Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas is coming. Prepare for our Savior!

Blessings on you and your family!

The wonderful Savior of the world is almost here. The most important birthday of the year is upon us! What are you doing to prepare? God will become man, humbled in a manger for all to see. Here is a very beautiful message from our holy father Pope Benedict XVI.

“He stoops down – he himself comes down as a child to the lowly stable, the symbol of all humanity’s neediness and forsakenness. God truly comes down. He becomes a child and puts himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child. The Creator who holds all things in his hands, on whom we all depend, makes himself small and in need of human love. God is in the stable. (…) God is in the cloud of the poverty of a homeless child: an impenetrable cloud, and yet – a cloud of glory! How, indeed, could his love for humanity, his solicitude for us, have appeared greater and more pure? The cloud of hiddenness, the cloud of the poverty of a child totally in need of love, is at the same time the cloud of glory. For nothing can be more sublime, nothing greater than the love which thus stoops down, descends, becomes dependent. The glory of the true God becomes visible when the eyes of our hearts are opened before the stable of Bethlehem. (…)God – from the time of Adam – saw that his grandeur provoked resistance in man, that we felt limited in our own being and threatened in our freedom. Therefore God chose a new way. He became a child. He made himself dependent and weak, in need of our love. Now – this God who has become a child says to us – you can no longer fear me, you can only love me.”
Pope Benedict XVI Christmas Mass 2008

I pray that the Lord's birth blesses you with renewed vigor and a strengthening of spirit for the new year. Make a worthwhile new year's resolution like praying a meditation or a rosary every day. There is no joy like hope in the Lord. God bless you and your family during this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I need your advice!

Recently I have been thinking about my direction in life. I've felt called to youth ministry since high school and I still do, however, I also feel called to marriage and I want to be able to support a family. I'm in a pickle.

I know I want to do youth ministry. Youth ministers don't make much money.
I know I want to have a family and I want my wife to be able to stay at home when we have kids. I need money to support them.

I've recently felt called to do some sort of public speaking about Theology of the Body. Maybe I could do youth ministry at a parish and then do speaking engagements for some extra income. Maybe I should look for a diocesan level job for a little more money.

Basically, I want to serve the Catholic church. I want to support a family and I want to do youth ministry.

Any advice?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Testimony

I have been Catholic my whole life. I come from a Catholic family that goes to Mass every Sunday. I used to sit in the pew with my older brother and eat Cheerios just to pass the time until the hour-long Sunday ceremony was over. I didn’t really care about my faith until high school. Up until then I had taken all the Sunday school classes that were supposed to teach me about my faith but who really pays attention in those? It’s like taking a class on Sunday. Boring. It wasn’t until I was introduced to a vibrant Catholic youth group that I really began to take ownership of this treasure I had discovered. I had my first real emotional faith experience during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a retreat. Adoration is the true presence of God. What a gift! I realized that I was consuming the true body and blood of Jesus Christ every week, but I can’t say I completely believed it. Being part of the relativist, rationalist culture, I had my doubts.

During my junior year of high school God revealed my vocation to youth ministry. To think I was almost a landscape architect. I began discovering what Catholicism is about through youth group, the Bible, the Catechism, and this new thing called theology. I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in theology to learn more about this God I had such a connection with during the night in Adoration. I decided to go to a Catholic school in North Carolina called Belmont Abbey College. It’s a small private school, which means it’s expensive. God knows no boundaries. My parents were able to send me to the Abbey to learn theology under the spiritual direction of Benedictine monks. What a blessing! My study of theology has taught me that the Church can explain these doubts. It was hard for me to accept listening to everything the Church said at first (blame it on Individualism), but when I found out the Church had the answer to most of my doubts, I decided to submit to authority. Praise God!

After my emotional experience with Catholicism and the reason of the Church explained to me in college, I have found a beautiful, rich tradition to strengthen me on my journey. Just as Jesus stumbled on his way to Golgotha, I have stumbled in my journey. God, being omnipotent, knew this would happen so he provided a wonderful support system for me, the Sacraments. The Eucharist is my strength. Take advantage of God’s gifts for your journey. Thy Kingdom Come!

Servant of the King,

Matt Merry

Friday, December 4, 2009

Re-blog about Life Lessons: Great read!

Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

by Henrik Edberg. Print Print

Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.

So let’s just move on to some of my favourite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.

1. Change yourself.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.

And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.

And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.

2. You are in control.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that’s mostly just all it is.

You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.

And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.

3. Forgive and let it go.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.

You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.

If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.

4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.

And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.

So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.

You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.

5. Take care of this moment.

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.

Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.

Have a look at 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment for tips on how quickly step into the now. And remember that reconnecting with and staying in the now is a mental habit – a sort of muscle – that you grow. Over time it becomes more powerful and makes it easier to slip into the present moment.

6. Everyone is human.

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.

And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.

It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.

7. Persist.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.

Find what you really like to do. Then you’ll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. You can also find a lot of useful tips on how keep your motivation up in How to Get Out of a Motivational Slump and 25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself.

One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.

Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.

Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi’s third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.

8. See the good in people and help them.

I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.

And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.

By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger. A few articles that may provide you with useful advice in that department are Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation? and Dale Carnegie’s Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Social Skills. Or you can just move on to the next tip.

9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.

When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.

With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.

10. Continue to grow and evolve.

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.

Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lessons Learned

Hey readers,

So tonight I helped lead a night about Theology of the Body and I learned a few things. I hope this is helpful for anyone preparing for ministry.

1. Prepare your entire night before the day of so that you spend the day relaxing and practicing instead of putting on the "finishing touches"... *cough

2. Know what you're talking about. Know your subject inside and out. When you're leading, you generally have to say something and you have the attention of a bunch of people. Know what to say that's going to be the most effective.

3. Prepare everyone in a leadership position before the day of.
-people leading small groups
-AV people
-teens helping out

4. Have some sort of anonymous evaluation that will help you do a better job next time.

5. Last and most definitely not least, PRAY! The more you pray for your success and for the success of the night, the more likely you are to succeed. God will bless you. Ask for it.

These are just a few things I learned. If you can think of anything else, please please please comment and let me know. Also, if you were at the TOB night, feel free to leave comments about it, especially what I could have done better. I promise, you won't hurt my feelings.

God bless!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Separates You and God?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praise God for another day!!! What a blessing to be given the gift of life and the free will to choose what to do with it. Today's Gospel was about the rich man who went away sad because Jesus told him that in order to inherit eternal life.

Eternal Life.

Tonight I was studying (which I do all the time of course) with a friend who lives very close to our beautiful adoration chapel here on campus. When I left the study session, I felt a tug to step into the "holy of holies" and worship my King and my God. I picked up a book I've been reading called "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis De Sales. I opened up to a meditation about death... I know, sounds uplifting.

"Consider that then the world is at end as far as you are concerned, there will be no more of it for you, it will be altogether overthrown for you, since all pleasures, vanities, worldly joys, empty delights will be as a mere fantastic vision to you. Woe is me, for what mere trifles and unrealities I have ventured to offend my God? Then you will see that what we preferred to Him was nought. But, on the other hand, all devotion and good works will then seem so precious and so sweet:--Why did I not tread that pleasant path? Then what you thought to be little sins will look like huge mountains, and your devotion will seem but a very little thing."

The line that really struck me was the one about the "mere trifles and unrealities I have ventured to offend my God".

Why would you trade the temporal "mere trifles" and pleasures of the world for the ETERNAL Life and complete union with God?

Try to give up one thing this week that separates you and God.

I know it's easier said than done but "with God, all things are possible". Make it a new thing every month. If you start with the big things and you really work on them, if you really learn to hate sin and despise it for what it is, you could become a saint in no time.

What is better to strive for than complete union with the almighty God?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I think this movie is going to make me cry.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Love, not Judgment

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Sunday! What a beautiful day outside! Yesterday was cloudy and rainy all day. Today, I woke up to a sunny Sunday morning on my way to the most beautiful celebration between heaven and earth!!! Praise God!

Today's Gospel was about removing whatever causes you to sin. Figure out whatever it is that divides you and God... now work with all your mind, body, and soul to remove it. Get rid of it. The love of God is so powerful and so pure that to be united with Him in love is the greatest ecstasy that humans can experience. The first reading was about ministry in the name of the Lord.

"For whoever is not against us is for us." Mk 9:40.

What a joy to know we have such support! That means that whoever is not against Christ's message to "Repent", is for it. This support is shown in love.

One thing that I have noticed and felt in the past few days here at the Abbey is judgment. I know it happens everywhere, not just here. The fact that it happens here is the basis for this blog.

Brothers and Sisters, we are called to LOVE.

Matthew, in chapter 7, verse 1, says:
"Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."

We can't love God if we're hating others. Don't judge your brothers and sisters in Christ... whoever is not against us is for us. To be an effective witness for Christ, we have to spread love.

Martin Luther King Jr. says "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

When the Pharisees and the Sadducees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, he said "You shall love the Lord, you God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 37-40.

Our generation is looking for love. We need to show them the true love that is found in Jesus Christ. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi

Please, I beg you, love each other. Judgmental glares and hateful words can wound people to the core. In the world we live in today, single actions by the faithful can drive hesitant believers away from the church.

I stumble and fall in the journey too. Remember, Jesus fell three times on the way to His crucifixion. Nobody's perfect. I'm not trying to raise myself up with this blog so please don't take it as preaching. I'm trying to spread the love of Christ.

I'll leave you with this meditation on Christ's third fall.
Our Lord falls for the third time, on the slope leading up to Calvary, with only forty or fifty paces between him and the summit. Jesus can no longer stay on his feet: his strength has failed him, and he lies on the ground in utter exhaustion.
He offered himself up because it was his will; abused and ill-treated, he opened not his mouth, as a sheep led to the slaughter, dumb as a lamb before its shearers (Is 53:7).
Everyone against him.. the people of the city and those from abroad, and the Pharisees and the soldiers and the chief priest.... All of them executioners. His mother--my mother--weeps.
Jesus fulfills the will of his Father! Poor; naked. Generous: what is there left for him to surrender? "He loved me and delivered himself up unto death for me--Gal 2:20.

My God! May I hate sin and unite myself to you, taking the holy cross into my arms, so that I, in my turn, may fulfill your most lovable will, ... stripped of every earthly attachment, with no other goal but your glory,... generously, not keeping anything back, offering myself with you in a perfect holocaust.
-Meditation taken from the Stations of the Cross in the Daily Roman Missal.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Body in Christ

Peace be with you,

Last night, I had the honor of attending one of Belmont Abbey's many shining gems of excellence; the Cuthbert Allen Memorial Dinner for The Ecumenical Institute of the Carolinas. Being a theology major, I received an email looking for general interest in the idea of a college age student giving an hour long presentation about his research of Anti-Catholic sentiments in Greenville, South Carolina. I was happy to see that this student was none other than an old high school youth group friend, Casey Cole. He did an amazing job presenting the information that he collected and analyzed over his ten weeks of research. (side note: It's a truly beautiful thing to see the fruits of Christ manifested in the lives of youth. Casey and I both felt the call to youth ministry while we were active in the same youth group and now Christ has blessed us with the further discovery of our vocation: PRAISE GOD!!!)

After Casey's presentation, the Benedictines welcomed the group to join them in Vespers (night prayer which involves singing the psalms) and the majority gladly joined. Following the service, the Ecumenical Institute hosted a MAGNIFICENT Salmon dinner with roasted herb potatoes, steamed broccoli, delicious salad, and sweet tea. I was given the opportunity to dine with fellow peers and to catch up with Casey about his research and college in general. Our student honoree table included a Greek Orthodox Catholic, a Wake Forest student converting to the Quaker tradition, a Protestant (I forgot the denomination and for that I deeply apologize) and a few Catholics. We were recognized for "efforts, both scholarly and personal, that support the goals of the Ecumenical Institute and for the potential demonstrated to make even greater contributions in the future". I was baffled. All I really did was attend a friend's presentation, go to Vespers, and eat dinner. The dinner moved me to action in this area of the faith so hopefully future blogs will address these ecumenical contributions.

After the scrumptious food we were able to receive wisdom from the erudite Dr. David Steinmetz of the Duke Divinity School on the topic: "Is the Reformation Over?". This man spoke with such conviction and such passion that I couldn't help but be moved for the cause of inter-faith dialogue. Along with the recognition of Msgr. Leigh Lehocky, the events of the night showed me that there really is something to ecumenical efforts. There's a purpose in trying to get the various religions and denominations together and finding common ground. To be quite honest, I used to think that everyone had their own opinions and there was no real way to find "common ground".

Casey's presentation informed me of the ignorance for each others' faiths that the majority of Christians have. We have more in common than not. We may differ in a wide variety of beliefs, but we all believe in being called to love. Christ died for all of us. He died so that we may have life abundantly. He wants us to be happy! Christ didn't create these silly divisions that we argue about. He came to create The Body. He came save the fallen mankind.

Essentially, what I got out of the night was that we are all called to love. We are all working towards the same goal: unity with our Heavenly Father! What if we all prayed for each other instead of criticizing each others' beliefs? We are called to "recognize the Christian substance of the other", not to tell them why they're going to hell.

As a final point, Dr. Steinmentz called us not to grow weary in well doing. We are revived by the same Holy Spirit as the early Church fathers. We are touched by the same Spirit that appeared upon the heads of the apostles at Pentecost. We have a gift! Let's use it for the glory of God!!!

God bless your week! You're in my prayers as I visit the most beautiful St. Joseph Eucharistic Adoration Chapel here on campus. I love you. Please keep me in your prayers as well.

Matt Merry

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's in your best interest

Hey friends,

As many of you know, I've just started my senior year of college. I'm getting situated into my classes, my apartment, my state of mind, and I'm really enjoying it. I love my apartment but there's a disturbance in the force.

Well, recently there have been a few cats outside of my apartment building living off scraps the already poor college students leave for them. At first there were three. It seemed like a mother and two kids. A few residents (who will not be named as they are in direct violation of college policy) have taken in two of the cats out of the kindness of their hearts. Unfortunately, that leaves tiny tim outside our apartment crying for his mommy. Don't worry, we're trying to make things right.

Let me set the scene for you. My apartment building lies right on the edge of a small forest and the chosen dwelling place of the kitten (who's just being a good kitten and following the rule of stay in the last place you saw your family) is between some bushes and the side of the apartment. He sits there and cries when people walk by on their merry way to and from class but of course he's scared so he won't approach anyone who wants to help him. Well my apartment mates and I have set out on an epic quest to rescue tiny tim and reunite him with his long lost family. Though we have spent hours trying to lure the kitten into a makeshift cat trap made of a small twig and a laundry basket filled with tuna, we have been unsuccessful so far. It's too easy for the kitten to scurry between the bushes and the protection of the forest underbrush. We try to rescue the kitten and it's to his own benefit if he will just overcome his fear let us get him. We want to help him, but that's not how he sees it.

Isn't this how we act in our walk with Christ sometimes? We think we know what's best so we decide not to do something because we're scared or we're unsure of the outcome. We're scared to step out the boat and test new waters. God knows what's best for us and He wants to help us but He said it wouldn't be easy. Maybe God has been asking you to step out of your comfort zone recently. He wants to help you. Of course I'm not saying that God traps us into being saved. We have free will. I'm just saying He gives us opportunities to grow in love.

I know it's a stretch to make this connection but hopefully you can take something from it. Let us continue to pray for each other. God bless!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Freedom of Choice

Hello my brothers and sisters,

Today, upon exiting the library here at school, a woman asked me what my major was and of course I said "theology". She said "oh" and scurried along with her rolling camo backpack. At first I was a little confused but that quickly turned to a thought train about choice, which naturally lead to further affirmation of the fact that God loves us.

Why? How did this question lead to such a profound truth?

I thought about my major, how I had chosen it, and how I am experiencing such joy through my major. I had many options and I very well could have chosen to be a biology major and spend countless hours in the science building or become a computer science major and adopted carpel tunnel syndrome along with perpetual bloodshot eyes. But I didn't. I chose to be a theology major.

Now I firmly believe that each person has a vocation and that if you listen, God will call you to your vocation, but you have to choose. It takes personal commitment to the will of God in order to discover this vocation and through multiple environmental factors, I have come to realize that God wants me to be happy. He loves me. He has created me with a purpose.

So what can you do with this?

1. Take time to think about your strengths and weaknesses. How do your strengths and weaknesses reveal God's will for you?
2. Praise God for the gift of our free will! What a beauty it is to have such opportunity at our fingertips.

More to come soon. I'm learning a whole bunch of new subject material here at school and I can't wait to apply it to my search for ministry. I'm taking a class called Human Growth and Development in which I have to do 10 hours of field experience in a classroom so stay posted for some great stories.

God bless!


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Hello friends,

I'm sitting here thinking about all the many wonderful things I've learned during my internship this summer and reflecting on some of the joys of summer ministry. Besides donuts, one of the blessings of having an internship at a church with a school attached is that I get to see little polo clad youngsters being introduced to the beauty of the Mass.

Today, Mass was held in the gym with the majority of the St. Mary Magdalene School. They ranged from first grade through eighth, from the front of the gym all the way to the back. There were so many youth receiving the Body and Blood of our Savior and it almost brought tears to my eyes. I was filled with oodles of joy by the little ones learning how to cross their arms to receive a blessing up to the older kids starting their day with the most awesome supernatural food you can receive. Praise God for this gift of the Eucharist!!! After the Mass I learned that bracelets are somehow related to circuses. I'm not sure how that works out but I'm sure it's important nonetheless.

A small group of volunteer teens, loaded up on donuts and coffee, went into a small storage room and created an assembly line of joy (wounded arms and all). We knocked out moving supplies from one side of the building to the other in a matter of minutes, all with a smile.

What's the point of this morning's stories you may ask?




The message Christ proclaims, "to love one another as I have loved you", comes with a side dish of abundant joy! Tasks that seems mundane and dreary become meaningful and lighthearted. Sitting on a gym floor becomes a spiritual refill for the soul. Moving individual water bottles becomes a fulcrum of laughter. The Lord has given us joy for the journey. He said it would be hard, but he also said that "[we] can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]" (Philippians 4:13). He also said that like a Father would not deny his children, when you ask, you will receive. Ask God for that joy when you're having a tough day. God will grant you grace for the journey, for whatever task you are undertaking. Like my friend Adam Trufant likes to say (because Br. Edward gave him the idea), ask God "can I borrow your smile".

Everyone's talking bout the wars and the weather but I don't wanna be down
Can I borrow your smile?

God bless you!

Matt Merry

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Direction

Good afternoon fellow members of the Body of Christ!

As most of you know, I have felt the call to youth ministry in my life. I've been blessed with some pretty awesome opportunities recently and hopefully God will continue to bless me. Will you walk with me on my journey?

During my college career I've constantly been reminded of my vocation and God has pounded me over the head with something many times. When you're a computer analyst, you need to know computers and all the intricacies of the system you're working on or your client will figure out you don't know what you're talking about when their system breaks down. When you're an architect, you had better know what kind of trusses and supports best hold up the roof you're designing or there's gonna be a catastrophe down the road. It's about the skills you know and how you apply them to the situation.

As far as ministry goes, teens are looking for hope. They're looking for someone to show them that this Truth they've been promised through the Word of God can actually do something in the world. They want to be loved. That's why when you're in ministry, you had better be striving to live in the Truth and to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). You are the lighthouse that supports the beacon of Christ calling out to the distressed shipwrecks of high school drama in the distance. You are the hands and feet of Christ.

Together, we are THE BODY. Let us remember to pray for each other and strive to be saints.

Peace be with you,
Matt Merry

Sunday, August 9, 2009

15 passenger vans are best used by groups of 3

Praise God!

This weekend I went on a Core team retreat in Tiger, Georgia at a Life Teen camp called Covecrest. I got to go down early so I could go through a brand new McDonalds that has computers for kids at their tables but doesn't take cash, get called an old lady at the House of Luck because apparently only old people order Shrimp Chow Mein, and find out that Chicken sandwiches, in fact, contain chicken. I had a great time with my boss Liz Sams while getting ready for the retreat. We swam in waterfalls, prayed for a fully functional McDonald's, and found out goats can be found on the roof waiting for abduction.

On a more serious note, God is awesome! I learned so much about myself and about the wonderful adults that are willing to give up their time to serve the youth of the nation. I learned that God uses the meek and the lowly to perform the most powerful deeds on earth and that the sun can remind us of the Son and of his overpowering grace that embraces our souls and warms our hearts. Our speaker Todd Lemieux did a magnificent job of reminding us that we are called to sainthood and that we are not of this world. We are not called to live in the world but amongst it and to strive towards a rightly ordered relationship with Christ. God, family, friends, ministry. Priorities show us where our heart is.

Moses ascended to the mountain to receive the commands of God. Our Lord ascended to the mountain to pray to our God. During this past weekend, I ascended the mountain be washed clean and picked up for God's ministry. We are all called to love God through our vocation. Praise God for the vocation He has given me and for all my loving friends that support ministry. Have a blessed week my friends. Remember, you are made in the image and likeness of God! Rejoice! Amen

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life's phases

Hey gang,

It's been quite some time since my last blog and I'm going to make it a point to be more frequent in my posts. Here's an update. I finished up summer school at the Abbey on a good note and began an internship at St. Mary Magdalene with Liz Sams as a youth ministry intern. I'm learning so much! I feel more and more called to my vocation every day and I'm so happy God has called me to this. I've worked on planning curriculum for the high school and middle school youth groups as well as developing a few retreats for middle school, high school, and for the adult volunteers. Tomorrow I'm heading to Covecrest, a Lifeteen retreat center in Georgia and I'm super pumped about it! I went on a weeklong retreat in 2006 at Covecrest and with its waterfalls, mountains, lake, and fields, Covecrest is a beautiful campus that will surely lead to contemplation with the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Please keep the group in your prayers this weekend. I attended a Theology of the Body conference last Friday and heard some great talks by Colin MacIver. He was such an enthusiastic, motivated speaker. Another great resource is Jeff Cavins' DVD set called "The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation" put out by Ascension Press. It's a beautiful Bible study that breaks the Bible down into 12 time periods and makes it easy to make sense of the collection of sacred texts we call the Bible. Hopefully I'll be able to blog a little bit about some of the great stuff I'm learning soon. You're in my prayers. God bless.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Overall, it was a good week

Hey friends!

I've been on a vacation from summer school for the past week. I enjoyed some time with my brother, the prodigal son, who might actually end up moving home. We had loads of good talks while I was his personal taxi all around. I got into some new music (Annuals, Dr. Dog) that he gave to me and I got to enjoy a wonderful 4th of July celebration with some close family friends and relocated yankees. I'm headed back to the Abbey tomorrow for finals week. I only have two finals and two or three papers to write but it still sounds intimidating! Please pray for my self-discipline and motivation to increase. Also, please pray for my sister who's having a bit of a tough time. If you want to drop a letter by the house to show her some love, she would greatly appreciate it. I'll be finishing up summer school on Thursday and beginning an Internship with Liz Sams at St. Mary's on the 20th. It's going to be great! I'm loving life. Thanks for the prayers and support! May the Church continue to pray for and support each other. Remember our faithful shepherds in this year of the priest.

Here's a quick fact I learned in summer school. The occupation of shepherd wasn't a glorious occupation back in Jesus' time. Jesus uses the image of shepherd to prove that He brings beauty from the mess. Oftentimes, the lowly have the greatest inner joy. Do you have an inner joy that keeps you going on rainy days? He can make glory and joy out of pain. Remember, Jesus didn't create pain, He gave us free will. Mankind messed up and Jesus takes what we have done and shapes it into something new. All glory and praise be to God! Have a blessed week brothers and sisters!


Monday, June 15, 2009

A beautiful prayer for daily spiritual renewal

“O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of your Holy Spirit; with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. Teach us to love those who hate us; to pray for those who despitefully use us; that we may be the children of your love, our Father, who makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. In adversity grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; may we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, and thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109 AD)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Beauty of Literature

Good day! 

I'm currently in summer school at the Abbey as most of you know and I just wanted to let you in on a little tidbit of the joy that my imagination delights in through the gift of American literature. Imagine you are about to enter into a forest. You get out of your car or off your bike, walk up to the trailhead and upon a tree there rests a sign, crudely carved onto an old piece of driftwood. It reads: 

"Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world 
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen 
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares, 
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Though wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men, 
And made thee loathe thy life. The primal curse
Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth, 
But not in vengance. God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, Misery. Hence these shades
Are still the abode of gladness; the thick roof 
Of green and stirring branches is alive 
And musical with birds, that sing and sport
In wantonness of spirit; while below
The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect, 
Chirps merrily. Throngs of insects in the shade 
Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam. 
That waked them into life. Even the green trees
Partake the deep contentment; as they bend 
To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky 
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene. 
Scarce less the cleft-born wildflower seems to enjoy
Existence, than the winged plunderer
That sucks its sweets. The mossy rocks themselves, 
And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees
That lead from knoll to knoll a causeway rude, 
Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots, 
With all their roots upon them, twisting high, 
Breathe fixed tranquility. The rivulet
Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o'er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks
Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice
In its own being. Softly tread the marge, 
Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren
That dips her bill in water. The cool wind, 
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee, 
Like one that loves thee nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.

Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood - William Cullen Bryant

If you had trouble reading it, go back and reread it. Read it according to the punctuation, not the line breaks. 
This poem brings me so much joy! Think of the rivulet (a small brook or stream) that "sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o'er its bed of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rock seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice in its own being." WHOA! I spent last summer as a camp counselor and this poem takes me back to so many places and so many times when I sat upon rocks amidst the stream just listening to the river. God bless your day! I hope this poem brought you some peace or a much needed break from work. 


Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Christ Alone

Hey all, 

I've been at summer school for about a week now and I wanted to take a quick second to reflect on what I've been thinking about for the past week. I learned there are a few very important things in life: friends, faith, fellowship, and fun. Friends and fellowship have occupied a lot of my time here during the first week and I really enjoy just hanging out with the guys. Finding a good group of friends is very beneficial to well being. During my first few years at college, a lot of my friends from high school came to me saying "Matt I like my school but I'm not having any fun because I can't find a good group of friends who share my same values and are fun to hang out with". I've been blessed with the gift of good friends. Friends I can hang out with, pray with, drink with, exercise with, etc. It's a true blessing. FAITH: I'm really attached to my relationship with Christ. Like everyone, I sometimes stray and I sometimes deny Him or forget to talk with Him, but He's always there, waiting. That's the biggest blessing in my life. Tomorrow, I get to receive the very flesh and blood of God. I think that's pretty amazing!!! The last F is for FUN! I've been having loads of fun this week in between looking for a job and going to class. I've been biking at the US National Whitewater Center, running, working out at the Y, playing basketball, reading classic American literature, watching Band of Brothers.. LOADS of fun stuff! What a blessing to have that freedom. Basically, God is good! I hope you can take the upcoming week to seize the day! Make a concrete plan and stick to it. I plan to finish reading Wild at Heart, run 3 miles twice this week, and find a job. Make some goals and execute them! God bless you and please pray for me as I will for you. 

Matt the disciple

Peace be with you

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This post is in thanksgiving to all those who supported me on my Italian journey. I really really really appreciate all the prayers, donations, and love given to me over the past few months. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have had the ability to go on this life changing journey and for that I'm very grateful. 

Today I was taking a trip to Ace hardware to pick up some washers, the wrong ones I might add, and I thought about how wonderful life is. Especially mine! I have so many opportunities in everyday situations. You do too! Just look at the little things that we take for granted. First of all it was a gorgeous day outside to be power washing! So I got in my dad's Jeep and it started (some people's cars don't start, some people don't have cars). I turned on the radio (we live in a country where we can decide what we listen to and a large variety is provided for us) but I didn't like any of the music so I popped in a CD (what kinda crazy technology is it that a circular piece of plastic with a little groovy design can hold the music of our choice!!!). The roads were well maintained give or take a few small blemishes. The traffic lights function. I drove right next door to fill up the tank and gas wasn't outrageous. I also bought this gas with a little piece of plastic that knew it was me because of a little magnetic strip (again, crazy technology). I think you get the point. There is so much in life that we can be thankful for! From living in Cary, NC, I know that we kind of exist in a bubble where whatever we need is right at our fingertips and I think we sometimes take that for granted. I know I used to say "oh my gosh, Cary is so boring!" You can't do anything without paying a fortune ($9 movies) but that's just a pessimistic outlook. The other day I stopped by Bond Lake and realized I can go fishing for FREE!!! Right here in Cary, NC!!! I can go for a run in some of the best maintained parks around. I can ride my bike on the millions of sidewalks here, spend some time contemplating life at our many available Catholic churches (we aren't persecuted for our religion like China). WE ARE SO BLESSED!!! I guess I'm just kind of rambling now but I've made my point. Today, step outside and take a deep breath. Thank God for all He's provided you with! If it's hot, go outside, sweat a little, and then step right back into your air-conditioned home! If it's raining, get a little wet, then go dry off with a towel and enjoy the sound of the rain from under your roof. Enjoy life! Grab it by the horns and go for a ride. God bless your day!!! 

Peace be with you. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Direction

Hello Friends! 

I've decided to use this blog as a window into my life for you to look at. I find people really interesting and sometimes we can affect each other in such a profound way by simply telling each other our story. Hopefully you will find mine interesting enough to keep an open ear. God has given me many many gifts and I hope to actualize their potentiality. Maybe come along with me, offer me your input, tell me your story.

This morning I was given the opportunity to go to the most wonderful celebration. Mass! Besides God's beautiful mercy of saving us by His sacrifice, He decided to give us His body to sustain our weak and trembling flesh. The Gospel was about the importance of Jesus leaving the apostles so that the Advocate (Holy Spirit) could be sent down. Msgr. Tim suggested the importance of the Holy Spirit and how He can sometimes be the little brother of the Trinity. We focus a lot on the Father and the Son but do we ask the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God to intervene in our daily lives? What a blessing the Holy Spirit is! 

I just recently tested out the wonderful waters of creativity through iphoto. I made an official picture book to represent the essence of my recent journey. Loads of joyful pictures fill its pages with quotes interspersed throughout to show that I actually learned something over in Italy. It wasn't all fun and games... just mostly. The book should be here by Friday so hopefully I'll have it at the party on Saturday. 

Monday's gone and the week is in motion. Take advantage of the next four days to get something done and maybe ask Mary to guide you on your path. 

Peace be with you


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Check this out

Hey everybody! 

I'm back in America and I'm having a great time at home! I recently received an email from a close friend with an interesting video. It highlights the importance of God's most precious gift, children. Today we are living in a small family culture. Let's get some big Catholic families out there! This video is only to show how important children are in one aspect, not to emphasize the message at the end. Although, evangelizing Muslims from the oppressive Islam is very important too. 

Thy Kingdom Come!

Monday, April 27, 2009

One More Week

Dearest faithful blog followers, 

I will be returning to America in one week from today!!! I am very excited about seeing everyone and telling of my great adventures and wonderful new friends. I would like to tell you a little bit about the awesome time I had this past weekend in a little private village just outside of Florence. 

We were given the amazing opportunity to have a retreat and just an all around good time this past weekend in a little town on top of a hill in Tuscany and it was a delight. The town was ancient, with a castle, a really old church, and the house of a Baron. I will have pictures up pretty soon and you can see the sweet ancient foot and a half long pipe that I posed with (no I didn't smoke it). It was a real blessing to have a retreat here at the end of the ILS semester and I could reflect on everything I've learned here in Italy. Before I reflect, I'll tell you about the weekend. We stayed in a brick house with real fireplaces, mills, and detailed painted walls. It is where the Baron brings his friends to go for a weekend of hunting on their horses with hunting dogs, top hats, and whatnot. On day one, I met a wonderful Italian man named Enzo who lives there with his friend Daniella in a beautiful apartment with a view of the hills of Tuscany. (If anyone has seen "Under the Tuscan Sun", take the scenery in that... times 10) I really enjoyed it. I was invited up to his apartment for a glass of water. After 5 hours, 4 bottles of vino, lots of delicious chocolate, some artichoke hearts, a binocular view from the window all the members of the program, including Fr. Alfonso and Br. Nathaniel, had visited the apartment for good fellowship and conversation, and I knew how to understand and translate Italian. Enzo showed us his three BEAUTIFUL horses (cavalle) that were butterscotch colored with creme manes. They were gorgeous. That night, we all sat around the table and enjoyed a paella, homemade vino, and homemade limoncello. We all shared our gratitude about the program and much to my surprise, I ended up translating the convo into Italian for Enzo. It was a wonderful day!
Sunday, we had a mini retreat in which we meditated on Mary of Magdala's trip to the tomb of Jesus and how wonderful it is to have a great devotion to Mary, the mother of God. I urge all of you to take up a daily rosary and to increase your devotion to our blessed mother. We spoke of the need to Love, Obey and Imitate her... after all, we're supposed to imitate Christ, and how did he act towards Mary... with love, obedience and imitation. Consider Mary's charity at the wedding feast at Cana. She was a guest but she put herself in charge of making sure there was enough wine for everyone. That same charity is found in our Lord. I can't wait to tell you all about everything I learned about Catholic apologetics. Treasure your Catholic faith!!! 

I can't wait to see all of you when I get home! I'm having a party on May 23rd at 7PM @ my house. Let me know if you can make it by emailing me at I love you! May the peace of Christ be with you!!!! Ciao

Thursday, April 23, 2009


God bless you! I am so happy right now here in Italy but I am pumped to come home and see you all!! I've learned so much this semester. I was just looking through pictures and I realized that I've been so many places and had so many blessings. I have so many great stories to tell you and I can't wait to see you. I'll be having a party on May 23rd at 7PM to tell everyone all about my journey. Everyone's invited. Please let me know if you can come by emailing me at You're awesome! I'm praying for you and I can't wait to see you! 

PS I'll be back on May 5th

Peace be with you

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cinque Terre and Turin

Greetings from Rome! I hope you are having a very special Holy Week and I pray that God blessed you and yours during the Easter season!!! I'm very thankful that I wasn't harmed by the earthquakes here in Italy. I'm also very thankful for all the blessings I have been given for this journey of my lifetime because it has been truly life changing. This past Monday, I went to Cinque Terre with my good friend Adam Trufant. We arrived at the station in Riomaggiore and as soon as you get off the train, all you see is ocean and cliffs. It was breathtaking. We hiked the "way of love" trail from each of the five towns and walked through each town experiencing the different characters of each. There were more Americans there than anywhere else I've been in Europe but it was still beautiful!! I don't know where to begin explaining this wonderful trip. The flowers along the trails we hiked were so beautiful and God blessed us with a sunny trip! Adam and I sampled the local foccacia, pesto, and pizza. The hike was along a trail made up of unending stairs of stone. By the end, my legs were like rubber. Most of the trail went along the coastline, sprinkled with surprise views of the towns from peaks above. I could never explain the glory of that place, you just have to go check it out yourself!! I have 3 facebook albums dedicated to the trip so make sure to check those out too. When we arrived in the fourth town, Vernazza, we got a hotel room with an ocean view terrace and just relaxed a bit before hitting the "town". All the towns were very small, Italian towns with wonderful shops. Vernazza is supposed to have the liveliest town so we decided to sleep there. Just after arriving, we took full advantage of the sunset and headed down to the shore where I read a little, had a delicious beer, and prayed a rosary among the rocky shoreline. It was a very peaceful experience. The next day, we explored Monterosso and had a little free lunch with a great tourist family that Adam met the night before. We bought some bread, cheese, salami, pesto (CT is where Pesto comes from) and Chianti, and had a picnic on a stone bench on top of one of the mountains. After a little nap and a visit to the Convent just above where we ate, we headed down to the beach. Of course we took advantage of the warm, sunny, Mediterranean day and immediately jumped in the ocean. The wet shorts made for a slightly uncomfortable 4 hour train ride to Turin, but it was worth it. When we started looking for a hostel in Turin, we got lost. It was divine providence though, since Don Bosco is Adam's patron saint. Don Bosco lead us to a Salesian school where we met a few Salesian priests. They took us in and fed us all sorts of delightful foods and showed us where the original grave of Don Bosco had been for 40 years, along with a beautiful church designed by Don Bosco. Keep in mind that they were Italian and were practicing their english, which made for fun conversation. Br. Pier loved to sing James Taylor and John Denver. They acted just like regular brothers do, trying to talk over each other and prove that they knew english. It was awesome!! They gave us a ride to the hostel where we got in trouble since it was already after check in time and the brothers were playing John Denver too loud :) What a night. On Wednesday, Adam and I explored the great town of Turin, which was clean, full of flowers, and home to Adam's favorite, Don Bosco. We spend around 2 hours in the "Mary, Help of Christians" church where Don Bosco is buried. It was a beautifully painted church! Very well kept by the Salesians. For lunch, we enjoyed some grilled swordfish and chilled white wine at a local restaurant and headed to a nearby square for some delightful pastries. Now I'm back in Rome, enjoying a wonderful Holy Week. Yesterday, I celebrated Holy Thursday with the Legionaries. It was a very moving service where Fr. Alvoro, the head of the Regnum Christi and Legionaries movement, celebrated the Mass. Tonight I'm heading back over to the Legionaries center to celebrate the Passion of Christ, followed by the Via Crucis with the Pope at the Coliseum. Tomorrow night, I'm going to the Easter Vigil with the Pope and hopefully we can get enough tickets for Sunday's celebration at the Vatican!!! God is awesome!! Happy Easter everybody!! I love you so much. God bless you and I'm praying for you. Peace be with you

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Holy Week greetings to all!!! 

I don't have enough time to write a complete blog of the amazing trip I had these past three days but after receiving some concerned emails and fb messages, I just wanted to let everybody know that I am totally fine!! I wasn't harmed by the earthquakes. I couldn't really feel them from my room in Cinque Terre with an ocean view terrace ;) God bless your Holy Week and especially your Easter!!! Much love


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday at the Vatican

Ciao Ragazzi!!
Happy Palm Sunday. I hope this blog finds you well and preparing for a most Holy Week. Today was another trick pulled out of the sleeves of the Legionaries. We were supposed to "carry" the cross for World Youth Day... and we did... kind of. What they really meant by carry was transport behind the scenes so the Australians can carry the cross, which makes sense because it was the hand off from Australia to Spain. It's all good though because we got great seats up on the top of the steps really close to the Pope. Not many people get these kinds of opportunities but for some reason God keeps blessing the ILS program. It's a real blast and it's also a very humbling experience. I'm growing so much here and I can't wait to come home and tell you all about it! I'm going to have a get together when I get home to show pictures and tell tales and of course eat BBQ, SWEET TEA, BANANA PUDDING and all good things American. Tomorrow, Adam and I are heading to Cinque Terre (hopefully, this is the third attempt to get there) and after to Turin to see St. John Bosco and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Wednesday we should be back for mass in the Vatican Gardens and the Holy Week events at the Vatican if we can get tickets. Maybe a little Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum with the Pope and hopefully Easter Mass at the Vatican. Keep me in your prayers and know that I will be praying for you from the center of the Church all this week!!! God bless you!! Happy Easter and Happy Holy Week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Legionaries are awesome!

So the Legionaries of Christ are some really amazing guys! Since today was the feast of the Annunciation, the Legionaries invited us over for dinner, the 430 Legionaries that is... So we had about a 5 course meal filled with wonderful food and drinks. We had some great conversation! I sat at a table with a Korean, a Mexican, and an American... who all spoke English, Italian, and Spanish! On top of the delicious meal, the Bishop of Milan was there and we met him. How awesome is that! Also, we went to a mass in Italian, with Spanish and some Gregorian chant!!! To top it all off, the Legionary band performed after dinner. There was a collection of violins, guitars, marimba, mandolin, keyboards, drums... and they played a mix of tunes from Italy, Mexico, and Europe. I felt like a king in Medieval times who reclines at table, feasts on turkey legs, and ends being entertained by minstrels. What a wonderful night! Ave Maria!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Alright some people have been asking for my address so here it is: 

Matthew Merry Room: 69
Real Sporting Village
Via Licio Giorgieri 50
00165 Roma Italy

Castle Gandolfo

This weekend I went to Castle Gondalfo for a spiritual retreat. We stayed at an amazing retreat center with some sweet little nuns and a beautiful mysteries of the rosary path. The legionaries ran it and gave some amazing talks on leadership, debating, and they lead some great meditations on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and about how earth shattering it was when He washed the feet of the apostles. He was suspected to be a great leader, a king. The apostles were thrown when Jesus washed their feet, the work of a servant. It was a really wonderful retreat and I got a chance to grow spiritually closer to Christ. We were supposed to go to Subiaco for the day but the bus driver didn't know that so he took us home to the Real. Lamesauce. Anyways, I'm having a great time and I can't wait to tell you all of my wonderful stories about Italy. For Palm Sunday, I get to carry a huge cross for world youth day at the Vatican. It's gonna be great and I can't believe I've been so blessed with these experiences. God is working in my life!! May He bless your lent and help you to truly prepare for the glory of the Resurrection at Easter!! Peace be with you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Venice and Padua

Sorry about the long time between blogs. We're finding more and more chill internet spots here in Rome but being a world traveler doesn't allow too much wireless time. This past weekend I was blessed enough to go to Venice and Padua!!! We got to Venice before the sunrise and we got to see the sunrise over some gondolas and the water... BEAUTIFUL!!! Check fb for pictures. We spent the day traveling about Venice and looking at different churches. We saw the tomb of St. Mark!!! We are seeing so many amazing things!! That night we went to Padua via train and got to stay at a hostel. I dried myself off with a bed sheet since they didn't have towels and I got my dinner from a vending machine ;) The next day I went to Mass in the basilica of St. Anthony of Padua!!! I prayed at his grave and saw a relic room where his incorrupt tongue rests. Crazy stuff!! I strolled the streets and saw the town. That night we went to an Australian bar where the bartender spoke 10 different languages, no lie. It was so much fun!! Then we took a 7 hour sleeper train where I was between two pairs of random stinky feet. I woke up to an Asian man yelling into his phone at 5 30 am. Lamesauce. Today I got to travel to the beach and enjoy the sun and some sweet views. I'm having a blast and learning a lot about myself here in Italy!! Please continue to pray for me and I am gladly still accepting prayer requests. How about I light a prayer candle for you in an ancient church in Italy ;) Tomorrow I'm getting my haircut legionary style so stay tuned for pictures. I was invited to be on of the 4 guys that carries a huge cross on palm Sunday for world youth day at the Vatican. Stay tuned for that as well. I'm praying for you and I love you!!! God bless. 


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Hey followers, 
Sorry it takes so long between posts but the internet access is limited here in Rome. First of all, God bless your Lent!! Really take the time to ponder the mysteries of our faith and grow close to the Sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist. 
So this past weekend I took my first trip out of Rome to ASSISI!! It was the most peaceful place I've been here on my trip. There are so many beautiful churches but they're very different than the ones here in Rome. They aren't as highly decorated due to St. Francis' views of poverty and its importance. Still, the most peaceful place. I got to see the body of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, some really beautiful churches like the basilica of S. Francesco(St. Francis), Saint Maria of the Angels, the basilica of St. Clare, and many other cool things. I even explored a castle on the top of the mountain. Assisi is a beautiful city layed out on the side of a mountain with the fortress on top, which wasn't actually a castle, just a plot by the Church to scare away people. Pretty cool I thought. I wish I could tell you more but I have to eat breakfast, go to class, and take a tour of the Vatican Museums ;) This weekend I'm going to Florence and Sienna!! Pray for me. If you've been and you have any suggestions, facebook or email me. 

God bless you!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Caio ragazzi! Sorry it's been so long since my last post but the wireless internet in Rome is garbage. I'm having a BLAST here. I've had so many wonderful opportunities! When we arrived, we got to tour St. Peter's Basilica and the day after that we got to go on the Scavi tour! We got to see St. Peter's bones!! and an old Roman burial city. We're staying at the equivalent of a decent country club. We have an awesome gym, sauna, pool, tennis courts and bar right where we're staying and we're just a 15 minute trip from the Vatican! I'm having such a great time and I'm being showered with so many blessings!! I have the blessing of being able to go to Mass every day and sometimes it's even in English! I'm learning some Italian but not enough to talk to people yet. The food is DELICIOUS!!! I've had my fill of pizza and pasta but I'm definitely not tired of it yet! I'm addicted to wine and cappuccinos! I put some new pictures up on facebook but I have just been enjoying it to the fullest and not taking too many pictures. There are churches at every corner here in Rome and there are incorrupt bodies of saints in most of the churches. This is SUCH a great place. I can't wait to tell all of you about it when I get home!! I have so much more to say but only 23 minutes of laptop battery left. God bless you all and keep me in your prayers! You are in mine!!