Saturday, October 29, 2011

Voice of God

Last night I attended a brief talk at a Holy Spirit conference.  The presence of the Holy Spirit while I was listening was palpable, but at the same time, I was hoping for a longer talk, more insights.
Holy Spirit, Stained Glass Image
The priest mentioned at one point when he and a waitress noticed the Spirit was at work in their meeting that he told her, "I am going to pray to find out.  Come back in 10 minutes?"  Then he described how God told him she and her family had been away from the Catholic Church for 10 years and Jesus wanted them to come back.

God told him.  It only took 10 minutes for him to get the answer.  He had confidence he would have an answer in 10 minutes.


He described God's voice as quiet.

I was leaving with the friend that came with me, and I told her, "I've never heard God speak audibly.  I thought I was hearing Him once, but I am pretty sure it was my imagination now.  I think maybe he might be speaking to me some time, but I play the music so loud all the time when I am alone I can't hear Him.  Have you heard God speak to you?"

After laughing at my little joke, although knowing that I do play the music loudly, she says, emphatically, "Yes.  I wouldn't describe his voice as quiet though.  It is clear, and at a normal volume.  I know it is Him."


I have always been fine with the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit.  The gift of faith, the experience God gives me of knowing that I am in love with Him.  Seeing a certain passage, like "unless you become like one of these little ones, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God," (Matthew 18:3) and knowing the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something that I am missing.

But you know, why do they get to hear God, and I don't?

At the same time, I know none of us deserves any of the graces God gives us, and it is for his pleasure alone, and for the spread of His Kingdom that I want to live.  I do trust that he will bless not just those that believe but have not seen, but also those who believe, love, and trust and have not heard.

It was cool though, to have someone speak to me that was able to drum up the answer from God in 10 minutes of prayer, although I have a bit of spiritual envy there, and also it was cool to be driving away from the talk with someone I knew that could tell me what it was like.  I'd only read about it in books by St. Teresa, St. Faustina, but never actually talked with someone that had experienced it.

Here are some other notes from his talk:
  • The more we gaze on the Lord radiant in glory, overwhelmed with love for Christ, the stronger our armour for spiritual warfare
  • Jesus Prayer - good defense against spiritual attacks
  • Scriptural Tracts - good defense against spiritual attacks
  • Voice of God = Constant quiet voice urging us to goodness (he attributed to St. Teresa of Avila)
  • Christ is in our midst doing his work
  • Begins with a love affair and trust of child & holy awe
  • A child has joy in the love of the parents
The first point was really a beautiful image and meditation that he walked us through.  That if we could see the demons present in the world, in service of Lucifer, coming after us, our children, and the church we would be terrified.  If we listen, though, and hear the voice, "Daughter (Son), I am here," and then turn to gaze on Jesus Christ, triumphant, risen in glory we will be so overwhelmed with our love for Him that the demons will flee, and as the verse says, "Perfect Love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:18b)

The last note is a spiritual theme for me the past few days.  My meditation today was from the Gospel of Mark when Jesus wants the little children to come to him, and he puts his arms around them, and blesses them (See Mark 10:13-16).  Since this was in his talk, and came up in my meditation, and seems very in line with the latest message from Mary at Medjugorje, I think it is the Holy Spirit telling me something.  I can't hear him with my ears, or with my heart or soul via an inner locution, but I know this orchestration of a spiritual theme is from Him.
Christ and the Children Icon
October 25, 2011
“Dear children! I am looking at you and in your hearts I do not see joy. Today I desire to give you the joy of the Risen One, that He may lead you and embrace you with His love and tenderness. I love you and I am praying for your conversion without ceasing before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Thoughts?  Do you hear God audibly at times, or in a clear internal voice?  Or are you like me, sensing the Holy Spirit's presence and work in your heart and mind, but not actually hearing him?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bringing It

The time has come for me to enter the fray.

I have hard time expressing my opinion strongly without crossing the line to self-righteousness, but I am going to give it a shot anyway.

Obama and his administration, particularly the State Department policies and the Health Department policies make it possible and probable that more women will choose to end the lives of their babies in this country and in others around the world.

I am not condemning the women who choose to do this.

During his first campaign I would hear a speech or two and think, "Yeah, he (Obama) is pretty sharp.  Maybe he is a decent guy.  Maybe he will be an Abraham Lincoln."  Plus, he was a really good dancer on Ellen, and he does have a good jump shot.

But then I was fortunate to see his speech on YouTube to Planned Parenthood.  I was listening on my headphones, in a cubicle, while working on a data model on the PC, and I heard him saying how he was going to ensure FOCA was pushed through, to the cheers of the Planned Parenthooders.  FOCA is the act that would do away with all restrictions on abortion that have been put in place by any laws or regulations previously passed at the federal and state levels.  There at work, with my headphones on, I spoke quite audibly, "I hate him."

I don't actually hate him.  I should pray for him more.  I wrote him when we had that red envelope campaign.  I used the logic of Lincoln because it was identical with the slavery issue.

Slavery is truly evil and completely wrong, so don't allow it in our nation.  NO ONE has the right to own another person, and treat them as less than a human being.  A nation that legislates that a human being imported from Africa, against his or her will, is only 3/5ths of a person is legislating and condoning evil.

Abortion is evil, one of the worst evils of our time, and has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin put together, but maybe not more than Mao because his totals would include all the aborted or female babies killed after birth along with the millions that starved in the years following is rise to power.

A nation that treats an unborn child as 0/5ths of a person, and permits and funds that this 0/5ths of a person may be killed inside or shortly after being pulled from the womb, against his or her will, is legislating and condoning evil.  NO ONE has a right regardless of the circumstances of the conception or the financial or health status of the woman to kill a child in the womb or after pulling the child from the womb.

This is simple, straightforward, and logical.

The horrible irony that Obama's own mother chose life, and that he shares the race of the majority of aborted babies in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision seems to be lost on this Harvard educated and IQ lauded black man.

It is getting harder for me to be silent when some sing the praises of Planned Parenthood.  "Oh, they gave me birth control when I really needed it.  When I was young and in school."  That's really not that great, now is it?

I also found out Obama's IQ is actually 3 points lower than mine, if he actually took the Internet IQ test like they advertised, so "POP", he really isn't that sharp, and his moral IQ and logic are extremely suspect.

Please do not vote for anyone, at any level of representative government, no matter how well they give a speech, or dress, or dance, or shoot a basketball, or how smart George Clooney claims he is, if that individual:  man or woman fully supports policies that increase the killing of children within the womb.  There are alternatives.

Yeah, not all the alternatives are good dancers, or speech givers, or as "cool", but if they will stop funding abortion around the world and in this country, then they are better.  If they have the courage of their convictions to do even more to restrict or bring about the illegality of abortion, then they are MUCH better!

The other thing that nags me, besides good, decent people thinking Obama is OK, is people using the name of God in vain.  That really makes me angry, and sad at the same time.  If it is a habit, please stop it!  It is terribly wrong.  It is a terrible habit.  Blasphemy is still a sin.  The second commandment (third if you aren't Catholic) is "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

There are alternatives to that too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Which is Best?

My kids are all above the age when you go looking for these type of videos, so finding them when a co-worker mentioned one of them, was a pleasant surprise.  I hope those of you without preschool aged children will also be pleasantly surprised.

At the time I saw these I didn't know who Jason Mraz, Feist, Ricky Gervais, or were, nor that Andrea Bocelli was blind, so yes, they are educational videos!

Please put your favorite in the comment box.  If you like more than 1 the best, try to rank them or give them a tie.  5 Videos is enough for 1 post, so I give back 2 of my quick takes.

1) Jason Mraz's Outdoor Song

2) Feist's 1234

3) Andrea Bocelli's Good Night to Elmo 

4) Ricky Gervais's Ironic Celebrity Lullaby (he doesn't "believe" in the most important celebrity of all, but he is talented)

5) singing "What I Am"

Thanks to Jen at for hosting.  

Don't forget to vote in the comment box for your favorite.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

My friend and fellow blogger Karinann at Daughter of the King has awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Karinann!

The rules for accepting this award are to tell you seven things about myself and then pass the award on to five other bloggers.

1. I like to play sports and still dream about playing college basketball (literally, sometimes I sleep and dream I am in a game playing college basketball) even though I am 43 and 10 months old.  I'll probably go to law school someday and tryout for the team as my eligibility will still be in tact.  I'm not sure if my knees, elbows, and shoulders will be intact, but I should have more time if I wait until all my kids go off to college.  I never learned to use a sewing machine, or knit, or crochet, so I am hoping I'll still have the blessing to be able to play, even if it is just pickup with some one at the park.

2. I just got a new van, after trading in the previous one with 201,000 miles, 13 years, and plenty of corrosion outside and in the parts that make it run.  The new van with its excellent sound system is becoming a problem as I stay in the parking garage after I get to work, or return from lunch, to listen to the music from either HDD, Satellite, iPod, or the occasional CD.  Right now I am being transported to peaceful places of praise by Fernando Ortega, especially his "Sing to Jesus".  The lyrics really get me, and the music, with the cello and the female harmony at just the right pitch for me to sing as well, is great.  The lines that really grab my heart are in bold.

Sing To Jesus lyrics

Come and see
Look on this mystery
Lord of the universe
Nailed to a tree

Christ our God
Spilling His holy blood
Bowing in anguish
His sacred head

Sing to Jesus
Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great Redeemer
Sing to Jesus
Honor His name
Sing of His faithfulness
Pouring His life out unto death

Come, you weary
And He will give you rest
Come you who mourn
Lay on His breast

He who died
Risen in paradise
Giver of mercy
Giver of life

Sing to Jesus
His is the throne
Now and forever
He is the king of heaven
Sing to Jesus
We are His own
Now and forever
Sing for the love our God has shown

Sing to Jesus
Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great Redeemer
Sing to Jesus
Honor His name
Sing to Jesus
His is the throne
Now and forever
He is the king of heaven
Sing to Jesus
We are His own
Now and forever
Sing for the love our God has shown

3. I really wish I could express the content of some of my posts with fewer paragraphs and words, but that gift is not mine.  Instead it is the gift of Karinann at Daughter of the King, Colleen at Thoughts on Grace, and the friend who started me blogging.  I try to go back after the initial post and delete the ramble paragraphs that add little.  I don't have the patience to sit on my thoughts longer until the main theme and supporting points are clear.  Posting is usually a way for me to work through a theme and that makes for long posts.  Sorry!  Lord, give me greater reader awareness, and please help me to hear your inspiration to hit select and delete.  :)

4. I am the Rachel Ray of laundry.  This would make for a boring show on a non-existent Cleaning or Laundry network, but I have it down!  That is the sorting, washing, it being really clean, dry, and not shrunk part.  Not actually the folding part or the putting away part.  I delegate that part, but I really don't delegate the sorting, washing, or drying because I rock at it.

5. I am funnier than you probably think I am reading my posts.  At least to myself.  This is going to seem like I am bragging, but I am just saying that I can be sitting alone reading the book of Numbers, like I was tonight, to help my son with his homework, and be laughing.  It actually is a funny book.  The number of times God says for Moses to back away because he is going to destroy them all now, and the number of times that the people complain and want to return to oppression in Egypt and Moses throws himself on his face on the ground is quite high.  Not as high as the number of men of age 20 - 50 that can bear arms, but it is high.  Also, I can be sitting alone or driving alone and reflect on something, usually something someone said, perhaps years ago, and start cracking myself up.  Once while I was with my husband, then fiancee . . . . in a bar . . . drinking a beer . . .I said, "I feel sorry for the people that can't crack themselves up."  It didn't scare him away.  I guess it is the kind of crazy that is endearing, versus the kind that is creepy or scary.

6. I am addicted to Church.  My children and husband know this.  My youngest even said, "Mom you are addicted to Church, but that is a good addiction."  My younger daughter, when she would begin the night in our bed would rebut my telling her to quiet down and go to sleep with, "Why don't you quiet down and read your Jesus book."  I am usually reading a few Jesus books at a time!  Praise Jesus!  :)

7. This is bragging, but my husband and I really do, THANKS BE TO GOD have some really awesome kids.  I try to be nonchalant about it sometimes, but we are so over the top blessed with each one of these kids.  In his Providence God provides key moments, and loving exchanges between each of them and me, without my own planning or deliberate scheduling, and sometimes in spite of my planning or lack of it, so I am blessed with moments to soak in the splendor of each of them, and then just Praise and Thank God as much as my sinful, impatient, undisciplined, selfish little self is able. I know he loves me through them.  Even though things are more than a bit testy between my oldest daughter and me, she'll come around after the battle of wills passes and give me a tender hug and kiss.  She is perfect in that way.  Forget the stuff that makes you tense and frustrated with each other, and just go back to the love that you have for each other.

Now for the five bloggers I would like to pass this on to...

George at Convert Journal
Denise at Catholic by Grace
Holly at A Life-size Catholic Blog (Does anyone know why she doesn't post anymore?)
Dwija at House Unseen Life Unscripted
Randy at Fishers of Men

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Take Up Your Cross

Just a quick thank you first to God.  Thank you my Lord and God. I want to love you with all that you have given me:  body, mind, soul, and strength, not just in this moment, or just in front of your Eucharistic presence . . . or just in a moment of reflection on the magnitude of your sacrifice.  I want to love you with constancy like you love me.

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  Matthew 16:24

I just read what was a sad post, as posts that speak honestly of someone suffering are sad.  This post had a spiritual maturity to it that I recognize, but cannot claim.  Most of you may have already read it, but if not, when you do I think you'll notice something to the ending.  Link is at the close of this.

It reminds me of the transformation we get to observe in St. Peter during the Gospels.  Thanks to the Father, Peter gets that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, through whom we have salvation, but still, in his human love and mind, he wants the Lord to avoid the grievous suffering and rejection that Jesus keeps telling his friends is coming.

Even in the middle of the Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah are conversing with Jesus about his upcoming Passion, Peter is just a little slow in processing the meaning of this, and with no idea what else to say suggests raising some tents.  When Jesus says this is the hour, pray not to be put to the test, poor Peter escapes to sleep.  I really love Peter, and these moments when I see myself in how he acts, make me love him more.  He does eventually very much get the lesson of the cross, the lesson I am still learning.

It will clearly take the Holy Spirit's transformation of my mind, soul, and strength--will, to embrace the crosses in mine and others lives according to the will of God, for me to encourage, love, and pray for those who are doing what Jesus asks, taking up their cross and following him.

Some saints, like St. Therese and St. Faustina, came to rejoice in their suffering, seeing the time and sacrifices they had on earth as so short, and even imagining that they would miss the ability to offer suffering in love in heaven.

I keep going through my life praying for miracles.  I want and pray for infertile people to have babies unassisted.  I want and pray for crippled elderly and children alike to be made well.  I don't go over and put my hands on them, and I have a mother who used to pray over me that way when I had a headache, but I pray silently, fervently.

When my friend and priest had cancer, I prayed for healing -- immediate healing.  I was in the confessional with him, and as I know by faith that Jesus is standing right there behind his Priest, I asked Jesus in my mind, even as I was multi-tasking listening to the advice of the priest, to please heal his servant right now of all the cancerous tumors.  I wanted his oncologist, surgeon, whomever, to find a miracle healing the next time they checked.  I also prayed for him and his family to have strength, faith, consolation in the midst of their cross, but I was hoping for a miracle.

When a co-worker lost a newborn daughter, I prayed for resurrection.  I even asked my church friends to pray this too.  It wasn't the only intention. I also prayed for the consolation and the faith of the parents, but I prayed that Jesus, would have compassion, like he had on the Widow in Nain, and would just tell that little baby girl to wake up.

I'm a bit like Peter there, I guess.  I do pray for God's will, but I really want in my too human heart and mind, for the crosses to be lifted, for the suffering to cease.

Besides the dear woman's post link that is coming up -- soon, here are a few related quotes that are helpful. I am still going to keep praying for miracles on the down-low, while still also praying for the faith, consolation, peace, and strength of Christ for the ones carrying the crosses.

"Here, I see you all at the end of the journey which you have yet to complete, living and sacrificing yourselves for the glory of God.  Here, I see you already in glory which awaits you, at the end of your painful sufferings.
You also should think of yourselves as being in the light of my Immaculate Heart, and live serene and content.
Live in joy, because your names have already been written in heaven."  (
 To The Priests Our Lady's Beloved Sonsp. 273 December 31, 1979, paragraph j-k)

Here is quote from Francis DeSales re: the cross in our lives:

The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost Heart.  This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms and weighed with His own hands that it not be one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last look at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms from the all-merciful love of God.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  (1 John 4:18b) 

From St. John of the Cross (bold emphasis is mine, italic emphasis is St. John's)

  Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
  We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
  For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.
  All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.
Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.
  Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.
  The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

There is a good book on suffering if you are looking for one:  John Paul II and the Meaning of Suffering: Lessons from a Spiritual Master.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The More Things Change . . .

Today was super, over the top busy day for me.  I am the newly drafted member of the Finance Committee assigned the duties of paying bills and keeping track of the debits to the Parish accounts.  I was a little behind in the Excel report updates, as we had a committee meeting tonight, and as I have been juggling the computer based training and testing required to be certified as high school coach in the IHSA.

Both of these time taking activities were not things that I volunteered for, but I was asked to do them.

My pastor, Father M., called me yesterday.  He was checking on my daughter, whom they prayed for at Divine Liturgy on Sunday, and also checking on me.  

I told him about the basketball coaching and he said to me, "You know how to say 'no', right?"

I said I did, but actually I am not really sure I do.  Part of my confusion comes from praying the Jabez prayer.  I seem to get the inspiration to pray it right before a job change, or one of these drafted versus volunteering situations.  

Are you familiar with the Jabez Prayer?  It was written about by Bruce Wilkinson, and it is taken from 1 Chronicles 4:10.
I pray it as follows:

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
God of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph,
God the Father of my Savior, Jesus Christ
Oh that you would bless me indeed, according to your will
That you would expand my borders
That your hand would be upon me
That you would keep me from evil, 
That I would not cause pain.

My intention when I pray it is that God would use me according to his holy will, and to bring glory to his name, salvation, and divine life to more souls.

Can you see where my confusion comes from then?  If someone is asking me to do something, and this something is unexpected, it is hard for me to not think, "Oh, maybe this is God blessing me according to his will.  Maybe this is his hand upon me.  Maybe this is his will."  I tend then to err on the side of it being his will, versus say, my short-sighted view of its actual impact to my available awake time, and what impact it might have on my family that has to survive a Mom that sees being asked, as God expanding her borders.  

This is a nightmare, or at least it sounds that way, to my husband.  Whereas I am fairly OK with being really busy, letting some things fall behind, while I catch up on others, this isn't the way he likes to live.

I'm pretty sure I would say no now if someone drafted me into something else.

In the middle of my frenetic life, as I was leaving for my job a good 45 minutes late this morning, I passed my Bible.  I asked God if he had something for me there.  I opened to Psalm 143.  I don't feel as fearful or worn as David did when he wrote it, I think he was on the lamb from Absalom.  Still some of the verses so beautifully express the longing I have.

I stretch out my hands to you,
my heart  like a land thirsty for you.     Pause

Let dawn bring news of your faithful love,
for I place my trust in you;
show me the road I must travel
for you to relieve my heart.

Rescue me from my enemies, Yahweh,
since in you I find protection.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your generous spirit lead me
on even ground.  Psalm 143:6, 8, 9-10

If you have found the secret to knowing if a new task, service is from God, or if it is part of the enemy's game to keep us distracted and so busy that it is no longer possible to keep daily prayer and meditation, or so irritable that peace within the family is decreased, perhaps markedly at times . . . well if you know the secret---I have a feeling it is pretty straightforward-- would you pretty please leave it in the combox, or do a post and leave me the link?  I could use it and probably some others that happened over here could too!

The thing is these job changes, the church finance stuff, the basketball coaching, I know I feel the love of God in my heart when I am doing these for him and in love of those I am serving.  Also, I feel God's love through these people that I am interacting with more because of these activities.  Example is Fr. M calling to check up on me.  He was concerned, not just because of my daughter, but because he gave this financial assignment to me and he knew I was getting covered up.  Isn't that a case of God refreshing me, and showing his concern through his priest, servant, pastor of me the little, over-committed sheep?  

Then the coaching.  I have not been able to hold back telling some of the Moms that I love their daughters.  Sooo much goodness and love, active caring, and evidence of frequent, familiar conversation with Jesus is what makes it hard for me to not tear up sometimes when I consider them, and it is even more impossible if this is the case in the midst of a family life impacted by a father either leaving, or being there, but not there due to alcoholism.  That is the case with two of the girls on the team.
I should do a whole post on this next verse, but it just is my new favorite verse, and newest philosophy of life, and who really knows when I will have the time to do another post anyway?

Do everything with love.  1 Corinthians 14:16

This just seems to be the secret to remaining in Jesus, like the vine on the branches.  

I have used the following verse for a long time to help me with finding meaning in my work, and making the heart and mind connections I needed to do my best, especially in my younger days, when I thought I should be working more directly for the Lord:

Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

This verse helped me do whatever I was doing at work, for Christ.  It wasn't though for the promise of being repaid as his heir.  I don't want to say I take that for granted, but reward isn't really my focus.  I am glad there is heavenly glory and all, and I do want those that have suffered, and persevered, and run the race to win to shine with heavenly glory.  It is just that isn't what motivates me.  Love motivates me.  Love that I so inadequately comprehend and ponder in the incarnation, sacrifice, and sanctification that God in his grace and mercy lavishes on us.    

I know it is supposed to be an act of will and intellect, but I have to say it feels right when I feel in love with God and I love when that is behind whatever I am doing.  Not that is the case even half the time if I am being honest, and not trying to come off saint-like--because I am not.  It might be less than 10%, I don't know.  I am tired and had a long day, and don't round up life experience well to percentages, even when I'm not tired.

It is just this is my new philosophy, Do everything with love.  I know I give my best when this is the case.

Whether it is praying, spiritual reading, listening, talking, and caring for husband and children, or visiting with friends, and working alongside of others  on the job, worshiping and chatting with fellow parishioners, blogging and commenting, running, biking, everything--all of it can be done with love, and that is the way I most like to do it.

I think when I do, it is more likely that I can follow the instruction of this verse:

 . . . Whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31b

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fr. Gaitley on Women of Grace

Consoling the Heart of Jesus

I just posted on Community of Catholic Bloggers to let people know Fr. Michael Gaitley is the guest on Women of Grace on EWTN this week.  Please follow the link above to find out why it is a blessing to hear him in person after benefiting so much from prayerfully reading his book.

What a day!

Warning - this is a real post--as in my real life, with some grossness included.  If you don't like to hear about children getting sick, you may want to bounce away now.  It is also not a short post.

Some days are more intense than others.  Saturday night my 10 year old, who celebrated her birthday 2 weeks ago, and I left the Pediatric Emergency room at 1:00 a.m.

Saturday began well enough.  I actually cooked a real breakfast--Belgian waffles and bacon, lots of bacon.  My kids like to have "bacon parties".  They are all skinny minnies, despite how much bacon they like to eat, so we let them.

After breakfast we headed to their school, private Christian school that goes preschool through 12th grade, to watch the homecoming football game.  The football team lost badly.  I was watching my children in the park, and also all the other children in the park, including a three year old little girl who has the same last name as my maiden name.

This was a big kid park, but neither her mother or father were watching her.  I was a complete stranger, except you know somewhere back in Ireland our ancestors were related.  I helped her when she said she was scared.  I took her to the bathroom and even had to become rather intimate with her out of necessity, as she wasn't past the wipe your own fanny stage.  It's a Christian school, and I'm rather safe, having had four kids of my own, but still---where was Mom, where was Dad?

There was another girl at the park, older, 6 years old, that came so close to getting a concussion.  She jumped to grab the mini zip-glider and while her hair hit the platform, her skull didn't.  I picked her up, rubbed her arm, and got her to laugh.  Again, no parents around.

While in the playground my younger daughter asked to go on a playdate.  I said OK since the Mom had called me multiple times over the past 2 years to arrange this, and since I didn't know her very well, I had stalled.  My husband and I thought it was a good day to try it, since we could pick her up after a couple of hours.

Meanwhile my older daughter, sophomore in high school, was having a meltdown most of the day.  My husband was holding firm that she couldn't wear the dress she wanted to the homecoming dance because it wasn't modest enough.  She tried every trick in the book.  On top of that she had so little sleep over the course of the week and was really run down.  She ended up crying and reminded me of when she was a toddler, with all the crying going on.

I went to get my 10 year old.  I would have to help my older girl with one of the two dresses she didn't want to wear after I got back.

The family had beautifully remodeled home, that they had worked on themselves.  Mom was also telling me about growing up in Communist Romania.  My daughter and friend figured they had a few more minutes to play, and left the room where we were talking.  As a 1st grader this mom and two boys were asked each Monday morning, by their communist, atheist teacher if they went to church on Sunday.  The children would tell the truth that they had, and then they were hit hard with a ruler 30 times on each hand.  Their hands hurt so much that they could not hold a pencil the rest of the day.  This happened every Monday.

I asked her, "What did your parents say?"
She said, "They told me, 'Jesus suffered much more for us'."

It had become a very poignant and intimate conversation, and I was not thinking about where my own daughter was.

Then my younger daughter came back into the room with her friend, and she was crying.  She said she got hurt on the trampoline.

Me to myself, "What trampoline? !"

I gave her a hug, and didn't see any blood, thought that the hug would do the trick.  The other Mom gave her a bag of ice for the bump.

We left soon after.  Once we got into the car, my poor daughter was crying very hard, and very loud.  She cried that way for the whole15 minute car ride, and continued to cry once we went into the house.  I gave her ibuprofen for the pain and swelling.  She said she banged her knee into her eye.  The eye looked OK on the inside.  It was getting redder on the bones above and below the eye.

It must have been the competing need to help my emotional older daughter with her dress that kept me from taking my younger daughter to the emergency room myself.  My husband fixed my mental lapse and said if she is crying that hard (she has actually the highest pain tolerance of our 4 kids) then I need to take her to a doctor.

We got back into the car.  She hadn't stopped crying.  She cried in the waiting room at the treatment center where we waited for over an hour.  She fell asleep at one point, exhausted from the pain.  I woke her up when they were ready to see her.  As soon as we got to the examining area, she vomited . . . a lot.  A nurse, and then a physician's aid pressed on her injured eye, and then sent us to the emergency room where they had a CAT Scan.  She vomited again in the parking lot.

I got her to the next hospital 20 minutes away.  She vomited again in the lobby of the pediatric emergency room.  It helped us get seen sooner.  At this place her injured eye was poked by a nurse, a nurse practitioner, and a pediatrician, making the total number of, "does it hurt here's" equal to 5 people.  The nurse practitioner was the most pokey, and she was rewarded with another round of vomiting.  They gave her some stop vomitting medicine, and then she vomitted again.  Which was ironic, but not ironically funny.

We had a male nurse, with a family, he made a point of telling me that.  Probably because some of the doctor tv shows like to have male nurse characters that are gay.  Anyway, he told me it is wonderful that we are made with those two bones protruding further out from the eyeball, as those take the brunt of most injuries and do great job protecting the delicate eye organ.  I liked the "made" comment.  I liked that he said it right out.  He might have caught my cross, or the rosary ring in my hand, but still I liked him saying that.

Finally she got the CAT Scan.  Then we had to wait for the findings.  It was NEGATIVE and NORMAL.  She didn't have any fracture, and she didn't have any bleeding in the brain, although I wasn't told that last key bit of information until the pediatrician re-visited us about 12:50 a.m.

My sweetie continued sleeping while I was watching AMC movies.  She got sick one more time when they gave her tylenol as the eye was starting to hurt again.  They said it was ocular gastro reflux, but I could not find that on a google search.  This meant she might not be vomiting from a concussion, but because the ocular injury causes gastro . . . reflux . . . into green hospital barf bags.  This is when they gave her an IV.  They said if she got sick even one more time we would be in there for the night.

She didn't, but man--6:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m in the hospital.

Older daughter didn't go to the dance.  She was worried about her sister, but today, she is pretty bummed as her Facebook was filled with pictures and "best dance ever" comments that made it especially regretful that she didn't get to go.  She had also helped decorate the gym for 7 hours Friday night, even though she had only had 5-6 hours sleep a night last week, between playing sports and having tests in every subject.  There is also all the makeup time, and hair, and vanity gone haywire.  Vanity really burns up sleeptime when you are 15.

Today the hurt daughter is very sensitive to light, continued to sleep a lot, and her eye hurts when she looks to the right or left.  I am going to take her to a pediatric Opthamologist in the morning to see if there is any damage to her ocular nerve.  I am hoping it is just some pressure built up from the swelling.

At Mass today, went to Mass instead of the Divine Liturgy because it is much shorter-- 45 minutes versus 1.5 hours, and hurt daughter wanted to come with me.  I felt myself ready to cry, and tearing up several times.  There were a few parents with children in wheelchairs and walkers at this Mass.  I don't know that I noticed them at other Masses, like I noticed them today.  I am crying now thinking about it.  None of them were crying, it just makes me sad.

I know there is meaning in suffering, and I even told my little girl yesterday, "Offer your pain and your fears for the intentions of the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

Still, I prayed for miracles for these crippled children and their parents.  I know our God is a loving God, and even when our children don't have their parents watching them and preventing them from being injured, he is watching.  Sometimes he has someone there, quite behind the parents back, watching and caring for the children even when the parents are oblivious.  Sometimes this is a real angel, sometimes it is a human.  Most always this care is taken for granted by the parents who also love the children very much, but are not capable or willing to watch the child every minute of every day.

Sometimes his design of eye bones protecting the eye is taken for granted.  Other times it is marveled at, and a mom's heart is full of thanks for God creating and making her daughter this way.

I do believe God in his omniscience, and omnipotence, and infinite mercy and loving-kindness is able to orchestrate and bring all things to good for those that love him, including my daughter's homecoming dance trial that I pray he will pull wisdom from and teach her vanity is a sin, modesty is a virtue, etc.

What is he teaching me?  I was a little judgmental of the parents leaving their kids unattended, and then look what happened to my own, while I was unattending her?  The day also made my "sanity schedule", my recently developed hour by hour, 7 day schedule a shambles, as it didn't include spending 7 hours in hospitals.

He did give me peace in the middle of it though.  Even as I was watching her sleep I was praying intermittently the rosary, and then the Jesus Prayer.  I was actually calm there for her, and able to comfort her and occasionally get her to laugh.

I am a little emotionally worn to be profound, so I offer you, again, Peter Kreeft, please read his #3 in his article, "The Three Most Profound Ideas I Ever Had" for meditation on the following verse.

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Impossible to Exhaust the Riches of the Bible

Currently reading the Bible more now, than I have in any one year in my life.  There is the daily meditation I complete 4-5 days of the week following The Better Part.  I know I mention that book almost once a post.

Now my 7th grader and I are reading the Old Testament at a pretty good clip.  Genesis, which spans more time than the whole rest of the Bible combined, and Exodus were finished after three weeks of school.  Tonight we began Leviticus.

I am only through the completely awesome and illuminating introduction and through his chapters up to Leviticus, and now I give you my highest recommendation to buy and enjoy his insights and incredibly efficient writing style.

Kreeft says in the introduction:

Reading the Bible should be a form of prayer.  The Bible should be read in God's presence and as the unfolding of his mind.  It is not just a book, but God's love letter to you. . . . Reading it is aligning your mind and will with God's; therefore it is a fulfillment of the prayer "Thy will be done."

Once you have listened, do talk back.  Dialogue with the Author as if He were standing right in front of you--because He is!  Ask Him questions and go to His Book to see how He answers.  God is a good teacher, and a good teacher wants his students to ask questions.

The Bible calls itself "the Word of God".  But it points beyond itself to the "Word of God", Jesus Christ. . . . The words man can utter are not alive, but the Word God utters eternally is not only alive but divine.  He calls Himself "the Son of God".  Meeting Him is the point of the whole Bible (see Jn 5:39) and the whole point of our lives.
Christ the Teacher
Christ the Teacher (Icon Source: Monastery Icons)
In his chapter on Genesis 1-2 I found the following beautiful and profound quote, with bold emphasis added by me:

If God created my very existence, I simply have no being, no essence, and no rights apart from or independent of God.  My relationship to God is not an addition, however precious, to my being; it is my very being, my essence.  Man is not man and then related to God; to be a human being is to be God's creature, God's servant, God's son or daughter.  Not a second of my time, a cent of my money, a drop of my blood or my sweat or a thought in my head can I truly call my own unless I first call it His.  I owe Him my all because I owe Him my being.  The Bible does not present "religion" as a department of life.  It presents life itself as essentially, totally, and inescapably religious, that is, God-relational, from its center.

After reading it awhile, my Bible flipped from Leviticus to Psalms 62 and 63.  It kind of landed there.  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen would say on his weekly broadcast, "Thank you, Angel."

The other reason is Psalm 63 in my New Jerusalem Bible Saints Devotional Edition has completely beautiful meditation by Blessed Angela of Foligno, called "Knowing and Loving God".  I've read and re-read the Psalm and her meditation many times.  You know why?  Because, it is impossible to exhaust the riches of the Bible, even of a single Psalm, or as some would say, even of a single verse, like "Come to my help, O God, Lord, hurry to my rescue." (Ps. 70:1)

Here first is the first half of Psalm 62:
1 In God alone there is rest for my soul, from him comes my safety;
2 he alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold so that I stand unshaken.
5 Rest in God alone, my soul! He is the source of my hope.
6 He alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold, so that I stand unwavering.
7 In God is my safety and my glory, the rock of my strength. In God is my refuge;
8 trust in him, you people, at all times. Pour out your hearts to him, God is a refuge for us. Pause

This passage did give me pause, because my friend and her family found their rock, their stronghold, and their source for hope in God!  This is the friend that underwent surgery yesterday morning, to remove cancerous tumor in one of her breasts.  They are all praising God tonight, as am I, and you are welcome to join in, that the lymph nodes extracted were clean.  This means most likely no chemotherapy, and only localized radiation therapy.  Thank you to all that joined with me in praying!

Here is the first half of Psalm 63, which is a Psalm of David when he was in the desert of Judah:
1 God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless.
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and your glory.
3 Better your faithful love than life itself; my lips will praise you.
4 Thus I will bless you all my life, in your name lift up my hands.
5 All my longings fulfilled as with fat and rich foods, a song of joy on my lips and praise in my mouth.
6 On my bed when I think of you, I muse on you in the watches of the night,
7 for you have always been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice;
8 my heart clings to you, your right hand supports me.

This verse captures what I think many of you who find your way to this less than lean blog (how long is this post?) feel.  We do long for God.  We pine for Him.  Our hearts thirst for him.  We go to our Churches gazing at the monstrance or the tabernacle, longing to see Christ in his power and glory, as Sts. Peter, James, and John saw him in the Transfiguration, and St. John and Daniel saw him as the Son of Man in heaven.  

Blessed Angela of Foligno, 1248?-1309 writes on Psalm 63, a meditation Bert Ghezzi entitled, "Knowing and Loving God" (bold emphasis added):

The wise soul does not merely care to know God superficially, but strives to know him in truth and to learn his goodness and worth.  To such a soul God is not only good, but the Highest Good.  Thus knowing him, she loves him wholly because of his goodness, and loving him she desires to possess him.  And then God, the Highest Good, gives himself to the soul, and she feels his presence and tastes his sweetness, and enjoys him with great delight.  

Then as the soul partakes of the Highest Love, he touches her and she falls in love with her Beloved.  She wants to hold him fast, and embrace him, presses him to her, and joins herself to God.  And God draws her to himself with a great sweetness of love.  The power of love transforms the lover into the loved, and the loved into the lover.  The soul, inflamed by God's love, by the power of love is united to God, her Beloved. . . . 

Do you realize what good things that knowing God brings us?  In the way of God, the person who wants to possess God must first know him, and then God's love that transforms the lover into the loved will follow.

This is why we read, or rather pray, as we meditate on the words of Scripture.  We want to spend time, even if it is just 15 minutes a day, striving to know God in truth, because knowing God, being loved and transformed by God, loving God, and loving our neighbor with the love he showed us, and transforms our hearts into hearts like his, well that is why we were created.  It is the essence of our beginning, our eternity, and the joyous middle betwixt the trials, and sadness of our life on earth.

Note:  The New Jerusalem Bible was the version used for the scripture quotes in this post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Prayers Requested

A friend from my kids' school is undergoing surgery this morning, Tuesday 10/4, to remove cancerous tumor from her breast.  She had this same surgery on the other breast a couple years back.

Please join me in this prayer.
Loving Father, 
We entrust Polly to your care this day.  Guide with wisdom and skill the minds and hands of the medical people who minister in your Name, and grant that every cause of illness be removed, that she will be restored to soundness of health.  Please give her and her husband, daughter, son, parents, and friends your peace and comfort, and the grace to trust her to your care. 
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Prostrate Before God

Sabbath moments are a way of taking time to rest in God, to enjoy God in silence or in nature. The word sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning "cease." And that is what we need to do sometimes, cease our activity and live in the moment and breathe in God.

Priests do it during their Ordination Mass.

Moses did it for 40 days and 40 nights interceding for God's mercy for the Israelites as recorded in Deuteronomy 9:25.

Judas Maccabees and his companions, who with "Help from God" (2 Macc. 8:23)freed Israel from the oppression, tryanny, and injustice of the Hellenists, did it as recorded in 2 Maccabees 10:4.

My first sabbath moment this week was Wednesday after work, when I stopped in our church between leaving work and picking up my children from school.  We have one of those numeric code key boxes, so we can get in anytime to pray.  I didn't bother with the lights.  The sanctuary candle was lit, and there was light coming in through the stained glass windows.

It had been a very frustrating week and a half at my new client.  Most of all because of the laptop they issued me.  I was having one problem after another with it.  I would give you the geeky details but you would go into scan mode or bounce away fast.

Oh,  forgot to mention that at 4:30 p.m., after I abandoned my laptop to the PC tech, as it would no longer boot up, I was assigned to have a presentation ready for "Senior Management" by 11 a.m. the next day.  "Senior Management" titles at this company end in "of North America".

The bigger problem eating at me was the coldness that was creeping into our married life.  Don't want to expand on that more, but you can imagine it was a double whammy situation going.  Between the home situation, and the zero productivity situation at work, I was having a hard time.

Well, I went into the church, and went right before the sanctuary, and went down into prostrate praying position.  I usually begin my prayer, when I have solitude in this church, by going down into the prostrate position that is more like the child pose in yoga.

This was no child pose prayer moment though.  Earlier in the day, I am not sure now of the source (well I am sure of the Source, source, but not where I read it), I came upon Philippians 4:5-7

5Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
When I am really in a situation where I am clearly in need of divine intervention, or someone else I care about is, or I am praying in profound gratitude after God has acted, then I go to the full prostrate position, more like the priests in the top picture.  To me it is the most whole-hearted prayer posture of realizing my nothingness, sinfulness before God, and my desperate need of his love, and active hand in my life.

I laid my problems out, yes even the laptop problem--yes seems like small potatoes.  I prayed for my marriage too.  I prayed in confidence that I knew he loved me, that I adored him, and would he please help me according to his will, when He willed to do it.

God heard my prayer.
  • It seemed that later that night we were past whatever the disagreement was that left the prolonged coldness going on at home.  
  • I was able to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and get the presentation in decent shape on my own laptop, before the kids were ready to eat breakfast before school.  
  • When I got into work, the PC tech, who was a bit cold toward me the prior 4 times I stopped by the lab, had my laptop ready and it was working like a dream.  He even, without me asking him, put large fonts on everything for me, and made the color scheme more neutral and consistent.  I don't know why he thought to do this, i had a few larger fonts, and he and I are around the same age where eyes decline, but it was better than I could have hoped for.
  • The presentation was done and reviewed at 11 with no suggested changes by the VP that needed to present it later.
  • I found a new fresh water filter for our turtle vivarium in a saltwater only shop, and it was on clearance.  Our other filter had a hairline crack and has been leaking water for weeks.  This new one stays on the inside of the tank, and is much quieter.
  • A man in a hobby shop soldered a new battery for just $5, that shipped from China two years ago but has sat in our garage receiving monthly comments from my husband as to when it was going to be taken care of, or "Should (he) just throw out the toy jeep?"
  • I was asked to be the head basketball coach for the girls JV and Varsity basketball teams at my daughter's high school.  This is a major miracle, but this post's length as it is, I'll have to go into it another time.
I thought it was one of the best days of my life, and I had a giddy joy on the drive home that God had acted on my behalf. 

Am I just being simple attributing all these good things that just happened to happen all in a row within a 24 hour period to God?

Was it just luck, or good fortune, or whatever a non-believer would term it?

Or was it the God of Joseph:

And the Lord was with him, and he was a prosperous man in all things:  and he dwelt in his master's house:  Who knew very well that the Lord was with him, and made all that he did to prosper in his hand.  (Genesis 39:2-3)

Or the God of Daniel, who he faithfully served, praying on his knees three times a day even after the decree that no one pray except to the king. The God who saved him from the lions and then prospered him ever after.  
There are some very holy and faithful people that are poor and struggling. There are other men and women of faith that were not saved from martyrs' deaths. Still I am thankful that God worked things out to my benefit.
He did hear my prayer. He is the great I AM!

I stopped into a church closer to home a little over 24 hours later. As it was the Holy Hour, and there were a number of folks praying the rosary, I did not do the full prostration in front of the monstrance. I did though do the child pose like version of a prostration, on the side, in the back, to thank my Lord and God for his favor and love.  

It was the second Sabbath moment of the week. Thank you to Colleen at Thoughts on Grace for hosting.