Sunday, December 29, 2013


The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page

Wanderlust doesn't even begin to describe it.
The desire to go out and explore.
The desire to leave behind whatever is troubling you and find peace in another existence.
The idea that there is more than just what we see, what we encounter
That there must be more, as Belle says so lovely in Beauty and the Beast, to this provincial life.
On the road. Charleston, West Virginia
 It creeps up ever so often. The need to just pack a bag and go. Sometime a trip fulfills the adventure for now, but more often then not it leaves me wanting more (and therefore destroys my bank account further). 
Now I'm not the most adventurous or outgoing of individuals in the common concepts of the idea. I'm not the girl who could walk into a bar in a foreign city and make friends with all the locals. I'm not the girl who finds out a strangers life story on the train.
But the adventure comes from going, exploring and absorbing a culture, a people, a place through observation and experience.
I could sit at a cafe in a square in Italy all day with an espresso, a biscotti and a journal, observing the life that passes around me.
I could drive through the middle of Indiana, get stuck in a cornfield, and have an impromptu photo shoot for an hour because I can.
Sunset on the Great  Salt Lake
 Wanderlust is the desire to find out what else is out there, to expand our horizons. As much as I love reading about places and people, it is so much more invigorating to go out and find the information myself, to constantly be the student in the classroom of the world. One can never learn too much or grow too much. There is constant room for the expansion of our minds, to develop opinions and understandings to make ourselves more global citizens responsible for humanity than single solitary beings. We owe it to ourselves to see what the world has to offer us.
San Fran by the Bay
 And in return, we must see what we have to offer the world. 
As Woodrow Wilson once said, "You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand." Wherever the wanderlust takes you, use it to make the world a better place, whether it through a small act of kindness (ala Mother Teresa) or through a larger plan God may have for your life there.
Times Square

In Bloom, Washington, D.C.

Fourth of July, Charles River, Boston, Ma.

Castaway Cay, Eastern Carribbean

Sea Isle, New Jersey

We Need Saints

We Need Saints

"We need saints without cassocks, without veils. We need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies, that listen to music, that hang out with friends. We need saints who put God in first place, ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints who look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity, and all good things. We need saints, Saints of the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints."

Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013, Rio

St. Maria Goretti and the Cardinal Virtues

I’ve been watching a lot of videos from last year’s Steubenville conferences, and a few of them have been from the women’s sessions, focusing on the four cardinal virtues: Prudence (Wisdom), Justice, Fortitude (Courage), and Temperance (Self-Control or Chastity). Incredible women of God have been speaking to these young women (Jackie Francois, Mary Bielski, Leah Darrow) about coming to God, and what special creatures they are, creating as the climax of creation, as the perfection of God’s beauty on Earth. They have talked a lot about what it means to be a women in today’s society, what real love means, and what is worth waiting for. A few of the talks have brought up the story of St. Maria Goretti, a virgin and martyr who died at the young age of 11. She lived in Italy, and one day a neighbor, Alessandro, tried to sexually assault her. She fought off his advances, trying to get him to see the light, to save his soul from committing a mortal sin. He ended up stabbing her 14 times, and she died the next day. Before she died, she forgave him. He spent 30 years in jail for murder (not a lifetime because he was a minor), and had a major conversion experience. She became a saint within his lifetime. Before he died, he wrote this incredible letter:
       I’m nearly 80 years old. I’m about to depart. Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself. My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same.
I was not worried.
There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.
When I was 20 years old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me.
I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer.
Thirty years of prison followed. If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.
Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society.
The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.
I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life.”
Signed, Alessandro Serenelli

How incredible of a change of heart, where God could take a moment of shear vice and pain, and turn it into something so beautiful and full of love, self-sacraficing love. How incredible was and still is little Maria Goretti that not only was she able to forgive someone of a crime they committed against HER, but that she also wanted to stop him in the act to save his soul. And she was 11. So many of the saints were young and not experienced in the world when they died. Yet their young lives ran after Christ with a passion, and their influence has still stayed in the world. They dealt with sin and temptation just like any other human, yet they had such faith and conviction in the love of God that they could fight past that, could fight the Devil, and they TERRIFIED HIM.
We all have the ability to be those saints.
 It takes work, but that should be our goal. 
We strive for heaven. We strive for sainthood. 
And we strive to get those we love into heaven, to take up their crosses and help them on their road to sainthood, too.