in His eyes.” Then the Brahman again insists that St. Francis take the gifts. To which St. Francis replies, “all the wealth of India will not change the law of the one, true God and the will of His servant.” The Brahman then leaves and St. Francis’s interpreter becomes….well scared. But again St. Francis, unwavering says, “What else can there be between truth and lie? And what do we have to fear? If God wants us to go on spreading His holy law, all the Brahmans in the world won’t be able to stop us. And if God wants us to die, how could we possible live? They can do nothing?”

St. Alphonsus, just nails it every day for me. More or less that I am unworthy, I need to rely on Jesus (more), I need to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament more (as the saints did so fervently while being so present and so committed), and I need to live in a way that is serving God only and completely. But as the first excerpt above from St. Alphonsus says, I too easily become lethargic, caught up in worldly affairs and somehow justify to myself that either I don’t need to visit Jesus or that it is ok for me to become distracted while I am with Him. It pains my heart when I see someone not reverently approach the Eucharist or when someone could be more reverent during Eucharistic adoration. Yet every day I fail and neglect Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as well. The pain that I feel must be a sliver compared to the pain that Christ must feel when I (or anyone) neglect Him. Why are we so hesitant and reluctant to give Jesus as little as an hour of our time!

As a FOCUS missionary it is in our job description to attend daily mass and pray a daily hour of adoration. Lucky for us at Seton Hall, with 40 plus priests on campus, we get Jesus Christ exposed in the Blessed Sacrament every day. I’ve realized that early this year that for the past year I have approached this time of adoration too much like only a job requirement, not being as present as I could be, not truly honoring and adoring our Savior. St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Francis Xavier have helped me to more truly and more deeply experience Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Alphonsus and St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.