29 July 2016

It's More than Catholic Woodstock

World Youth Day itself is amazingly incredible as well as equally chaotic and stressful at times. Sometimes it can be hard to explain to folks who have never been.

My sweet friend Laurel went to WYD both in 2000 (Rome) and 2002 (Toronto). I am so excited to have her share her WYD experiences here today:)
Take it away Laurel!

During my teenage years, I had the privilege of attending two World Youth Days -- Rome in 2000 and Toronto in 2002 --which would radically change my life. Youth ministry was an important aspect of my life throughout this time, but these two events were the cherry on top, so to speak, of that period. It was during (and following) those pilgrimages that I became more firmly convicted in orienting my life toward Christ, in searching Him out and truly discerning the vocation He was calling me to live.

Rome in 2000
They call us the John Paul II Generation, and rightly so, for his words and example have struck us to the core. Our dear Holy Father seemed timeless, maintaining that vigor of youth that accompanied him in his twenties and thirties as a young priest. We connected with him instantly. (And, incredibly, I don't think this was an exclusive experience for the youth.) He spoke directly to the hopes and dreams of our hearts, and inspired us to follow Christ daily.

In both WYDs that I attended, the closing homilies given by our Holy Father, St. Pope John Paul II, touched my heart deeply. His words seemed a personal letter written just for me, from a loved one who cared immensely for my spiritual health and general well-being.

He spoke words of truth that I could not ignore. Nor have I been able to ver all these years, having gone back over those homilies numerous times. Even reading them once again today, in preparation for writing this, I am struck by them. They fill me with emotions as I remember how they moved me--how they still move me with a desire to live my life in Christ.

During the first one I attended, we were celebrating the Jubilee Year. The Holy Father emphasized over and over again the importance of making the Eucharist the center of our week, the focal point of our lives.
“Dear friends, when you go back home, set the Eucharist at the centre of your personal life and community life: love the Eucharist, adore the Eucharist and celebrate it, especially on Sundays, the Lord’s Day. Live the Eucharist by testifying to God’s love for every person….

You yourselves must be fervent witnesses to Christ’s presence on the altar. Let the Eucharist mould your life and the life of the families you will form. Let it guide all life’s choices. May the Eucharist, the true and living presence of the love of the Trinity, inspire in you ideals of solidarity, and may it lead you to live in communion with your brothers and sisters in every part of the world.”

I was inspired to attend daily Mass often and make time for Adoration at least weekly. During my college years, with a chapel just steps from my dorm, I was able to follow His beckoning with great regularity. This closeness to Christ helped me through my formative studies and influenced some wonderful relationships I formed with others during my college years. I miss this as it has become more difficult for me to make regular visits, but makes me realize just how powerful connection to His Heart in the Eucharist is for my life.

In Toronto, the Holy Father spoke on the Gospel where Christ calls us to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world." Drawing back to Vatican II's "universal call to holiness," we were reminded that every one of us is called to be a saint. We are called wherever life takes us to be saints in those very moments, to enliven the world with the flavor of Christ's love.

“It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God's love. It needs witnesses to that love. The world needs salt. It needs you - to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Salt seasons and improves the flavour of food. Following Jesus, you have to change and improve the "taste" of human history.”

Getting ready to leave! (Toronto in 2002)
He reminded us that holiness is not just for the elderly, something to do once you've lived your life, but for us, right now.
“[H]oliness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit.”

In fact, one of our greatest assets to the living Church was our youthful hope. He called us to embrace this and continue to look towards it in the midst of difficult situations, in the midst of our faults and failings.
“I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.

Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Even when I stumble, even when I neglected my relationship with God, I am reminded that He is constantly calling me back to Him. There have been some dark times in my life since 2002, but recalling these words of St. Pope John Paul II have always helped me return to a place of hopefulness for the future. They have reminded me of what the Lord wants of me, of the importance of always drawing near to Him.

World Youth Days are like large Catholic rallies where one can connect with like-minded Christians. But they are so much more. With an open heart, they can be a turning point that changes the rest of one's life. Carrying on the zeal that was enlivened there, taking to heart the wisdom shared, they became for me the opening act of a life lived in Christ.
(If you have a moment, take a read through the homilies yourself {2000 and 2002}.)

I love the perspective of people who attended WYD's I myself have not. I never had the experience of being at WYD with its founder, St. Pope John Paul II, so I cherish hearing stories of those who were present. 
So thank you for sharing those precious memories Laurel!

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27 July 2016

A Dash of Ignatian Spirituality

Hello beautiful readers! 

My name is Sarah and I will be taking over A Modern Grace today to lend a hand while Patty is having a blast in Krakow.

Patty and I met via blogging and instantly bonded over our love of Ignition Spirituality. So, when she e-mailed me to see if I'd write a guest post, I knew right away that there would be some reference to the Jesuits and/or their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
I first encountered the Jesuits and Ignatian Spirituality when I studied at John Carroll University, which is, you guessed it, a Jesuit University. Prior to Carroll, I had never even heard of the Jesuits. I'm a cradle-Catholic, but other than Christmas, Easter, and Ash Wednesday (maybe), my family rarely went to Mass. So, when I told people where I was headed to college and they told me it was a Catholic school, I would say, "No, it's a Jesuit school..."

I eventually learned what a Jesuit was and grew deeply in my faith because of the rich spirituality shared by St. Ignatius of Loyola and other Jesuits (I'm looking at you, Pedro Arrupe.) 

My time in undergrad was absolutely pivotal in my faith formation and decision to pursue a career in ministry and I attribute much of that to the Jesuit tradition and it's emphasis on the integration of faith and social justice. Ignatius's spiritual practices are some of my absolute favorites. They are remarkably beautiful and complex yet at the same time wonderfully simple and "user-friendly".

I love them.
A lot.

So much so, that they are what I would like to share with you all during my brief take-over of Patty's blog. (I have her permission, promise.) You've likely heard of some, but just in case you haven't or have, but never got around to trying them, here are 4 that I can't get enough of.

The Examen encourages us to stop, breathe, and take a few moments to remember our days and notice where we felt God's presence and where we felt distant from God.

--Finding God in all things.

Ignatius's Presupposition reminds us to give our brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt and not to jump to conclusions--especially those that focus on negativity.

--Assume the best in others.

The First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises focuses on the beautiful gift of God's love for us and recalls that we are "from love, of love, and for love."

--God is Love.

And Ignatius's Prayer for Generosity gently brings our attention back to the call to serve one another and to "give and not count the costs".

--In all things be generous.

Each one of these beautiful prayers or practices helps me to focus on the movement of God throughout my day-to-day routine. They have nourished my spirituality as I continue to journey with Christ and work for justice. Obviously everyone's spiritual practices are unique to them, but I would definitely encourage you to think about adding a little Ignatian Spirituality to your routine and see what happens.

"Go forth and set the world on fire" - St. Ignatius.



Bio: Hey there! I'm Sarah, a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsesses with all things Jesuit and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. In May I finished my Master of Divinity Degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. I enjoy travel, running, contagious laughter, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. I blog over at Simply Sarah.

Thanks again so much Sarah for guest posting while I'm away! 
Be sure to head over to Sarah's blog and get to know more about her there :) 

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25 July 2016

Technology + Growing in Faith

Hi everyone, I'm Lauren from When Beauty Met Truth, blog and Etsy shop!  

I want to give Patty a HUGE thank you for asking this newbie blogger to write a guest post while she's off to World Youth Day!!  Can you take me in your luggage Patty???

So today's topic of discussion is...drum roll please...faith and technology!  

So often we hear about the evils of the Internet and how it can take us further away from God.  Of course it can be used for that very reason, but I have a list of sites and apps that can bring us closer to God and help us to learn more about our Catholic faith.  

This post is really about taking advantage of technology that inspires and uplifts us in our faith journey.

I work out of my home and spend a lot of my time sitting at my desk.  I am one of those people who cannot stand to work in silence for hours.  I always need to have something playing on my computer (so I don't imagine that every random noise in my house is that of a stealthy burglar.)  

While I will be the first to admit that I struggle with getting sucked into time wasting sites on the Internet (I'm looking at you Netflix) I recognize the need to balance out all of the frivolity with things that feed my faith.  So I have compiled a list of some of my favorite sites, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels that help me do just that!

Blogs and sites:
National Catholic Register (America's most complete Catholic news source and a service of EWTN.) 
Blessed Is She (Subscribe to this website and receive the daily readings and a reflection in your inbox each morning.)
Formed (A sort of Catholic Netflix if you will.  Watch and listen to Catholic movies, programs, CDs and audio books.  It also includes talks by Lighthouse Catholic Media, which are fantastic!)
The Chastity Project (A great resource for leading a life of chastity, with articles by some of your favorite chastity speakers.) 

YouTube Channels:
EWTN (I can and have sat for hours watching episodes of The Journey Home and Women of Grace)
Ascension Presents (I love Fr. Mike Schmitz's byte size teaching moments on pop culture and our faith.)
Breaking in the Habit (Answers to common questions about the Church, culture, and religious life from a young Franciscan friar.)
Catholic Answers (One of my go to places when I have a specific question about Church teachings.  If you have a question no matter how random, chances are its been asked and answered here.)

Word on Fire Sermons (Bishop Robert Barron's weekly homily.)
Catholic Bytes (Ten minute episodes that tackle various aspects of the faith.)
The Jennifer Fulwiler Show (Jennifer's take on modern life through the lens of a Catholic convert and mother of six.  Prepare to be entertained!)
Women of Grace (This radio program instructs and inspires listeners while answering questions about living the Catholic faith in the world today.)

Laudate (Daily Mass readings with prayers, meditations, virtual rosary bead counter and so much more!)
Catholic Emoji (A Catholic emoji keyboard with stickers of your favorite saints and sacramentals!  Texting has never been so fun!)
Confession: A Roman Catholic App (This app helps you to make a good examination of conscience and answers all of your Confession questions.)
FOCUS Equip (Filled with talks and tools from FOCUS to help you evangelize others.)

What are some of the blogs, podcasts or apps that you love? I would love to hear your suggestions!
Thanks Lauren! Having a good stock of encouraging online resources I find makes it easier to use my online life more intentionally:)

Lauren is an artist from El Paso, TX. She started her Easy shop as a side business while she tried to determine what career she was "really" supposed to pursue. Eventually, her "side job" came to "the job" God had called to all along. She now works out of her home to bring art and faith together as a way to evangelize others! When not painting, she can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea in hand, binge watching Netflix, or planning future trips around the world.

Be sure to go check out and get to know more about Lauren on her blog and her gorgeous shop too! :)

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22 July 2016

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Hi friends! While Patty is away in Poland, she's lending me her online space to share with you a post you'll hopefully helpful to read. If you like it, wander over to my blog: Utile Dulci. Thanks for reading and keep Patty in your prayers while she is on her pilgrimage! Love, Pomeline

I call myself Catholic, and yet it's astounding how little I ask of God sometimes. A perfectionist and control addict, it takes a lot  for me to humbly approach the Father and ask of Him what I need. It requires my admitting that I am not self-sufficient. How often do I hear, Sunday after Sunday, the readings proclaim the miracles of Christ? Yet, I doubt.

When was the last time you asked something of Christ, believed Jesus would care for your needs, and left it at that? The man believed [...] and went his way. My petitions often are full of conditions. I list off my worries, but it is so often merely an intellectual exercise, where I don't actually invite God's grace into the mess of my life.

When was the last time you asked Christ to work a miracle in your life, and believed He would care for you? God has not given us a Spirit of cowardice, of selfishness, but rather a Spirit of boldness. Go before the Father, and leave your great expectations at His feet. Trust in His perfect plan and wisdom. 

Our petitions are not always answered if they do not bring forth what is for our good, but we must practice our faith by asking God to provide for us, and surrendering our will to His.

When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."
The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.
As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living.
So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him."
The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live"; and he himself believed, and all his household.

John 4:47-53

Thanks again Pomeline for taking time to write here while I am gone. I can really relate to what you said about remembering to invite God's grace into the mess of life. A good reminder we all need sometimes

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19 July 2016

Prayers I'm Taking to Poland

In Auschwitz, I am told there is a lone Paschal candle in cell block 13 where St. Maximilian Kolbe died giving his life to save a fellow prisoner. A stark reminder of the powerful witness of martyrdom of this priest but also a reminder of the millions lost in such a place.

When in Poland, our group will visit Auschwitz and that very same cell block. 

As I imagine what this experience will be like for me personally, I find myself recalling and praying overt the words in the first chapter of John's Gospel: "...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Over the last few days as I hear of the horror and true evil I see unfolding in our country and worldwide, I just keep whispering these words to myself: "No Lord, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it." 
It is a prayer welling deep inside my heart.
I am heart sick in so many ways of the evil and pain I see in the world, especially in the last few weeks as I prepare to take a journey of peaceful prayer with young people. 

I cry for those hurting, angry, and frustrated. 
I cry over my own sinfulness and faulty perceptions of others.

Racism. Bigotry. Hatered. Terrorism. Hurtful words. Death. People suffering greatly.
Sometimes it honestly is too much to even turn on the local or world news.

To me, that lone Paschal candle in cell block 13 represents the grave reality of our world right now. Our world is in darkness. Yes it is broken and sinful. And yes, people around the globe are suffering immensely. 

But no matter the darkness, the light always shines in the darkness and will never be overcome. 
The light of radical compassion will break through. The light of mercy, grace, forgiveness, will always prevail. The light of justice, truth, and humility will break through. 

Jesus is that light but we are commanded to be that light as well.

I feel like I want to carry so many people and situations in my heart as we journey to Poland.

I carry in my heart all the pain, frustration, and crazy going on in our own country; for healing and honest dialogue in these painful realities. I want to carry people dealing with horrific trauma and loss from senseless killings.

Personally, I carry to Poland all of what the last year of my life has entailed. I carry those I still need to forgive and give them in love to the Father. I carry my former spouse, whom I pray for frequently.
And I carry all that God has been teaching me about myself and my identity in Him.

A pilgrimage presents an opportunity to pray for and offer up the journey for other people back at home. It is a way to unite what I am experiencing with those across the ocean back home.

There is a lot to bring before God in our world and individual lives today. And I am looking at the coming days in Poland as an opportunity to just pray for the light to break through, and shine in the darkness of our hearts and in our world.

Hit me up with an e-mail if you have any prayer requests! 
I'd be honored to carry you too over our pilgrimage :)

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15 July 2016

The Unbreakable Patty Schmidt does Poland

....or something like that ;)

The difference between triumph and trying is a little dose of "umph."

I have recently stumbled across this glorious show on Netflix. While I wasn't freed from a cult, I find myself relating to the "umph" of Kimmy to face whatever life throws her direction. Who knew a silly Netflix show could be a kick a$# reminder of that.

Life feels like it has been swirling by at a ferocious pace over the past few weeks...

Came home happily exhausted from taking teens to a weekend youth conference.


I had a new job potential open up which would have also been a great opportunity + significant pay raise. After a lot of prayer and reflection, I just didn't have peace about it and turned it down. Another chance to practice discernment and radical dependence on God:)

On Wednesday, I leave for 2 weeks with 12 people to attend World Youth Day in Poland. It is the largest gathering of young people in the world. Millions of young Catholics gather with the Pope to celebrate and grow in faith together...think Catholic Woodstock, minus all the drugs and sex and the Pope comes! 

Yesterday and today have been spent shopping for things like stool softener (#thestruggleisreal), Tums, and granola bars. It feels like I have toilet seat covers and toothpaste coming out my ears, but deep down I am really excited for another round of this awesomeness. Please pray for the safety of all pilgrims (and the Pope) traveling to Poland!

When I get home from WYD, I will be moving into a new apartment! I am excited to make a new home for myself while continuing to do my healing work and build a new life for myself. 

While I am gone, I have some sweet friends who have kindly offered to write here in this space. I hope you enjoy their words as much I did!

With all that being said, I am still on the look-out for turkey jerky and blister band-aids so I best be bouncing to go do yet another round of supply shopping. #joysofbeingagroupleader

See ya in a few weeks!! :)

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08 July 2016

Power of Community + Membership Perks

Real, authentic community is one of the most life-giving and powerful forces in a world where likes and re-tweets rule. Having a community to call my own has challenged and empowered me; it has called me on to be a more loving Christian woman. 

Two years such a community was a big dream in the heart of Jenna Guizar

Since then, Blessed Is She has grown exponentially. What was once a dream and a prayer has turned into daily devotionals with Scripture, brunches for women all over the globe, retreats, journals for liturgical seasons, and regional Facebook groups. 

It has become a revolution of love: genuine love for each other as sisters in Christ and a deeper love for Christ & Scripture.

Blessed Is She is now embarking on a new chapter.

There is now a new membership option.

Your membership will include:
  • Monthly workshops offered by a variety of incredible speakers on matters relating to faith, prayer, culture, and Church teaching. Members will also have lifetime access to workshops for easy re-watching.
  • The very popular Lent & Advent journals will be auto-shipped right to your door. These journals are just gorgeous!

Priced separately, workshops are $15 each and journals are $20 apiece. So your membership fee of $9.99 a month or $99 a year means you'll save at least $100 each year! 

Even if you cannot financially swing this for yourself, please share with other women in your life who would benefit, who are looking for ways to grow in their faith.

Blessed Is She has has been a community that has totally surprised me and blessed my life in countless ways. As a part of the editorial and writing team, I can honestly say these women are my people; the additional sisters I always wanted growing up.

One of my favorite quotes growing up is from C.S. Lewis: "Friendship is born at the moment when you say to another "What! You too? I thought I was the only one..."

The beauty of community is when we see and experience these words; the fact that we're not the only one. And I am excited to see how this new adventure for Blessed Is She continues to support women.

Subscribe today. I promise you will not regret it.

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06 July 2016

4 Ingredient Natural Teeth Whitener

Since winter, I have made a discovery about myself. I like coffee, more specifically lattes. 

Before then I NEVER was a coffee drinker, and while I am a ways before taking it straight black, I am quickly enjoying new ways of drinking hot java.

With that being said, I have noticed my teeth getting a little more yellow. This doesn't look so good with a bright pink summertime lip.

My Mom recently told me how she has started making homemade teeth whitener. So the other night I decided to take a crack at it. 

1/2 cup baking soda
2 tsp. coconut oil
several drops of peppermint essential oil
hydrogen peroxide

1// Mix up baking soda and coconut oil with a fork. 

2// Add several drops of peppermint oil.

3// When ready to use, add a bit of peroxide to make a paste. Apply mixture directly to toothbrush. Brush for at least two minutes.

4// Do not use though more than 3 times per week.

What I like about this is its a cheaper option than going to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. And after a couple uses, I did less of that nasty yellow on my pearly whites.

Easy peasy way to polish your smile while not breaking the bank!
Happy smiles:)

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