Touring El Salvador – Programa Velasco Educating and Empowering Children & Families 2

Last week, my daughter and I traveled to El Salvador for my younger brother’s wedding, it was an amazing experience!

I’m so thankful we got to join my family in El Salvador and get to know my brother’s wife, her family, and El Salvador. It was a trip I’ll definitely remember!

My brother was an amazing tour guide and scheduled our whole trip so that we not only celebrated their wedding feast but we also learned so much about El Salvador – it’s history and economic situation, how the people live and work (or not) – and we took in the lush beauty of the land and the delicious tastes of the local foods. (Especially the pupusas – did I mention those already?)

Today, I want to share about one of the places we visited: Programa Velasco

My brother’s friend, Annie Boyd-Ramirez, is the co-founder and executive director of Programa Velasco. I’m so proud of my brother and his heart for service, especially for people who are often forgotten or unfairly treated. He’s always been a “helper” but I think he really found his heart for service while studying in the Jesuit education system, with Ignatian spirituality at its base, which led him to El Salvador – where he also met his wife! So it was only natural that one of the places he’d take us would be to a charitable organization.

He set up a special time for all of us to come check the place out. Annie and Allison Ramirez, the in-country program coordinator, were such gracious hosts! They shared the story of Programa Velasco and answered our many, many questions. If you think I ask a lot of questions, imagine a room full of my relatives and me in one room. They even fed us delicious pan dulce (sweet bread pastries) made by one of their program participants, and lunch too – complete with a 7. earthquake for a full El Salvadoran experience.

Programa Velasco’s mission is “To educate and empower children and families to create social change in El Salvador” .

It works to achieve this mission with its three main programs: Children’s Scholarships, Family Support Services, and Women’s Empowerment Project.

The Children’s Scholarships program provides financial support for children to enroll in the child development center run by ANADES, the New Dawn Association of El Salvador, a non-profit organization that has been providing support to the people of El Salvador since 1990. The development center provides a space for children, ages 18 months to 6 years, to receive care, early-learning education, and three nutritious meals a day so their parents can work to provide for their family.

The Family Support Services provides education to the children but also for the families with monthly workshops on various parenting topics as well as access to an on-site psychologist and counseling services.

The Women’s Empowerment Project supports El Salvadorian women entrepreneurs and, as it says on their website, “attempts to reduce the effects of gender inequality and marginalization experienced by Salvadoran women.” The current cultural environment of El Salvador offers little in the way of equal work opportunities for women and they are often mistreated

You can learn more about the area of El Salvador which Programa Velasco is situated as well as a bit of the history of El Salvador on the “Where We Work” page. Though the situation in El Salvador is extremely difficult and complicated, people like Annie and Allison and organizations like Programa Velasco are doing what they can do. Their description at the bottom of that page summarizes this point very well:

Programa Velasco seeks to respond to the reality here [in El Salvador] in the way that we can – by taking small steps and “planting seeds that will one day grow”. We cannot end the violence and fear in which people live, but we can create safe spaces for children to learn, laugh and grow, and spaces for parents to start to let go of the fear and stress they live with in the daily struggle to stay afloat.

We cannot fully change the economic structures that keep the poor impoverished, but we can offer women entrepreneurs opportunities to invest in themselves and their small businesses, to gain technical and leadership skills to keep moving forward. Child sponsors and other donors offer their friendship, support, and solidarity, and together we all seek to move forward and create pockets of hope in the midst of this harsh reality.

Visiting Programa Velasco and meeting Annie and Allison and learning about the good work they do left a deep impression on me. I invite everyone to check out their website and learn more about what they do, read and listen to the program participants’ stories, and even consider donating to their program.

You can send in a one-time donation or set-up as a monthly donation , or you can designate which of their three programs you’d like to sponsor.

To give you an idea, a $35 monthly scholarship includes:

Access to the early education child development program, 2 meals and a snack per day, 2 medical check-ups per year, and individualized case managemetn and psychological services.

Ok, unsolicited promotional plug over…now the pictures!

After Annie and Allison shared their story, they took us on a tour of their beautiful facilities. In their words, the campus of Programa Velasco is a small “oasis” in one of the more underdeveloped and impoverished areas of San Salvador. (I didn’t know this at the time, that area, called San Ramon, is “one of the most marginalized and dangerous urban areas in San Salvador”! It didn’t feel like it while we were there though.)

We visited the classrooms where the kids were engaged in various activities. They all loved seeing visitors!

Lunch time – Hora del almuerzo!

Like all Latin American culture, El Salvadorans use art, often times with murals, to teach and show their history and ideas. The pictures below of the mural in the child development facility represents the “rights of a child”.

ANADES and Programa Velasco believe every child has a right to:

(left to right) good nutrition, peace and stability (security), good health care…

… (left to right) A family, education…

I can’t remember now but I think that second picture represents the right to a place to live and land maybe and the last one (on the right) is the a child’s right to recreation. At first I chuckled at that one because my kids seem to get plenty of recreation but then I thought about it more and recreation really is important and special and kids oftentimes, don’t really get enough of it.

This is random but I really liked their recycling bins. (There are recycling bins all over the city)

After touring the development facility, they arranged for us to visit the home of one of the families who participate in the Children’s Scholarships and the Family Support Services.

Penelope graciously welcomed us into her home and shared how Programa Velasco has helped her family. With the help of generous donors, three of her four children are currently enrolled at the childcare development facility. Her sweet baby – whom I got to hold! – will also go there as soon as he is old enough.

Annie Boyd and Penelope and her baby, Arielle (I’m guessing on that spelling)

Penelope shares her story, with Annie translating.

After visiting with Penelope, we went down to the ANADES dining room and were served a delicious meal of cooked chicken, rice, and veggies. This also happened to be the American Thanksgiving Day so we all wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, chicken is close enough to turkey. 🙂 This was the first Thanksgiving all my family were together in many years!

While we were sitting there, suddenly we all thought someone was moving our chairs when I realized it was an earthquake – temblor! Until recently, I had never experienced an earthquake in Kansas but we’ve been having more in the past few years and had a bigger one (a 5.something) in August that freaked me out. Knowing we were both closer to the ocean here and in a volcanic zone made me wonder if this earthquake would do more than shift some picture frames. Somehow, we all remained calm but inside I was ready to get up and get out of there. Thankfully, there was no need to panic and we laughed off the tension and continued eating.

After lunch, they invited a woman from their Women’s Empowerment Project, Esmerelda, to come and share about her businesses and how Programa Velasco has helped her.

With Programa Velasco’s support (through the support of generous donors), Esmerelda was able to attend and complete the education and certification process to become a certified massage therapist. She’s opening her business in December and is so excited to begin her own business!

We were all inspired and moved by Esmeralda’s joy and gratitude for how Programa Velasco has helped her not only achieve her goal of starting her own business, but growing in her own self-esteem as a woman who can now do something to support herself and her family.

Her and her daughter also work together to make and serve fine pastries, like this delicious cheesecake she brought to share with all of us!

Again, I’m thankful to my brother for setting this time up for Annie and Allison to share about Programa Velasco and the great work they do to help support families and women of El Salvador.

The number and variety of charitable organizations locally and globally often times overwhelms me. Especially around this time of year, it’s agonizing deciding who to support or not. For me, before deciding which organizations and groups to support, I like to know where my money will go.

Meeting Annie and Allison, seeing the actual place and meeting the children and two of the women in the program, was truly amazing and inspiring. Take it from someone who has “seen with her own eyes”, if you decide to support Programa Velasco either by your prayers or through any generous monetary gift, your offerings and donations will most definitely be used for good.

Next, I’ll share about our tour of the home of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero and the church he was martyred in.


He is Our King, we His Kingdom

I’m a people watcher. I like to observe people’s behaviors, hear their thoughts, and try to discover who they are.

The ways of the world intrigue me, fascinate, and bewilder.

We, humans, are so interesting – unique, yet predictable, innovative yet, repetitive.

Sometimes, I feel like we are in the same story over and over again. The actors and scenery change but the backdrop and main storyline stay essentially the same.

For example, whenever an election year comes and new candidates are elected, there are reactions from all “sides”. Obviously, the ones who voted for the winners celebrate with great excitement filled with “hope” for a better future, a better country, better jobs, better healthcare, better everything.  Those who voted for the candidates who lost wake up the next morning in a fog, dejected and depressed and filled with a deep sense of foreboding for the future, for the country, for jobs, for healthcare, basically everything is going to be a disaster and all life, as they knew it, is over.

Happens every. single. time. Over, and over.

Through all our human history, leaders have risen and fallen.  People repeatedly put all their faith and hope in one person or a certain group of people, hoping this one might be the one that finally brings order, peace, and security.

Occasionally, we’ll get leaders who fulfill those dreams well – for a time – until the winds of change blow in and the people decide they want something different and better.

Recently, I’ve been spending more time reading the books of the Bible. I’ve been paying closer attention, seeing beyond the words and noticing the recurring theme weaved in and through its pages. The Bible is really an amazing book, if you think about it beyond its religious value. It’s the only book, that I know of, that compiles such a great span of human history – human anthropology and psychology – in one place.

It’s composed of many individual stories, written from the earliest years of humanity through millenniums of time and human experience. Each book, though written by different authors, differentiated by various times and cultures, is essentially the same story written over and over with different characters and scenery.

A person, or a group of people are lost, hungry, oppressed or suffering, hoping and waiting for someone to save them. 

Interestingly, when that help comes, it’s often scrutinized, doubted, and finally rejected by the majority – especially by the current leadership of the time.  We see it over and over in the Old Testament and by the time the “Promised Savior” does come, the people are so hardened and jaded they do not recognize him or accept him.

The people were expecting a king – a worldly general – to come and physically rescue them from the oppression of the Romans. But Christ did not come to us as a king of this world, but for another.

My kingdom does not belong to this world… (Jn 18:36)

Today, we, the Church, celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Admittedly, in the past, I’m not sure if I really grasped the significance of this feast day or considered how appropriate its timing is.

In the Church liturgical year, it marks the end of a liturgical year – the “Year of Mercy” – as we prepare for a new year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent next Sunday. (Yes, already!)

For our country, and as what goes on here affects the rest of the world, this marks a time of transition from the current leaders of our government to the newly elected candidates.

Once again, people from all “sides” are either very excited or at least satisfied with the election results, believing the elected leaders will bring a hopeful future; or, they are incredibly dissatisfied, stunned and even depressed thinking of what these new leaders mean for the future.

I found it very interesting when I read Catholic Culture’s explanation that, “The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism…intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.”

Pope Pius XI saw the same problems in 1925 that we grapple with now. We all want a savior – someone who will make life easier, free-er, better.

But, like the people in 1925 and the Israelites thousands of years before us, we are looking in the wrong place, to the wrong people.

Christ, the God who became one of us, suffers with us, died and rose again in Glory – He. He is our King. He is our Lord and Master. He is our Savior, the only One who can really, truly, and completely satisfy our greatest needs and deepest desires.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote or try to improve our world by electing good leaders and establishing good laws and policies. The Holy Spirit works through all of us to bring goodness into the world.

And I guess that’s part of my point.

Aside from all the grumbling and protesting we hear leading up to and following each election, I’ve also noticed a recurring resolution each time:

Be the Change. Be the Good.

We look to Christ as the One, True King and Ruler of the world. And He, in turn, looks to us – to you and me – as the people who will proclaim Him to all the land. He elects us to carry out His Mission, to bring Truth, Beauty, Justice, and Love to the world.

He is our King. We are His Kingdom.

The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you. (Lk 17:20-21)

The leaders of the world will come and go, empires and nations will rise and fall, laws and policies will amend and adapt.

Christ, the King, remains, always. 

Christ King[1]


Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion #Book Review

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

I visited and ate at the delicious Homegirl Cafe when on my “pilgrimage” with my brother in LA back in February and was immediately intrigued and impressed. I finally had the chance to read Fr. Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart, a couple months ago.

I had no idea how much I would get out of this book and was blown away by his profound reflections on God, Love, and the Greatest Commandment:

“Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus (John 13:34)

Fr. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, a rehabilitation program for gang members.  You can read more of Fr. Boyle’s history here.  Long-story short, this guy knows everything there is to know about gangs – or at least he knows the important inside-out side of things better than anyone, aside from maybe the gang members themselves.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the book. I would say it was nothing like I expected yet so much of what I yearn for.  Like Fr. Boyle explains in the book, it’s not exactly a memoir, nor a history of Homeboy Industries per say, it’s a…song…a dance!…a beautiful piece of art hanging on the wall expressing all the ugliness and all the good  that makes our world so immensely and paradoxically beautiful. 

For many people, hearing about or seeing the terrible tragedy of gang violence is enough to send anyone running, hiding, or shaking their heads and think, “What a shame,” and then move on to whatever they were doing in the comfort and safety of their own lives.

I, admittedly, know very little of the history of the gang violence in LA and throughout our country but, from what I got from the book, it’s been bad. Real bad.  And Fr. Boyle was “stationed” right in the very heart of it all.

He thought he was sent there to bring Christ’s love to the people there but ended up learning about the true deep-down essence of Love not in spite of the gang members but because of them.

You know, most people, when they think of gang members or criminals, they easily cast them off as only that – criminals and “no good” people of society. The world doesn’t even see them as humans anymore – only monsters who have lost their souls without any chance for redemption. Once a gang member, always a gang member.

And I’m no better. I’ll admit if I found myself in the heart of LA’s “gang district”, I’d feel terrified.  I’ve been taught to “love everyone”, but it would be hard to look into a gang member’s eyes and look past the tattoos and threatening demeanor and not immediately assume the worst of that person or what he or she might do to me.

It’s so hard to see past the thick wall of our natural inclinations of self-preservation and prejudices.

I truly want to…I just don’t want to put my life,  or my family’s, in danger because of it.

But that’s exactly what Fr. Boyle did.

With Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Boyle invites us to turn and look. Look beyond the scary. Look beyond the actions or “records”. Look beyond the outsides of people and see. See the person for WHO that person is. Not what they’ve done, not how they act, talk, or what they wear, who they associate with, their gender, age, demographics or ethnic appearance and really and truly look at who that person is, to his or her very core. 

And then, love that person.

You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear.

That said, this book isn’t only about how to take Jesus’ Great Commandment to “love one another” to the ghetto or prisons. It’s a profound theology of love: God explains Love and Love explains God. 

[Leon Dufour said], “I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you’re talking to, the one right in front of you.”

Reading this book came to me in a time of my spiritual life where I often feel like I have never desired God with such an intensity as I do now while, at the same time, with such a frustrating inability to reach Him and feel Him.

Tattoos on the Heart showed me the intimate  and subtle ways God works on the hearts of the wounded and showed me I need to allow myself to “marinate” in the Love of God, in His Mercy, in His quiet and healing presence. 

Tattoos on the heart page excerpt

Other quotes I jotted down from the book worthy of “marinating” in for a while:

Thomas Merton – “We discover our true selves in love.”

Thomas Merton –  “No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there…We are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.”

Thich Nhatt Hahn, “our true home is the present moment…”

“[Bill Cain said] – ‘Living within the withinness of God.’ This is the intimate union and full promise of kinship that is being offered to us every second.

Breathe it in, breathe it out. The Lord is everything I want. A yes that means yes… Isaiah has God say: ‘Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create… for I create my people to be a delight.’… delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this joy may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.

Chew on that for a while:

YOU are God’s Joy!


Remembering All Souls with a Joyful Sorrow 2

When we stop running from God's invitation to open our hearts ever wider to the magnificent chasm of His love and mercy, we will discover peace infiltrating our entire being.

This week the Church celebratedAll Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day – “Dia de los Muertos” – the day of the dead – and dedicates the whole month of November to remembering and praying for all souls who have gone passed from this life to the next.

If I were an anthropologist  (maybe in another life) I’d present an essay on the all similarities found among cultures throughout human history when it comes to how people deal with death. While the beliefs and traditions vary widely, humans have consistently participated in some form of remembrance and ritual to honor those who have died. No matter what, death always affects us, in one way or another.

Growing up, I always liked All Saints’ Day better than All Souls. Celebrating those who are already enjoying peace and ultimate happiness in heaven is much happier and exciting than thinking of the ones who may still be suffering in purgatory. Plus, the Catholic schools always had All Saints’ Day off school but not All Souls.

Yet, life has a way of changing our perspectives and now, as I’ve grown older and lost more close family and friends over the recent years, and especially after my dad’s in December last year, I have a greater appreciation for All Souls’ Day now.

A good friend sent me a message letting me know she, who has also lost someone very close, was thinking of me and my family today and praying for us and my dad’s soul along with her loved one’s. She knows days like this are hard as it causes us to remember that we now have someone close to miss – a soul – who is no longer with us here but may not be fully united with Christ yet either.

And that’s the beauty and wisdom of the Church. She gives us days like this for us to remember and pray for the souls of those gone but also to provide grace, strength, and support to those of us who are grieving as we miss them.

I appreciated how my friend reached out so much, it truly lifted my own heavy soul and I was aware that God had sent me His Grace through this friend. I admitted that, yes, days like this are hard but there is also much grace that comes from this day also.

The kids had the day off from school for All Saints’ Day and so we were able to join my mom at the cemetery where my Dad’s remains are.  We joined her in praying the first day of a special Novena (nine-day prayer) for Holy Souls in Purgatory.  We prayed for his soul and other family and friends of ours who have passed on and the kids liked looking at the names engraved on the niches and praying for them too.

After the novena prayer that was about all the kids could handle inside – and me too – so we decided to take a little walk to see how the new mausoleum is coming along.  It was a lovely autumn day –  70’s with very little breeze, whispy clouds dancing like angels in the clear blue sky above, crisp leaves crunching under the kids’ feet, a late-morning sun casting slanty shadows on the green grass.

I inhaled deeply, feeling the fresh oxygen fill my lungs and a mixture of emotions bubble up in my heart, then I slowly let it out...releasing.  

The kids gleefully ran along the path, innocently oblivious to the fact that they were running around in a cemetery not just a park.  Their zeal for life and endless energy vividly contrasted with the absolute lack of life below the ground they ran by (but not on!).

We all sat down on the nice benches set up around the mausoleum and I handed out the Halloween candy we’d brought with us to eat together in honor of their Grandpa since he missed out on the trick-or-treating with us this year and sneaking his fingers into the kids’ candy bags. Kit Kats will now forever make me happysad.

Happysad: when you feel both happy and yet sad all at the same time. One of my 4th grade son’s classmates said this the other day when I was there for a Dia de los Muertos art project and we talked about those who have died and purgatory and heaven and all that “light” stuff. 😉  She said when she hears about someone who has died, she “feels sad…but also happy because I know they are probably happier now but I’m still sad because I miss them. So I’m happysad.”

Yes, Happysad, indeed.

Halloween last year was one of our last “happy” memories with my dad before, a couple weeks later, we first got the news of his cancer diagnosis. The seasons are changing and, just like a mother reflects back on the events surrounding the time before her baby was born, I find myself doing the same about the memories from last year – only for a different reason.

It’s hard, the memories. They are always lurking, always following me everywhere. I’ve tried ignoring them, tried to just “go on with my life”, hiding my face from them, shutting my eyes tightly so I can’t see them. I want to remember, don’t ever want to forget him. And really, I am thankful for so many memories I have of him. But sometimes it just hurts too much.

But the memories remain and they are stronger than me. And I’m starting to see, through prayer, that maybe God is trying to get me to look at them for a reason. Maybe he wants to show me something I wasn’t able to see before.

I read something the other day that gave me such a great pause I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it:

Joyful Sorrow.

Did you know there could be such a thing?

Well, I think this is the phrase God wants me to ponder on, he wants to show me that even in sorrow – there can be joy. But I have to accept the sorrow first before I can see the joy.

I have to slowly release, loosen my tight grip, and slowly open my eyes and look – so that He can show me what I didn’t see before, what I couldn’t: the Joy.

Like my friend, Jeannie Ewing, says so well in her book, From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph

When we stop running from God’s invitation to open our hearts ever wider to the magnificent chasm of His love and mercy, we will discover peace infiltrating our entire being. – Jeannie Ewing, From Grief to Grace

Pray for me as I go through this process, this new “stage” of grief I must go to as part of the healing process.

For the souls of all the departed,

May Christ grant them eternal peace.

For the souls grieving,

May Christ send his grace and strength to sustain them.


Imperfect Sanctity

sanctity consists josemaria escriva

Today the Church celebrated All Saints’ Day,and tomorrow All Souls’ Day, beginning the month of November dedicated to remembering and praying for all souls who have gone passed from this life to the next.

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about Saints and how, the more we read or learn about their intimate lives, we realize they really were not as “perfect” as maybe we were led to believe as children. It’s been said that some of the authors who have written saint biographies deserve a certain amount of time in purgatory for only focusing on the saints’ best or ultra-human features and leaving out the parts that made them ordinary humans – relatable to the rest of us simpletons.

The truth is, the more time I spend getting to know those the Church has canonized as “Saints”, the more I realize they really weren’t “perfect”.  They weren’t born with halos or superhuman powers. They all had their struggles – many of them had to overcome severe psychological challenges and mental anguish before they could fully abandon themselves to Christ.  In fact, it was quite common for others around them to question their sanity before admitting their sanctity. It’s always easier to explain the unexplained first by accusing someone of insanity or calling them “delusional” rather than admit Jesus or Mary or anything supernatural could really occur.

On the flip side, I’ve been slightly perturbed as I look at some of the “Saints” through the Church’s history that supposedly led “holy lives” but in reality they probably really were crazy after all.

It’s interesting how our understanding of sanctity and sanity has developed and evolved over the years. Where in one age it was considered holy to “beat the hell out of yourself” quite literally through self-mutilation, we now see this as a heretical and disordered Albigensian mindset about the human body. (that the spirit must be freed from the “evil” body.)

As an adult, I’ve also been shocked and dismayed to learn that many of the stories I learned about Saints as a child were pieced together with patches of hearsay that maybe started with some facts but spun into cultural folklore and legends over the centuries.  There is so much we really do not know about these men and women we revere as Saints.

For some, these discrepancies are probably enough to sway a doubting soul into partial or even complete disbelief in the Saints, the Church, and God all together. However, for me, even when the curtains pull up, revealing unusual and even scandalizing behind-the-scene information about some Saints, it now has the opposite effect on me.

I’m someone who struggles with scruples. (No, really?! I bet you didn’t know that.) In other words, I struggle with a low spiritual-self esteem. It’s easy to get down on myself and feel like I’m not good enough in the eyes of Christ or the Church, especially when I compare myself to all the great Saints of the past.

But then I’ll read about a Saint who admits she detests praying the rosary –

It’s a terrible thing to admit, but saying the Rosary takes it out of me more than any [scratchy and rough] hair shirt  … Try as I will, I cannot meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. I just cannot fix my mind on them” —St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

Or others who have cried out to God, begging them to remove their pain and suffering instead of just accepting it with a holy smile on their face. Or all the great Saints who truly suffered from mental delusions yet continued trusting in God and clinging to Him faithfully, or the many mothers who fought impatience or “anger-management problems” daily yet they continued caring for their children out of love for them and the Lord who gave them to her, or those Saints who felt nothing, only darkness – no happy fuzzies after receiving the Eucharist, no warm glows of light when they prayed and, still, they continued serving Christ – serving His people selflessly. 

I read these stories, even if parts of them may be less than 100% true, and they keep me going.

The Saints show me that being a “saint”, isn’t about being perfect or always saying, “Yes, Lord!” to everything He asks or permits to happen to me with a huge happy smile on my face the whole time.

Being a Saint is is about acceptance – even when we’d honestly rather not.

It’s about saying,

God, I really have no idea why you’re letting this happen to me, I really, really hate this. But I believe You do know why. And so, I’ll follow you. I’ll trust you. Lead me. Where I do not want to go, I will go as long as you lead the way and stay with me. 

Like the quote I shared from Josemarie Escriva, “Sanctity consists in struggling…” In knowing we aren’t perfect, in seeing our weaknesses but instead of falling into despair or self-loathing, we allow God to use our weaknesses for His Glory and for the redemption of not only our own souls but all souls.

And so I’m thankful today for all the Saints the Church has given us as examples to lead and light us on our own unique paths. They are there, cheering us on, showing us that yes, it can be done. “If we did it – even with our terrible imperfections and delusional tendencies – surely you can too.”

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