receptivity

Hello, long time no see… I know it’s been a while, but I’m back. Life has been crazy and hectic, but it’s good to be back with this blog and with you! Today I want to talk with you about something that has been on my mind A LOT lately, receptivity. We will touch on three topics relating to receptivity: community, race and the pandemic. You might be reading this and thinking, these are things I don’t want to talk about, hear about, etc. If that’s you, I especially encourage you to stick around. 

So let’s start with the first one, community. If you know me, you know that I have been a missionary for the past few years with a catholic organization, NET Ministries. It has been such a gift and joy to be a part of this ministry, but let me tell you it hasn’t been easy. When I first came to NET, I had just converted to catholicism. Not only was the faith new to me, but so was the idea of living in an intentional community. I come from a community (in California) that is so beautiful but can be very draining and toxic. I would bet that my community back home is quite similar to yours.. we would joke around and be sarcastic, we would live life and work to pay bills, we would take care of ourselves and others. It was a normal life. So what is so different about this intentional community that I am in now? Well here, we ask how each other is doing, we pray and pray for each other, we strive in more radical ways for virtue. Striving for virtue sounds beautiful, and it is… but remember when I said that living in this community hasn’t been easy? That’s why. Striving for virtue is hard, it can be painful and it can be frustrating! Why is this? It’s because it is stripping away your bad habits, your weaknesses, and it’s stretching you! It’s hard and it hurts because of the growing pains. I am a perfectionist, so I hate when people see my weaknesses. I am also a sinner so sometimes I fail to choose virtue, which is the beauty of an intentional community, because they are there to call me on and lead me to holiness… but, like I said, I hate when people see my weaknesses. So sometimes I fail to receive their help, I reject it. But we need to learn to get over ourselves and receive help from others, because God has placed them in our lives, so really, we are accepting God’s help!! This hasn’t been easy for me, it still isn’t… but that’s okay, it means I can still grow some more!! 

Another way in which failure to receive and be open has caused hurt in my heart is in the rejection and mistreatment of our brothers and sisters of color. I myself have black, hispanic, and asian relatives, roommates, friends and mentors… So it hurts me to see the senseless killings of people like George Floyd (46), Breonna Taylor (26), Atatiana Jefferson (28), and so many more. It blows me away to see racial injustice in our world today! How are there still people who justify racially motivated violence and discrimination? It seems so obvious to me that we are to love all people as our brothers and sisters, regardless of color, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean you have permission to mistreat them. But here’s the scary thing about racism… it’s not always obvious to us. You don’t have to always act outwardly to be racist. When you are walking down the street and a black man drives by with loud music, what are your thoughts? If you are walking down the street and you pass by a person of color, do you clench your bag? If you have been following the news and you have seen the BLM protests, how do you view it? Do you think, ‘all lives matter?’ Do you think about how you can help? My point to all this is, you don’t have to kill a person of color to be racist, a lot of times, it is much more common than we think. I think it stems from misunderstanding and miscommunication. For me, I am afraid to ask questions/say things like: How can I help? How has racism affected you? Should I say ‘black’ or ‘African American’? We are afraid of asking clarifying questions, thus causing more confusion which just aids the growth of ignorance. One way I fail in relating to the hispanic community is by speaking Spanish because [I’m afraid] I’m going to sound racist/like I am mocking them. Or asking them about their culture because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing! Guys, that IS NOT helpful. Embrace the awkward, get over yourself and try to understand others. If you are genuinely coming from a place of love- they will recognize that. We need to not be controlled by fear, the evil one wants to use that to separate us, but it’s a trap! Once we learn to understand we will be better able to receive each other in love!

And finally, the pandemic. We are at the 6th month mark of Covid restrictions here in America. We have been dealing with lockdowns, distancing and the dreaded face coverings! It has been a difficult time, dealing with the pandemic… And I think it relates very well with what we are talking about today. This pandemic has made it more evident that we are humans, that fail at loving others. But I have also seen that we all have the capability to love and care for others. I see A LOT of people who wear their face coverings properly, which hasn’t always been the case. At the beginning of this all, people occasionally wore their masks but now it’s almost like everyone has acknowledged their need and trained themselves to wear them. The definition of virtue is: a firm and habitual resolution toward the good. This pandemic has actually been a good lesson of virtue. I know that this pandemic isn’t ideal, but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that we have taken this bad thing and allowed it to make us better. So let this be evidence that you are capable of good. You can overcome difficult things. You are strong.

Thank you so much for sticking around! Follow me on Instagram @paxetcaritas_  

DM me if you want to talk about anything you just read. Let me know if I misspoke or said something offensive, it wasn’t intended! Peace and Love be with you! God bless! 

-Jer

the balancing act

A couple years ago I was having a conversation with a friend and that conversation FREQUENTLY comes to mind. We talked about the difficulty of finding balance and maintaining it, but before I go any further I want to tell you a different story. So as I’m sure you’re well aware, we are living in a time of isolation and distance. Because of this, I have been working from home for about two and a half months. Something I have found in working from home is how much I neglect to eat… So I work in marketing and I do a lot of creative projects (video editing, making social media content, etc.) and I am a bit of a perfectionist and a people pleaser. So naturally, when I am in the zone and in the middle of a project, I forget to take a break and eat lunch. This is great for my work, because I make sure I am doing a good job, but like I said, I neglect to eat, and ultimately I fail to take care of myself.

Going back to my first thought, maintaining balance is incredibly difficult. I’m sure you have heard the saying “You are never going to please everyone.” I think there is truth in that, so let’s pick that phrase apart. It is true, you will never satisfy, fully, the needs and wants of everyone you encounter. However, I do think you can better achieve it, with the right mentality. By that I mean simply, if you tell yourself you can’t, it will be much harder to do so. In John chapter 14, Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Later in John, Jesus says His greatest command is to love. So if we think we have to give every human what they want, it will be a miserable endeavor. But, if we aim to give every human their basic need, we will be much more joyful and successful. That basic need being, love.

Our top priority should be our relationship with the Lord. Stemming from that, getting to Heaven, and next loving others and bringing them to Heaven. I think the cause of most, if not all troubles, is either 1. A lack of clarity, or, 2. A lack of trust. I mean, look at the first sin, Adam didn’t fully trust in God’s goodness, resulting in the fall in the garden. I am not saying, “Well if you just tell yourself you can do it, you will succeed”… no. I think that mindset can be even more detrimental because it is very self reliant, when really, we should be reliant on God and His Grace. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. We NEED Him.

I have come to realize that the reason maintaining balance is such a difficult thing is because I often put the focus and expectation on myself. Thinking I have to please everyone, or, I have to be what everyone wants me to be. That is just not true. Saint Catherine of Sienna says, “Be who God created you to be and you will set this world ablaze.”  Don’t allow others to rob you of your identity as God’s beloved son or daughter, don’t allow others to steal your joy or your peace. Humans cannot control that which has been given by God. Maintaining balance can only be achieved by complete surrender and dependence on Him, remember this, or it will be a miserable endeavor marked by failure to satisfy the wants of the world. 

You are loved, You are seen and You are wanted by a good Father.

Pax et caritas,

Jeremy Bodenschatz

Know Thyself by: Jessica Beckman

Why do personality types matter?

Well, let me answer that question with a question. 

Why is it important to know and understand yourself?

No, I’m not initially trying to be sassy, but those would rather mosey around in ignorance, just chose their poison. 

Okay, in all seriousness, I want to try to articulate my own thoughts on why self-knowledge is necessary. So let me rea-ask the initial question. 

Why do personality types matter?

Within this blog, I will try to answer this question according to my own experience. I’m sure those psychologists with degrees could answer far more intellectually than I; however, they might not possess the loyal passion for personality typing that I have accumulated over the years. 

Why personality types? I guess this is just the tool that I’ve found works for me. There’s other out there, but for now, we’ll stick with MBTI types.

For clarity, I’m talking specifically about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a questionnaire designed to describe an individual’s psychological preferences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. 

Now, these two items seem minor, but are extremely telling to what goes on introspectively for a person. Meaning, how a person A) sees the world around them B) makes decisions based on those observations.  Essentially these two (points A and B) make up their ‘personality’. 

DISCLAIMER: I’m a huge believer that every human, as a creature of the Infinite Creator God is a complex mystery to everyone but God, including themselves. So I am no way claiming that they are limited to those two points, or that I, as an outside observer, can state point blank who they are. I can’t. The MBTI is merely a tool to better filter through the complexity of a human being. 

And with that I’m right back to where I started: Why does understanding a person’s personality type matter? 

Well, for one, we encounter people every single day. And it’s obvious to anyone who has ever tried to work with another person, that those encounters can be very complicated, especially if you perceive the world differently than that other person. I’ve realized that if I’m able to bridge the gap between me and another by understanding more of the perspective they’re seeing, I’m gonna take that bridge. 

It’s time for a brief psychology lesson. Get ready.

The MBTI is divided into four categories to break down points A and B (see above). They are: 

Introversion (I)  vs. Extroversion (E)

Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S)

Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)

Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J)

I could go on and on explaining these four categories, but essentially what you (assuming you’re new to this) need to know is this. Introverts get their energy from being alone, while extroverts are energized by socialization. Intuitors can think deeply and enjoy the abstract, whereas Sensors are more hands-on and take in information through the five senses. Feelers tend to rely on people and circumstances to make decisions, and Thinkers rely on logic. Perceivers like to keep options open and enjoy possibilities. Judgers need structure and closer to operate.

Remember, these are essentials, just a rough break-down. Check out the Myers & Briggs Foundation if this at all intrigues you. 

So I as an INFJ, prefer small groups and need my alone time, enjoy picking up on patterns and seeing meaning in abstract concepts, look to people and circumstances over concrete facts to make my decisions, and need structure A LOT to function well. 

But my ESTP friends are extroverted and social, see more of what is directly in front them, make their decisions on consistent facts and logic, but feel cramped if a structure or order is imposed on them.

So if I was paired up with my opposite personality type for a work project (granted I know the type before-hand), I’m going to immediately stretch myself by explaining my reasoning more concretely because I know that’s how they prefer to receive it as a Sensing Thinker. And voila, we have theoretically avoided a misunderstanding.

Why are personality types important? To help us troubleshoot disagreements and misunderstandings.

But that requires ourselves and others knowing our types. Self-knowledge is a great thing.

How we interact with the world is so much a part of our lives. It is our life. I want to be aware of how I take in information, how I process it, and how I use that to make decisions. That’s just a part of being a mature human. I want to know my tendencies because they say virtue lies in the middle. So instead of always making decisions based on how others are affected, I can know that I need to allow reason to infiltrate my decision-making process.

Self-knowledge helps us to get along with others and personally strive for virtue. Need I say more?

For someone who gets super irritated when people think differently than I do, understanding myself and knowing how to identify people’s personality types is helpful just to be able to have healthy relationships. And to an understanding that difference does not equal bad. Different does not mean bad, people!!

Next time you’re in a misunderstanding, I challenge you to think about how you both might see the situation, albeit differently.

Say it with me, DIFFERENT DOESN’T MEAN BAD.

Enough: by G. Elie Laville

What is enough?  Ooh off to an introspective start aren’t we?  We’ll get there, first I need to mention ice cream.  Who doesn’t like ice cream? Plenty of people, especially the ones who are allergic to dairy.  Maybe even folks that are afraid of cows don’t like ice cream, there’s enough people in this world that somebody is so afraid of cows they won’t eat ice cream.  I don’t know them, but they’re out there somewhere. Regardless of these folks and their concerns about dairy consumption one ice cream parlor in St Paul Minnesota doesn’t really care.  Nelson’s Ice Cream is giving you ice cream and dang-it you’re going to eat it and like it. That seems to be the mentality with their portion sizes. The child size is enough ice cream to feed 4 children, if that brings any context.  I was there with a friend and we ordered that size knowing it would be plenty for the two of us. As the kind lady behind the counter was scooping that frozen dream my buddy started saying under his breath, “That’s enough” then it progressively got louder, “That’s enough!”  Finally he was holding my arm, staring in amazement at a normal speaking tone saying, “That’s enough.” He was in awe.  

My buddy had enough.  He was content with the amount of ice cream and more showed up.  I doubt you are sitting there thinking right now that this is going to be about ice cream so let’s cut the creme and talk about you.  Are you enough? Woah, take a step back Elie what is your context? Good question, my context is whatever you immediately thought of when that question was posed.  Maybe you thought of yourself in the context of your job. Maybe you thought of yourself in the context of a relationship. I have news for you. The short answer to the question is “no.”  At least immediately, because in every worldly sense you aren’t enough. There is always going to be someone better than you at your job. There will always be someone that seems like a better friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, daughter, son you name it.  

When I ask myself this question, I think back to my college experience.  I was studying theatre and at the time the common phrase was, “You are enough.”  Which is almost comical because at the same time the reality of, “No one is coming” was preached.  In theatre you have to believe that you are good enough for the part that you seek, elsewhere why would anyone hire you?  So if you think you’re good enough and you don’t get the part, why didn’t you get it? Someone is better, that’s why. No one is coming to make your career happen.  No one is coming to make you better or help you. There is no saviour for you but you. You alone control the situation. How many of us believe this? I know that this is a lie I have to continually reject.

There are two times that the answer to versions of the question is a “Yes.”  If you ask the Lord, “Am I enough for you.” He will respond with “Yes.” Because you are.  You are worth dying for. Does that mean you are perfect? Heck no! You need His grace more than air, that’s why in life you are sometimes not enough.  It is in those moments when you are relying on yourself and you fail that then the Lord poses the question, “Am I enough for you?” Because when you are relying on yourself you are rejecting His grace and saying, “You aren’t enough for me.”  Heavy, right? Good news for you, reconciling with the Lord is real and His healing power is real. The pedestal that you stand on when you think that you can tough it out is fragile and the Lord will break it. From the new angle of the ground you will be able to see His face.  That is why He asks you to be humble. It is not because He delights in your suffering, it is because that is the intimacy where the two of you will most closely be together. It is because in that suffering and humiliation of needing Him that you will find peace as He shows you the Way.  

Brothers and sisters I am a dirty sinner, and have no lofty words of comfort for you.  This is a daily struggle in my life which is why I share it with you here. Everytime I think that I have accomplished something great of my own ability the Lord asks me to look back and I see the real destruction I have caused.  I cannot afford to let that waiver my pursuit of Him. That would prove catastrophic for my relationship with Him, that’s what caving to despair does. Instead I must say, “Come Holy Spirit, lead me where I must go.” I have to go to confession, I need that humiliation in my life.  You need that humiliation as well.  

The world is telling you to be enough and then tempting you to despair at the truth that sometimes you aren’t.  Brothers and sisters, the truth is not something to despair about, it is something to rejoice in. Praise the Lord for our weakness so that where we lack may be a means of exulting God most high.  Please know of my prayers for each of you who read this.

In Christ, G. Elie Laville

metanoia

Metanoia simply means – change of heart.

I would like to share with you, my conversion story. So, growing up, I wasn’t raised in a ‘picture perfect family’… however my mother will be the first to tell you that I was ALWAYS trying to be picture perfect. I always looked at myself in mirrors, wanted to have my picture taken and be the center of attention. More on this later.

So I think it’s important for you to meet my family before we go any further…

Parents:Divorced | Siblings: 2- 1 twin brother + 1 brother who is 5.5 years older than me | Economic Background: Lower Middle Class??

So let’s start with the BEST, my mom. (No, I’m not just sayin BEST because I know she will read this…) My Mom is the best. She practically raised me and my two brothers by herself, working multiple jobs just to support us. She’s great! Now my brothers, we aren’t particularly close… and we are all SO DIFFERENT. I love them, I mean I am who I am because of my relationship with them, but there’s not much to tell… So, moving on — Padre, Richard… Dad. I only call him one of those things (Dad). My dad is a hard working man, we also aren’t really that close. Growing up, he was overseas serving in the Army. He is definitely a tough man, and I have struggled a lot with him, but that’s not necessary right now. This is my immediate family — we aren’t all that close so that’s why this is short. Maybe I will write a post about them later. [But right now, please stop reading for a sec and say a quick prayer for my family, please (:]

So, moving on… My family isn’t catholic. I was raised “Christian” but we didn’t really do much with that. I mean we rarely went to service. I participated in VBS and Youth Group through middle school… but it wasn’t because of the faith – it was because of friends and my social life #extrovert. So the next important thing to know is that I went to public school through 8th grade. I loved it. It was all I knew – until at the end of my 8th grade year, when my mom told me and Josh (my twin) that we wouldn’t be going to public high school… what?? Yep, that’s right. We were told we’d be going to a catholic school TWO cities away!! I was not happy about it. I mean… CATHOLIC?! How weird, worshiping ‘Saints’ and ‘Mary’, not to mention the scary nuns who hit people with rulers. (I heard that somewhere….) Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of this idea.

Fast forward…

***1st Day of Freshman Year**

So I know I have seen movies of people on the first day of school, not having a place to sit at lunch- but I never had to experience that awkwardness… Until today. (Sidenote I am an awkward human – this makes for great stories later, but in the moment I’m just an embarrassed mess.) So anyway, I knew NOBODY at this school. So at lunch time, I was THAT person without a place to sit. So there I was, little awkward mess of a human Jeremy, nowhere to go. I worked up the courage to ask someone, “Can I uhhh sit here??” Thankfully he was kind and said yes… Long story long, he became a friend and introduced me to other friends. These friends are LITERALLY the best. They welcomed me so well into their group. And the more I hung out with them, the more I realized how happy they were. This got to be annoying… I mean how can anyone be THAT happy. I thought, It had to be fake. But eventually I became jealous. They were “perfect” and so were their families. I craved what they had. So I asked myself, “how can I have that, how do they have it?” I realized that they had it because they had a relationship with God. (I didn’t realize/have the words for all of this until after we graduated). But because of their witness, I started listening in Theology class. Then pretty soon – I was taking classes to become Catholic!

During this process of becoming catholic, (as a senior in high school) I realized *I don’t have a desire to do college now, I want to share my newfound faith* So my friend/campus minister, Daniel pointed me to NET Ministries. (NET is a catholic missionary organization) So I looked into it, fell in love and applied. I thought– This is crazy, me… a missionary?!? I did not think that I would get accepted. But clearly God was calling me to serve him. This was becoming a difficult decision, because at this time I was also waiting to hear back from colleges. So, I told God, if you want me to serve you as a missionary – reject me from my dream college. Surely enough, I got rejected. I took this as a sign. I accepted a spot to serve as a NET Missionary for the 2017-2018 year.

Once I got to NET, I underwent a 5-week training program. The first couple weeks was spent on spiritual growth and prayer. I clearly remember receiving a talk about “God the Father”. This talk changed my life. During it, the speaker associated my earthly father with God my Father. I finally understood why I was so unhappy growing up. It was because of my difficult relationship with my Dad. Since he was overseas, I didn’t feel validated by him… so what I did was sought his approval from others. I constantly changed myself to fit in. But obviously this NEVER satisfied me. But what I finally realized was that I don’t need to win the approval of others. I was seen, known and LOVED by my Heavenly Father.

Realizing this, I was forever changed. Not everything became easy and perfect… no. Quite the opposite. But I finally knew my worth as a son of God. I finally realized I could run to him. It is still a daily process but knowing this has made all the difference.

Remember @ the beginning of this I said I’d come back to the “picture perfect” thing. Well what I have to say is this- I struggle with thinking I have to be perfect, but now I know that’s a lie. I don’t. My FATHER loves me as the mess that I am.

I am SEEN. I am KNOWN. I am LOVED. And so are you.