Categories
Confession Ink Slingers JOURNEY Offering your suffering Prayer Randi Sacraments Series

Running Changed My View on Confession

JOURNEY-Finding Faith in Running | www.catholicsistas.com

Welcome to this installment in the series JOURNEY: FINDING FAITH IN RUNNING, a series focused on taking a candid look at life through the lens of a runner. But not just any running journey – one that focuses on marrying the run with the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.

How can we find Christ in the midst of an easy run? Or a grueling run? Or a run after weeks or months after an injury or a break due to life circumstances? Ink Slinger Randi (the Runner) will take us through her own journey of running, going back almost two full decades.

We know that pain and suffering have divine purpose. Perhaps you have been a runner for many years – or maybe you have just started taking up running. What better way to take that suffering and repurpose it for Christ. 


I have this particularly strong and clear image of Jesus. There’s the Cross – plain and simple made of wood with smooth edges, straight lines, and the grain of the wood is subtle. The Cross is just there. Suspended if you will. It’s not mounted or leaning against a wall, or even held up. And the Cross is huge. Gigantic. It stands hundreds of feet high; it’s so big that it has its own presence. Its vastness is felt. But instead of feeling fear, anxiety or uncertainty, I feel peace. I feel love, compassion, longing, and the need to be close to the Cross. And suspended in front of the Cross is the Resurrected Jesus. In a white robe, with no nails or blood stained hands, is the Son of God. And just as big as the Cross, Jesus is proportional – He is gigantic compared to me and my presence. His presence is known and felt not only in sight but in feeling. And I am drawn to Him. His hands are out stretched along the arms of the Cross, He ushers me to Him. And I feel loved, enveloped in compassion, grace, and a deep sincere feeling of wanting to be close to me fills me up. 

Before the Cross, I feel small, like a child. But instead of feeling insignificant, I feel dignified, seen, valued, and unconditionally loved. I feel wanted and worthy; I feel welcome. So, I kneel before the Cross, my legs behind me and my backside resting on my feet. The image takes a third person perspective at this point, and I see little me before Big Jesus and I am awestruck. I long to hug Him. To thank Him. To adore Him. To stare at Him. To reach out and hold His hand. And in return Jesus smiles and generally always says something like “Here I am my child.” 

This is the very image that came to me while running. And it was also on this run where I went to confession. Not literally of course, but in my mind I played out my confession to this giant cross with Jesus towering over me. And the image I saw next was that of fireworks. 

As the miles ticked by, my sins were sent up to Jesus on the Cross like a hot burning ember, and when it ascended to the heights of the Cross, they exploded into beautiful colors and patterns of fireworks. And just like fireworks, once exploded my sins extinguished into vast nothingness. One by one, my sins burst into beauty and vanished into nonexistence. And as I continued along this run, this sort of “Examen of Conscience run”, every sin I mentally ticked off, Jesus smiled, exploded my sin into a brilliance of colors and extinguished it into nothingness. No smoke. No lingering firework trails. No smell. It simply vanished into thin air. And it was then that the true meaning of in persona Christi was not only revealed to me but understood. It was during this run, that the beauty of confession took hold. It was during this run that God revealed to me, through this mental picture, that He is happy to receive my sins. And not only happy to receive them, but happy to explode them into oblivion. Into non-existence. And since God is beyond all time, my exploded sins are truly non-existent. They are neither past, present, or future. My sins simply no longer exist because of God’s grace. 

I don’t go to confession nearly as often as I’d like, but when I do, it’s always this image of the vast towering cross and Jesus that is before me as I kneel and rest back on my feet, confessing my sins and reconciling my relationship with Him. It is this image of fireworks exploding and receiving absolution draws me to this Sacrament. 

As July 4th draws near, this image is becoming more and more present in my thoughts lately. No doubt this is God’s handiwork – drawing me to Him, drawing me to Confession and all the Sacraments, so that I may be as closely united to Him as possible. So, while you’re out running, and your mind settles, your breath eases, and you reach that comfortable place where your pace is easy to maintain, I challenge you to consider your sins. Run through an examination of conscience and see what God is telling you. And think when we celebrated our nation’s independence this past 4th of July, consider the magic behind the exploding beauty of those fireworks. There was no trace of fireworks left. No aftermath, no evidence. When you walk out of the confessional, recall this – your sins are truly forgiven when you are truly contrite. Let the vastness, the towering cross of Jesus take those sins from you and explode them. Receive His grace and love and watch as your sins are transformed into nonexistence. For me, I ran a few miles this July 4th and remembered that Jesus already fought the battle for my sins and desires nothing more than for me to kneel before Him, desire to hug Him, and reach out to Him. 

Running Changed My View On Confession

Categories
Ink Slingers JOURNEY Offering your suffering Prayer Randi Series

Every Run Tells A Story

JOURNEY-Finding Faith in Running

Welcome to this installment in the series JOURNEY: FINDING FAITH IN RUNNING, a series focused on taking a candid look at life through the lens of a runner. But not just any running journey – one that focuses on marrying the run with the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.

How can we find Christ in the midst of an easy run? Or a grueling run? Or a run after weeks or months after an injury or a break due to life circumstances? Ink Slinger Randi (the Runner) will take us through her own journey of running, going back almost two full decades.

We know that pain and suffering have divine purpose. Perhaps you have been a runner for many years – or maybe you have just started taking up running. What better way to take that suffering and repurpose it for Christ. 


When I run I am grounded. I am stripped raw of all the worldly afflictions. I am exposed – bare, raw, and vulnerable. And all that is left is me. The truest purest form of me. I am rested. I am renewed. I am invigorated. To put it simply, my cup is full. And this allows me to love better. When I don’t work on myself, the hard nitty gritty crevices of my heart that go untended for days, weeks, or even months, I lose myself. I lose who I want to be, especially with others. I lose my focus on what is important. I lose my focus on kindness, love, and self-giving. So I run to work on me. To reflect, to clean house, to realign my heart to Jesus.

Saint John Paul II reminds us that to love, to fully love, we must lay down ourselves for another. Love is an act of self-giving. And we only need to look at the cross to fully understand the magnitude, the weight, of such love. We only need to look at the cross to see Christ IS love. This giving of oneself for another is exactly the hope we have in Christ’s Passion. What a gift! What a heavy, weighty, immense gift and responsibility to follow His teachings and align our lives with this true, pure self-giving love. To suffer and sacrifice for others, so that we may love them as Jesus loves us. It is powerful. It is transforming. And it is hard.  

So I run. I run to wash away the selfishness, the ego, my desires, my motivations, my greed, my anger, my bitterness, my resentment, and my frustrations. I run to cleanse myself and to kneel at the foot of the cross and say, “This Lord, all of this, all of my humanness, all of my sins are for you. I give these to you so that you may dwell in me, and I may dwell in you; and love as you love me.” Often times as the miles click by, and I’m only reminded of them by the silent vibration of my Garmin, this prayer is silent as well. It’s not quite as articulate or even really formed into words; but He knows it. He knows my heart and hears my prayer.

I am flawed and imperfect, but so immeasurably and unconditionally loved. All because Christ gave himself to save me. To save all of us! To cleanse us, to sanctify us, to make us new. To prepare us and lead us home with Him.

So I run and allow the sting of sweat in my eyes, the heavy inhale and exhale of my lungs, the strong steady beating of my heart, the aching muscles in my legs, and all my stirring thoughts to sanctify me; to kneel at the feet of Jesus and receive the love from the cross, so that I may be a beacon of His light and love others well.

Every Run Tells a Story

Categories
Ink Slingers JOURNEY Randi Series

He Calls Us to Journey with Him

JOURNEY-Finding Faith in Running | www.catholicsistas.com

Welcome to this installment in the series JOURNEY: FINDING FAITH IN RUNNING, a series focused on taking a candid look at life through the lens of a runner. But not just any running journey – one that focuses on marrying the run with the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.

How can we find Christ in the midst of an easy run? Or a grueling run? Or a run after weeks or months after an injury or a break due to life circumstances? Ink Slinger Randi (the Runner) will take us through her own journey of running, going back almost two full decades.

We know that pain and suffering have divine purpose. Perhaps you have been a runner for many years – or maybe you have just started taking up running. What better way to take that suffering and repurpose it for Christ. 


Jesus wants us to know Him. He desires our hearts. He desperately calls us to Him. He calls us near, always present, always working behind the scenes in our lives. I find it fascinating to look back on my life with this profound knowledge. Where was He when I was least expecting it? Where was He when I didn’t feel Him near? How did he answer my prayers? And as I look back, I am full of His Mercy and give praise – so much praise for His goodness.

I am a Cradle Catholic, but never fully understood my faith until most recently. I still shy away from the term “revert” because it just doesn’t seem to apply. I mean, after all, I’m a Cradle Catholic. I’ve ALWAYS been Catholic – I don’t know any different. And that led to my childhood being marked by attending Mass, participating in the Sacraments, and even Scripture to some extent, because after all, for a child it was all done by faith. It is this way because it’s always been this way.  And when you’re young and you trust your parents and trust the goodness of the Lord, this is sufficient. When you’re a child, you attend Mass every Sunday because we just do. But then I became a teen. And then a young adult where the expectation was for me to be fully responsible for living out my faith and for my own faith formation! I was desperately unaware and ill-prepared for this. So naturally, society and culture prevailed, and I fell away somewhat. I always had a deep-rooted love for Catholicism, the Sacraments and Mass, and even for Christ, but life has a way of throwing curve balls and decisions are made. Although nothing too profound or crazy happened, I look back on this time in my early adult life after graduating college, and starting my career, as a time of ambivalence. I believed. Full-heartedly. But lacked fully living out my faith. It became clear that the sufficient reasoning for a child, was no longer sufficient for a 24-year-old wife and mother. And life carried on. This was a time marked by not knowing Jesus well. I knew of Him. But I didn’t know Him.

And how does this tie into running? Because it came to me while I was running (no surprise there) that I am a revert. And for the first time, the term seemed appropriate. It fit, and I sat in it comfortably – full of peace. It all started with one question: why am I Catholic? And I knew then while sitting on the couch, that the childhood reasoning was no longer enough. And one book paved the way for me. One book answered all the “whys” I held onto for years, but struggled answering. One book changed me from apathetic to fully alive and hungry for Jesus. I craved Him. One book turned into dozens, which turned into liturgical living, which turned into deeper Mass participation, craving the Sacraments especially Confession, and opened my heart to a rich and active daily prayer life.

Remember how I said at the beginning of this post, that I like to reflect on my life so far and see how God has blessed me? How He has made himself known and worked in my life? Well, the one constant in my life is running. I started running when I was just a girl. And no matter how hard its been, or how many times I’ve taken a break from it, I keep coming back. Some would say it’s the endorphins or the fact that I can eat donuts and not care, but really God used that has an instrument for me to know Him.

Let me repeat that:

God uses running as an instrument for me to know Him! How incredible!

He allowed my passion to be a passion to discover Him!

We are all instruments for His purpose – we are not ornaments meant to be idle. Remember, He desires us! All of us! Our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls. He longs for all of us to be reunited with Him one day. And until that day, He allows us to know Him and to be near Him in so many wonderful ways! The similarities of knowing God and running were lost on me for years, but I like to think that somewhere my heart knew. Running is a communion of physical self, mental self, and emotional self just as we are in communion with Christ along with the angels and saints. So, it should come as no surprise that every time I run, I feel a deeper connection along my journey that is outside of me. And somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul, they collide – running and Jesus. Beautifully united as I diligently log miles and diligently pray. United as I continue along this journey of sanctification through running miles and receiving the Eucharist. United as I overcome fatigue with rest days and Adoration and thanksgiving. United as I grow stronger with strength training and my knowledge of Sacred Tradition and God’s Love. As I continue along this journey of achieving PRs and becoming a saint, I am intrinsically pulled into both as I continue along. I am experiencing the elation and delight in fully knowing Him! I am and will always be grateful for Him working on my heart and paving the way for my journey as a Catholic revert and as a runner.

He Calls Us to Journey with Him 2

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers JOURNEY Offering your suffering Prayer Randi Series

JOURNEY: A Series about Finding Faith in Running

JOURNEY-Finding Faith in Running

When I was thinking of an introduction to this series I kept coming back to JOURNEY NEAR. Journey near God. Journey to be close to God. Journey to know Him. Journey to thank Him, honor Him, and praise Him. And much like our faith journeys, running is a journey; a journey of self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-love. And when we take the context of journey in our running – the movement of the very bodies God gave us – we can see how intrinsically united we are to Him! Christ had a passionate journey that ultimately led to the world’s salvation. And similarly, our journey here on earth is for our own salvation so that we may have eternal life with Him.

So perhaps when we run what we’re really saying is: “Lord, be near. Help me discover who I am as Your child. Work in me Lord. Help me become who I am called to be. Use me as an instrument of Your love. Help me love myself and others as You love us. As sweat drips down my brow, I am reminded that sweat too dripped off Your brow; help me strengthen my relationship with You. Use me and my running Lord, to strength my trust in You. Lord be near; journey with me.”

Rest assured, when I started running 19 years ago as a little girl, I didn’t know or even think that my running would bring me closer to God; but through the years, running has done just that, and what a blessing! I look forward to sharing this series as I dive into the spiritual side of running, how it has strengthened my faith, and how you too can find God in running.

Categories
Alyssa Azul Domestic Church Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth

Don’t Come In Yet, It’s A Mess!

Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

Have you ever had that moment of panic when someone shows up at your door unexpectedly? You invite the guest in- while your eyes and hands move quickly to remove any personal or slightly embarrassing items that may be commented on. You catch the dirty laundry basket in the corner, waiting for the perfect moment to slide it away secretly. You remember the dishes you were meant to clean…two hours ago. What if your guest is someone you you’re rather close to? You can be sure that a parent will always have something to say inside your unfiltered home.

As a young adult who still lives at home, I admit I recoil at the thought of my mom going through my personal stuff. My mother is not afraid to waltz into my room and start picking things up and digging through my closet. You want to put on the appearance that you’ve got everything handled, when in reality you’ve fallen, and are struggling to stay on top of responsibilities.

I’m willing to bet that this is how it feels when God rushes into our messy lives. We’re so used to maintaining our version of an “organized chaos” that we are on guard when someone tries to dip their hands into our business. We hold on tightly to our personal belongings (materials, comforts, sins), negotiating with God to keep some things, and nudging him away from touching others. But like a parent, God rushes in with great love, on His timing, and with the intention to rid the space of things that we don’t need. Things that will cause bigger problems if left untouched. Times passes and that “spring cleaning” reminder has crawled into the winter season, still unchecked. We tell God to help us with our messes, but we still want it cleaned our way. “Lord, throw these things out for me, but let me keep this.” Or “Lord, I’m not ready to give this away yet.” The Lord wants more than our full attention–He wants our surrender and our willingness to give up the mess so that he can do the rest.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t feel all that great when you have someone rummaging through your things without warning. Especially if they are things that you avoided. Sometimes God brings things from the past that you buried long ago. And sisters, it hurts to see those things, it really does. But these things are a part of His process. So your life will feel disturbed, shaken and complicated. But you can trust that it’s a sign God is rummaging through your room. He’s finding the hurts and the joys that you hoarded for years, and he’s taking you back through those journeys.  He’s throwing out the things you thought you couldn’t live without, and dusting off the things you took for granted. He’s looking under your bed for your biggest fears and He’s shining a light on them so that you can finally sleep at night. He’s polishing your windows so that you can see the world clearly again.

I realized how humiliating and purifying it is at the same time. A verse from Corinthians comes to mind:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Sanctification takes a bit of shaking and shattering. We can’t expect the Lord to come into our lives and rebuild a home if we’re still holding on to the broken parts. To our comforts and our worldly desires. True sacrifice is when we surrender the things we value the most.

So next time you hear a knock on your door, perhaps it’s not house, but Heaven-keeping.