Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beautifully and Wonderfully

Yesterday as I was walking into my office I noticed the brightest rosebush I think I’ve ever seen. The color of the flowers was so intense that my first reaction was to think that they must be the result some man-made genetic manipulation. (Well okay, my first reaction was really more like, Oh em gee! I want to take a picture of that!! …What do you want? I’m a lady with a camera…) But then immediately following that I felt horrible, recognizing how sad it was that my first reaction was suspicion in assuming this beautiful object of nature couldn’t really be natural. What a tragedy to underestimate the generosity of Our Lord – to think, even for a moment, that He wouldn’t have designed these roses with such breathtakingly brilliant color. 

I was reminded of a talk I heard just after Christmas last year, during a holy hour which was held as a response the USCCB’s Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage & Religious Liberty. One of the themes of this talk was the dignity of human life, and what stood out to me most was focus given to our being made in the image and likeness of God. And how absolutely and utterly amazing that is.

Our Lord must be, without a doubt, the most beautiful of all beings in existence. What a privilege it is, for each of us, to be able to look into a mirror and see the reflection of one created to reflect the beauty of the Creator! And similarly, to be able to look into the eyes of another and see a person placed in our path by God, for the purpose of shedding light on His infinite mercy and generosity in creating each of us so uniquely – yet with a likeness unto Himself that we will not fully understand until we stand before Him and behold the Glory of His image. What a joy it must be for the people whose lives are so enveloped by the Holy Spirit – that they are able to look into the eyes of another and recognize the presence of Our Lord on earth! I must admit that, as much as I desire God use me as His instrument in the salvation of souls, I often struggle to recognize His presence in the people that I meet.

Yet He is in everyone, and His beauty is made manifest through all created things. He has nestled Himself at the center of our souls, my friends. There He sits, and waits for us to discover and embrace his love and unfathomably merciful design for our lives! What a privilege – that God resides in the depths of our hearts.  If only we were able to see this clearly each time we encounter one of His children. To look at each person and see one made in His image before seeing anything else. Oh that my first reaction to each person I meet could become, “Wow… you are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God!...” How intense would that be? Dream big, my friends.

Through the delightful experience of passing this beautiful rose bush, I was reminded how willing the Lord is to present us with extraordinary beauty in the midst of what seem like so many ordinary days. I walked into my office this morning and there it was again, just as brilliant and breathtaking as it was yesterday. And I imagine it’ll be the same tomorrow… unless the incoming heat wave gets to it before I get to work. I am learning to appreciate that every moment of life and every situation I find myself in - is a gift. If the Lord is at the forefront of our minds then it will be much easier to see Him in everyone and everything. The question is, how do we get Him to the forefront of our minds?! Well I guess that’s where prayer comes in, as always and of course.

Today begins the second “leg” ofthis “99-Day Novena Relay” that is leading up to the Feast of St. Augustine, and my potential/tentative entrance date. I now begin to refer to this date as “potential” and/or “tentative,” as the countdown clock passes 90 days and a couple of my upcoming fundraising efforts are being put on hold or pushed back for various reasons. The reality that my entrance date may have to be pushed back begins to set in, and I am making preparations in my heart and mind to continue working and fundraising through the fall and probably longer. This too, contains much beauty and is a gift from the Lord, my friends! God willing I now have the opportunity to put even more trust in Him than I ever have, and to live every day in anticipation of the extraordinary plan he has for my life. I don't know what He has planned for me just yet... but I know its gonna be good :). 

So please, if you haven’t already, join me and my friends in praying through the intercession of Our Ladyof Fatima for all good things to happen, through St. Benedict for humility andin difficult times, through Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati to live the Beatitudes,and through Sts. Norbert & Evermode of the Order of Premontre. I am asking all these saints for their intercession in helping me see the beauty of God in every moment of my life, and for generosity in my own heart – that I may have the strength to pour out my entire being to do the will of the Lord… whatever that may be.

We pray for vocations and all our personal intentions through August 28th. I'm continuing to run and pray for all of your personal intentions 4 times a week. Discerning doing another marathon ::coughORhalfMARATHONcough:: in the fall if I'm still around. If you're new here and haven't read about my vocation and running effort yet, please visit God bless you and make you into saints! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CHANGE OF PLANS - Let's make it a RELAY!!!

The 99-Day Novena, which began on May 21st and leads up to the Feast of St. Augustine, has now become a 99-Day Novena RELAY! Sign up for any of the 11 leg(s) of the relay you wish, by commenting on the FB Event page: "99-Day Novena RELAY". Tell me which leg you’ll be praying and throw your prayer intentions up on the wall too so that others can join in when you begin! Please invite your family and friends! 

Kickoff Leg: May 21-29
Special invocation: Saint of your choice!

Leg 2: May 30 – June 7
Special invocation: ST. JOAN OF ARC & ST. AGNES 

Leg 3: June 8 – June 16
Special invocation: ST. FRANCIS of ASSISI

Leg 4: June 17 – June 25
Special invocation: ST. CECILIA

Leg 5: June 26 – July 4
Special invocation:  BL. POPE JPII &  BL. TERESA of CALCUTTA

Leg 6: July 5 – July 13
Special invocation: ST. MARIA GORETTI

Leg 7: July 14 – July 22 
Special invocation: ST. MARY MAGDALENE & ST. PETER

Leg 8: July 23 – July 31
Special invocation: ST. JUDE

Leg 9: August 1 – Aug. 9
Special invocation: ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX

Leg 10: Aug. 10 – Aug. 18
Special invocation: ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE 

Leg 11: Aug. 19 – Aug. 27
Special invocation: ST. AUGUSTINE

August 28 special invocation: 

The relay has begun!! Get Prayin!! 

Incline my heart...

[began writing at 5:30am] 
It’s almost 6:00am on the second day of this 99-Day Novena and already the Lord has presented me with a most spectacular assemblage of graces and challenges. I don’t know how its been going for you so far… but I can tell that the next 98 days are going to be interesting.

I won’t go into detail about how wonderful the last 24 hours have been, but one of the many beautiful things that happened yesterday was that I received, in the mail, a generous donation accompanied by a letter, written by a woman who probably had no idea how much I needed to read what she wrote. I am so thankful for her generosity in helping me with my debt, but more than that I will be eternally grateful for her words. She wrote to me about her appreciation for my pursuit of religious life and gave me her prayer requests. But she wrote something that struck me intensely, It is not an easy life you are choosing and even if you decide it’s not for you, you still gain as you will have had wonderful experiences and me wonderful people and gained many graces. I cannot deny that this sentence has touched my heart profoundly.  

So much has been going through my mind lately. Spending the majority of my time focusing attention on fundraising and whether or not I will have my loans paid off in time for the Feast of St. Augustine, (not really worried, per se, for I know that I will be ready to enter at the time the Lord has appointed for me to enter… but really just focusing on how I can best do the Lord’s will so that He can accomplish this through my efforts in the world), has left me somewhat hesitant to write about my own personal discernment and where I am in that, at this point. But I feel I do owe it to you, my friends, to let you know how greatly appreciative I was to read of this woman’s compassion for me and people like me, regardless of what may happen in the future.

You see my friends, my heart is inclined, more and more each day, to doing the will of God – whatever that may be. When God says, “Jump” I do not wish to ask, “How high?” … for that is irrelevant. He has commanded me to jump, and I will jump – how high is of no consequence at all and I know that I will ascend only as high as is fitting to His desires. I only wish to be consumed by His love and to be a vessel He uses to shower this love upon others. Right now I feel called to enter the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph and stay there until He calls me Home, offering my life and prayers for the world without the limitations of any specific region or district – to which my Gospel-spreading-efforts would likely be confined if I were called to remain in the world. Right now I feel called to pursue a life that benefits man beyond these limitations. I desire for my efforts to spread throughout the whole world through my separation from it and pursuit of perfecting my prayers from the solitude of the monastery, so that they can be offered more purely for the salvation of souls.

But my friends, while I do recognize this passion in my heart and have a fervent desire to enter religious life right now, I would be doing you a disservice if I, for one second, presumed to know the will of God, and whether it is His intention for me to remain permanently at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph. Through all our good intentions we must be prudent, and so I must admit to you that for the rest of my life I must be absolutely open to His will – which calls for my continued discernment and openness to the possibility that He may someday call me out of that particular community - possibly to a different one, or possibly out of religious life altogether. The thought of this is more than slightly unnerving, (which is where trust comes in and perseverance is needed more than ever to maintain peace of the heart), for at the present time I feel a great call to detach from the world and pursue great union with God – that the presence of His Son might increase in my heart and He may use me to win souls. But if I am to be a good and faithful servant, I must also remain aware that there are some whom He calls to live a life of detachment and solitude for only a time – to grow in holiness so that they may bring the Love they have discovered back out into the world. Through the increasing generosity of young people these days, vocations to the priesthood and religious life have been growing and many have entered over the last decade or so. But out of the many there are a number who have spent their time growing in perfection with the Lord for as long as He wished, and then responded to His call for them to leave their respective communities and carry Christ, who has settled in their hearts and developed His home in the depths of their souls, back out into their ministries and families outside of religious life. 

"Many are called, but few are chosen..."

This is a very real possibility and I must remain honest and open about it. Up until now I have been very careful not to convey any doubt that my vocation is to aid in the sanctification of souls through entering the Order of Premontre, for it is quite true that I do not have one ounce of doubt that the Lord is calling me to enter. But I must now protect your heart by acknowledging that He may someday call me out of the Order and back into the world before I take my final vows. Should that be His will, my hope is that you would view me as never having deceived you by stating that I know it is His will for me to become a solemnly professed canoness. Do I believe in my heart that that is His will? Yes, I very much do. And I pray for perseverance through whatever trials He may present me with on my journey to become His bride, if that is truly His will. But if it is not, I pray for understanding. Both on my part and the part of all you generous people who have helped me thus far.

Please understand how hard it is for me to write these things, my brothers and sisters. I know it may hinder my efforts to raise money. But I felt called today to be as honest and open with you as possible, and you must know that I strive to respond to God’s desire for every moment of my life. Needless to say, I was deeply impacted by the woman's letter and felt it was God giving me permission to write about these things with honesty, and plead for your continued generosity in helping me pursue religious life, understanding that you are supporting my discernment, which at the present time is leading me to strongly wish to respond to the Lord's desire that I enter. For the peace of my own heart I am very thankful that many of those who have donated rather substantial amounts to Litany Run, have themselves gone through periods of discerning religious life at one point or another - and so I am thankful that they have some level of understanding and compassion for these things I have written. I must admit that it is a relief to write them. It is my prayer that everyone who has supported me thus far does not now, nor will ever feel misled in any way as to my true and honest intentions. For now, I press on in the pursuit of entering my vocation in August, giving my whole life to God and remaining in the monastery for the rest of my days. Please pray through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, for the conversion of sinners beginning with me, and that young people may desire to pursue their vocations to sainthood with eagerness and a quiet, humble desperation worthy of the Lamb.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

99-Day Novena

99-Day Novena
through the intercession of

• Our Lady of Fatima, for All Good Things to Happen
• St. Benedict of Nursia, for Humility and in Difficult Times
• Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, to be a Christian of the Beatitudes
• Sts. Norbert & Evermode, for Bold Obedience & Leadership

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it, we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, and this favor that I so earnestly seek.... (State your request here...)  which I ask of you in this novena, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of all people. 

Glorious Saint Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God. To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor. Inspire me to imitate you in all things. May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom. Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you. I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers  and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore.  Help me, great Saint Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. 

Father, You gave to the young Pier Giorgio Frassati the joy of meeting Christ and of living his faith in service of the poor and the sick. Through his intercession, may we, too, walk the path of the Beatitudes and follow the example of his generosity, spreading the spirit of the Gospel in society.

Awake O Lord, in Thy Church the Spirit by Whom Sts. Norbert & Evermode, Thy Confessors and Bishops, were guided in order that, filled with the same Spirit, we may love what they loved, and live as they taught us. We ask all these things through Christ, Our Lord. 


Now in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Most Chaste Spouse St. Joseph, pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be

Or a full Rosary if time permits it…

Monday, May 20, 2013

100 DAYS to ENTRANCE & Month of Ma(r)y Challenge

Hi! I know I know, it’s been like two weeks already. I’m sorry! Life has been uncharacteristically busy and not busy at all at the very same time. For various reasons which include the necessity for more prayer, the need to spend time with family and friends, and the desire for my left Achilles Tendon to heal as much as possible – I decided to take another week off from running, and just barely got back on the road yesterday morning. But I have been keeping all of your prayer intentions at the heart of my rosaries everyday, and it was wonderful to pray for you while running once again on Pentecost Sunday and also this morning! I'll run again on Wednesday and Friday, and these four days will be my regular running schedule from here on out. Still praying for your intentions with every step, my friends. 

In these two weeks since my race I have had a good amount of time for reflection and drawing deeper into silence and meditative prayer. I’ve been reflecting particularly upon the first reading from the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord when the apostles asked Jesus if he was at that time going to restore the kingdom to Israel. He replied,

“It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

While the state of my finances leave me in suspension regarding whether or not I am to enter the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph on my appointed entrance date, I find peace in knowing that the Lord knows all and gives me all of the knowledge and understanding I require. And in knowing that whatever work He has left for me to do while I remain in the world, it is just as much for the benefit of souls as my life will be after I enter. He has stuff for me to do here, and it’s just not quite finished yet! 

As it was to be expected, contributions to my fundraising effort have slowed since the race, but with the promise of increasing again soon, God willing. By His grace and your generosity, as of today my loans are down to a total of $36,672.77, and guess what… Today is exactly 100 days away from August 28th… my entrance date & the Feast of St. Augustine!!! Thank you so much my friends, for keeping me in your prayers responding to the Lord’s call for your help me enter my vocation. If it’s His will that I enter in August, I know He will show me the way!

So as a humble challenge today I implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to send His grace upon me, and all religious aspirants who plan to enter their communities this autumn, especially those who like me are still in a sort of limbo about it due to their financial situations. In addition to this prayer challenge, I ask you to join me in spreading the word about my hope for these last 12 days of May – the Month of Mary: to raise $3,000 and pass the 35% mark on my fundraising meter! With the help of your prayers and your generously sharing my desire to give my life for God with your family, friends and community, I know we can do this my friends!

The Norbertine Order has its roots in France, and I am entrusting this challenge to the care of Our Lady of Lourdes. If you would like, please join me in this novena to Our Lady of Lourdes for the Special Intention of passing 35% of my financial goal. This novena will begin on Thursday, May 23rd. 

And/OR for those who feel called to make an even greater sacrifice for the intentions of aspirants to religious life, most especially for communities who live according to the Rule of St. Augustine and will have their postulant entrance on August 28th, I invite you to join me in a 99-day Novena, which we begin tomorrow and ends on that day. In solidarity with our Holy Father Pope Francis, this novena will be prayed through Our Lady of Fatima, along with the intercession of St. Benedict, St. Evermode, and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. I will offer my intentions for the Conversion of Sinners beginning with myself, the magnification of the Glory of God here on earth and especially in Europe, and in petition for more Norbertine vocations - especially to St. Michael’s Abbey and the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph. 


Thank you for your continued prayers, my brothers and sisters. May the Lord keep you, bless you abundantly, and make you into saints. 

Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. 
Accipio te in mea omnia. 
Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hey, I ran a marathon... did you know? :)

So I should probably tell you how the race went, hmm? I finished! Deo gratias! My first, and likely last (but hey, never say never…) marathon took a grueling and grace-filled 4 hours 55 minutes and 56 seconds, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better, the Lord is so good. I set out four months ago to complete my training and this marathon by praying for my sponsors. But it was your prayer that sustained me for 26.2 miles, my friends. As of today my fundraising page lists 202 sponsors and almost 29% of my goal, and I can’t thank you enough. You all are seriously my angels.


I spent Thursday night, and much of Friday & Saturday in prayer at St. Michael’s Abbey. Its funny how I’ve now been there just a handful of times, yet each time I drive onto the property or step into the church, its as if I’m entering the home of a close cousin or brother. And I suppose if we boldly look toward the future, that is what I am doing when I go there. There is a sense of peace and serenity that flows throughout the whole Abbey, similar to what I feel each time I return to the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph to spend time with my future sisters. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and briefly chat with a few of the novices/seminarians and priests, and come to find that each of these men is fearfully, wonderfully, and uniquely made to dedicate their lives to the glory of God. It is clear that they are seeking holiness, and this is such a comfort. Even in the limited time I have spent at the Abbey, I have gained such an appreciation for the fraternal bond between the community that lives there and the community I will be joining. While they are separated by a grille (most of the time) and a couple hundred miles, these communities are united in prayer, “…by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” The ease and comfort I felt at St. Michael’s during this second visit served only as more confirmation of my vocation to enter the Order of Premontre.

I asked for as many people to sponsor me by May 2nd as possible, and I was delighted at the gigantic number of prayers I recorded over the two days before the race. It was so humbling to revisit each and every individual prayer request over a two-day period, and to pray for your specific intentions both as I was recording, and of course as I was running. On Saturday night while the men of the Abbey were at recreation and the lay community began filing in for Compline and Eucharistic Adoration, I sat in the parlor finishing up the Litany in preparation for the next morning. Just before I began packing up to head into the church for prayer, two of my dearest friends – who came to Orange County to cheer me on – walked in and presented me with a gift that I will cherish forever. Suffice it to say that they let me know about dozens of people who were going to be praying for me during the race, and any last minute reservations I had about running were suddenly gone. I went to Compline, sat with Jesus and thanked Him for you all for a little while, and then drove to my parents’ hotel in Costa Mesa to bib up my race shirt and go to sleep. 

The alarm went off about 3:50am on Sunday morning and I was out the door at 4:25 to catch my shuttle to the starting line. Despite the rainclouds rolling in and carrying their impending doom, I took my breviary and God was so gracious that I even had time to pray Matins and Lauds before I got off the shuttle! I was so afraid I wouldn’t have time… thank you Jesus! I wrapped my bag (full of flip flops, Neosporin, Band-aids, in view of my soon-to-be messed up, post-race feet) in plastic, dropped it off in the designated storage area where thousands of other runners had already been, and then joined them in taking my place among those with finishing-time goals similar to mine – to stretch, pray, update this blog at the very last minute, and prepare to start. In that hour before the race I also received a few encouraging messages from some dear friends, and I have to say that these became some of the most motivating factors of the whole race. The gun went off at 5:30 as I made the sign of the cross, popped in my ear buds and set out just behind the 4 hour, 30 minute pace group. 

I didn’t do a lot of interval training over these last four months. No sprinting for 30 seconds, walking for two, etc. etc. Rather I trained mostly at a constant pace on most of my training runs – some days going maybe a minute or so faster than my targeted mile time. So when the 4:30 pace group started off running much more slowly than I was used to, it was of course quite tempting to pull ahead. But in the week prior to the race, I had spent a good deal of time discerning that if I’m going to enter a life where I’ll be spending most of my time in community with women who share my pursuit of holiness, it might be a good idea to run in community with others who share my running goal. Now granted, and 4:30 finishing time was a little ambitious. When I began training I set my goal for between 5 hours and 5:30, but I was feeling so good in the few days before the race that I thought I’d trying a push myself a bit.

At each mile I pulled out my phone out and began playing a new set of prayers for all of your needs. It was such a grace to have enough prayers to fill up about 4-6 minutes of each mile. The rest of the time was spent offering rosaries, Divine Mercy chaplets, and/or Memorares to Our Lady for you. I was able to stay with the pace group for about two hours, or the first 12.5 miles before I slowed down a bit, and eventually lost them as they pulled ahead.  But that was alright! There were about 10-15 people who consistently ran next to or near me for those first couple hours, and after a while many of them became so familiar to me that I felt like I was running with friends J. It was, of course, a blessing to run with them at the beginning. I’m positive that if I hadn’t done so, I would have gone much faster toward the start and been running on fumes by the end. But our wonderful pacers kept me in line and I’m so thankful that they helped me conserve my energy so that I could finish strong! Of course… the praying whole business helped a little… :P 

Once I had gone through the Litany prayers for each mile I decided to take my ear buds out as I continued to pray on my own until the next mile. I unplugged in the middle of Mile 14, after praying for all of your intentions, and a lovely girl ran up and joined me as I walked for about 30 seconds. She told me that she had been with me in the 4:30 pace group, and how great I was doing, and that I had been motivating her to keep going. It’s funny how a kind word from a stranger can make all the difference. We ran together for about half a mile and chatted about why we were doing the marathon, then we said goodbye as we hit Mile 15 and I popped your prayers back into my ears. Please pray for Candice, this weekend she checked off one major accomplishment on her pre-college-graduation bucket list!

I continued to see Candice and several other faces which became familiar to me from there until the end of the race. I didn’t really hit “the wall” at any point, but around Mile 18 my calves began to spasm (which had never happened before in my life… if you’ve ever had that happen you know how weird it is!) and I began to worry that I might not be able to make it to the end! At one point I pulled over and stretched for just a few seconds as I prayed, but a man ran past me and said very simply and directly, “Don’t stop for too long, get back on the road.” He didn’t say it in an excited or even particularly encouraging way. It reminded me of how I felt in my few years of working in health clubs, when fellow personal trainers would bluntly tell me that what I was eating or the way I was performing an exercise was not to my benefit. Rather than being offended, I was always thankful that there was someone who was looking out for me without feeling the need to sugar-coat the truth. I didn’t need someone telling me it was “okay” to have a cupcake every once in a while, or that I should lift lighter weights if I felt tired. I needed to be pushed, and I needed to be disciplined, and I was constantly made stronger by the help of those who were more experienced and motivated than myself. With more than 7 miles left to go It was just a matter of fact that I needed to get back on the road, and this man knew I needed to hear it. I was so appreciative and fell back in line immediately.

As I came up to the marker reading “Mile 20” I was bit intimidated realizing that I was about to pass the longest distance I’d ever run. Just as I was about to begin playing the Litany for Mile 20, a text message from one of my dearest friends appeared reading, “Keep running Jenn! Run as to win the race for his Glory!!!!!!!” … and it was just what I needed. Even while running and praying for all of my sponsor’s specific needs, I think at that moment the Lord knew that I would require a little reminder that and the end of it all, everything we do should be for His glory. I did pray and still am praying, of course, in petition for all the things you asked me to pray about, my friends. But to be honest, after I ask the Lord for what you need or desire, I always add that I am really only asking these things of Him if they are in line with His will for your lives. For our lives. More than anything, I ask Him to give you peace in whatever blessings or struggles you may undergo according to His will, and that you trust in His great design for your life. And I pray the same for me. J. So as the final hour of the race approached and the prayers I listened to began to increase in intensity, I remembered that all the things I asked were for the sake of your sanctification so that ultimately you might take your place among the saints and angels, praising the name of the Lord for all eternity in heaven. 

There was an older gentleman who leapfrogged with me for about the last 4 miles. Like my lovely friend from earlier, he also told me how great I was going, and let me know that his goal was just to finish and try and keep his heart rate down. He wasn’t in particularly spectacular shape, but I could tell that this wasn’t his first race. During those final miles of the race I found myself surrounded by all sorts of people. This older gentleman, some women around my age who seemed to be in great shape, a mother running with her son, the man who had been sitting next to me on the shuttle bus from the hotel, friends running together for various causes, a lady whose daughter and husband joined her on bicycle for Mile 23, and even the pacers for the 5 hour finishing mark came up right behind me at Mile 24! I stuck with them until just before the end. In those last few miles I felt a sense of solidarity with all of these people who were about to finish at the same time as me. I knew that they were all running for different reasons and, whatever our motivations, we were nearly at the end.

I had passed two friends who came to support me at Mile 12, as well as my amazing parents at Mile 17. I didn’t expect to see anyone again until the finish line, so imagine my joy when my two friends popped up just as I was finishing the Litany for Mile 22, and ran with me for half a mile! The last time anyone ran and prayed with me was during the kickoff leg of the National Life Runners’ A-Cross the Country Relay, which I ran in San Francisco back February. So, what a blessing it was for my friends to run (well let’s face it… by Mile 22.5 I was doing more of a trotting or jogging thing at best. Maybe hobbling. Lol..) next to me and even offer to pray a Divine Mercy chaplet to help me get through the rest of the mile. I know I’ve said it countless times, but I truly have the best friends in the world. And not just those two. Others… all across the country and globe. You know who you are. 

The Lord had filled the sky with rainclouds, which never broke, over this usually bright and sunny coastal region. I won’t even hear of someone who tries to say that these clouds were not a result of divine intervention! It was the most perfect running weather anyone could have asked for. It wasn’t VERY LAST quarter mile of the race that the sun broke through, and it beat down so hard that I just knew I would have been miserable if it had shown up any sooner, haha! Thank you Jesus for shielding us runners from the blazing heat for almost five hours!

Spectators held signs, clapped, cheered and shouted such encouraging words as I rounded off Mile 25 and implored Our Lady, Bl. JPII, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Padre Pio and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati to come to my assistance, along with all of the other saints and angels in heaven. I hope that all of those people who lined the final mile knew how very much it meant to the runners. Or… how much it meant to me at least. I tried to say “thank you” as much as I could to people who cheered throughout the race. 

There are certain people who I knew were praying for me just as I approached the finish line and I realized that, while I had set out to run this race with the motivation that I would be praying for your… it was really your prayers that sustained me, my friends. How sobering to receive a shower of grace and love through your prayers for me as I ran that last quarter mile, and I was reminded that this race, like everything else, was accomplished not by anything that I did – but through the prayers and work of the whole Body of Christ. I didn’t expect to see my family in the crowd as I approached the finish line, but there they were. My mother handed me the Vatican flag that I brought home from World Youth Day in Madrid, where I first heard the call of the Lord, to religious life.  I carried it through the finish line as the clock hit 4:55:54, Ave Maria! 

I said a prayer of thanksgiving on the grass and then hobbled over to stretch and nibble on things from my post-race goodie bag while I waited for my family and friends to find me. While I was waiting, the man who was trying to keep his heart rate down came over and congratulated me, as I did him. He asked if this was my first marathon, and I replied, “First and probably last.” Of course he didn't know the reason I wouldn't run another marathon, but I’m sure he took that to mean that I didn't enjoy the experience as he replied, “Ah, just wait, in a couple weeks you’ll be ready for the next one!” And perhaps he was right.

The marathon is done, but the race is far from over, my friends. I cannot thank you enough for all of your support through the last few months. Your prayers and encouragement in both my training and my vocation, and been a constant and ever-increasing gift which gives me strength to persevere on this road to the monastery. There is a long journey still ahead and while I can’t say for sure whether the road will end where I think it will, traveling is one of my most favorite things to do, and I am happy to keep going for as long as the Lord desires.

I resolved a long time ago that I would continue running after the marathon. As of today my debt is down to $36,909 and I have just under 4 months left until my entrance date, August 28th. I need your prayers now more than ever, my brothers and sisters, for I know that if the Lord wills for me to enter on that day, He will show me His plan for how my debt can be resolved. For now, I will continue my work for our dear diocesan seminarians as I continue to pray for you and the salvation of the whole world. After a couple more days of recovery (Praise Jesus, I did not walk away with blisters half as bad as I had anticipated! Feet are still a bit swollen though…) I will be back on the road this Monday. I plan to run 3-5 miles, 4 times a week until I enter, offering a different mystery of the rosary each day for my sponsors. Please continue to spread the word about my vocation my friends! My 26.2 miles are over, but I continue to pray for you. I will keep my fundraising page open so that you can continue to track my progress and, God willing, people can continue to sponsor me as my Litany grows and I take your prayers on my short and humble neighborhood runs.


After getting cleaned up from the race and an awesome Cinco de Mayo lunch with my parents and friends, I said goodbye and headed off to spend the night in Tehachapi. I hadn’t been there since Easter and when I pulled up to the little parking lot in front of the guest house, a sense of peace washed over me. I felt the relief of one who has been on the road for weeks and finally returns home. I know it’s not my home yet, I do. But it sure does feel good to be there. I spent the evening and Monday in prayer with the community and got to take one last tour of the latest developments on their new building before they move in and it becomes cloistered. Mother Mary Augustine is so generous in allowing me in to see the rooms where I will one-day sleep, work, study and pray. 

I could only stay for a day this time around, but that was enough. Well it’s not really enough… I wait in joyful anticipation of the day I can go and stay forever, haha… but I at least feel recharged having had the opportunity to pray with the sisters for a day. I gave Mother an update on my finances and we chatted about my experience running this marathon. While I am not as close to resolving my debt as I thought I would be by the end of the race, Mother reminded me that the Lord has a reason for everything and that it will be taken care of when He wants, not necessarily when I want. And of course, it’s better for my soul that way. I do have some other fundraising plans for the next couple of months, which I will write about soon. But if it is God’s will that I not have my loans paid off in time to enter in August, then that just means He has more work for me to do in the world. More running to do and more people to pray for! I thank Him for this gift of continuing to pay off my debt, as it provides me with work with haste and devotion, to do the Lord’s work and gain more souls for His glory right now!

In these few days of prayer and reflection since the race God has given me so much hope. I have so much to be thankful for. So many people who have loved me and assured me that the Lord is working through my vocation already. I have to say that as each day passes and more graces are revealed, confirmation that I am being called to the Order of Premontre grows stronger and stronger. After everything the Lord has shown me and given me over the last few months, it’s difficult to imagine that this is not His will for me, and now it’s up to me to do my best, in every moment of every day, to respond to this call as generously as I can. My Lord sacrificed everything for me, and my greatest desire is to give my whole life to Him. Ultimately I must resign myself to the fact that He generously provides me with everything I need, and that He will grant me my heart’s greatest desire when the time is right. My responsibility right now is only to cooperate with the grace He gives me.

Oh Lord, make me like clay in your hands. Cast me into the mold of my Blessed Mother and make me of such substance that when the pressure of Your palms is released, I may keep my form and stand as a beautiful model of Your grace and love.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

5 mins to start!

Novena of the Miraculous Medal through the intercession of Our Lady:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary,  Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother,  penetrated with the most lively confidence  in you all-powerful and never-failing intercession,  manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal,  we your loving and trustful children  implore you to obtain for us the graces  and favors we ask during this novena,  if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.  (State your intention here...)  You know, O Mary,  how often our souls have been  the sanctuaries of you Son who hates iniquity.  Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin  and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone  so that our every thought, word and deed  may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial  that we may recover by penance  what we have lost by sin  and at length attain to that blessed abode  where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Novena for Any Necessity - Through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Day 9

The Lord came to my support.
He set me free and rescued me because He loves me. 

Gracious Father, 
I will thank you each day for your merciful goodness to me. 
With your help I will ever praise your kindness in my trouble. 
Please assist me now in faithfully following Christ, my Savior.


Action: In gratitude, be good to others today and always. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

One day moooore

Whoa! The clock on says 20 hours! Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me over the last few months, you all are amazing. If you're just coming into the game... we're almost at the end of a novena for all of your prayer intentions. All of the prayers for this novena can be found at if you want to get a late start! I'm heading off to St. Michael's Abbey in a little while to pray, record the rest of my Litany, and offer my rosary and mass for you all this afternoon. One more update before the race (maybe two if I find time to write this afternoon). Please pray for me... at this time tomorrow I'll be rounding off the last quarter of the marathon! God bless you! 

Day 8:

Novena of the Miraculous Medal through the intercession of Our Lady:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession,  manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.  
(State your intention here...)  You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.  Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word and deed  may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Novena for Any Necessity through the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe & St. Faustina:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
And those who are crushed in spirit, He saves. 
Your goodness, heavenly Father, 
responds speedily to our wretchedness. 
In my distress I call upon you 
to hear and answer my prayers. 
In you alone, O God, 
I will continue to trust despite everything. 
In Christ's name.

Action: Help someone you know who needs your aid today. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

DAY 7 - DOUBLE NOVENA for Litany Run

Day 7:

Novena of the Miraculous Medal through the intercession of Our Lady:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession,  manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.  
(State your intention here...)  You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.  Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word and deed  may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Novena for Any Necessity through the intercession of Sts. Gregory & Benedict:

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in time of distress. 
Father in heaven, 
you never reject those who seek your help, 
and are ever ready to comfort the sorrowful. 
Have pity on me in my needs, 
and rescue me from all my afflictions. 
In Christ's name, 
I implore your compassion. 

Action: In imitation of Christ, do good to those who dislike you. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DAY 6 - DOUBLE NOVENA for Litany Run

Just finished my final 5mi training run. Off to Orange County and St. Michael's Abbey tonight to pray. Offering my mass for all of you at noon today. Oremus pro invicem.


Day 6:

Novena of the Miraculous Medal through the intercession of Our Lady:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession,  manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.  
(State your intention here...)  You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.  Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word and deed  may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Novena for Any Necessity through the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker:

O Lord, reprove me not in your anger,
Nor chastise me in your wrath. 
Merciful Father, 
you know my sins and disobedience, 
my weakness and ingratitude which have deserved punishment. 
Yet, you are ever ready to forgive, 
and gracious to all in trouble. 
In Christ's name, 
come quickly to help me. 

Action: Hold back today the harsh word; banish the unkind thought. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DAY 5 - DOUBLE NOVENA for Litany Run

Let us open this day with prayer. 

Day 5:

Novena of the Miraculous Medal through the intercession of Our Lady:

O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession,  manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray.  (State your intention here...)  You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son who hates iniquity.  Obtain for us then a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word and deed  may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men.

Novena for Any Necessity through the intercession of St. Sebastian:

Now will I arise, says the Lord.
I will grant safety to him who longs for it. 
In you, heavenly Father, 
I confidently place all my trust. 
In your hands I leave all my anxieties with faith in your care for me. 
From you alone I away relief because of Christ, 
your Son, who pleads for us. 

Action: For God's sake, help some person today whom you may not like.