Author Archives: I.Q.
Written by Rosario T.
It is no secret that many of us have faced or are facing challenging times in our lives. We have been beaten and we have been battered by burdensome events that have caused or are still causing us to suffer. However, amidst the struggle, it is important to remember that we are not alone in our toils. Jesus Christ willingly suffered for our sins when he walked amongst us on Earth. He was beaten and battered in more ways than just one, but especially when he was crucified for the sake of our sins. Jesus Christ remained firm in His strength and divinity as the only Son of God throughout this blessed suffering. He carried his cross and gave us a beautiful and ultimate example of love, tenacity, and mercy. Even throughout his beating, there was love. Not only was there love, but there was faith. This human condition of being beaten and being battered can be experienced in so many different ways, and we can’t ignore it as it is the call of God to love each other as we should love ourselves.
Upon reflection of being beaten and battered, I was curious as to what those around me think of when broached with this subject. I asked friends and family around me: What or who comes to mind when you think of the terms: beaten and battered? A few of the things mentioned were: children forced into war, women abused domestically, people abused through bullying, those who work in hard labor, and the hunger being faced in Africa. The list could go on and on. To sum it up I concluded that there are three main ways in which we suffer towards a state of maltreatment: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
There are those of us who face or have faced physical abuse. The sad reality of such events is seen on the news every day. For example, just the other day I read in a newspaper article that 5 children die every day from abuse and neglect. There are also those who are beaten mentally. Such cases can come from many situations in life. One that really seems to pop out, especially in today’s society, is through bullying caused by others, and on many occasions ourselves.
Then, there are the many of us who are beaten spiritually, which I believe is ultimately brought across because of sin. We beat up the spiritual beings we are through the sins we commit. Whatever the reason for our suffering that causes us to become beaten and battered, it is safe to say that there is a demanding need for relief. In these times that we turn feeble and frail, we need to be healed. This longing to be saved and to be given peace is what advent is about. Although we are beaten and battered by life’s hardships, it is in these times where our faith in God should increase, and like Jesus Christ so beautifully demonstrated, we shall not give up on love and faith. In the end, it is a personal choice: Will you follow in God’s footsteps?
Let’s follow the ultimate example of love: the passion of Christ. As we await Christmas during this advent season, we ought to remind ourselves that help is near. If we allow our hearts to love and continue to remain faithful in the coming of a savior, we shall be prepared for when He comes. Jesus will come to the beaten and battered. In preparation for the coming of our savior, I personally invite and encourage you to take the time to remember His strength as he suffered, His trust in God the almighty Father, His mercy towards those who beat Him, his patience for peace, and his example of perseverance in faith and love amongst adversity, pain, and dehumanizing acts.
Rosario T. is a Sophomore Biology Major and active an active member of the Chapel Choir, Hispanic Ministry, Peer Ministry, Tri-Beta, and Alpha Phi Omega.
Reflection by Ina Morga
While God is the creator, the origin of life: Our messiah, Jesus Christ, is the bringer of life. As the bringer of life, he came from God to the world in human form with a message of hope, love, and peace, and as Christians, we loyally await the return of our dear bringer of life so we may enter the kingdom of God. But not every day can this sense of life be brought to us –in other words: God can’t descend to Earth in a physical form to bring us life every day! (Well He could, but He doesn’t). We have to search for “life” – God’s message –in the mundane, ordinariness of our daily existence.
But what is the life that Jesus brought to us? In the most literal of explanations: Jesus took on the sins of the world, thus relieving us of our sins, and died in order to give us salvation –and therefore eternal life. However, until Jesus Christ comes again to bring us to Heaven, we have to look at life in a different way. I see the fundamentals of life in four basic ideas: love, hope, peace, and respect.
Love is the message of Jesus, and the reason we have life. It’s important to experience love in our lives, with our friends and family, strangers and enemies. This love can be shown by making a gift for your friend for no reason, holding a door for a stranger, telling someone that you love them, and seeing the basic humanness and spirituality in an enemy. Love will teach you how to be respectful and peaceful. You cannot love someone without respecting their humanity. Respecting each other’s wishes, human needs, and rights to freedom will lead to peace on Earth. Peace, which is safe to say, a dream, a goal of the people of God, can start with two people.
These ideals overlap for a reason. They overlap because they are fundamental attributes of God, and what He wants for us. Jesus brought us life so that we could have the ability to carry out his message.
Bringer of life: come. We long for You in our daily lives, and we want nothing other than to be with our Messiah and our God for an eternity. Bringer of life: come. We love and cherish You, and seek to spread Your love on Earth. Bringer of life: come. You, alone, are our salvation.
Bringer of life: come.
Ina M. is Freshman at StMU. On her free time she is a Dance Teacher, and a Sponsor for one of StMU’s Confirmation Candidates.
Reflection by Alexandra C.
We often find ourselves impatient and worried about the world around us. We often drive ourselves crazy with materialistic things and forget about Christ and his love for us. Today’s reflection not only pertains to waiting for the birth of Christ but also reflecting on how He has given you the strength to endure and live the life that you are currently living. If you are reading this you are alive, well, and healthy; what greater blessing that that? In this waiting we must sit and ask ourselves, “When I pray, do I pray because I need Christ or because I need something of Him?” Christ says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He offers Himself to us when we are burdened, but also when we are blessed and joyful. In the good times we mustn’t forget that we are there Because God invited us to those moments.
In this advent period think about the blessings you have and the love that God shares with us through Jesus. It is often hard to accept God’s love because we sin on a daily basis and we don’t feel worthy of Him or His love. This leads to neglecting Him when in reality, you are already forgiven. We often forget that He gave His one and only Son to pay for our sins. This does not mean that it is okay to sin; it means that we are already forgiven. We must know that God knows that we as humans will choose to sin, we will make mistakes, we will do all sorts of things that may hurt him… and yet, you’re still worthy of Him. When we sin we distance ourselves from God when we should be burrowing ourselves in His love rather than the shame of the world. In a book by Sheri Rose, I once read, “Leave your past where it belongs… nailed on the cross.” The love of God is so immense and fulfilling that it seems to almost be too good to be true, so we run away from it. In this time of advent, let’s run to it. Let’s run to God when we sin, fear, and even rejoice – because He loves us above it all and through it all no matter what. Don’t waste your time feeling shame and anger at something you have done, find comfort in knowing that God already knew you would sin, and He already forgave you.
May this time of advent fill your heart with joy, love and inner peace. May you find the love that cannot be found in any earthly human, and if you have found it, may you share it with the people that surround you. May you reflect through prayer and reformation of the heart and wait quietly for our Savior.
“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.”
Alexandra C. a Junior Exercise and Sports Science major with a concentration in Physical Therapy. She is a member of Alpha Phi, Best Buddies, and FAM.
Reflection by Eric V.
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This advent season is just beginning; a fresh start to move forward and I challenge you today: Let’s be real. Advent in many ways is a time of waiting and preparation, but let’s make this season a time of movement within ourselves to stir a storm and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. Re-evaluate who you are and ask the question, Am I who I want to be?
We make a new commitment every advent season to be more – to be better – then who we were throughout the year. But we must also tear down who we are and what we think we know. Think of it as though you are making yourself a child and turning to God in complete dependence. Ask him to pick you up. Become like a new born with God just as our Lord and Savior came humbled in a manger.
Now, this is no easy task. I, myself, Eric Villalpando, will tell you that it is hard to commit to God, to reconsider everything you thought was right, and admit you don’t have the answers.
To depend on God fully and become dependent like a child is not something we look at and leap for joy about. We can be prideful people and having to humble ourselves is a difficult inner journey. But, do not be afraid, go for it! Be open to God, and stop putting up these walls. Tear the walls down this season with all the might God has given you. He is with you!
This season take yourself in a new direction. He sent down a promise – a promise to save and lift you up, but in order to fully be ready to receive him you have to stop trying to do it on your own. It’s hard, but remember sometimes you have to fall before you can fly.
Eric V. a Freshman, Theology and History Major involved as a Peer Minister with University Ministry, Bible Study Facilitator in Founders Hall, and Catholic Student Group Co-Coordinator.
Advent is a season for waiting and watching.
Maranatha, Come, O Lord, exemplifies this longing, which is why University Ministry has chosen it as our 2013 Advent Theme.
During Advent, we recall a time when the people cried out for a Savior to deliver them from darkness. The Savior that would come was the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
This crying out is not foreign to us today. Whether the darkness exists around us or inside of us, Advent is a time when we can reclaim the light of the Messiah in our own lives. As John Henry Newman offers, “This then is to watch: To desire his second coming from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of his first.” In this sense, Advent is more than simply waiting for Jesus’ birth; it is about taking time to reflect how Jesus’ life has influenced our lives. Advent offers us an opportunity to grow deeper in the love that God shares with us through Jesus.
The Online Advent Retreats
During Jesus’ life, he models for us what it means to make space in our lives to allow God’s grace to speak to our hearts. We encourage you to separate yourself from the pre-Christmas chaos and rest in the hope of Advent. For this reason, we hope that our Daily 3-Minute Advent Retreat offers you an opportunity to take a break from your day. Each reflection was created by a member of the Pastoral Team at St. Mary’s University, and was established so that you can read through the screens at your own pace, allowing for personal reflection and prayer.
The Advent Reflection Blogs
The Blogs were written by various student leaders from across the St. Mary’s campus. Each student was given a line from our Advent Litany and asked to reflect upon how they saw that particular line moving them this season of Advent. As you read the prayer, consider your own thoughts about each line, and remember to visit the students’ blogs to see how they challenge themselves, and all of us, to actively bring about God’s Kingdom today.
Child of promise come,
Revealer of God come,
Bringer of life come,
Come to the beaten and battered,
Come to the despised and rejected,
Come to all in whom the divine image is still distorted,
We wait in joyful expectation,
Come not as a distant emperor but as a helpless babe,
Come not as a prince in a gold palace, but as a displaced and frightened refugee,
Come not as a man of power, but in love and compassion.
Come to those outcast like shepherds in the field,
Come to foreigners like Magi watching from afar,
Come to rich and poor, young and old, male and female,
We wait in hopeful anticipation,
Come to bless all creation with your love,
Come to bring salvation on the earth,
Come to rule with justice and peace,
Come Child of promise, open the windows of our hearts,
Come Christ of compassion, open the doors of our homes,
Come Prince of Peace, open the pathways to our lives,
We wait with all the peoples of the earth,
Child of hope we welcome your coming,
Christ of life we welcome your coming,
King of glory we welcome your coming.
If you are planning to regularly participate in the Advent Retreats or Blogs, and would like to registrar your participation with University Ministry, please email or call Irene at iquesnot[@]stmarytx.edu or (210) 436-3065.
Peace to you and your family this holiday season!
By Jenee Margo Gonzales, B.A. ’97, J.D., ‘03
Director of Government Relations & Community Collaborations, University Advancement
In just a few days my younger brother will be deployed on his third tour of duty with the U.S. Army, his first in Afghanistan. As I prepare for that day I cannot help but reflect on today’s readings and how each speaks to me.
I can remember back, many years ago, when my brother came to me for my advice as to whether he should accept an ROTC scholarship to St. Mary’s. As an alumna myself, and at the time planning to apply to the law school, I was happy, humbled and honored that he came to me. Being from a military family I encouraged him to accept the offer. However, this was well before 9/11 and the wars that resulted from the tragedy of that horrific day.
Since his commission and graduation in spring 2003, each time he has come up for deployment I look back on that fateful day when he asked me for advice and I wonder if I gave him the right counsel. Knowing my brother I think I did, he already had his mind made up when he came to me for my opinion, but being the thoughtful brother that he is he came to his big sister for words of validation and guidance.
In the readings today the Lord reminds us not to be afraid that he is always with us. Where there is despair, God our Lord brings renewal and hope, that when you are at your neediest God will be there for you. Every day we experience different types of stressors and anxieties in our life from our work to our studies, health and relationship issues, to being miles away from our family, such as this deployment will be for mine. What we must remember is that our Lord God is always with us, in good times and in bad; He renews us with love, bringing hope and peace in our lives.
Our Lord is kind and merciful; I thank him daily for the gift of life, the good and the bad. During this Advent Season which is a promise of hope, hope sprung anew, I am becoming more and more forgiving of myself and accepting of my faith. It is my growing and ever-evolving faith that gives me strength, strength in knowing that my brother will be kept out of harm’s way, by our Lord Jesus Christ, until he is returned safely home.
By: Karla Benavidez
The full formation of my spiritual life must be accredited to my grandmother. My grandmother is the voice that called to me while in the desert. Church was never forced upon me in my home as I was growing up. We believed and worshiped in our own way and on our own time. My grandma was the one that still attended church every Sunday, even if she could barely stand the pain in her knees. Of course, she always “strongly” encouraged all in my family to go with her…strongly meaning she told us!…and like most children, I was hesitant to sit through an hour long service spoken mostly in Spanish. Yet, her persistence was admirable.
When I was about twelve years old, something clicked and I decided to attend church with her. It was as if the Lord himself spoke to me that day. It was actually fun! I went the next Sunday and the next until finally, I was a “regular”. Becoming involved in the church not only brought me closer to our Lord but also closer to my Grandmother. The life lessons I learned with my youth group helped guide my choices and attitude through what were supposed to be the roughest years in life. On the contrary, my teenage years were the best. As I grow older, I understand now that it was God’s plan to fully encompass my life during those years and to help me navigate through the “teen” wilderness.
Without my Grandmother there to be a constant voice for God in my life, I don’t know what my choices could have been or where my life would lead. Her faith in me and in God has led me to grow closer to her and to always remember the Holy Spirit in everything I do. She still hobbles out of the house every Sunday to hear the Word and pray for all of us. She is the leader of my family’s spiritual life and our guide out of that desert.
Reflection by Bob O’Conner, Ph.D. (Theology Department)
The link between today’s 1st reading and the gospel appears to hinge upon the word “rock.” In the first instance, Isaiah describes the Lord as “an eternal Rock” signifying power, stability, and endurance. The Lord accomplishes the unthinkable—the redressing of inequities that accompany the maldistribution of wealth, goods, and power. Isaiah reminds us that peace which we all seek is the result of justice which is not quite so popular an idea, especially for those who may benefit from the injustice.
The prophet reminds his audience that no matter how hopeless the situation appears to be, no matter how unstable the ground, no matter how threatening the authorities may “lord it over” people, no matter how devastating the oppression of bureaucracy, justice will triumph and that triumph will come from the Lord rather than any human agency. Believing these prophetic words would certainly engender hope for those who “call upon the name of the Lord.”
The gospel reminds us that “talking the talk” is insufficient; “walking the walk” is the key to those who “enter the kingdom of heaven.” This sentiment is echoed later in the gospel with the concluding parable regarding those who gave food to the hungry not for a self-interested reward (“when did we see you hungry and give you to eat?”) but simply because the hungry were in need.
Lastly, the values by which we consistently orient our lives (how we behave “when no one is looking”) is the “rock” upon which the man built his house. In contrast is our behavior guided by peer pressure or convenience and which might be seen as the “sand” which will shift and ultimately cause the house to collapse.
As we approach the end of the semester it may be useful to reflect for a moment on whether we are building our lives on a rock or sand.
By: Portia Gresham (B.A. ’12) Psychology major
As I sit quietly in the courtyard of Adele and think about who has called me out of my despair, my darkness and my bewilderment, I think of those few people who recognize me spiritually. It’s those few people who can see past my brave face on a dark day, or recognize that something is wrong through subtle changes in my voice. It’s those few people who acknowledge the aspect of life’s strife that is both seen and unseen. The voices I hear while I wait in the wilderness are those people who help me step outside of my crazy schedule, to refocus and know that God has a plan, it is divine, I am his vessel and everything will be fine.
We are now on our third week of Lent, also known as Laudate, signifying the mid-point of our waiting season. How are we growing in our faith as we prepare for the death and resurrection of our Lord? One thing that may be difficult during Lent is fasting and abstaining. According to the Catholic definition we are obligated to fast and abstain from eating meat every Friday of Lent. We are able to eat one full meal on Friday and very moderate snacks in the morning and in the evening. Beginning this fasting and abstaining process may be a difficult challenge for many but when we understand how it develops our life spiritually; we are able to transform and unfold a deeper faith in our prayer life with God.
Fasting and abstaining represent a form of penance as we are preparing for the Lord’s resurrection. These practices are supported in the Old and New Testament. When we practice these traditions we are seeking the Lord in a way that truly opens our prayer life. For example, when it is Friday, we start off the day with a light snack just enough to provide us with the energy we need. We may still have the desire to eat when we hear that rumbling in our stomachs. Our first thought as humans is to fulfill that desire. Instead when we feel hunger in that moment, this is the time to bring it to God. This is the moment when we should begin to pray. We can praise God for whatever it may be, life, food, shelter, personal growth, concern, etc. Whatever it may be, and God will listen and he will understand you. While we are practicing these actions of abstinence and fasting, we are imitating Jesus. This reflects the time when Jesus was being tested in the desert for 40 days. So Jesus knows your pain. He knows your suffering. There is nothing he has not gone through that you may face.
I ask you my friends to really take the Lenten season and apply your practices to all your queries, happiness, struggles, thirst and hunger. As these moments occur, praise God for what he has provided with you and ask questions. Jesus will provide for what he has planned for you. Before you know it God will have manifested in your life and impacted it in a way that you may not have thought.
Trivia Answer: The Feast of the Annunciation