Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be."

Not your Ipods and Dvds. Not your perfume, not your video games. None of it came to be without Him. He is the Savior of the world. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Is it sometimes hard to focus in Mass?

An hour?!  What? I have to spend one whole hour every Sunday at some huge place that has random flowers on it and stuff? Uh.

I feel as though we all have though this at one time or another. Right? That was about the first 18 years of my life. I really wanted to enjoy Mass. I really wanted to dive deep. But how? I just couldn't wrap my mind around it. I was tired, bored, distracted, oh hey there's a cute boy over there let me send vibes so he turns around. It was one of those kinds of things. yah know?

Well, I recently purchased a beautiful leather journal from barnes and noble. (

Its actually kind of a sad side-note, the paper part disconnected from the binding. 

Anyways, I started journaling through the Mass. 
I write down the 1st reading, the verses, and a reflection or verse that really sticks out to you.  Then do the same thing for the 2nd reading. 
During the gospel I write down the verses and listen. Usually I journal through the homily just awesome things the priest is saying and stuff like that. Its pretty legit. 

Its making me dive deeper into Mass. I've legitimately felt more in love with the Lord over the past few months that I've been journaling. It opens my mind up and helps me focus on what I'm reading and listening too. 

So, if you have a problem focusing and hearing what the message of Mass truly is, I propose that you go out, get a beautiful journal, and pray through it during Mass. 

Its helping me become more in tune with the Word and with the Lord. 

Remember, they are one in the same. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tweet Tweet

So, I have a twitter. (@homerun_mary if you care)

Yep, I said it. I admit. I'm a twitter-holic. Well, not really. But I use twitter mostly to talk about one of my favorite past times (baseball). So you can imagine how down my twitter feed gets during this part of the year. Yep, the off season.

I decided, however, that at the end of the baseball season I was going to try and "follow" more Catholic people. More inspirational people so that I could dive a little deeper each and every day on one of my favorite social media outlets.

Insert: the key to twitter is to have something to talk about.

Anyways, I was on it today, as I am every other day, and I follow some pretty awesome people. But someone retweeted this verse and it really hit me.


it said:
Jesus said, "Stay awake and pray so that you won't enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38)

Now if you remember this part of the bible, Jesus was speaking with his disciples who had already fallen asleep once. This was one of Jesus' last moments as a "free" man. It was right before he was fully betrayed by Judas. It was His last few moments with our Lord before he was taken to suffer. Yet, was he worried about himself?

Well yeah, a little. But it wasn't all about him. He told his best friends to "Stay awake and pray so that you won't enter into temptation"

hmm. "so that you won't enter into temptation" that sounds familiar.

 "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come, your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,12and forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil."

Matthew 6:9-13

oh yeah. thats where I remember it from. In the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray it says "Lead us not into temptation". But how do they connect? In the Lords prayer, Jesus is telling us to pray to the Lord so that we will not be tempted by the evil one. In the passage, Jesus tells his disciples (also us) to stay awake so that we may not be tempted.

aka; he tells us how to pray to not be tempted and how to act to keep from temptation.

But what does stay awake mean?

Stay awake, thrive. Be aware of your surroundings. Jesus didn't want his disciples to fall asleep because He knew that He was about to be handed over to evil. He knew He was about to die. He wanted his disciples there with him, fully alert, fully ready to see the power of God be strengthened by the most powerless act of courage.

"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".

We are human (in case you weren't sure. We are.). Therefore, we are weak. We can build up all the adrenaline our bodies can handle but it doesn't mean we are necessarily strong. We, in our human form, are weak when it comes to this kind of stuff. Jesus, in his human form, was weak. He was afraid, but his spirit was willing to complete the prophecy put into place. He hoped his disciples to do the same.

This saying is kind of like a moral code. Its kind of like the famous St. Jerome quote "Practice what you preach". The spirit is our soul. The spirit is our moral compass, and sometimes our flesh, our humanity, causes us to go off of our moral compass. But Christ calls us back on track. Just like Christ pulled the disciples back on track.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mary, whats your faith like?

 My faith can probably be described in a few words.
For one, it’s ongoing. I will never be able to dive deep enough into my faith because it’s a never-ending pool. I am constantly learning and growing, deepening my knowledge about scripture and the Lord. Over the past year I have come to yearn for a deeper knowledge of what I, on a daily basis, call my faith. Which brings me to my next word.
My faith is a struggle. A constant struggle that I believe will last for the rest of my life. Probably because I’m human (well, definitely because I’m human). I used to try and deny my struggle, saying things like my faith is awesome and Jesus is my best friend. Over the past years I’ve tried to be honest with myself about my faith and the most honest answer I discerned about was that it’s a struggle. I have trouble believing in things I can’t understand. The Catholic faith is called a mystery. Although a struggle, this past week at youth group kind of opened my eyes to something. I was asked to speak on the Eucharist and I was reading different stories in the Gospels. I read John 6:60-68 (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite passages ever!) which, and I quote, says:

Many, therefore, of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can hear it?’ When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, ‘Does this offend you?...’ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Will you also go away?’ Then Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.’”
 I get a lot from this passage. Mostly, however, that this passage kind of describes my faith. They’re talking about the Eucharist as a hard concept, hard to understand, therefor hard to believe. The people who came from all ends of the earth to see him had trouble understanding and many left. His best friends, the 12, had trouble understanding. But when Jesus asked his 12 “Will you go away also?” will you leave too? Simon Pete said “Whom shall we go?”. I read this and my faith, in a way, made sense. My faith is a struggle because Catholicism is full of hard concepts and I don’t always understand them. I have learned, however, that I’m not called to understand them, just to believe in them. If I don’t believe in what is so clearly written for me, what has been so clearly passed down for me, then where else would I go?  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This week in youth ministry...

I was asked to speak on the Eucharist. Its an incredibly touchy, confusing, wonderful, and dear topic that is extremely close to my heart. The mystery of the Eucharist is completely profound. The church teaches that the Eucharist is the Source and the Summit of our faith. It is the Body, Blood, SOUL, and DIVINITY. We sometimes forget that the Eucharist isn't just his body but His entire being. We as Catholic are called to believe that in every bit of Host and every drop of the Wine is the entirety of Christ.
      The hardest part of the Eucharist I think for many of us to remember is that although it is visually a piece of bread and a cup of wine the particles have changed into the Body and Blood. We know this big word transubstantiation, which in basic terms means that during the consecrations of the bread and wine the elements of each is changed into the real Body and real Blood of Jesus.
But wait.  Where do we get this from?

 "14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken somebread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

Luke 22: 14-20
A.K.A He said straight up THIS IS MY BODY. Take this all of YOU and eat it! He said This is my body which will be GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
Lets backtrack real quick. This was the Last Supper. This was before he went to the garden. Before He begged the Lord's pardon, before Peter cut off the guards ear. Before Judas even finished the deed. It was before ALL OF IT. The Apostles didn't even know what was about to happen! This is crazy!

Jesus said to his best friends this is MY BODY. This is it. I'm giving it to you. Here it is, take it and eat it. I am giving you myself because I LOVE YOU. Loving someone is an act of giving of yourself, right? He said take this all of you and eat it. Take this all of you and drink it. Its for you because I love you. Here is this little piece of unleavened bread. This simply wine made from grapes. Here are two simple things that will create the greatest mystery of all time.

Jesus said take this bread. Take it, take this piece of bread. The smallest, least expensive piece of bread. Take it so that you can take me. He said because I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, TAKE THIS PIECE OF ME. He said I am going to humble myself down into something so simple so that all may take it. So that when someone receives this bread they are also receiving me. He humbled himself into something that could fit in our hands. Something that could enter our bodies so that he may have a more intimate relationship with our human self.

The Eucharist is one of the hardest things to understand. Even Jesus' own disciples had trouble.

John 6:51-58- “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, WILL HAVE eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeedHe that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me.”

These were his friends. The one's around him, coming from all ends of the earth to hear him speak, to touch his cloak, and he gives them something that will last for eternity, and they don't want it? They are troubled. They see how uneasy it is. How unnerving it is. They are caught up in the logistics that they ignore what the Son of Man is actually saying. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life." I don't know how much more straightforward you can get! 

But, read a bit further. Jesus does not stop those who do not wish to understand from leaving. He says "go". He turns to his disciples. His best friends. It says (John 6:60-68- )“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?... From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

AKA His BFF's weren't sure either! But they knew that this was God. They knew that although it was hard to understand, it was worth trying. Jesus knows that its hard for us to understand the Eucharist. That's why it is called a mystery. But we are called to do just as the disciples did and say "To whom else shall we go?". We are called to say "uh, yeah I don't always understand the Eucharist, I don't always feel you here, but I know you are here, I know you are the true presence and I know you are the true God and what you say is the full truth so where else can i possibly go? Who else can I possibly turn too? 


The first Fiat.

A couple thousand years ago came the first Fiat.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 26-38)

Phew, a lot to live up to right? Now, I'm not going to lie to you and say that I've read the Bible cover to cover (I'm trying to work on it though, Praise God!) but, I do try to familiarize myself with what I'm writing about. Although the entire section is extremely intimidating, its nothing that we as Christians can't strive to achieve. 

But first, lets pray. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 
Lord, help us to open our hearts to Your will and guide us to Your will instead of our own. Let Your will be done to us. 
Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

So, Mary. The yes. 
Mary gave the most important "yes" anyone could ever give. She allowed the Lord to become present in her through the Holy Spirit. Thats crazy! I pray that one day I can even come close to not being freaked out by God's plan for me. I pray for her unending faith! 

The thing is though, Mary's Fiat was not just a one time thing. No "yes" to anything is just a one time thing. There must be work involved. There must be more in order to fully give yourself to something. Mary is the prime example of that. Not only did she say Yes to the biggest question on earth. She bore the Son of God, the savior of the world! THEN not only did she do that but she went to her cousin and PROCLAIMED GLORY TO GOD. She didn't say "Man I"m going to be the mother of God aka I'm really awesome bow to me and give me grapes". no. She definitely did not. She said, and I quote:

"My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His handmaid; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name."

For the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is HIS name. God has blessed me, so continue to praise him. All generations will call me blessed because God has made it so, but praise HIM. not me. You can call me blessed, ask for my intercession, but praise HIM. For it is Him who has done this for me. 

She said yes. 


Monday, December 5, 2011


      Hey, my name is Mary Blenke. I'm a sophomore at the University of South Florida, Barista at Starbucks, and core member of the Tessera Youth ministry at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.
     Let me backtrack really quick. When I was born, I was baptized Catholic. From then on I never really practiced. Sure, my parents and I (well, mostly my mom) went to mass almost every Sunday. But hey, going to mass didn't exactly mean going to mass (as the teens in my youth group like to say). All it meant was spending an hour every Sunday where I didn't want to be. This lasted until my freshman year of high school.
     Upon trying out for the volleyball team, I met a girl that went to youth group. She was from a different Catholic middle school than I knew her briefly from school dances and competitive sports. We got called back, but neither of us made it much farther, as volleyball players that is. We quickly became friends and soon, she invited me to youth group. My first trip was to the March for Life in 2007. The fellowship, love, and community I felt made my hear jump. I knew I was being called to something greater.
     For the next semester I immersed myself in the idea of youth ministry. I loved Sundays because it meant I could go to youth group and meet new people. We met our new youth minister and with it our new program; Life Teen. I wasn't sold.
     That summer, I went to my first "retreat". Steubenville Atlanta, Matt Maher, and my youth group friends. It was a blast. I wasn't ready. I had no idea what faith was, I had an idea of what fun was. Hanging out with people who (I thought) had my same morals. It was a blast, but I felt something more. I was being called to something greater.
     For the next few months my life was nice. I started pining for a relationship with the Lord. I started feeling the way he was pursuing. I yearned for it, but I just didn't know. I felt lonely, I felt nothing from the Lord, I felt as though I was being called for more, but what? I felt nothing.
     My loneliness Sophomore year left my heart feeling empty. I filled it with a guy, and not the best one. The next two years I spent under his reign instead of His. My demeanor got sadder and sadder as I allowed my heart to be pulled away from the Lord. I let this guy have my heart, and my life. I said no to what I thought I was being called too, and yes to what was leading me away. The next two years, I spent under the supervision of my boyfriend. I was emotionally and physically abused daily. I figured I wasn't good enough for more. I figured I just wasn't good enough for the Lord anymore.
     The summer of 2009 came quickly (actually, really slowly. I was miserable). Anyways, I went to a Life Teen summer camp. That week changed my life.

Welcome to it.