Monday, March 27, 2017

Blind Sides

We get caught up, right? It's easy to do. I do it - everyone does it. We get caught up in putting ourselves on a pedestal and putting on our blinders to all other "sides" or points of view. I read somewhere that people these days don't listen to understand, they listen to respond, and I feel that this can ring so incredibly true to anyone who's ever had a debate that they attempted to make friendly, only to have it turn into a shouting match where neither side will budge.

To be fair, we're not here to budge. That's not really what we're going for here. But we are here to try to understand. And sometimes, we get so caught up in listening just so we can respond that we forget to ask the question: why? Why does this person believe what they believe?

For that matter, why do we believe what we believe?

For those of you who haven't been told that "you've been brainwashed by 'the establishment, and that we Catholics only believe the things we believe because we've been told to believe it": I envy you. I don't know how many times this has come up in my life, but I assure you, the number of times I've had to argue against this point is not in the single digits. It may even be in the triple digits.

When I was first given this argument, I was taken aback. I didn't know how to respond. I actually had to go home feeling like I'd "lost the argument," because I wasn't sure what to say at the time. And, of course, by the time I had done my research and given it some thought and come up with a good answer, that friend of mine didn't want to talk about it anymore. But I still had my answers, and I was still able to give those answers to the next person who posed that argument.

And even though some people will refuse to accept this answer, the best response I was able to give was actually one I had stolen from a Protestant friend of mine who was getting ready to take the plunge at Easter time and join the Catholic Church. Because, you see, I had asked her why she wanted to convert to Catholicism one day, and she looked at me and shrugged as though it were the easiest answer in the world and said, "Because it's the truth,"

Not everyone will want this answer, and most people will want it explained further. But the answer remains the same. Be ready to give it, and be ready to have it challenged.

"And if wicked tongues insult and hate you
All because of me,
Blessed, blessed are you."
~'Be Not Afraid,' by Bob Dufford

Much love!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Challenge of Lent

It's a long-established understanding for us Catholics that Lent is hard. Really hard. Like..."giving-up-your-daily-coffee" hard.

It's supposed to be a challenge for us. And I could go on and on about how it's nothing compared to what Christ went through for us, etc. etc. But every Catholic has heard it all before, let's be real. It's kind of the point: to have it as such common knowledge that we barely even have to think about it. And even though our sacrifices are small in comparison, they are meant to be that reminder to us.

Here's what's roughest about Lent - we get to that age when we start to go: "Yeah, I know, but yeah, ok, I get it. I know. Yeah, mhmm..." And even when we've heard that speech about sacrifice like a kajillion times, we tend to mentally roll our eyes at it when we hear it.


We can work out to death. We can try all these fad diets. We can read self-help books and take personality tests all over the place just to find out what makes us happy, find out who we should date, find out what situations are good for us and bad for us. And we react accordingly. We can work to change our bodies, we can all but change our personalities for something we view as our betterment!

But giving up coffee for Lent is this big thing that we can't get beyond?

Maybe it's time we rethought this whole Lent thing. To remember those old talks we've been told since childhood, and update them a little to include who we've become. To embrace the new challenges of Lent.

Much love, everyone. Keep working out those spiritual selves!
Ceci Galvin

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Party Time

I has a Protestant friend of mind once tell me, "Catholics have the best parties." It was in reference to this All Saints Day shindig we had all been looking forward to for quite some time, and we had planned our costumes out to the letter, because the fact of the matter was we were all competing with one another to see who could look the awesomest when the day finally rolled around.

We've all had our fair share of parties. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, "Haven't Seen This Person In a Long Time" parties, and the ever-notorious College Party. But it wasn't until another Protestant buddy told me roughly the same thing that I started taking notice of why that might be.

"You Catholics know how to party."

You see, this time, it was after this big Catholic college retreat that we had both attended, and we were all sitting around the biggest campfire in the universe with our guitars, singing 90's songs and running around in the dark like a bunch of dorks. Until this point, I had never really thought about the way we partied or how often we partied or even what we were partying for. But it dawned on me as I sat there with him screaming "Living on a Prayer," that this was not a normal party. For that matter, none of the Catholic-Parties that I had ever been to would have been considered "normal" compared to the usual party I had been to growing up.

I think a lot of us get into this mentality that a "party" is either a thing for a little kid at Chuck E.Cheese's, or as your stereotypical frat house fiasco in which windows get smashed and the cops get called and people end up passed out on the neighbor's lawn smelling like a brewery. But when it comes down to it: what is the Oktoberfest that St. John's holds every year? What is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe? What is Christmas? Are these not causes for celebration?

There's something to be said for the somber times. And believe you me: Catholics do that outrageously well. But I think my Protestant friends always only ever viewed this as the "default" Catholic mode. When, in reality, we have so many different reasons to be in a near-constant state of celebration. Pray in earnest, and then celebrate. Even in times like these, we have reasons to be thankful - to party.

~ 2 Samuel 6:14-15

Much love!
Ceci Galvin

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year, New You! #basic

So we're here now. What were your resolutions?

Have you ever asked that? I mean, I ask that all the time. It's fun to figure see what exactly people want to change about themselves over the year. What they want to improve or tweak or pull a straight-up 180 on. I think we all, in some way or other, like to find out what people view as weaknesses, even if they're minor. It gives us a tiny window into their psyche, in a way. We get to see what they think about themselves.

Did any of us make any resolutions for 2017? What do they say about us? What are other people picking up about our psyches?

I read a quote one time, forget from whom it came, that goes, "He who doesn't make a resolution is a weak man, and he who makes one is a fool."

I've heard lots of resolutions made and I've seen a lot broken, many of those broken by myself. It's always one of those funny little jokes that everyone makes - "Oh hey, broke my resolution. That didn't take long, haha." And we laugh and share that we're not perfect either.

We all like to see people's resolutions go to waste because we can relate to that a little more. But I have yet to keep from rolling my eyes when someone tells me that they've made a resolution, and I know I'm not the only one. Maybe because the Devil doesn't like for us to improve ourselves, and he wants us to enjoy seeing people fall, even if it's just to show that there's someone else out there who falls.

But hey, that is so 2016.

This is a new year. Let's not be that group of humans anymore. Let's be impressed with one another when we make resolutions from now on. For that matter, let's help each other out! Let's make resolutions of our own, whether or not we break them. Don't be afraid to be try to improve yourself.

 Don't be the weak man. Be the fool. Because wouldn't you rather make someone laugh and enable them to relate to you (to possibly even want to improve themselves along the way)?

Make your resolutions. There's nothing wrong with trying to be better.

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Good News of Great Joy

Not everyone experiences Christmas the same way. And it's sad, and it makes us all sad, but it's true. Some people are alone this holiday. For some people, it will be their last holiday, and they know it. Some people are far away from those they love, some people feel they have no one who loves them enough to make a journey over to them.

But today is Gaudete Sunday--you know, the pink candle. It's a celebration in the middle of a penitential season of waiting. Why are you bringing up all this sadness in the middle of what should be a joyful occasion?

Well, here's the thing: our generation (and it's happened in every generation, it's just very public now thanks to the interweb) likes to take things that people celebrate, and they like to look at the dark side of it. Or, more often, they like to question why you aren't doing more. Why aren't you donating more? Why aren't you taking more action? Why are you looking at this charity or this service instead of this one? What are you? A biggot? A hypocrite? How can you be happy when there is so much suffering in the world?

And on, and on...

The thing we have to remember is that there is still something to celebrate. In fact, there's lots of celebrate. Because, despite all the tragedies of the world, the fact that people are able, anywhere, to be happy, is in and of itself a celebration-worthy occasion. The fact that people who have a lot are giving of themselves to those who don't have as much is inspiring. We shouldn't be angry at them because they're not just as in-need as everyone else. We should be looking around in our own lives to see if we could be doing the same thing to those who don't have as much as we do. And when we're able to give of ourselves and get that warm, cuddly feeling of having helped someone, even in the smallest of ways, we should celebrate.

Don't let anyone take that from you.

For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.'"

Luke 2:10-11

Much love, and we'll see you next year!
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Monday, December 5, 2016

Boughs of Holly

It's finally here: the seasonal preparation for one of the world's favorite holidays. Advent, in all its hot-chocolate-drinking, carol-singing, neighbor-helping glory.

I know when I was growing up, Advent was one of my favorite times of the year--almost more so than Christmas, though I never really understood why. We tend to take this season for granted, especially when we consider the fact that most of us think of this season when we hear the term "Christmas." Because Advent is that special time of preparation that gives us all tinglies in our tummy because it's a season of anticipation.

Whether we're anticipating toys, the end of the nonstop commercializing, or a big old turkey leg; I think we can all agree that this season can really bring out the best in us. Not all the time, of course. It can be incredibly lonely or sad to those of us who don't have that Star of Bethlehem to journey towards, but for those of us who are warmed by its light, it's the sharing of it with everyone else that makes the season really enjoyable.

We're talking about the lead-up to Christmas--peace to men of good will. Joy to the world! The literal birth of Jesus! It's this element that looms in the background, soaking into our lives and helping remind us about what makes us the best versions of ourselves. It's a season that so deeply affects us, whether we believe the same thing or not, that it's become the source of all of this craziness once a year. Yes, the commercialization comes a-creeping just after Halloween (and often times before it), but with it comes the desire to treat our brother with dignity and respect. To go out of our way to give of ourselves--of our time, our money, our selves--out of good will toward our fellow man.

This season is not one to be taken lightly. It's one of those times that can make or break us: bring out the best or the worst. It's a time of anticipation, of preparation, and of improvement. A time to look closely at ourselves, but also a time to look outward and to give of ourselves. Take this time to  really reflect on what makes this time so special to you specifically: and use it to make yourself the best that you can be.

Much love,
Ceci Galvin
CYM, St. John the Evangelist

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Taking the Call

The word "prayer" gets a bad wrap, you know? It's kind of sad. Because when you actually talk about it with people, I haven't come face to face with a lot of people who would tell me that prayer is an inherently bad thing. In fact, they don't even find it annoying when they really think about it. But, somehow, whenever someone says, in passing, "I'll pray for you," or every time someone starts up a Rosary, I think the majority of us tend to inhale rather sharply. And no one seems to know why.

It's one of those unfortunate facts of life that we tend to look on prayer as something of an over-pious activity, especially when we're in high school. I went through it. My parents went through it. Their parents went through it. Of course, there are those who take to it like ducks to water, but there will always be those who look sideways at those ducks.

Most of us have this picture in our heads of "prayer" being kneeling with your head bowed reciting incantations, and the first thing we all say when we imagine it that way is that we simply don't have time for that. We are getting to the point where the ticking of the clock is beginning to rule our lives, and we have things to do and places to be, doggone it!

One of my dad's favorite prayers was a two-word one used in the famous musical, "The Sound of Music," when Maria first arrives at that big mansion and it suddenly hits her just how terrifying her situation is. It goes like this:

"Oh help."

Best. Prayer. Ever.

We need to stop thinking of prayer as this exclusively incantation-related thing. True, some of the most powerful forms of prayer (for example, the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, heck, even the Our Father and Hail Mary), and certainly the most well-known, come in this format. But the fact of the matter is we need to be praying with our very lives. With our actions and our works. For that matter, there are hundreds of forms of prayer--seriously...hundreds. What we need to do, especially now that we're old enough to understand the concept of prayer, is find a form of prayer that works for us. Journaling? Service? Straight-up daily Rosaries?

Try them all on for size. Find what works, find what doesn't work. But pray. Never stop praying.

Much love!
Ceci Galvin