We Owe Each Other a Terrible Loyalty

“You. Come with me.” That was the beginning of the end. Ha.

“Spray, scrub, iodine, cream, then wrap it up. Go.” She spoke in broken English as she quickly demonstrated, and then sent me on my way. The Missionaries of Charity don’t mess around when it comes to serving our Lord in the poor.

I remember looking at the girls with me. Our unbelieving eyes met as if to say, “Is this honestly happening right now?” Funny story, it WAS.

The alleyway we were working in was lined with people, there to have their wounds attended to, there seeking some sort of healing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but turns out, that’s why I was there too.

“Go! Begin!” Sister said. I found myself slowly walking towards a 60 some year old man with his leg on the bench waiting to be tended to.

I was already sweating like a crazy woman due to the heat, but now I was sweating because, oh yes that’s right, I HAD NOT A CLUE WHAT THE HECK I WAS DOING.

I sat down in front of him and I’m sure my face said it all. I started to unwrap his old bandage, thinking to myself, “Should I tell him I majored in Theatre now or later?”

“Wound” was an understatement. These wounds were gashes, huge pieces of flesh… gone, complete holes, the list went on. This man’s leg was unlike anything I had ever seen. Just thinking about it makes me shake.

He could sense my fear, so, he took my kit and started cleaning it himself. I remember thinking, “Oh, yep. Yes. For sure. You know what you’re doing! I’ll just sit here and watch for moral support. Perfect. Good.”

He flew through the spray, he quickly scrubbed, he sprinkled the iodine on, and all the while I’m thinking, “Okay that wasn’t too bad, I can do that on the next guy.” And then he came to an abrupt stop. We both knew it wasn’t over though. The next step was the worst. The antibacterial cream.

This was the step where you actually had to touch the wound.

He looked at me and then handed me the cream, as if to say, “Now THIS is your job”.

At that moment, this is what was running through my brain, “NO NO NOOO NO NOO NO NOPE. NO. FUNNY. NO. NO. YOU DO IT. YOU DID ALL THE OTHER STEPS. WHY NOT THIS ONE? I’M NOT STRONG ENOUGH FOR THIS, KIND SIR. NO.”

And while that was happening in my head, this is what was happening in my heart, “Yes. This is simple. I’m going to do this. This is Jesus. And he is asking me to trust him. Yes.”

(“If your heart loves God, it is worth following.” -Peter Kreeft)

So I grabbed that cream, and by the strength and grace of God, I touched his wound. I touched every inch of it with that cream. I started singing to ease my fears, I prayed the Hail Mary out loud, and then I realized what scared me the most about what I was doing. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to touch the place that I knew would cause him the most pain.

I felt exactly like Thomas. The whole time I was in Haiti, I felt like Thomas. Doubting. Doubting that I was actually helping these people in any way. Doubting that Lord was in the struggles, pain, and confusion he had placed in front of me. But in that moment, the Lord truly reveled himself to me. Right before I touched his wound I could hear the Lord saying, “Do you believe me? Do you believe that by touching his wound, even if it brings great pain in this moment, that you will be helping it heal? That through this purification, I will allow something new to be born? Do you believe me, without seeing?”

The Lord was talking about a whole lot more than the physical wound in front of me.

During my time in Haiti, He challenged me to throw out my fears, and to reach out in love, even when all things seemed completely off and nothing made sense. To believe He was there, even when everything just looked and felt like pain. To believe in Him, to believe in myself, and to believe in the people he placed around me.

G.K. Chesterton said, “We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.

Amen to THAT. We mustn’t give up on each other, especially when it gets hard. Healing comes from prayer and surrender, yes, but it also comes from the broken brothers and sisters the Lord has placed in your path. We have so much to learn from each other.

That man in the alley brought me so much healing. Just by trusting me enough to see and touch his wounds, he showed me true humility, true vulnerability. He couldn’t take the last step alone, so he asked me to help him. I couldn’t take the last step alone, so I asked the Lord to help me. What a beautiful gift to be able to lean on each other, and in the end, find ourselves resting in the arms of the Lord. Isn’t that how we should be loving everyone in our lives? This gift was given to me time and time again in Haiti, through little babies, through the elderly, through my fellow missionaries, and through our amazing students.

Too often we let our own imperfections and insecurities hold us back from loving, from being vulnerable with each other and with God. We see our wounds as weaknesses, reasons to believe that we are not enough, so we carry them alone, silently. When really, we should be carrying each other to Christ. The fact that we are all broken should not hold us back, it should set us free. 

Pope Francis said “The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for the faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy, and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed”.

So.

  1. Put your leg on the table and shine light on your wounds. That’s strength.
  2. Be vulnerable and carry each other to Christ. That’s love.
  3. Believe that he is making all things new. That’s a promise.

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Bring Your Secrets, Bring Your Scars

You know that one song? That one song that comes on the radio as you’re driving home from a hard day? That song that just HIT you right in the deepest fold of your heart and you’re left in awe that timing like that exists?

Yes. That song. That song for me was “Unpack Your Heart” by Phillip Phillips. It had me reflecting on my ENTIRE life before the chorus came to a close. What?

“Bring you secrets, bring your scars, bring your glory, all you are. Bring your daylight, bring your dark. Share your silence and unpack your heart.”

It’s comical how many times I desired a boy to say these words to me. We all desire to be loved like this, in a total and complete way. Oh my GOSH we do! It’s written on our hearts!

But friends, we’ve got it wrong. Is that actually loving someone? Giving them all of your scars and hoping that they can help you put the Band-Aids on? I can’t telllllllll you how many times in college I turned to boys for the answers to the questions in my heart. And how many more times I was expected to harbor their secrets, to tend to their scars and to take on their darkness.

One of the students I’m working with in FOCUS said this to me one day, “Emily, I think the most powerful proof of God is that we are not who we were when we started believing in Him.” 

WOW. Thank the heavens! I couldn’t agree with her more. I have learned so much about love, about relationship, and about what it means to truly honor our brothers, since coming to know Christ and getting involved in FOCUS. Here are a few things that have become clear and are truly shaping the way I live my life.

  1. That song by Phillip Phillips? That song is a call to prayer. That song is our Lord speaking directly to your heart. All the desires I felt to be loved and to love were actually real and beautiful, I was just bringing those desires to the wrong person. Give your heart to Jesus first.
  1. Once He has your heart, and it’s healing through His power and no one else’s, trust that He will bring people in your life that you can love and be truly loved by. And He WILL. Oh my gosh, He will. You just need to have faith!
  1. There will always be a part of us that is broken, no matter the amount of healing that has taken place. See the perfection in imperfection. (I would argue that the imperfections of the people I love, are some of the most beautiful aspects about them.) We should be investing in people, honoring them, caring for them, selflessly loving them. Just make sure that through all of this, you’re leading them to Christ rather than to yourself. Be broken together, walking towards the Lord. I’ve taken more than a few paths, and I can say with complete trust and confidence that this path will lead you to the true love you desire.
  1. If this blog is freaking you out, I understand. Once upon a time, I would have been right there with you…. But I would say go back to #1. and give prayer a chance. It truly changed my life. I remember driving to a church, getting on my knees, and just letting go. Letting go of everything, especially my own pride. And I finally unpacked my heart to someone who could help.

“Bring you secrets, bring your scars, bring your glory, all you are. Bring your daylight, bring your dark. Share your silence and unpack your heart.”

How Do You Become a Life Changer?

“You get to mentor Shelby! She is a ROCKSTAR!”

Sweet. Awesome. Brilliant.

Week 1:

“Hey, Shelby! When are you free this week to meet for mentorship?”

….Nothing.

Week 2:

“Shelby! Can’t wait to meet you! I’ve heard such good things! Wanna meet this week??”

…Nada

Week 4:

“Shelby! So sorry that bible study time didn’t work!! Let’s get together soon though! This week? I’d love to meet you!!”

…NOTHING.

Emily’s thoughts:

“She hates me. Good. Great. Shoot. Way to go, Em. New York is LOVIN you.”

*The next day*

I get a text from Shelby, “Hi. I’m going to come to 5:30 mass today. Maybe I’ll see you?”

WHAT. The first lesson I learned from Shelby…. Our Lord is in control. Not me. It’s NEVER me.

She showed up at mass and tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey, I really need to go to confession… Can you tell the priest to go back in the confessional? I really need to go before mass.”

I remember thinking, “Heck YA I will!” I ran to tell Father and then all was well. She went to confession, stayed for mass, we quickly hugged and I had to run to the next thing. But I knew this meeting was important, so I got serious for the first time on my New York adventure, and told her that I thought we needed to sit down and really get to know each other. There was a reason that it had taken us so long to meet, and that reason was not of God.

We met up a few nights later and I honestly had one of my FIRST best nights in NYC. She was an RA, so we met to hang out around her dorm, and it was the first time I felt pulled to be really REAL with someone. I told her my whole story, I didn’t leave anything out. This girl had such a beautiful heart and I felt the Lord really telling me to be vulnerable.

Out of nowhere, I brought up the story of my first confession after my reversion to the faith. I hadn’t told any New Yorkers this story yet, mainly because of fear. I didn’t know what they would think. Isn’t it the WORST when the fear of “what others think” keeps us from being our true selves? Shelby also taught me how to kick this fear in the face.

After I shared my crazy, embarrassing story about confession (ask me in person), she just stared at me….. I thought, “Crap… her respect for me just flew out the window!” But then she got quiet and said, “Emily… that mass the other day… when I told you to get the priest… that was my first confession in 6 years. Once I became a student leader, everyone just expected me to be all set in that department. I’ve been really afraid to tell anyone the truth… But.. can you help me? I don’t know how to do it, and I think I did it all wrong…”

That was probably the first moment in NYC that the Lord spoke directly to my heart. I finally felt a little bit at home after hearing Shelby’s vulnerability and her desire to be all the Lord was calling her to be, despite the obstacles that had been put in her way. She was such a beautiful witness for me in that moment, and I will be forever grateful for all she continued to teach me this year. Together, we truly lived the gospel. And we fought for it. It wasn’t easy to meet, it wasn’t easy to open up, it wasn’t easy to go to confession, or to admit the ways in which we were failing or the ways in which we needed help… But when you begin fighting for things that are above yourself, the fight becomes WORTH IT. And the Lord will reward you. I gained a life changing friend.

And now, I have a huge favor to ask. Can you help me change HER life?

Shelby IS a rockstar, and this summer she is coming with me on a mission trip to Haiti. Originally, another student had signed up but dropped out at the last minute. Shelby felt a pull on her heart, and she said yes to taking the empty spot. She is now working to fundraise the trip with only one month to fundraise 2,000 dollars. She is full of faith that she is supposed to go on this mission and we are racing around to find a way to get her there. If you are at all moved by this story, I would be personally honored if you prayed about donating to her trip. This girl has changed lives. She is changing lives. And she WILL change lives in the future. But with this trip, I think the Lord wants to change hers.

Thank you all for reading this! Below is the link to her fundraising page!! I love you all and I’m praying for you!

http://www.focusonline.org/site/TR/Events/General?pg=fund&fr_id=1210&pxfid=22680&_ga=1.138217584.1742275592.1431371331

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The People You Will Meet

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I still remember sitting in the chapel at UNL praying for a GIANT sign from the Lord that I was supposed to say no to grad school and continue with FOCUS. “ANYTHING. Please. Just slam a door in yo girl’s FACE! PLEASE.” That’s what a majority of the conversation was. (Correct, I say things like, “yo” to our Lord and Savior. He accepts me as I am.) Anyway. I didn’t get any fireworks in the air, there were no roses, or special deliveries full of the answer. But once I surrendered everything I had left to him in prayer, he did make it clear.

“Think of the people you will meet. The people that I want to place in your life this next year… they are why.”

By the end of my holy hour, I was filled with a deep peace. I was full of gratitude for my year as a missionary at UNL and all of the amazing people I met and had the opportunity to mentor. And also full of gratitude for the people I was about to meet. The people I couldn’t imagine could be any better than those He had already graced me with.

I remember thinking, “Lord, all I have to do is send a ‘Yes’ in an email and I’m off to England for school. I’m so dang close.” It’s like I was about to take the token leap of faith, and then the Lord turned my head to the right and I saw a crowd of people in the other direction. People whom He had placed there. Strangers that, I knew deep in my heart, would be so very important to me.

I had no CLUE what I was doing when I finally said yes to FOCUS. To be honest, when they told me NYU, I just prayed they (missionaries included) wouldn’t think I was insane. (Which turned out to be only half answered… :))

However, with each new person I met, I was humbly reminded that I came an email away from NEVER meeting them. Never laughing with them, learning from them, crying with them, praying with them, loving them, or receiving their love in return. That sounds extremely cheesy, but gosh is was one of the biggest gifts I was granted this year. I can’t imagine my life now without these people. And I thank God every day for giving me the courage to continue with FOCUS.

If I met you this year, PRAISE GOD. You are so very important to me, and I don’t take our friendship lightly. Thank you for all the ways in which you have inspired me and taught me how to be a better person. I am in awe of how good God is, to have given me the opportunity to meet you, and call you my friend.

*To all of the students and new friends at NYU, what a blessing you are. I cannot explain how much you’ve done for me this year. From how to ride the subway, to how to hear God in the city, you have left me in awe by your strength, humility, and desire to know our Lord. And a special shout out to my senior ladies, talk about STRENGTH! I love you all and I wish more than anything I could be there for your graduation! You go, Glen Cocos.

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To my team and all my missionary frands! Can you believe we almost didn’t meet!? WHAT! I honestly cannot express how lucky I am to know all of you. From training, to campus, to the Culture Project in between! What amazing people you are. How beautiful is it when just a years friendship can feel like much, much longer than that. Thank you for the encouragement, for the shared stories, for your passion, and for your vulnerability.

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Friends, I just met you and this is CRAZY, but here’s my gratitude, (you’ve changed my life)- there is no “maybe”.

I hope, if anything, I’ve brought a unique sense of humor to your lives. 🙂

Love you all!!

Be Weak This Lent

When I was around 7 years old, I decided that I was going to give up ice cream for lent, my favorite food in the whole wide world. And ya know, the only thing I remember from my 7th lent, was the time that it hurt the most.

Let me set the scene. All of my cousins, aunts, and uncles are at grandparent’s house and we’re gathering around a table. It’s one of our birthdays (can’t remember who because, clearly, my mind was elsewhere). The song is coming to a close, “Haaaaappy Birrrrrrthdaaaay toooo yooooou!” and someone yells, “Who wants cake?! Who wants ice cream?!”All I felt was excitement! My cousins were jumping around, laughing, and preparing their bellies for the BEST part of birthdays. I’m beginning my personal celebration, watching my grandma scoop the first dish of ice cream, when it hits me…

I don’t get any.

And everyone else does.

And I must WATCH.

It was the kind of thing horror movies are made of.

7-year-old Emily Martinez HORROR MOVIES!

As the dishes of my cousins began to fill with Neapolitan ice cream, the drama became a bit too much for 7 year old Emmy, and I burst out into tears. TON of tears, ladies and gentlemen. You heard correctly. OVER LACK OF ICE CREAM.

Sista BAWLED in front of everyone.

Giving up ice cream had been a breeze up until that point… It was out of sight and out of mind. It wasn’t until it was placed right in front of me and I was told I couldn’t have it, that things got REAL. I remember feeling so hurt, so upset, so cheated out of something so dang GOOD.

I look back on that memory now, and I can’t believe that a dish of ice cream (or lack there of) could have caused me so much pain. To this day, I remember how hard I cried. I remember how hard it was to make that sacrifice.

I started thinking about this lent… my 24th lent. This lent, I understand the Webster definition of the word “sacrifice”, something that probably wasn’t true of 7-year-old Emily. But have I experienced it in the same way that I did as a child?

A few days ago, I listened to a talk by Christopher West on fasting. He said, at the end of a meal, when you realize that you’re still hungry, you have three choices.

  1. You can return for more food than you physically need, and be glutinous….
  2. You can repress your hunger. Pretend you don’t feel it. Hide it away.
  3. You can allow your desire for more to awaken your hope for the feast that lasts forever.

“If you don’t know the pain of hunger, how can you truly enjoy the feasting?”

WOWOWOWOW.

Spot. On. Good. Sir.

And these three points apply to more than just fasting from food. It also applies to friendships, relationships, and any instance where truly loving another is involved.

  1. How often do we take too much of a good thing? To the point of selfishness? For our own personal pleasure? (John Paul II said that the problem in the world today when it comes to love, is in this next sentence. “I long for you as a good.” When it should instead be, “I long for your good.” The first sentence is selfishness in disguise. The second is the true foundation of love.)
  1. How often do we ignore our God given desires because instant gratification is not in the near future, so why bother? Patience? Perseverance? What’s that nonsense?
  1. How often do we actually embrace the pains and longings that derive from our desire for good things, good food, and good people? How often do we let giving up that piece of chocolate cake unite us, if only for a moment, to the suffering of those who go to bed without dinner? How often do we let the desire to love and be loved by that one person we can’t get our mind off of, remind us of the love our Lord is trying to give us on a daily basis, if we would only turn to him? How often do we take that money we were going to spend on that second cup of coffee, and instead drop it in the collection basket on its second time around?

I say this and I’m thinking, “Man that’s gonna be hard, good luck!” Ha. Real life, though! It’s so hard! Oh my WORD, it’s hard. And that’s OKAY. That’s good. The Lord gives us such beautiful desires. But the world isn’t a perfect place and those desires get twisted. I pray that we all have a lent that purifies our hearts. A lent that causes us to really CRY when those dishes of ice cream are served around us! Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” Boom. Roasted.

Cry on Fri, Fun on Sun.

I think for a while, I was afraid to let my heart ache for the good that I am fasting from, because was I really allowed to feel weak in order to be strong? Why, yes. Welcome to Catholicism. Be weak this lent. It’s okay.

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Corinthians 12:9

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To Thine Own Self Be True

Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II To Artists

“To all who are passionately dedicated to the search for new ‘epiphanies’ of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.”


“The Artist, Image of God the Creator”


William Shakespeare. Oscar Wilde. Tennessee Williams. Anton Chekhov.

These were the men that filled my days as a college student studying theatre.

Bianca. Lady Windermere. Laura Wingfield. Harriet Smith. Juliet. Wendy Darling.

These were the women I worked so hard to emulate.

Night after night, I would stay up later and later memorizing line after line in hopes that I would be prepared for the next rehearsal.

“First rehearsal, you can use the script, after that, the book should be out of your hands. You’re studying to be a professional.”


“The Special Vocation of the Artist”


 *A normal night consisted of…

Lady Windermere: “Why doesn’t he come? This waiting is horrible. He should be here. Why is he not here, to wake by passionate words some fire within me? I am cold — cold as a loveless thing. Arthur must have read my letter by this time. If he cared for me, he would have come after me, would have taken me back by force. But he doesn’t care. He’s entrammelled by this woman — fascinated by her — dominated by her. If a woman wants to hold a man, she has merely to appeal to what is worst in him. We make gods of men and they leave us. Others make brutes of them and they fawn and are faithful. How hideous life is! . . . Oh! it was mad of me to come here, horribly mad. And yet, which is the worst, I wonder, to be at the mercy of a man who loves one, or the wife of a man who in one’s own house dishonours one? What woman knows? What woman in the whole world? But will he love me always, this man to whom I am giving my life? What do I bring him? Lips that have lost the note of joy, eyes that are blinded by tears, chill hands and icy heart. I bring him nothing. I must go back — no; I can’t go back, my letter has put me in their power — Arthur would not take me back! That fatal letter! No! Lord Darlington leaves England to-morrow. I will go with him — I have no choice. [Sits down for a few moments. Then starts up and puts on her cloak.] No, no! I will go back, let Arthur do with me what he pleases. I can’t wait here. It has been madness my coming. I must go at once. As for Lord Darlington — Oh! here he is! What shall I do? What can I say to him? Will he let me go away at all? I have heard that men are brutal, horrible . . . Oh!”

I cannot TELL you how many times I recited this monologue. How many times I walked back and forth in the scenic design room, loudly articulating my British accent, as my angel of a friend, Grant, thank God for you, followed along with the script. I had to get every word right. I had to get the pronunciation perfect. My director was a genius and she wasn’t afraid to acknowledge my mistakes. She called me to excellence, because she believed her actors, her students, to. be. excellent. She knew how to love us right where we were at, and then challenged us to rise to where she knew we could be.

“Emily, you need to pause. Say the line, go to leave, stop, turn, look out, pause, decide, THEN say the next line. We need to see your decision to stay. Yes, say the words, but you also must show us what is happening internally. Trust. You need to trust. The audience needs to fall in love with her here.” These are the type of notes I would get.

9 years of theatre. Over 40 productions. Rehearsal every night but Saturday, from 6:00 to 10:00 (But let’s be real, 11:00).

And I loved every second of it.

Now, two years out of college, I am walking down a slightly different path. A “Catholic Missionary” type path. (My life. Proof that God has a sense of humor.)


“Does Art Need the Church?”


Jesus Christ. John Paul II. Pope Francis. St. Paul. Fulton Sheen. St. Joseph.

These are now the men that fill my time.

Mary. Mother Teresa. St. Cecilia. St. Monica. Joan of Arc.

These are now the women I work to emulate.

Now, I spend my days working with beautiful NYU students, walking with them in their faith and helping them share that faith, their joy, with those around them. I spend my nights working on bible studies and mentorship. I share my story and I pray in gratitude for the millions of ways the Lord has worked in my life.

But in that transition, somewhere between memorizing Lady Windermere lines and reciting the Litany of Humility, I flipped a switch and theatre was left in the dark. No ghost light.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever get so busy that you cut out everything that isn’t directly in front of you? When I’m an artist, I’m an artist. When I’m a missionary, I’m a missionary. And right now, at this moment, I’m a missionary.

Cut and dry. Short and simple. Right?

Wrong.

This morning, as I waited in line for tickets to the New York City Ballet’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”, I noticed something. Theatre majors. About 4 of them claimed the first place in line; I can spot those beautiful souls from a mile away. Observing them took me right back to waiting in the wings for my entrance line. And my heart kinda ached, actually. All I kept thinking about was how much I missed those older men in my life. (Ha.) Shakespeare. Wilde. And so on. I wondered where they had gone. Where had Emily the actress gone? (SO dramatic.)

Funny enough, there was a time in my life, when that’s all I was. “Emily the Actress” You could not have known me without seeing me run off to a rehearsal, or having me invite you to one of my shows. But today, the majority of people in my life have never seen me in a play. Have never heard me sing a song. Or truly create. I’ve kept a big piece of my heart at a distance.

“Why would being a missionary lead me away from all of this?” I thought for a second.


“The Church Needs Art”


And then I realized that my “two paths”, my two lives, my two loves… Emily the actress and Emily the missionary were only separate because I divided them.

ME.

I.

I did it.

MY GOSH.

Somewhere along the line, I, myself, decided that the two paths were far too different to be the same. What a lie.

…Except on Wednesdays. On Wednesdays John Paul II has been pulling at my heartstrings, trying to open my eyes to the TRUE path that I am on. A path Jesus and Shakespeare walk.

I am leading a bible study on John Paul II’s Letter to Artists. And for an entire semester of Wednesdays, I’ve missed the point of my own study. Well done, Em.

“Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.” JPII


“An Appeal to Artists”


I think sometimes, we forget all that the Lord is calling us to be. Spoiler! It’s not just one thing. It’s the million different things that make you YOU. Remember that we are called to LOVE, first and foremost. And the Lord has given us each special gifts to express that love. If you feel called to be a missionary, do it. If you feel called to be an artist (athlete, engineer, nurse, teacher, etc.), do it. If you feel called to be both, GO BIG OR GO HOME, BRO. Because the Lord isn’t making you choose between them. Actually quite the opposite. Instead of taking, he is giving. He is giving you a gift. He is giving you an opportunity to be fully alive, in a way that is uniquely YOU.


“The ‘Beauty’ that Saves”


So, last weekend, I hung out with a bunch of nuns at a Sisters of Life retreat. This weekend, I watched the New York City Ballet Company dance a breathtaking “Romeo and Juliet”. In the future, I plan on falling on my face in an epic Central Park soccer game. I plan on volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity, going to a Yankees game with sunflower seeds in hand, crying like a lost child during the “For Good” scene in Wicked, and analyzing the beauty of all things John Paul II. Because, “As Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make it a work of art, a masterpiece.” JP2 for the WIN.

You do you. Hold onto what the Lord has placed in your heart.

Be all (To thine) He is (own self) calling you to be (true).

Below, is a play for you, written and performed by me.

It’s bout time I begin creating again.

this blog is real LIFE

Walk with me? Okay great.

You live in New York City. You’re speed walking home from a long day at work. You see the yellow taxi cabs racing by, the fashion forward locals running past you, and all you’re thinking is, “Just one more block and I’m in out of the cold.” You’re at the home stretch, you go to cross the street but you see something. Someone. You catch their eye and you can see their heart. And it hurts. You stop in your tracks. Words cannot describe the suffering you see. You look around for answers, and you see the building they’re standing in front of. And all the painstaking puzzle pieces slowly come together. And you can’t look away.

I couldn’t look away.

The NYC FOCUS Missionaries live on Bleecker St. And we share a wall with Plan Parenthood’s headquarters.

Before my reversion, I remembered Plan Parenthood as the place all of my friends got their birth control. It was the place that promoted “safe sex”. It was the place that “gave you options”. As if controlling the birth of a human person, was your option. But for some reason back then, I didn’t question it. I didn’t think about it too much.

I walk past Plan Parenthood every day. At the beginning, it was just another building to me. I’d been pro life for a while by then, but for some reason, I’d just say a quick prayer as I passed. I didn’t get it. I wouldn’t let myself “go there”. I didn’t think about it too much.

After about three months, I saw a girl come out for the first time. I cannot put into words the look on her face. As an actor, I observe people. I thought I’d seen every expression in the book. But that day, her face destroyed everything I thought I knew. It destroyed every moment I was worried about offending someone by taking a stance. It destroyed every moment I let that worry keep me silent and on my own way. I have experienced pain, but nothing like this. Nothing like the tears rolling down her face. And “not thinking” about her tears, will never keep them from falling.

A month later, something different caught my eye. Three boys stood outside the Plan Parenthood. Waiting. I had experienced what the pain looked like after it was over, and that day I was about to see what the pain looked like in the midst of it all. Part of me wanted to glare at God. As if to say, “I can’t take anymore of this!” But this wasn’t from God. Pain like this could never be from God.

Those boys were from all walks of life, but they had one thing in common. Their faces were empty. The first, as if he’d given up. The second, as if he’d won a worthless war. And the third, as if he wasn’t even allowed to fight. Together, they looked as if they were waiting for what was the FARTHEST from freedom. The farthest from pro choice. The farthest from fully alive. As terrible as it sounds, it looked like they were waiting for death. And to be honest, I stopped still in my tracks. I couldn’t look away. Abortion is real, and it has to do with women AND men. I felt like yelling. I wanted to tell them to go stop it! To go get her! To love! I wanted them to know that they were more than this. But I’ve found recently, that sometimes, turning to the Lord in prayer is the loudest we could ever scream.

I started praying and remembered that it was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn. Wow. That day became very real for me. Our Lady (Mary) appeared to Juan Diego while she was pregnant. She brought hope. A hope that even in her youth, in her unmarried state, in her suffering, and in her uncertainty of the future, she could trust in the Lord. She could trust in the beauty within her.

A close friend of mine had an abortion, and she said that coming to know the love of God was truly what brought her to life again. She told me to share that it is never too late to run to Him. You are still worthy of love. “You’ve got to believe that.” she said.

Ya know, a few years ago, I didn’t understand the reality of this whole “pro life/pro choice” argument. I had no idea. I was uninformed and frankly, selfish. If it wasn’t something that impacted me directly, I’d just swing with the majority. And back then “It’s my body and I do what I WANT with it” was SUPER hip.

But those days are over. I’m taking the honesty and truth I strive for on stage, to life.
Those three men… those three men were real. Their pain was something even the most influential pro choice advocate could not deny. I’m not about arguing or making people angry due to differing opinions, but the honest truth is something I will stand behind. Those men were the truth. That woman was the truth. And this world is pushing them towards a lie. I thank God that I am no longer “pro whatever”. I am for people. I am for life.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us

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