Category Archives for "Lucas Gerads | Totus Tuus (Totally Yours)"

Oct 15

Fall has come

By From the Heart | Lucas Gerads | Totus Tuus (Totally Yours)

The season of fall is probably one of my favorite seasons of nature. Leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, the smells of pumpkin and different spices. I tend to find myself hiking more and drinking more coffee because I just wanna sit in these moments. Families are starting to make plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Farmers start harvesting their crops and the canning process is in full swing for most houses.

The season of Fall is a time of preparation. We see families prepare for the holidays and winter months, just as farmers are preparing their fields for the next season and selling their crops for the next year. Even nature is preparing for what is to come. Trees start to change color and lose leaves. Animals start to store food for the winter. How are we preparing for what is coming? We have the very real season of winter to prepare for with jackets, hat and mittens, hot chocolate and firewood. But how are we preparing for what is coming up spiritually? The season of winter has some beautiful liturgical seasons in Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, with the first, Advent, being only two months away. Now Advent is a time of preparation by itself, but for what? It’s easy to sit here and say we’re preparing for the coming of Jesus, but are we really ready for that? Jesus loves us no matter what, but personally, I know I would like to grow a lot more in my relationship with Him before that time so when the time comes I can be with Him in a deeper way.

So how can we start preparing for the season of preparation? We can FALL-ow suit with nature. (Hehe. Get it? FALL-ow, like ‘follow’ but with the word Fall).  The trees are being stripped of leaves and the animals are storing food. A prayerful reflection on these is necessary for this time of the year on how are we stripping ourselves and what is it we are storing? What places in our life is taking away from Christ? What things do we store that bring us comfort and not closer to Christ? The season of Fall is a beautiful time but it’s also a time of death in a sense. The trees losing their life and animals will be hibernating. As we reflect on our life how can we die to our self, as to rise to higher beauty when the season comes. Advent is a time to dive incredibly deep into a relationship with Christ but it’s also supposed to be a season of life and joy. How can we taste the richness of life and joy more fully? As we reflect, we should look to how the people in the bible prepare for the coming of Christ. We see Mary and Joseph of course, but we also have Zechariah, Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist.

These five are all stripped of something in a sense as to follow the will of God to prepare the way for Christ. Mary and her ‘yes’ to being the mother of God, sacrificed her image in the time. To bear a child before she was actually married could have shamed her family, Joseph could not have married her and risked her livelihood. But, by sacrificing her life, she bore, and birthed the living God into the world. Joseph surrendered his wife to God and took Mary as his life nonetheless. By doing this, He was able to be the earthly father to Jesus.  Zechariah in preparation to glorify God for the miracle of John was stripped of his ability to speak. When time came and John was born all that could come from his mouth was praise. By sacrificing his voice and the freedom to name his son many including himself glorified God and drew them closer to him. Elizabeth was barren to help the way of Christ. She was given the gift of John late in life and glorified God for such an amazing gift. St. John the Baptist literally was given the mission of preparing the way of Christ by fasting and baptizing. He sacrificed much and was able to bring many close to God. They were all stripped of something that brought them comfort so as to rise when the time came to glorify, praise and love God more fully. As the angel Gabriel told Zechariah, “Do not be afraid.” (Mk 1:13) Change and sacrifice can be uncomfortable and hard but Christ rewards those who follow the way of the Cross.

 

Lucas Gerads is currently taking the year off from pursuing a degree in Philosophy to discern God’s will. He was raised in St. Cloud and is an alumni of Apollo High School. Read more about Lucas on the Perpetual Posters page.

Aug 29

A Summer of Surrender

By From the Heart | Lucas Gerads | Totus Tuus (Totally Yours)

The last two months have been some of the most radical months of my life. On June 18, I departed with a group of young men for the Faith of Our Fathers bus tour, came home on the 20th and started preparing to leave the country on a mission trip to Peru that the group left on the 23rd for. Returning on July 3rd and resting for four days before heading to the vocations camp in Big Lake on the 9th. Coming home on the 11th, I had to do laundry quick because I got to depart as a chaperone for the Steubenville conference the next day. We came home from the Steubenville Conference on July 16th. A literal month of ministry, mission and travel. As I returned home, everything is different. Not so much physically different but spiritually different. I had spent the last month leading others to Christ, growing closer to Christ myself and expanding every part of my spiritual life. I think the most important lesson I learned through it all is ‘surrender.’

I have always prayed for a spirit of surrender and wanted to lay my life before Christ, but always shrank back when the time for action came forward. This summer set me up so that I couldn’t shrink away from the action Christ has called myself and all of us to do, that is grow into a deep, and intimate relationship with Him. The vocations bus tour and camp were great reminders that we are all pilgrims and that people have traveled before us and that we are always working toward Christ. Getting to tour the Diocese and hear the history of Father Pierz coming over and running throughout the area and sending letters back to the immigrant farms about the rich soil and to the Benedictines asking for help in ministry, and also getting to hear the vocation stories of many of the priests, helped put into perspective for the youngsters and a reminder for myself that the faith can be hard and confusing but is fully possible to live out when we surrender to the will of God and allow His grace to work in us.

I think the biggest lesson in surrender came to me while on a mission trip to Peru. It’s cliché to say, but the trip was truly life changing. The idea of being in control and knowing what was happening went right out the window. It was a true let go and let God moment. As the trip went on, we found really quick that we weren’t in control by any means and that God was guiding our hands, and feet. At times letting God lead was hard. The work site I was at we had a small group making an outhouse for the family so they’d have a semi-private place to use as a restroom. But, by the third day I was really starting to feel the physical labor of trying to dig through the clay. I made a comment about it early in the morning as I drank a cup of coffee with Ben, the full time missionary who was our leader. He later shared the scripture passage Matthew 14:16-21. It’s the story of the feeding of the five thousand. He related us to the disciples. We had a huge task that Christ wants us to do. For us it was the mission, the disciples it was feeding five thousand people. We bring what we have to Chris, whether it’s five loaves and two fish or a tired and battered body. Whatever Christ wanted to do with that offering, He would work through it. It was a literal surrender of my physical body.

Now trips like that can be boiled down to amazing experience but it was more than that. We encounter Christ in the sufferings of poor Peruvians that I could never communicate with. We couldn’t come back and say it was an experience. We came back with an encounter. It changed the way we live. This change for a lot of us was planted in Peru but shortly after we embarked for the Steubenville Conference. It  was here that the seeds from Peru took route and sprout many fruits, not only in those who went to Peru but for all of the youth on this trip. It was here that many encountered the person of Christ through the most holy Eucharist. Through Community, Confession, talks, Mass, Adoration, the youngster were set on fire for the youth and for many of them they learned that following Christ was a path of surrender. This being one of my first times being a leader on a conference like this, I wanted nothing more than the students to encounter the Man who completely transformed my life and transform theirs. As the students learned to surrender to Christ, I learned to surrender my own desire of encountering Christ in a deep way. As people enter into moments like this they pray for this grand encounter of being slain in the Spirit or speaking in tongues or the gift of tears. Those desires were in my heart but during that Saturday night adoration the only prayer that came to me was, “You’ve shown me your love, show it to them.” My goodness, Christ came out swinging, and by Him answering my prayer He ultimately revealed His love for all of us more.

This summer is not one I’m gonna forget. It changed me. I learned what it meant to surrender myself to His will, and learned to trust into that both physically and spiritually. The summer has set into motion an army of young people on fire, ready to surrender to the divine and perfect will of Christ our Savior.

Lucas Gerads is currently taking the year off  from pursuing a degree in philosophy to discern God’s will more and apply for seminary. He was raised in St. Cloud and is an alumni from Apollo High School. Read more about Lucas on the Perpetual Posters page.

May 30

Slavery to Love: Total Consecration

By From the Heart | Lucas Gerads | Totus Tuus (Totally Yours)

The chain Lucas wears on his wrist.

I always find it fun when people ask me why I wear a chain around my wrist. It looks like a regular old bracelet and I don’t think those who ask are ready for my response. Usually accompanied by a smile, I say, “It’s a reminder that I am a slave to Love.”

The chain is commonly worn by those who have gone through the Total Consecration. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote the Total Consecration in hope that people would take up true devotion to Mary, insofar as devoting oneself entirely to the will of God. God didn’t need Mary by any means, but choose her to work through to bring Himself into human existence. But, Mary needed to allow God to work through her. So, we get the humble passage in the Bible that is to reverberate in the hearts of those who have consecrated themselves:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

A complete sacrifice of one’s own will to take up the will of God is what Mary did and those devoted to her must do. Throughout the preparations for the consecration, we are give readings from the Gospels, and different pieces from St. De Montfort’s other works. Each aimed at the Gospel passage from above. The consecration itself is one day but is to be prepared for by 32 days of preparation making a thirty-three days long spiritual retreat. There are different versions of the consecration and can probably be googled but I’ve found it best just to ask someone about it (most priests know of it, if not done it) if you are interested in consecrating yourself which I highly recommend.

The back of the miraculous medal

I recommend Total Consecration because, after having gone through it twice and about to finish up my third time, I find a constant need for a reminder that God presented Himself to man through Mary and that she is a powerful advocate to have praying for myself and others. The preparation readings allow me to deepen my relationship with Christ as well as Mary, and allow a very basic start to the sacrifice of my own will. They aren’t long readings but instead of watching something on Netflix, I read and reflect for the day. It’s a simple sacrifice but is the essential start to the process that leads to the larger sacrifices in life that come in all vocations and walks of life.

So, my response to those who ask about the chain may not make sense by a simple explanation but this sacrifice of my will for the will of God brings forth a lot of peace, joy and grace which is worth more than the comforts of following my own will. Totus tuus, Maria.

Lucas Gerads is a student at St. Cloud State University, and is pursuing a degree in Philosophy and English with an emphasis in Linguistics and Rhetoric. Read more about Lucas on the Meet Our Bloggers page.

Apr 28

End of the Academic year reflection: Community

By From the Heart | Lucas Gerads | Totus Tuus (Totally Yours)

Introducing our newest blogger, Lucas Gerads, a student at St. Cloud State University. Read more about Lucas on the Meet Our Bloggers page.

As the end of the academic year winds down, I was invited and found time to reflect on the past school year and see where the Lord had really blessed me and guided me. Every time I’m asked that question on the spot with no time to pray, reflect and think about an answer, I usually get flustered and a little panicked. This time was different. I found myself answering almost immediately by saying, “The community I’ve been led to.”

Having been a student at Saint Mary’s University in Winona for two years, I built a strong community there, and toward the end of my second year, I found out I was not able to continue my education there for financial reasons. Coming home from Saint Mary’s University was a really hard transition for a couple of reasons, but the most prominent was the disconnection with a community. I still had my friends down in Winona and we talked but the face-to-face personal interactions were absent. Trying to grow deeper in my faith without that face-to-face community was hard and I was struggling.

Around Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with Father Scott Pogatchnik, the diocesan vocations director, and we got to talking about my transition and how I was resettling in. I expressed my struggles and he invited me to attend a Marmion House event to watch a football game. The Marmion House is a place where men in college have the opportunity to live in communion with one another and grow in their faith. A couple of days after Father Scott and I had talked, Father Ben Kociemba, who runs the Marmion House, had texted me inviting me over to events, and before I knew it, I was talking about moving in. I moved in on the 8th on January and I was a little concerned. I had only met some of the house members three times and now was living with them?!? It was crazy how quickly everything went through.

A photo of the chapel inside Marmion House.

As crazy as it all was, it has truly been one of the largest blessing of the past year. Since moving in, I’ve grown to know each of the guy in personal ways and we as a community have grown close to each other and Christ. Being able to live in the same house as the Blessed Sacrament allows us to grow our relations together rooted in Christ through prayer. I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying, “Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another,” (Proverbs 27:17) and that is exactly what has been happening. We check in with one another. Make sure each of us is staying faithful to the sacraments and prayer, and ultimately Christ. I think the pinnacle of this whole thought came through the other night when Father Ben celebrated Mass for 13 young men as a kickstarter for finals week. After Mass, we had time for some fellowship, and I could feel the presence of Christ amongst us.

The men of Marmion House at a recent gathering.

At the end of the day, a personal relationship with Christ is the greatest relationship a person could have, but Christ recognized the great need humanity has for community and relationships with one another. Even His apostles needed to be sent out in groups of two, (Mark 6:7) and so I encourage you to thank God for the communities you are part of that leads you to Christ. Pray for deeper relations with them and Christ, and for those who may not have such communities.

Lucas Gerads is a student at St. Cloud State University, currently living in Marmion House, an intentional community of men in St. Cloud. Read more about Lucas on the Meet Our Bloggers page.