Author Archives: bhalderman

“Follow Me”

We live in a social media age where Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and similar sites are frequent places of social interaction. As I pondered a bit the theme we have selected for our campus observance of Lent – FOLLOW ME,  I couldn’t help but think of the phrase “follow me” as it relates to Twitter. How often we see that posted online or spoken to encourage folks to “follow me” and all that we have to spew in written word. The energy we now spend in posting and tweeting about our lives is amazing. Over 190 million tweets occur everyday! Twitter adds over 500,000 users each day! 1 in nine people on earth have a Facebook profile and those users spend 15.5 hours a month on Facebook. (to see more stats on social media use) Social media is part of our lives. The question we might ask ourselves is: how do we use this technology to enhance the quality of our lives? How can I spend this Lenten season to ponder such a question? Some folks choose to sacrifice the use of Facebook or Twitter during Lent and while such sacrifices are noble causes, it might not be the best way to really reflect on our use of social media.

Lent is a time to re-focus, renew, rejuvenate our spiritual lives. It is time to review our behaviors, habits and social interactions. How do our daily interactions witness to a life centered in Christ? Do we treat others as we would want to be treated? Are we spending our time and energy in positive ways to enhance the quality of our life and those whom we love? These are all important questions for our Lenten journey. Our use of social media and technology is not exempt from this reflection. Next time you get a text while listening carefully to a friend sharing a personal story, let the text go until there is a more appropriate time to respond. Be attentive to your physical presence and less attentive to your virtual presence! The content we share on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, is a reflection of who we are; does this content reflect the person you are and how you want others to see you? Do you take seriously the charge of our Church to engage in a new evangelization and to use social media as a means to spread the Gospel and your love for Christ? Do you really have a message to share on Facebook and Twitter that intrigues me and others to FOLLOW YOU? So next time you ask others to follow you on Twitter or Facebook you might think more carefully about what it is you want all those following you to hear; hopefully they are hearing a message worth following. Hopefully it is a message similar to that of Jesus, a man who paved the way for us, who sacrificed his life for us and made it all worth us to FOLLOW. Follow Me on a journey deeper into this Lenten season…

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Christ’s passion, an act of beauty and mercy

As our Lenten journey draws to a close, the Palm Sunday liturgy is a constant reminder of our humanity and the greatest act of love we have ever known. As we enter into holy week, we are asked to take time today from our daily routine and responsibilities to gather as a community to reflect on our Lenten experience and the ways Christ has spoken to our hearts during this time. However, after listening to John’s portrayal of our Lord’s passion, as sinners we can easily identify with Jesus’ disciples and their examples of humanity. Yet, as we live in the present, we must remember the lord’s promise and our continued reliance on God’s mercy and assistance. As we look to the past, we see how we are bound by weakness, negligence, failure, and sin. But through it all, we must remind ourselves of the beauty of Christ’s passion and act of love for us all. We pray during this time that the lord may open our eyes as we come before him as his followers, and that we may learn to see ourselves as his disciples.

Francesca Garcia, is a  Senior English Literature major with a teaching certification. She serves University Ministry as a Minsterial Assistant for the Office of Faith Formation. She also is active with the Marianist Leadership Program, SEAL, President Ambassdors, Catholic Daughters of America and Francesca can be spotted on stage having acted in many of the drama performances on campus.

That Time of Giving and Receiving

Fourth Sunday in Lent
[31] 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

While journeying through this time of Lent, it is easy to be blinded by redundant schedules of everyday life. While the man in today’s Gospel was physically blinded, we can be spiritually blinded.  From school to work to the numerous organizations one can choose to participate it, it may slowly start to wear a person down.  The weight of everyday activities may block what is most important in life: God.

Personally, I have to strive with my relationship with Christ, especially in this time of Lent.  In this way, I see that giving up an addiction of this world has helped me to remember Christ’s Passion and contemplate on his self giving love. This semester, I gave up sodas in which I relied for my caffeine and my energy.  It has been a struggle because any time that I started getting tired in my day, I would turn to soda as a pick me up.  Now, instead of grabbing for that quick fix, I reflect on the fact that Jesus gave up his life for us.

The Gospels this Sunday also reminded me that we are called to be humble in our faith and to achieve humility so that we may love God fully. For when the Pharisees questioned the blind man, they asked, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” It is a difficult sin to overcome, that of pride. In a world that strives for a perfection that only exists in Christ, it is easy to judge another.

It is not in the Christian ideal to stand before others on a higher platform just because one prays more or one attends church regularly.  It is Christian to walk right beside our brothers, acknowledge or downfalls and our failures, and to humbly ask for God’s help, for there is nothing that we can achieve if it not be for Him.  The next time you take that breath to say a negative comment about your brother or sister, remember what Jesus has taught us, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Marquielle Orwat is a second-year Marketing major and a student minister with University Ministry, where she serves on the Educating for Justice Ministry team.  She is currently the Secretary of the Catholic Student Group, a member of Catholic Daughters of the Americas, a singer for the Bridge Praise and Worship Band, and Philanthropy Executive Chair for the Delta Zeta Sorority. She is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Faithful Listening

Thursday in the Third Week of Lent
[240] Jeremiah 7:23-28
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Luke 11:14-23

In the first reading, God is talking directly to his people and he tells them to listen and live their lives according to what they were told by the prophets. As this reading develops, it is imperative that if they don’t begin to follow the will of the LORD, then they are not faithful to him. This word faithfulness, is one that they have lost sight of because, they have hardened their hearts.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus is casting out demons. He encounters a man who can’t speak therefore Jesus casts out the demon inside the man thus allowing the mute man to have the ability to speak. As the people witnessed this they didn’t understand how Jesus could perform such a miracle and so they began to say that he had help from the God’s that they knew about. They said that he had assistance from, “Beelzebul, the prince of demons.” This is how they made sense of what was going on in their time. Today we do the same thing of attempting to relate an event to something that we already know of which makes it easier for us to remember and relate to that event.

Rachel Alcocer, a Senior Political Science major with a Theology minor serves as a Student Minister in University Ministry. She assists specifically with Residence Hall ministry and outreach. She is involved in many other activities and organizations on campus including, UPC, SOA, Beta Sigma Phi, Rattler Awakening, Emerging Leaders, Admissions Emissaries, and All Greek Council

Obeying God’s Commands

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent
[239] Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
Matthew 5:17-19

The readings today talk about the laws of the Lord.  The first reading and the Gospel both share about how it is important for the Israelites to follow these commandments because they are straight from God.  Moses is the one that we hear from in the first reading talking about these laws and how they are important to our daily lives.  These laws that were given to Moses were for the reason that the people be able to live in the land that the Lord had given them.  Also, Moses mentions that these laws will give the people wisdom and favor in Heaven.

The Gospel continues on with the theme of the commandments except this time Jesus is talking to his disciples.  Jesus is explaining to the disciples that he did not come down to earth to abolish laws but to fulfill the laws of the prophets.  Jesus then explains that whoever breaks the least of these laws will be looked upon as the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  He then says that whoever obeys these laws and teaches them to others they will be looked highly upon in Heaven.

The task for us during this Lenten season is to take what Moses and Jesus tells us and look within ourselves and find where we may not be obeying God’s commands.  Have we heard God’s call and ignored it because we were “too busy at that time”?  Was there a moment in the day when we could have helped someone other than ourselves but chose not to?  These are just two of many questions that you can ask ourselves.  Take some time now and reflect on where you have not obeyed God’s commands.

Taylor Baca is a sophomore Music major;  a vocalist who sings tenor. He also plays piano, guitar and organ and is a member of Coro Santa Maria and the Opera Workshop. He is an active member of St. Mary’s Chapel Choir.  As a student minister in University Ministry he assists with Taize Prayer, Bibles and Brews, and many other activities. He is from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Growth From Our Shortcomings

Monday in the Third Week of Lent
[237] 2 Kings 5:1-15ab
Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4
Luke 4:24-30

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country” and proceeds to remind the Jews in the synagogue of some of their shortcomings and of times when it did not seem as if they were in God’s favor. The immediate and sharp reaction of the crowd was “wrath”. Jesus, who points out the truth to the crowd, is instantly cast out from the town. Have you ever become angry at a friend for telling you what you need to hear, instead of what you want to hear, especially when our shortcomings are confronted? Take some time to reflect on the aspects of yourself that you do not like people to remind you of and ask trustworthy friend to help hold you accountable.
Andrew Menezes, is a third year biology major serving as a Ministerial Assistant in University Ministry assisting the Educating for Justice team. He is president of the Catholic Student Group and assists with various retreat programs on campus. As a Biaggini Scholar he conducts undergraduate research. He is originally from Houston, Texas.

Uncomfortable Change

The reading from John, Chapter 4, Verses 5 – 42, was about compassion and peace. The basic background information about this reading is that the woman, a Samaritan, was approached by Jesus, a Jew. In their time, Samaritans were deemed the outcast of society, as were the lepers and sick from other stories. These were seen as having done something wrong, as having received a punishment from God. This is why they were separated, because they were not worthy of God’s gifts.

As Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, it symbolized a double ‘whammy’, if you will. One, she was a woman, thought to be less than a man, and two, she was an outcast. Jews were to avoid them, but not Jesus. When Jesus talked to her and engaged her in conversation, this brought down the wall of separation in a message that said, “It doesn’t matter who and what you are, we are all to be one and deserve the blessing of God, the Father. God didn’t choose a specific people, God choose everyone and excluded NO ONE.”

At the first sign that Jesus speaks of this “living water” one can detect that it must be a metaphor for something greater. The woman takes it in a literal sense. The disciples also fail, in multiple occasions they read past the literal action or words. They are so driven by their basic life, which the messages that Jesus tries to portray are left unnoticed, as we do in our daily lives. I feel as if we are caught up in this routine every day. When we go out and not speak up about something that we see is wrong, in our minds we may be thinking, “Well I’m only one person, what good am I going to do.” This, in my eyes is thinking in a literal sense. Yes, you are one person, but the actions you commit to, it is another message that you may not be aware that you have portrayed. For all we know, we may have given the confidence to a near bystander, if not the offender, to stand up for what is right next time. We need to give our actions and seek for that more powerful meaning, as that of the living water.

This story gives me a feeling of purpose and of comfort. To know that sometimes one is not comfortable to go against the norms of society, it is something that Jesus did in his daily life, and sometimes necessary. I WILL stand up for what is right, I WILL speak up to give those who do not have a voice, I WILL not take the easy way out and ignore the problem, I WILL….. create change, and the change will start with me.

Erik Oviedo, a Theology major with a minor in Philosophy, is a contact for the Society of Mary (Marianists).  He serves as a Resident Assistant for Founders Hall. Erik keeps busy with many activities such as indoor and outdoor soccer, Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Classes, Homework,as well as his favorite activity, visiting the café to eat. He was born and raised in Brownwood, Texas.

That Shiny Light

As Spring Break finally came, we students found ourselves lying around home, possibly attempting to finish books that can never be read during the semester, or even giving our time through service. I chose this spare time to sit down with Mom and Dad and discuss my future. Not a light conversation.  After a few minutes of stares and interrogating questions, a few looks from one another and raised eyebrows, I received an “I know you can do whatever you put your mind to” and “Let’s see what happens.”

Slightly discouraged and more confused, I turned to this Sunday’s readings. And lo and behold, it’s the Transfiguration of Jesus. It’s almost funny how mysteriously God works. This Sunday tests the true faith that we Catholics should unwaveringly portray and our God even helps us out by literally giving us a bright flashing light to open our eyes! And yet sometimes we still doubt? Well even his disciple did it, right? The first reading quotes our Lord making his heavenly promises to bless us and make our name great. So what are we all worrying about? In the midst of the spring semester, we are routinely planning out everything, even color coding! But did we remember that He has the ultimate highlighter? The second reading brings us comfort with God’s grace, a gift that He disguises into our lives “according to His own design.” So what does it all come down to? Well to me, it’s that we can plan over and over, cross out and white-out, but none of it will make any true sense until we stop to look up and see His Light that shines on our path to eternal goodness.

Selena Rangel is a second-year Elementary Education and English major, as well as a Ministerial Assistant with University Ministry, where she serves on the Residence Hall Ministry team. She is the current Vice-Regent of the campus court of Catholic Daughters of the Americas. She is originally from Seguin, Texas.

Temptation: the struggle of giving in

First Sunday in Lent
[22] Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14+17
Romans 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19
Matthew 4:1-11

Here at the beginning of Lent, temptation is at hand. Whether it be brought about by the withdrawals we experience as a result of giving things up or whether it is brought by the usually vices, temptations often present us with a choice. Do we stay obedient, or do we give in? These forty days in the desert of temptation call us to follow Jesus’ example, to lessen ourselves and take in more of God our Father. We will be hungry, but our hunger should be for the Bread of Life. We will thirst, but we must thirst for righteousness. Share in Christ’s journey through the desert this Lenten season, and prepare yourself for His everlasting gift of salvation.

Andrew Gonzalez, a first- year biology major and a student minister with University Ministry, serving on the Residence Hall Ministry Team. He leads worship with the Bridge, a non-denominational praise and worship gathering and he serves as vice-president of the Catholic Student Group. He is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas.

Fasting is so much more than being hungry…

Friday after Ash Wednesday
[221] Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19
Matthew 9:14-15

We read much about fasting in today’s scripture readings, one of the three major practices of the Lenten season: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. As we ponder the importance of fasting this Lenten season, we should be asking what motivates me to fast, to take this step of personal sacrifice? It should obviously not be for selfish reasons or personal gain, “look at me and how holy I am because I can fast!” Rather fasting is about letting go and letting God! Placing all our confidence and trust that God will provide. It is about letting go of our personal attachments to not only material possessions, but also to those things that bind us, oppress us or hold us back. Fasting is an exercise in freeing us from all that possesses us and hopefully leads us to a new place of wholeness, integration and ultimately toward holiness.

So perhaps you have given something up for Lent (I am trying to give up watching television). How will your life be different because you have made this sacrifice? What will you do with this new found freedom? (for me this will be the time I sat and watched TV) I hope to dedicate this time to doing some spiritual reading and additional prayer. So while on the surface giving something up seems sort of silly, the depth of such a practice can really impact one’s perspective of personal gratification and what brings one joy. It provides an opportunity to do some internal examination and to explore what is it that I want to do with the time God has graced me with. Time is a precious gift and we should not waste it for personal gain, but rather for the building up of the Kingdom of God. May we be faithful to the practices of this Lenten season, especially to our promises of fasting. That by fasting we might come to understand the hungry, the tired, the lonely, the isolated of our world.

You might find a website being promoted by the General Administration of the Society of Mary (Marianists) during the Lenten Season of interest. It is entitled Forty Days with the Least, and it highlights the 40 countries at the bottom of the Human Development Index. This year in particular they are focusing on the issue of health care in these nations. Reading and following the reflections country by country may be a good source of reflection for your Lenten fast.