Sunday, August 28, 2011

God is Love and God Loves Me

"In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

"God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:5)

It is Sunday and as Sunday is the beginning of a new week, and the first day of the rest of our lives, thought it would be good to post on the most foundational truth we need to absorb, and believe with all of our hearts.

Christopher O'Donnell, in Life In The Spirit and Mary wrote:

The fundamental truth of God's personal love for each one of us is a necessary foundation for any spiritual growth whether a person is enmeshed in sin or growing in higher states of prayer, it will be a necessary support for advancement.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . " (James 1:17a)

We know this is true that all the gifts we have, from existence, free will, our families, the gift of faith, hope, and also even the obstacles to faith and hope are gifts coming down from the Father.  The obstacles aren't always what we would call good and perfect, but they too are gifts.

Sometimes we are dealt a blow, and usually it is a series of blows in life that clouds us to the most beautiful of all realities, God is Love, and God Loves Me.

Today, hear God telling you, "I love you, (insert your name here).  You know this is true, but do you really understand it?  Ask me to help you understand it."

Pope Benedict XVI wrote two of the most beautiful paragraphs in print on this most essential truth of our existence, our past, our present, and our future in the Introduction to his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love):

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny. In the same verse, Saint John also offers a kind of summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us”.

We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16). In acknowledging the centrality of love, Christian faith has retained the core of Israel's faith, while at the same time giving it new depth and breadth. The pious Jew prayed daily the words of the Book of Deuteronomy which expressed the heart of his existence: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:4-5). Jesus united into a single precept this commandment of love for God and the commandment of love for neighbor found in the Book of Leviticus: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18; cf. Mk 12:29-31). Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us.

If I really believe and rejoice in this personal love of God for me, it is motivating.  I want to show God's love, God's goodness, Christ's meekness and strength to those connected to my life.  

We who have been grasped 
by the love of God in the person of Christ Jesus, Our King, want to respond by cooperating with the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in us to draw others to Him.

How has the truth that God is Love and God loves You been the starting point for a new life in the Holy Spirit, where you are filled with joy to say, "Jesus is Lord"?

If you don't yet have that joy in your heart, and you can't seem to believe in this truth, what is in your way?
When Jesus taught the crowds, and when he talked to individuals we read how his teaching and his presence makes a deep impression on them.  Many times crowds forgot about the essentials of food to stay and hear him teach.  We read about some cutting a hole through the roof of where he was so they could get their paralyzed friend to him to be healed.  Miraculous conversions occurred, like we hear in the conversion of Zacchaeus.  The Gospels are filled with people either coming to Jesus or him coming to them, for example the woman at the well, and they are not the same afterwards.

Fr. Bartunek had a great take on this:
"Whether we realize it or not, in our hearts we yearn for God, and so when we come into contact with someone close to God, our hearts are moved.  When the crowds came into contact with Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, their hearts burst with astonished joy."

Part of that explains why it is so easy to love Mary!  She is so close to God, our hearts are moved!  It is also why I can read some of your blog posts and comments and my heart is moved.  You are writing out of hearts that are filled with God, and in response to the love you have been shown.

For those of you that rejoice that God is love and God loves you personally, I hope you will be encouraged in your calling to continue spreading that love and your gift of faith in all the ways God provides you the opportunity.

For those who want to believe, consider that if you are looking to be reassured of God's love, it is really in response to him reaching out to you.  Also please consider that not once in the Gospels was there a person that turned to Jesus, that he did not help.

Jesus always wills to HEAL us.  Some of us may need physical cures, or want physical cures for others.  This may or may not be willed.  This isn't always easy, and is sometimes upsetting.  We want to yell out, "Hey Jesus, you healed the blind men, the paralytic, the leper, the mother-in-law, why not me?  You raised several people from the dead, why not this person?  You love them too, right?"

I am not God, and I am not adequate to answer questions like that in a satisfying way.  I do believe with everything in me that a) God does love you in a more profound, and infinitely wonderful way than you will be able in this life to comprehend, b) I am confident that if you turn to Jesus and ask him, Jesus will heal you on the inside--in your heart and in your mind.  The key thing is to acknowledge your need for him, and come to him in confidence and humility, and then I am confident he will heal you.

If you want to read more about why you can be confident in God's Care of you, please look here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Watershed Morning

Someone must have been praying for me last night or this morning, because I had so much new to me, or deeper than before insights this morning during my meditation time.  I did pray for wisdom and the Holy Spirit last night before falling asleep, but I've done that before and didn't wake up the next day having a few spiritual epiphanies before 10 a.m.

While I learned many things this morning, I'll focus this post on my latest take of Jesus as the Way, as in the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6).  More specifically, that Jesus showed us the Way to live, and that what was primary was staying focused on his mission, following the plan of his Father, and the way he ensured that focus was by ensuring he prayed every day.  The other aspect of the way Jesus lived, was by his gentle attentiveness to the people he encountered in his life.

1) Jesus modeled the primacy of daily prayer.

Our Parish priest two weeks ago focused on one of the frequent lines in the Gospel about Jesus going off to pray.  For some reason that seed didn't grow roots immediately then (it may have been that my kids were not listening and I was distracted myself telling them to listen), but after reading what Fr. Bartunek wrote in the meditation passage, it became very clear.  All emphasis added to the below quote from The Better Part is mine.

Christ was perfect, sinless, without any selfishness, laziness, or pride.

His character was flawless, as firm as the mountains and as gentle as a mother's caress.
His mind was beyond brilliant, filled with radiance of divine light and understanding.
No emotional scars from a difficult family upbringing.  (Mary was without sin too, and Joseph was a saint.)
No personality disorders or imbalanced self-esteem.
No lacks, no wounds, no imperfections at all, 
and yet over and over again in the Gospels
we see him go off to be alone in prayer:

"In the morning long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place to be alone in prayer and prayed there." (Mk 1:35)

Christ was perfect, God from God and Light from Light, and yet he needed to reserve time just to be alone with his Father; he needed to go off to pray.  He even had to get up early to make time for it.  Sometimes he had to stay up late in order to make time for it.  But he always did it.

If he who was perfect, needed prayer in order to fulfill his life's mission, what does that imply for us, who are so imperfect, so weak, so vulnerable to every sort of temptation, and wounded by every kind of sin.

Christ was a man of prayer and as he himself put it, "no disciple is greater than his master." (John 15:20)

My realization was if I am going to have any spiritual knowledge, any depth to my relationship with the persons of the Holy Trinity, any insight into God's will during the unpredictability of the day's events,  I need to pray and battle against the distractions that keep me from either morning or nightly prayer.

2) Jesus modeled the Golden Rule, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Lk 6:31) in his gentle, attentive, friendly way with people.  

In the passage I was reading this morning Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law not with a word, or a wave of his hand, but instead, "He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up." (Mk 1:31)

That is gentleness, that is attentiveness.

I thought about this because yesterday I was trying to teach my 12 year old that he should say hi to his classmates when he sees them outside of school, using their name, and by showing in his face that he is glad to see them, glad that God created them and that they are in his life.

After reflecting this morning I was thinking, what do most people want--not all people, some people are turned inward from being wounded, or other reasons. But what do most people want?  Or to put it another way, which people make the biggest impression on us and stick with us long after we don't see them regularly?

To the first question, I remember some of my parenting books teaching that we should show each of our children on a regular basis, especially when we see them after a separation during the day, how happy we are when we see them, how blessed we are that God gave this little person into our care.  The feeling of love, and joy that we show them that they are in our lives, is what people hope to experience beyond the home as well.  When someone walks into the office building, or the school building they are hoping the person they meet or see, will maybe stop from another conversation or something, and just say hi in a a way that says, "Geez, great to see you again."  It might not be the same as a mom to a kid, but the more sincerely friendly it is, the better we feel, right?

To the second question, which people make the biggest impression on us, and are most memorable to us, I think it is the persons we meet that have the goodness and generosity, and the focus on people, rather than tasks or things, that they show to others they are really glad they get to be around them on a given day.  I've known a couple of people like this in my life, and the book, Tuesdays with Morrie was written about a guy who exemplified this.

How did I come to this realization?  When I read the line, "He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up," I prayed:

Lord, please -  I know and thank you that you are near.  Please take me by the hand - if it is your will, and help me up.

Then the next line I read from Fr. Bartunek was, "Christ is a man whose whole attention is focused on others."

This then led me to think about not just what I was asking my son and other kids to do, and how I know I love to be treated, but how do I act?  Am I treating others the way I want to be treated---not just with fairness or common respect or decency, but how I really want to be treated?

I know what I want Jesus to do for me--take me by the hand.  How do I like people to act toward me?  I like when they greet me by name, with a smile and look of friendship on their face.

Again, how do I act toward others?

Since this isn't the confessional, I'll leave it as I found another missing piece of self-awareness, in conjunction with a deeper understanding of the teachings of Christ, that could make a real improvement in how I am following Christ in my home, and in my relationships outside the home.
And if my morning meditation was not enough, by 1 p.m. I had also spent an hour in prayer alone, before the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a chance meeting with our Priest/Pastor in the rectory.  I had forgotten something there earlier before I went to pray, and he was unexpectedly home from the hospital where he is a chaplain.  We had such a great talk.  I told him about some of this, and more, not that he is my official spiritual director (don't have one of those yet), but he really encouraged me.

The other thing I noticed is that when I walked into the church this morning, I immediately had this feeling that I was in love with God.  In love with Christ.  In love with the Holy Spirit.

I have been praying for this, and I felt this way yesterday too when I went outside in the early evening.  I looked at the sky.  It was beautiful, AGAIN.  Seems like I see a beautiful, fills me with awe sky everyday.  This time I looked and I just felt in love with God looking at it.

I really felt driving home from Church and after seeing our priest today,  as though Jesus did will to take me by the hand to help me up, so he did.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The Sunday before Lent starts in the Eastern Church is known as Forgiveness Sunday.  The homilies for these liturgies focus on the need to forgive so that we can be forgiven.  Father told us that when we refuse to forgive that we are creating an obstacle to God's mercy and forgiveness and grace.  There is also a beautiful rite that begins with the parish clergy kneeling, and asking forgiveness of anyone of the parish that they may have offended during the year.  They then go through the church asking individuals for forgiveness, and the parishioners do the same as the Spirit moves them, or the gifts of humility and fortitude sustain them.

After all no one wants an obstacle to God's mercy, forgiveness, and grace -- right?

Father also said there are times when we do try to forgive, but the resentment, or hurt runs so deep that it is only by praying for God's help to forgive that we can forgive.

Of course I also remember another good way of getting the humility necessary to forgive is to stare at a crucifix and ask the questions:
- Who is suffering and dying on that cross?  
- Why is He dying?  
- Who is He dying for?

I do believe that the purgation we receive either in temporal punishments in this life, or in Purgatory are to bring us to a place of more perfect, more Christ-like love.  A dear priest said in a homily, "You must know that you will not get into heaven until you forgive and love everyone."

It's all there in the Gospels, especially the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant who was forgiven the equivalent of billions and wouldn't forgive a hundred (Matthew 18:21-35).  The teaching from Fr. Bartunek in The Better Part on this is that if we refuse to forgive the little offenses others cause us, we "handcuff God's mercy and put ourselves under strict justice."  

Who wants that?  

Lord please give light, eyes that they may see, and ears that they may hear.  Please let all that don't understand that it is your will for them to be forgiving and merciful as you have been to them, absorb the light of the Gospel and Your teaching on forgiveness.

It's right there in the Our Father, for Pete's sake:  "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pay It Fwd - Grief, Love, Hope & Lectio Divinia

Pay It Forward

This week I wanted to highlight Sue Elvis's writing from a place of healing, love, and hope in her own heart directed to help others experiencing infant loss.  Here is her guest post on the Community of Catholic Bloggers.  There is a badge to the left you can also click to go directly to her blog and to access the book she wrote.

Secondly, I wanted to highlight the practice of Lectio Divinia, from its Benedictine orignis and its variation according to the Carmelite method.

In September 2005, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
"I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church - I am convinced of it - a new spiritual springtime."
The Benedictine Method is described in this well-written wikipedia article "Lectio_Divina", "It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to:

  1. Study
  2. Ponder
  3. Listen 
  4. Pray and even sing and rejoice from God's Word, within the soul"
Another variation (from same wikipedia article) is:
  1. Lectio:  This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively several times. Many write down words in the scripture that stick out to them or grasp their attention during this moment.
  2. Meditatio:  The Christian, gravitating around the passage or one of its words, takes it and ruminates on it, thinking in God’s presence about the text. He or she benefits from the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination, i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit that imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text.
  3. Oratio:  This is prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace; and as consecration, prayer as the priestly offering to God of parts of ourselves that we have not previously believed God wants. In this consecration-prayer we allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are pondering to touch and change our deepest selves. ...God invites us in lectio divina to hold up our most difficult and pain-filled experiences to Him, and to gently recite over them the healing word or phrase He has given us in our lectio and meditatio. In this oratio, this consecration-prayer, we allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.
  4. Contemplatio:  This moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God. In other words, it is a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in His presence.
I was planning on just paying it forward to Sue's post, but when I was clicking around to try to get to Holly's site the Wikipedia article displays.  I saved it off in the folder with some of my blogging links.  i wasn't sure if the Holy Spirit was telling me to lay off the computer as I've overdone it lately doing car research, or if I was supposed to include it here for others.  I figured maybe it was both, you know because the Holy Spirit, as in all things, takes multi-tasking to a whole new omnipotent, omniscient level. :)
I was sure it was for me when I saw one of the reference links was entitled, "Accepting the Embrace of God", which I have been challenged by lately.  I was thinking of bringing this up to one of our priests last weekend but the timing was off.

The Carmelite Method, which is taught very well with great Gospel meditation is included in The Better Part by Fr. John Bartunek 

  1. Concentrate on God's presence and ask for the grace you most need
  2. Consider the text slowly, calmly, looking for the Holy Spirit's highlights--something that strikes you, or gives you pause, or makes you ask a question
  3. Converse two way prayer dialogue where you might pray using Praise for God's Goodness, Adoration, Sorrow for sins, selfishness, Thanksgiving for his many gifts, or Asking for good things from Father in heaven
  4. Commit renewing commitment to Christ, make new or strengthen resolutions in God's service, thank God and wrap up meditation with prayer
As I am meditating my way through The Better Part I have been using that method most often, but I am liking the Benedictine twists:  praising with song, and Contemplation - simple loving focus on God and joyful rest in his presence.  Depending on the amount of solitude, and whether or not my meditation time is open-ended, I sometimes get through 1-3 of the Carmelite method but then encounter peaceful, loving presence and often rest (sleep) in God's presence, never making it to Commit.  When I use regular morning time, and time-constrained meditation period, I usually follow the 1-4 closely.

How about you?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Patronage Meme

Karinann of The Daughter of the King as well as Anne from Imprisoned in My Bones have tagged me for this very heavenly meme. Assuming you are a saint, and your cause has been executed, your miracles confirmed, your date on the calendar established, all that is required is to select that of which Holy Mother Church will name you Patron (ess).

Here are the rules:
*Name your patronage
*Tag 5 other saintly bloggers
*Give link to your nominator's post.

Like the others that have accepted the challenge of this meme, I have been struggling with my unworthiness to even consider such a future occurrence as this.

The title of my blog is precisely because I realize how inadequate I am to bring Christ's healing, love, and mercy to others, and to lead others to him. 

I am lacking in the experience of suffering that I reverence in others,  beginning with the incomprehensible suffering of Christ in his passion, the tortures endured by the saints, to those I have been 
privileged to meet in my life that have truly suffered from what they have endured in this life.  People that I have known who have suffered are more mature than me, have greater empathy and understanding than me, have greater inner strength. 

Back to the Meme:  Two questions I asked myself to name my patronage:
1) What has stirred me to the most intense heart-churning prayer?
2) What evokes the strongest reactions in me that I would like to be able to affect with my intercessory prayers in heaven?

1) What has stirred me to the most intense heart-churning prayer?

In the last year this has been praying for those who have lost infants.  Three people that I know have experienced this profound loss and grief within the past 7 months.

In addition I met many mothers online, through their blogs, as in an effort to better understand, and find some way to console, I spent a few nights crying while reading the blogs of those that have suffered miscarriage, stillborn births, and neonatal loss.

The most intense prayer I have prayed this year was during the miscarriage scare of my friend and co-worker, shortly after she saw her baby's heartbeat for the first time.  This dear woman had lost her first baby, who was stillborn at 24 weeks, and had suffered an early miscarriage shortly before I met her.

We were at work, in our shared office, when she started experiencing very painful cramping.  She was sitting across from me in pain.

I was so scared for her.  Aware that I do not have a healing charism, but I always have the gift of prayer, I typed, (typing helps me pray, especially when someone is in pain in front of me and I am scared for her and lack the fortitude to pray out loud)

Lord Jesus Christ,

Please extend your hand to calm the mini-storm inside of her.  Please un cramp and smooth whatever is cramping.  Please give her peace and let her feel better now—please. Please protect this pregnancy.  Please forgive her any sins, forgive her anything that she should have done or not done.  Please see her, I know you do, with all the tenderness I know you have for her Lord.  You are moved by compassion Lord, please move now to heal her completely and please protect this little baby growing within her.
I hope it is just her body getting rearranged for the womb to grow bigger inside of her.

I love you Lord.  I thank you that you are always near.

She did not miscarry.  The baby is growing and doing well.  She had a Subchorionic Hematoma that has since resolved. In a way an SCH is caused by the womb getting rearranged for pregnancy.  

You'll notice that I didn't pray for the will of God to be done, well except for the "So be it" behind the closing Amen.  I was scared of God's permissive will.  I was going for his compassion and mercy as I was afraid for her to suffer any more emotional devastation, and I just want this child so much for her and her family.  

This would fall short of the prayer of a saint in heaven, but that is the subject of another post, probably by someone wiser and more abandoned to God's will than I currently am.  It was a prayer with all the love and compassion God gave me.

2) What evokes the strongest reactions in me that I would like to be able to affect with my intercessory prayers in heaven?

Before I answer this, I have to explain that I believe that any compassion or mercy that I feel toward others is directly due to the working of the Holy Spirit.  I have been and continue to be in many ways blind to the suffering around me.  But in a few instances, the Lord has truly led me.

"I shall lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they do not know I shall conduct them." Isaiah 42:16.

St. Leo the Great (died in 461) reflecting on that verse said, "Because of the great love by which he has loved us, God renews his likeness in us.  More importantly, so that he might find in us the reflection of his goodness, he who works in all allows us to work along with himself.  Thus he lights candles in our dark minds and kindles in us the fire of his love in order to make us love not only himself but also whomever he loves." (from the Roman Breviary published in 1908, but more recently in The New Jerusalem Bible:  Saints Devotional Edition which I extremely recommend)

My answer then:

  • Abuse of Children:  My eyes were opened to this while sitting on the Grand Jury in Lake County, Illinois for 3 months.  In particular sexual abuse of children is more prevalent than theft and my imagination and heart gasps to think how much of it never comes to light.  The real stories I heard while the attorney sought indictment were very upsetting.  The lesson was more effective as the most frequent victimization seemed to be girls, 11 years old, and my oldest daughter at the time was 11 years old.  I pray for these kids, and especially ask the Blessed Mother to intercede for them when I pray the rosary.  I also read Colleen's book, The Third Floor Window which had me crying for a few days, but was part of God lighting a candle in my dark mind.
  • Infant loss as mentioned earlier, inclusive of miscarriage and neonatal loss
  • (and relatedly) Abortion.  As another example of God lighting a candle in my dark mind within one week a friend passes on a link from a mom in dark place of mourning due to losing one of her twins in utero.  This same mom lost two twins seven years ago, and as anyone knows that has lost children or knows parents that have lost children, the loss can become fresh, and the hurt deep, and time does not heal all wounds.  In short I was sad and praying for her, especially as she was having trouble praying.  Then I stumble upon Creative Minority drawing attention to a practice of reducing a twin pregnancy to one and the two together within one week really got me upset.  I don't want to judge or be critical but if you caught the article, or read  Sistertoldjah's Write-up on it, it is so upsetting.  I am going to be praying from now on and again when I pray the rosary, and in heaven, should hearts and minds not have changed by then, that women would have the light lit in their dark minds to know that our souls live on love and truth and not deception, and short-term relief.  If you read the story you'll read how one woman asks not to see the overhead ultrasound screen during the procedure, and felt relief afterward.  What you don't read is what the wound in the woman's soul will do to her.  Forgiveness and healing are there when she turns to God as some women have been blessed to find through Project Rachel.
  • Infertility:  I had no awareness of the challenges of these couples, and especially the women, as my husband and I are what those who are IF call "Fertiles".  My eyes were opened to this by getting to know someone, and reading her blog, and then the blogs of many others experiencing this trial in the past year.  There were two webpages in particular that summed up my learning: and  I am not advocating anything here in terms of Artificial Reproductive Therapies, just passing on the links in case it helps others  understand there are women, couples experiencing a recurring grief.  There are many of them, as high as 2 in 8 couples.  I was not aware of this before this past year.
Since Infant Loss came up twice in my answers, I will go with that for my patronage.  

I wrote earlier in a post called Praising God Always about how one mother's faith shined in the midst of losing her little girl.  

Also the other night, when I realized I was still not ready to write this, I found these other beautiful passages in Isaiah that I hope will comfort anyone that has experienced child loss.  
"I myself shall fight for those who fight you and I myself shall save your children." (Is. 49:25b)

"No more will the sound of weeping be heard there, nor the sound of a shriek;
never again will there be an infant there who lives only a few days . . .
They will not toil in vain,
nor bear children destined to disaster
for they are the race of Yahweh's blessed ones
and so are their offspring.
Thus, before they call I shall answer,
before they stop speaking I shall have heard."  (Is. 65:19b, 20, 23-24)

"As a mother comforts a child,
so I shall comfort you." (Is. 66:13)

"For past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.
For look, I am going to create a new heavens and a new earth,
and the past will not be remembered
and will come no more to mind.
Rather be joyful, be glad for ever at what I am creating . . . .
At the sight your heart will rejoice." (Is. 65:16b-17,66:14)

(this one is good to replace the pronoun so it fits the one reading it--God's word is for you!)
"But I shall heal him,
I shall lead him, fill him with consolation,
him and those who mourn for him,
bringing praise to their lips.
Peace, peace to far and near, Yahweh says,
and I shall heal him." (Is. 57:18b-19)

Finally, to those that feel distant from God and the pain is turning you inward and not toward God as you are doubting love and goodness in the midst of your pain, please remember this wasn't God's plan for us.  There is a book written by someone that experienced repeated infant loss that helps to make sense and come to terms with how there could be such suffering that I would encourage you to read.  Here is the link to the book on Amazon:  Pope John Paul and the Meaning of Suffering.
"Jesus Wept." (Jn 11:35) Statue at Oklahoma City Memorial
I cannot summarize it here, at least not in this post.  It is an amazing book.  I will leave you with one last verse though, and it is one that all parents, parents to be, those struggling with IF and, as is often the case, IF and pregnancy loss, your God does love you.  He will heal you, he will strengthen you, he will bring you to peace.  The peace will not be permanent on this side of eternity, but he will console you as a mother consoles her child.

"Shout for joy, you heavens; earth exult!
Mountains, break forth into joyful cries!
For Yaheweh has consoled his people,
is taking pity on his afflicted ones.
Zion was saying, 'Yahweh has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me.'
Can a woman forget her baby at the breast,
feel no pity for the child she has borne?
Even if these were to forget,
I shall not forget you.
Look I have engraved you on the palms of my hands . . . ." (Is.49:13-16a)

May you who are reading this grow in the holy virtue of confidence in God's care.  I just finished posting great reflection on this passage by St. John Eudes at the Community of Catholic Bloggers.

I am supposed to tag 5 other bloggers for this Meme.  I tag:

Abigail at Abigail's Alcove
Priest's Wife at Fear Not Little Flock

I encourage you to visit Karinann of The Daughter of the King as well as Anne from Imprisoned in My Bones to read their posts from this Meme.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pray Don't Worry - St. John Vianney

"God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry." 
Saint John Mary Vianney, Priest

Please see my post on this quote over at the 
Community of Catholic Bloggers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pay It Forward - Preserving Your Heart In Peace

Pay It Forward
This week I wanted to highlight a reflection by Cathy Nolan on Our Lady's 7/25/2011 message at Medjugorje.  Our pastor is a Marian priest and he has a reflection from Cathy Nolan on the inside back page of every bulletin.

I am highlighting this particular reflection, because it hit home with me as I am not fighting an effective battle at maintaining a peaceful heart.  I have moments of peace, but I also have moments where the peace is gone as quick as a lightning strike, and I am yelling, usually trying to prevent one of my kid's feelings, or bodies from being hurt by a dear sibling or their own carelessness.

I am hopeful that Mary and the Holy Spirit can prevail where I have failed, and failed, and failed.

This reflection highlights the writings of Fr. Jacques Philippe, and I am going to read more from him within the next few months.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the reflection, and I think it is from Fr. Jacques Philippe, 

"The greatest harm that upsetting ourselves does to us is that it makes us incapable of following the impulses of the Holy Spirit."

Here is the link to Cathy Nolan's reflection 
Silence and Rest.

Thank you to Holly at 
A Life Size Catholic Blog for hosting.