Friends: The Surest Way to Heaven

By Michela Brooks

Friendship is a topic I have been reflecting on a lot lately. Maybe it's the time of year. Friends are moving on. After seeing each other every day for 9 months you say goodbye for the summer. You finally have time to reflect on the friendships you have made since you came on campus. You are looking forward to seeing old friends back home. All of these things and more have led me to reflect on my friendships and God's purpose for them in our lives. 

I have learned a lot about friendship and it's importance in our lives this year. Some of these lessons have been learned through being a good friend, and others have been learned through failing at friendship. However the lesson was learned, I'm glad it was.

Lesson 1: Friends rejoice in one another's joys, and mourn one another's sorrows. This lesson is pretty simple, and biblical (Mat 5:4) but so necessary in friendship! A priest told me this year, "Friends are two bodies and one soul." They should mourn with one another, rejoice with one another. In the little victories (Yay! You got an A on that exam!!) and in the big spiritual victories (Wow! It is beautiful to see you so faithful to your daily prayer!), we should be rejoicing with one another! And when our friends fall we should mourn with them. If it's spiritually falling, pray for them. Doing a small penance for their sin or failure is a beautiful gift to give someone. Moral of the story: their victories are your victories, and their faults are your faults and vice versa!

Lesson 2: Close friends are a gift from God. Sounds super simple (and obvious), but truly they are. Last year was an interesting year for me where I had built a lot of friendships, but not a lot of close friendships. I said a prayer at the end of the year asking God for a companion the next year. And you know what? He answered my prayer! He gave me an amazing friend and companion this year. It's the friends who know you (too) well, who can tell you when you are being ridiculous, who just likes being with you (even if you're not doing anything interesting) that are truly gifts from God. It's not always rainbows and butterflies in those friendships but it's those friendships that make you the best version of yourself. 

Which leads me to the last lesson... 

Lesson 3: Friends are the surest way to heaven. Not because they tell you how holy you are or because they make you so happy all the time and you just want to love Jesus more. No. More accurately, relationships (friendships specifically) show us the parts of ourselves that we don't like, the parts that are less-than holy, the parts only the people who know us really well can see. They are the sandpaper to our rough edges that help to smooth us out, purify our hearts and rid us of our self-centeredness.

I am so grateful for all of my friendships this past year (both near and far) that have helped me to become more of the woman that God wants me to become. As the summer begins and the new school year approaches, I will be praying for all of my friendships that they would be centered on Christ and others, and lead to our eternal home.

He is the True Artist

By Daniel Folta, Sophomore, Seton Hall University

Ever since I realized my potential at the Art Academy of Hillsborough, I have always aspired to be a professional artist. After two years of weekly classes, I spent my gap year in the academy’s full time program, where I spent a minimum of thirty hours a week honing my skills in oil painting. Since then I have been producing portraits for my clients while studying at Seton Hall’s Business School.

The NJ Men’s Household have been very supportive of me in this, and are helping me set up a studio in the house. Living with them has been a huge blessing to me both with my relationship with God and as a fine artist.

But I would be more aptly named a “copier,” not an “artist,” because what I paint has already been formed by the true Artist, who is God. My work is merely a rough renditioning of His. The more I learn about classical painting, the more I can delve into the intricacies of God’s handiwork. I have been so blessed to be able to start a career that studies and gives back to the glory of God in this way.

Fan into Flame: The Lord Built It

Fan into Flame: The Lord Built It

Fan into Flame was epic. It wasn’t epic because all of the SPO Mission Leaders delivered dynamic talks. It  wasn’t epic because it happened in the midst of a snow storm that left New Jersey covered in feet of snow. It wasn’t epic because over 100 students showed up and 50 students committed to going only a week before the retreat. It was EPIC because the LORD worked powerfully.

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SPO New Jersey’s 1st Benefit Banquet

SPO New Jersey’s 1st Benefit Banquet

SPO New Jersey's 1st Annual Benefit Banquet Keynote Speaker, Monsignor Kelly, has been recognized with many awards and honors for his work to better the community, for his leadership in high school athletics, for his example in the Irish community, for his involvement with various fire and law enforcement agencies, and for his life in the Catholic faith.

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