Guest Blog Post: Restoring the Culture

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Today is a guest post by my cousin, Jackie Zucco, who is fundraising for a year of missionary work with The Culture Project .

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Hi! My name is Jacqueline Zucco. I am a recent graduate of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Since graduating I have been offered an amazing opportunity to become a missionary with a group called The Culture Project International. The Culture Project is an initiative of young people set out to restore culture through the experience of virtue. We proclaim the dignity of the human person and the richness of living sexual integrity, inviting our culture to become fully alive.  We speak to young people on topics such as chastity, abortion, pornography, sex trafficking, and many other areas that affect our world today. We strive to bring the truth of love and life back into this culture.

Being a young person in this world has definitely affected me in many different ways. This world likes to tell us what we have to look like, do, or how we have to act in order to be beautiful, important, or worthy of love. This hit me hard throughout my life and I want more than ever to combat these ideas, helping young people to know and understand their worth and dignity.  As Saint John Paul II says, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.” I can’t wait to be given the opportunity to help spread this love and truth with The Culture Project.

The Culture Project got its start in 2014 and has since grown in great lengths.  Within the 2015-2016 year there were three teams spread out through the United States. One team was stationed in Los Angeles, another in Philadelphia, and the last being a travel team that moved its way through the mid east. All together the teams spoke at over 223 parishes, schools, and groups. They gave over 806 presentations to around 32260 students, having the chance to engage in over 42700 different personal encounters.  This coming year there will be a team in Los Angeles and Toledo Ohio with the base office being in Philadelphia. The dioceses within these areas have responded greatly to having The Culture Project present, giving great reviews and encouragement to the mission, being more than willing to having The Culture Project back again.

With this upcoming year at hand, I am so blessed to be able to join this incredible group of missionaries. Christ asks us to be His hands and His feet in this world, but not alone. I am in need of the help of my brothers and sister in Christ, to feed those hungry for truth and love. In order to do this year I need to build up a support team to join me on this journey. Within this I need to raise approximately $2,500 in monthly gifts or $30,000 for the year. I am reaching out and asking for your help. I would love to have you as a mission partner on my team, whether through donations or prayer. There are two ways you can invest in my mission and be a part of my team .You can either go online to our website at www.restoreculture.com (list “Jacqueline Zucco” under “purpose”)or you can mail in your gift to, P.O Box 86, Wynnewood PA 19096, with my name upon the memo line. If you would like to sit down with me and learn more about the mission before deciding please feel free to contact me. I love talking about it! My email is jzucco@restoreculture.com. Thank you for your time, attention, and consideration. Please know you are in my prayers.

“I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that….you are incapable of true love.”    – Pope Francis

God Bless!

Jacqueline Zucco

Sometimes Life is a Walk in The Park

 

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I learned a few interesting facts on Saturday. Such as according to the announcer on WSTW, the commute from Wilmington down to Dewey Beach was four hours.

“Forget that!” exclaimed my fiance, and forget that we did. In fact, it never even crossed our minds to begin with. We were on our way to Bellevue State Park.

While others were stuck in that stop and go traffic and cramped car seats, we walked alone among the tall light pink flowers which released their wispy seeds into the air. “Milkweed”, said my fiance. He pinched one of the fluffy clumps and pulled it from the flower, letting it float away in the breeze.

We stopped again a few minutes later under a Beech Tree. “You can tell it’s a Beech by listening to the leaves. They sound like paper when the wind blows through the branches.” He reached up and pulled one of the leaves off. It was in fact stiff like a piece of paper and I snagged it from him before he let it fall to the ground.

“A memento”, I said with a smile.

He continued to point out other random nature facts as we weaved through the woods and back out into open fields.

“This is a Sassafras Tree. It’s where root beer comes from. Well, the root of it. Hence root beer!”

and…

“Look at this Poison Ivy. It can grow big enough to wrap around trees and sprout berries.”

By the end of our walk we were both starving, so we closed our afternoon excursion at Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington for lunch. While munching on our pizzas, we sat outside with a lovely view of the Grand Opera House directly across the street. We also split a glorious bottle of Dogfish Head Noble Rot ( well worth the $32). YUM! And, the best part? We didn’t have to wait four hours to enjoy it all!

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Market Street Majesty @smallwondergram ( Small Wonderings Blog)

 

 

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Now I know why they call it #happyhour <3 <3 <3 @smallwondergram ( Small Wonderings Blog)

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Ignatius Teaches Us How To Find “Little Blessings”

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Yesterday, after coming off of a week of treating everything and everyone in my life with a definite lack of patience, I came across St. Ignatius’ Examination of Conscience (also called “examen”).

Ok, God I get the hint.

But, as you’ll see from the first part of the examen below, it’s actually the blessings which St. Ignatius says are the most important to remember from our day. The following is taken from “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC.

The examination of conscience should be made sometime toward the end of the day. Most people make it before going to bed. It’s basically a mental review of the previous 16 hours or so of consciousness- thus, some people prefer to call the examination of conscience an examination of consciousness.

To make the examen, first, we should put ourselves in the presence of God. In other words, we should begin with the attitude that the examen is a time of prayer, not just a mental exercise. Devoutly making the Sign of the Cross may be enough to do this.

Next, we just have to remember one word: baker, B-A-K-E-R, baker. Actually, we also have to remember what each letter of this word stands for. Let’s start with “B”.

B stands for “blessings”. According to St. Ignatius, this is the most important of the five points. Here we simply review our day, survey the many blessings God has given us throughout it, and then praise and thank him for these blessings. For instance, maybe we had a great conversation with someone at lunch. During the examen, we might want to reflect on that gift and praise and thank God for it. Of course, we don’t have to go through every single blessing of the day. That would take way too much time. The key is to let one’s heart roam about and settle on the particular peaks of joy and blessing of the day, what Ignatius calls “consolation”. One more thing: We shouldn’t forget to thank God for the crosses of the day, which are also blessings.

If we get into the habit of praising and thanking God like this every day during our examen, then we’ll begin to better recognize the blessings of our day as they happen, and thus, we’ll develop a continual attitude of gratitude. In other words, our praise and thanks won’t begin to flow simply when we make our examen- it’ll flow all day long. Furthermore, as God sees our efforts to recognize and thank him for his many gifts, he’ll send us more and more.

A stands for “Ask.” Although we already placed ourselves in the presence of God when we began the examen, here we need to ask for a special grace from the Holy Spirit, the grace to recognize our sins. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we’ll remain blind to our sinfulness. Thus, when we get to this second point, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize our sinfulness, which brings us to the next point.

K stands for “Kill.” Why “kill”? Because it was our sins that killed and crucified Jesus. During this third point, we look at our sinfulness (weaknesses and attachments, too) So, again, we gaze across the conscious hours of our day. This time, however, we look not for peaks but valleys, what Ignatius calls “desolation.” In other words, we pay attention to those times during our day when our hearts dropped. Why might they have dropped? Maybe because of someone else’s sin. Maybe someone said something unkind to us. Fine. Did we forgive them? If so, good. If not, well, the examen is a good time to deal with it.

Now, let’s keep looking. Here’s another time our hearts dropped. It was this afternoon at work, standing by the water cooler. Hmmm. Why did our hearts drop then? Ah, yes (thanks, Holy Spirit), that’s when we stuck Bob with a verbal barb. Let’s see, anything else? Yes, there’s another heart dropper: We didn’t accept the traffic jam on our way home as a small sharing in the Cross. We should have been more peaceful about it and offered it up as a prayer for others.

Okay, so after remembering all those heart-dropping moments, we may feel pretty down. Such a feeling may make us want to run away from Jesus. Let’s not. When the weight of our sinfulness drags us down, that’s the best time to go to Jesus, sinfulness and all- which brings us to the next point.

E stands for “Embrace.” This is to allow Jesus to embrace us, sinners that we are, with the rays of his merciful love. While praying over this point, it may be helpful to think of the Image of Divine Mercy. I like to imagine the rays of this image embracing me with forgiveness. I also like to remember Jesus’ words that it rests his Heart to forgive and that when I go to him with my sinfulness, I give him the joy of being my Savior. I believe that at this point of the examen, we greatly console Jesus when we simply let him embrace us with his merciful love – and of course, we, too, are consoled. I recommend spending some time lingering on this point ( in the embrace) before moving on to the next.

R stands for “Resolution.” During this last point of the examen, we take what we’ve learned from the previous points and look ahead to the next day, ready to make resolutions. For instance, having recognized during “K” that we stuck Bob with a verbal barb at the office today, we might resolve that tomorrow morning we’ll make it up to him by going to his cubicle, slapping him on the back, and congratulating him on how his football team did earlier this evening. Also, having remembered that we were impatient during the traffic jam today, we can resolve to bite our tongues if the sea of brake lights appears again tomorrow. Finally, because during “B” we realized that God was speaking to us during our lunchtime conversation with Sally, giving light on a certain, we can resolve to act on that light by looking up the online article she recommended. ( I think we get the idea.)

 

 

 

#dailyspark: I mean… who doesn’t want to be on Team TobyMac?

Back in high school (ah, the good old days) I saw TobyMac in concert at a Christian music festival. I waited through two opening acts so I could jam out in the front row… and I was not disappointed. While I was l listening to one of his newer song’s last week (“Lights Shine Bright feat. Hollyn“) it brought me right back to that night: “music for the people to illuminate soul”.

 

 

And, uh.. TobyMac, if you’re hiring let me know. I do music videos

#dailyspark: Delaware Stork Bus

From their website:

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Photo Credit: Delaware Stork Bus, Inc

Delaware Stork Bus Inc. is a mobile mini-bus that will provide FREE ultrasounds and FREE pregnancy testing to women. Ultrasounds will be administered by a health care professional and read by a qualified doctor. The results of these tests will be made available to the women confidentially. Delaware Stork Bus Inc. will also have many resources to help a woman and her family through her pregnancy. These services are much needed in the communities that the Stork Bus will primarily look to serve. Delaware Stork Bus Inc. is an affiliate of the national Save the Storks Project which has established these mobile ultrasound buses across the country.

Please visit the following sites to support the mission of Delaware Stork Bus:

Website

Facebook

Go Fund Me

#dailyspark: Made in Hope

Made in Hope is a non-profit organization based in the Philippines which ministers to women who have been freed from sex trafficking and those “still enslaved”.

From their website:

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Photo credit: Made in Hope

MADE IN HOPE empowers exploited women and children with choices. We partner with on-the-ground ministries that seek out and shelter trafficked women and children, giving them the opportunity to continue their education, learn skills that lead to sustainable employment, and begin the healing process supported by mentors, counselors, and prayer.

Specifically, MADE IN HOPE raises money for scholarships so formerly exploited women and children may pursue an education, markets products made by rescued women to generate a sustainable income, and supports the healing process with both human and financial resources.

MADE IN HOPE also advocates for the still enslaved by sharing stories of exploited women at churches, conferences, and other events.

Connect and support this organization by visiting the sites listed below.

Website

Facebook

 

A Lesson We Can Learn From Road Rage

While driving on I-95 South this morning, I waited as four cars passed so I could merge into the left hand lane. I saw a large enough gap before a trailing red car and went for it. Well, I guess it wasn’t a big enough gap for the driver, because after I changed lanes in front of him I watched the disgruntled individual promptly flip me the bird through my rear view mirror.

Uh, what? You dont even know me.

I guess it was for the discomfort of having to slightly apply his break.

But, honestly. How angry have we become as a culture that we are giving complete strangers the middle finger?

If I was having a bad day I reluctantly admit that I would’ve given it back to him. 

It makes me realize how important a choice is; and to not allow anger to fester. We need to be more willing to break the chains of resentment and hostility and instead replace them with chain reactions of kindness. Like the drive thru stories where one thoughtful person decided to pay for the driver’s meal behind him in line and pretty soon the whole drive thru is repeating the same decision. Kindness begets kindness; people catch wind of it and they want to be a part of it too.

It’s a reminder to myself to look for areas of my life where chains of anger and hate need to be broken: gossiping, impatience, jealousy. I know when I see people exhibit virtue in these areas, I take notice and I strive to be like them.

So, instead of making the world an angrier place, let’s be examples to eachother and choose to put some wise words by a woman named St. Mother Teresa into practice:

 “People are often unreasonable,  irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway… Be kind anyway”