Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Savior is Born


Merry Christmas! Christ has been born! and God, in his Divinity, comes down through the womb of the ever sinless Virgin to take on a lesser humanity, so that He can save us all by death on a cross. The birth of Jesus marks the start of our salvation, and the end of our broken world. Christmas comes from the Latin, "Christ's Mass" and marks the celebration of the birth of our Messiah. It even marks the nativity scene when kings and shepherds traveled far to greet the newborn King and to pay him Homae.
During Christmas, sure the season is a time of Joy and laughter, and spending time with that mean old aunt of yours but even past that, Christmas is a reminder for us all that Jesus, in our brokenness still is to be born, to redeem us, bring us and keep us. So many times we forget the meaning of this mystery of the Incarnation and the birth of Christ by looking at history and what the modern world has to say. The weight of the subject is not where or when Christ was born but a bigger part is that Christ was born and He did it so that we could gain joy in Him, happiness in Him and salvation through Him. The Birth of Christ through the Virgin is the cause of our joy this season of Christmas because like the gathering at the nativity, so too our families gather in the communion of joy because our Savior has finally been born.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Being a Light of Christ: Guiding Principle

For me in my prayer life, I like to pray that I be a light for all that I meet. A light that shines from my word and deeds so that people can see Christ through me. I want people to experience Christ through me and what I do as a person.
In our faith and lives as Christians, it can be super hard, being a light or a reflection of Christ. It sounds like a radical idea especially when we allow other things to exist in our lives like envy; which brings hate, or impatience; the stripping of the very peace that we're ordered to, even the presence of sin and slavery that puts a rift between our relationship with God. It is true that our actions are louder than words, everything that we do has a positive or negative impact on the people who look up to us and see us like our family and peers. I am a victim of all these things, in my prayer of being a reflection of Christ to all, God still, in our weakness delivers and provides all that is necessary to be that light or be that message. God gives us the gift of Grace that binds us and strengthens us to use and reflect to everybody we meet. In our weakness, we do fall but in our strength of guilt we rise and return. The prayer of being a light that reflects to all people is not for self-pride but I think rather permission to be the mediatrix between man and God. In Christianity there can't just be one light, but many. Lights are meant to lead out of darkness. So we are called to be the light for the many, reflecting Christ. Isn't it true that a light is seen more clearly at night?  Even when darkness is present, or sin or trial, the Grace and the light of faith of a person is the guiding principle. Let there be light! 

Jesus, help me be a light for all those I meet. That everyone I meet and come in contact with see YOU through everything I do, and everything I am.  Amen.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Practice Patience

For the past couple days, I have slowly been realizing that my own patience is one of those virtues that is needed and I can't strive to be better without it. Patience, especially for me is hard, I struggle with inconsistency in my patience. I can tell you that I am not a very patient person, especially when I see something I want. There is inconsistency there because some days I am pretty patient other days, not so much. I get ahead of myself, and want things done, I'm impatient thinking about a couple things like my future, or the days that I am in, and even school now.  I think a big-part of our Christian lives has to do with waiting. Not necessarily waiting on things to happen on their own, but waiting and being patient in our fast-paced lives. When I think about it, we live today in a world that is supplying to our needs, we can get just about anything if we really want to. For example, if we want food, we eat, if we want drink, we drink. The norm is if you want something you can get it. Today with patience I think it applies the same; If we want something, we're so used to having those things placed right in front of us really fast. When we are patient towards receiving, all of a sudden its different for us. Now we have to wait for any sort of delay to pass, wait for things to develop and train our minds to really slow down and get used to the act of waiting itself. The joy is that God who is the cause of all things even our choices allows for us to practice this patience of our own so we can enjoy something even greater in the end. In life, our patience is tested everyday. Last night for me, it was in the McDonald's drive-thru line. Maybe for you its something else, the experience is that in our patience God molds our minds and prepares our soul to be still and quiet to focus on him. In our delay, God prepares us and stills us to experience a far greater joy in the end. We hear in Proverbs that "Patience brings peace." This is true in our lives, for the fisherman, patience is everything and has to be applied on the job, if it ain't, then he is looking at a hard day ahead of him. I have to remind myself constantly that I'm not here on my own time, If we did what we wanted when we wanted all the time then what room do we have for that growth of peace and stillness that we need to experience Christ? So far I have learned that Patience is not only training but it helps us also learn to submit ourselves to the will of the Father and not our own. When we are patient, the outward sign is that we are placing ourselves at the foot of the cross and we are allowing the one true God to do with us according to His will. This is the true meaning of patience.
 
I remember the scripture from Psalm 46:10
"Be still and know that I am God"


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Maryknoll Discernment Retreat

A couple years ago, one of the monks here at school had mentioned me about the Mary-knoll Society. He said they do a ton of missionary work and you should check it out. Yeah, I never checked it out. Something happened, two years later that thought of checking it out suddenly came into my head again and there I was looking at some Maryknoll newsletters that I had ordered. It's funny how God works in our lives, especially when your discerning. You think your going right but somehow by the grace of God you turn left. Anyway, after I had contacted Maryknoll I found out they were running a retreat in Los Altos, CA about an hour train ride south from San Francisco. I called the priest in charge to see if I can make it, this was about a week before the actual retreat. He called me back the next day saying they would love for me to come in by the expense of the team. Two days later I got an email confirmation of my flight itinerary. By the time I knew it I was on a plane flying westbound over the Arizona Desert thinking to myself "how did I even do this?" It happened so fast, I had prayed a lot prior before I found out I was going and during the weekend of the retreat as well. When I got to the Society house, which was a retirement home for retired missionaries, I couldn't believe how beautiful the place was. It was like I was captivated by the environment and even more, captivated by the love and attention that God had towards me. A tender care to bring me across the country and then place me in home of servants. During the panels, we talked with the priests and the brothers who had helped in some type of missionary work overseas. They all had been out of the country for 30+ years helping those people who need it the most. It was like talking to a third-class relic. The whole thing felt good and I felt more and more comfortable the longer I was there. As follow up I was invited by Maryknoll for a mission trip to Guatemala in January...

Friday, October 18, 2013

I'll Leave (For You)

Everyday I know that I'm getting closer and closer to what I'm called to do. It's sort of scary but exciting at the same time. It's like starting another chapter but you don't know how it's going to be written. One thing is for sure, I do know what I need to do and that is to leave everything. Deep inside I don't want an amazing life, I don't want to be rich an famous an smart. I want to help and be there for those who don't have nothing either. The other day, I was praying in the chapel over my vocation there at school an I felt like leaving. I felt like getting up an walking out, I wasn't frustrated and I wasn't mad. It was me wanting to leave the good life and pick up a lesser life I feel like. That night I wrote a song about leaving everything we have, our pride, our homes and even the things that we want so badly like love, an materials. The thing is that I do want all of that, I just have to say no to those things I want. This song is called I'll leave (For You) click the link below or click the 'my music' tab at the top. Enjoy. 

http://www.soundcloud.com/vscarrasco/ill-leave-for-you/s-ZpJIw

Rich in Hands & Feet

Last weekend, At the St. Ben's annual carnival I volunteered to help run a couple things. I figured it would be a great time to offer myself an be there among the parish an then just to have reason to get up early on Saturday morning. I was there for the Knights of Columbus an so why not I thought.

I worked the rock climbing station the whole afternoon. Strapping kids in, tightening their straps, bringing them down and well, helping them up too. It was a great experience for me to remember to be grateful for what I have as far as hands an feet. Towards the end of the day, I noticed a younger boy about 8 or 9 came up an handed me his tickets. Only he had only two fingers on each hand. I was curious on how he would do so I let him in, strapped him up and gave him confidence. His dad the whole time was telling him,"You got it son, you got it, don't give up on me." That boy never gave up. He tried with all his might to get up past the first rock. After about 5 minutes of trying he said,"I can't do it dad, I'm no good." It wasn't until then that I looked down at his leg and saw his leg, a prosthetic. The boy was trying so hard and I could see it in him that he wanted so hard to get up just the first rock. We helped him and motivated him. Finally he got one foot on the first rock an stood their with his two fingers holding a rock in his hand. He was their for about 3 seconds, an he fell to the ground as his leg gave out. He rose up from the ground and shouted out in joy, "I did it dad! I did it." His dad meet him at that gate and said,"You did it son, I knew you could do it." It was at that moment that I realized how rich I was to have my hands and feet. This boy will never know what it's like to have all ten fingers or both feet. Still he was as happy as I have ever seen anyone, if not more. It was a great thing to witness and help out with.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Your Joy is My Joy.

It's the start of another school year and there's a bit of a joy in that. Joy for the start of something great, and maybe joy for the end of something not so great. The cool thing is that somewhere, somehow there's joy to be found and 'recycled' if you would. I think Joy is one of those words that travels within, almost like this hylemorphic word like a body and soul. if you think about it, one could never really experience joy unless it is through someone else. There has to be someone to deliver that joy and there has to be someone else to receive it. Sound right?...Well praise God for making us in his image, that is perfect in our human form. That could only mean a couple of things, since God is perfect in all things that means he's perfect even in Joy. We hold that same Joy in each of us, we were created with it, we were created to be happy, and to strive to be happy and joyful. Not only strive to be, but to find it and sort of counter it for all to experience. One great mission we have is to allow people to experience the peace and joy that we have so that they can experience Christ who is the perfect Joy, and is the Perfect peace. Being back at school for a lot of us, we have a pretty neat opportunity to mirror our joy within us and bring out the joy in others. That is why for us humans, we need physical and visual aids. We have to be able to touch people, give them hugs and high 5's and waves. We have to be able to see people and see those waves and see those smiles that are given. If we don't then how can we really receive the Joy that is offered to us by Christ. If we are cooped up by ourselves all day, we are putting a barrier between a chance to fully experience Joy and what it can really do for us. For me, it's great to be back at school to experience some of these things because not only do I try and give out joy to others but most of the time it's other people doing it for me that makes me want to go out an share the same joy that has been given to me! It's like a fire that is shared through candles, once yours is lit, there's no other option but to go an lite another. It gives you a great desire to go out and experience Joy through your friends and your peers just so you can go and share with another the exact same joy. It makes you want to see people and find that joy. We have nothing to lose so why not experience Joy.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

World Youth Day 2013 -- Don't be Afraid

Once again, my experience inside a country besides my own has placed within me my worth and my duty as a Catholic. In 2008 it was Honduras, now five years later in Brazil. For two weeks, I've been apart of a pilgrimage and journey that has moved me by compassion and grace, and by it a fire has been placed inside of me. This fire is a spiritual desire, a yearn and motivation to answer one of the many invitations that Christ offers. The invitation to Be not afraid, the invitation to Be strong and to have courage. It is not the invitation that is tough, it is the response and a lot of times this is what I lack in life. I lack strength and courage, I even lack the move to do something and stand up for what is right. This week I was brought back to the book of Joshua, where God constantly tells him to be strong, and be courageous, to not be afraid. I was reminded in my weakness and my shamefulness to break my doubts and to Rise up because Christ is always with us no matter what. In the final mass Christ worked through the Pope and delivered the same message to 3 million people. We were all reminded to not be Afraid, to Go, and then serve. I was amazed at how God works.

 In our faith there comes a calling for each person and I think whatever the calling may be there is that natural instinctive of hesitation, doubt and then confusion. It was through the humility of the Pope that helped deliver what would be a reminder for the youth of the world to not be afraid. The Pope referenced the story of Jeremiah, and how God called him to go and proclaim the gospel, but Jeremiah feared and doubted the hand of God because of his youth. I thought boy, that sure does sound like me, a clumsy young adult who is afraid of his own youth. Easily enough, Pope Francis reminds us to not be afraid because Christ never leaves us alone, he says that Christ always accompanies us. What better assurance can we have that God will truly be with us as he was with the first twelve he sent? The comfort is that the Pope who is the most revered man on earth in his humility is delivering a message from God Most High to us; his servants. After so many years of building up this still-weak faith how can I not say yes to the will of God and devote my life to him who gave me life. I yearn, and I burn for the fire of faith, 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beauty Draws

Once again I have been humbled by the beauty that God places before me. The views, all the sights, the colors, it's amazing. I always find myself looking up just observing what has been placed before us so that we can witness the beauty that God not only has created but  is made up of as well. He is truly beautiful and life expresses that every minute that we are alive. Every breath is almost a exclamation of praise and thanks, just for  having the eyes to see an the hands to touch.

Now, I think of doubting Thomas in the gospels an how we can relate. Sometimes we might not feel Christ's presence within us. We might see him or feel him, but his beauty will always be like water to our soul. We are drawn to him through beauty he creates. Since God is sheer beauty, we are drawn, we thirst and we want to know more. All this through the beauty that he places before us!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be Strong (Joshua's Prayer)


In the book of Joshua, we can find that the Lord instructs Joshua to 'be strong and courageous' a number of times, in fact more than usual. Now Joshua at that time, was Moses' right hand man he went everywhere with Moses and witnessed many things with him. Joshua was a brave soldier, a spy, and a man of prayer. When Moses had died, the Lord appointed Joshua to be his servant and to led his people, the Israelites to the land that the Lord had promised to them as inheritance. Joshua was a brave soldier, but he was discouraged and feared that he would fail. then again who wouldn't right? The reminder in the book of Joshua is to not be afraid, and to take courage. "Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

For me, there has been an absence of strength and courage, and what I mean by that is an absence to really defend everything that I stand for. Upon reading the book of Joshua, there is a reminder, a prayer and a desire to grow in strength and in courage. I think a lot of times, myself included, we are afraid to speak up against evil, we are scared to make that leap of faith or maybe afraid to go where he wants to lead us. Maybe we are down and out with no strength at all. Well God gives us strength, all we have to do is trust him, be strong and courageous and remember that he will be with us wherever we go, Just like he told Joshua when he was afraid. For me, as I felt this absence of courage, I began thinking of Joshua and how he might of felt the exact same way, felt somewhat powerless and not at all trusting in God and his divine plan for him. I wrote a song and prayed it over and over in my head as many times as I could. To remember the presence of God within me and in each of you. I pictured Joshua crying out to God, praying just as he loved to do and asking for strength and removal of his own pride. This song, for me is a reminder of the strength and courage that we can obtain through God in every circumstance. It is a reminder to be strong, endure and withstand any situation because no matter what God will never leave us and he is always with us.
In realizing the necessity of our own strength and trusting in the strength of God there is joy and a chance for rising an overcoming. As Joshua led the battle of Jericho in strength, so too, we can face our own battles with that same strength. In Psalm 31 we are allowing ourselves to be placed at the foot of the fortress of God, he will protect us, lead us and guide us. God will deliver us, he will rescue us, and he will not abandon us. These two scriptures, Joshua 1:9 and Psalm 31 can be reflected on together. It is in our strength we can overcome anything and any trial.

For the victims of the deadly tornado outbreak in Oklahoma, be strong and courageous for the lord your God will be with you. He has not left you, he will walk with you. Be strong, and trust in his divine plan.

Jesus, grant us courage to rise, strength to endure and everlasting trust in you. Amen.

To Listen go to https://soundcloud.com/vscarrasco/be-strong-joshuas-prayer


Monday, April 22, 2013

A Lesson from Death



Lately, it's been a normal ride, just doing things to get them done. However, it's easy to get caught up. Just in life, I get caught up and find myself making myself a little too comfortable. It's like I am falling in love with everything that has been created. Falling in love with the world and what it has to offer. Like money, possession, wealth, fame, even lust and false pride. The great thing is that through all of this there is something always missing. There's no true joy or happiness. The philosopher Aristotle writes that there are four things that constitute false happiness. Those are wealth, fame, honor, and riches. The desire, is wanting to leave these things and pick up something more meaningful, like the cross.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read of Jesus telling his disciples that whoever does not pick up their cross and follow him, can't be his disciple. It's as simple as that. There's an idea of dying to yourself and rising with something greater. The idea of leaving yourself behind, all that you have and all that you want and "seek Jesus or die trying" as a good friend of mine from South Africa would say in his heavy accent.


Anyway, I realized this in a better way tonight. It was after mass as I said goodnight to everybody. I walked away, then I heard bells from the Church to ring. One by one they rang with complete silence in between. Me and my friend looked at each other and ran back to the church. We knew what had happened, In monastic communities, bells are rung when a member passes away. As we were running my mind flashed and I remembered reading about Peter and John running to the tomb of Jesus after his resurrection. I thought of them. I went inside and prayed, it was at that moment I realized that our dying of the things here on earth can be just as painful and discomforting. It reminded me of how necessary it is to forget about the things that have no meaning or value when we pass. I was amazed at how there was a soul being lifted at the same time by God and then called to enter his Kingdom.

Rest in Peace Father Charles Massoth., O.S.B.











Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Break 2013 -- Building the Kingdom

Like last year, I decided to spend my Spring Break this year doing something a little more selfless. Something other than worry about myself or what I want or even what I need. We traveled southeast for about six hours to the Louisiana city of Shreveport to build homes for homeless war veterans. The experience as a whole was a great one, we worked for a whole week putting up walls and handling nail guns with carpentry pouches around our waists.   I think the joy of it all was first of all being reminded how much of a joy this sort of thing can be. Just being there, serving, working and busting your hump for someone that's less fortunate than me is always a humbling experience. The people we met were very trusting towards us, they gave us a job and they trusted us. Almost like if they had known us for a really ling time. It's like it didn't bother them. The life lesson there was that we will make mistakes we will fall, but in the end it makes us who we are and it shapes us in making this great thing out of ourselves.
Christ came and made himself lesser than what he already was to save us and lead us. I like to think that we are called to follow and do the same thing. Making ourselves lesser in what we have and who we are to help the ones that need the things that we want.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

National March for Life: Our Generation

It's been 40 years since the legalization of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. Since then, a crippling 55 million abortions have been performed. 55 million children have been lost, abandoned and ultimately never heard of again. Prolife advocates all over the nation hear their cries as we unite in prayer to end abortion forever.
While we remember the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we know that it is a very significant number. We hear the number 40 everywhere in the bible. In the Old Testament, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights during the great flood, 40 days for Moses to liberate the Israelites out of Egypt, and of course Jesus' temptation in the desert for 40 days in the New Testament. The number for us is a sign that our victory over abortion is near and will triumph. Here in Washington, at the nations capital, more than 700,000 people gather on capitol hill to march for the sanctity of all human life, to end abortion an change history forever. Together with the Church, our prayers and our commitment an sacrifice to life, we will conquer.
This is my third year going on the National March for Life an every year I come I always get something different out of it. It really is amazing to be apart of something that you know will help the faces of other people. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in this fight an that there are people out there that are willing to stand up with you and be the voice for those who can't speak for themselves. One of the highlight quotes from the week was from Cardinal O'Malley during the Mass for Life at the National Basilica in Washington, D.C.
"The culture that allows its parents to kill its children will inevitably allow its children to kill its parents."


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