Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Cross and Humility

Whenever we are having a family meal, my Dad likes to make the same joke. First he lets everyone know he is the patriarch. Then when we try to let him serve first, he waves everyone ahead and says he is practicing humility! We always get a good laugh from it.

St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi says, “This is the remedy to fix my gaze on You, Incarnate Word, hanging on the Cross. As soon as You see a humble soul looking at You in this way, You are quickly moved to look at it, and the effect of Your divine glance is like that of a ray of sunshine on the earth: it warms it and prepares it to bring forth fruit. This is the way You act, O divine Word, who by the light of Your glance, drain my soul of all its pride, and consume it in Your fire. No one can acquire humility if he does not fix his gaze on You, O Word, on the Cross.”

To humble self means rooting out all independence, pride and will. This is what we think of when we hear the words, meek of heart. Antonyms of humble include proud, rude and exalted. We think of people who are arrogant, unkind and selfish.

There was a time when I thought humility meant wimpy. Now I know, to be humble takes strength and courage. It is a discipline. There we see disciple in discipline. We find freedom in discipline. Otherwise we are slaves to our vices.

St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi reminds us that Our Lord shines upon the welcoming and humble. He warms these hearts with His Divine Mercy. And from these hearts springs forth the fruits of His love.

Lord, help me root out self. I can’t do it alone, I need Your strength. Amen

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stay With Me, Lord ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.” St. Pio of Pietrelcina

I am struck by the beauty of Padre Pio’s prayers. This line reminds me to ask Jesus to stay with me after receiving Him in the Blessed Sacrament. How quick we forget Him when we walk back into the world. We forget Him when we see the sick struggling to make it through the day. We forget Him when we see the lonely wandering the street. We forget Him when we see the depressed sinking in despair. We forget Him in so many ways.

How often do we abandon Him? I know I’ve abandoned Him many times when I’ve seen someone in need. I’ve abandoned Him when I thought I had better things to do. What could be better than being with Him? Just like His disciples I’ve forgotten and abandoned Him, but He remembers me and stays with me.

Once again, “Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.” St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baptism, Funeral Pall and New Life

Having a chance to visit with my elderly aunt the other day was as always a treat. She was asking me about the cloth covering the casket during the Catholic funeral. It seemed like I remembered this had to do with baptism. Later I found that to be correct. The white cloth is reminiscent of the white baptismal gown or garment. Just as the person is welcomed into the Church community as a new Christian in baptism, the deceased is now entering a new life in the resurrection of Christ.

This white cloth is called a pall. It is a sign of our resurrection and hope for a new life with Christ.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Third Floor Window Book Giveaway

This post is for a link for a wonderful woman named Colleen Spiro. This month is the anniversary of the publication of her book The Third Floor Window. She is generously giving away a copy of her book, and if you click on the above title you will find a way to enter her giveaway. Colleen is a survivor of incest, and this book is about her journey and how God has helped her find hope and healing. Please visit her blog, she is an inspiration!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Migraines and Thankfulness

When my husband walked into our room earlier, I told him I had a headache. Then I describe it as, "You know, the kind that makes you feel like you're going to toss your lunch." He immediately said, "Migraine!" He's familiar with these himself. After I asked him to turn off a lamp, I realized it has been awhile since I've had a migraine. This is evident because I didn't even recognize it right away. I remained still and drifted off to sleep. Waking later, I knew the migraine was gone. Sometimes I can sleep it away.

I was thankful this crushing headache was gone, but I was also thankful it happened. It made me see again where I take things for granted. Not having a migraine for quite sometime was something I hadn't appreciated. It causes me to think of the many things others deal with that I've never endured. This is the one area I have improved in somewhat but not enough, I need to be more thankful.

Lord, thank you for the infinite blessings you've sent to me. Thank you for each breath I take, for You breathing my being to physical life and for the Holy Spirit's breath of spiritual life. Amen

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Parent's Lament

My children will tell you I was an overprotective mother, which is true to a certain degree. I grew up when children roamed neighborhoods, and doors were left unlocked. By the time my children were born, we heard stories of child abduction and warnings such as, don’t put your child’s name on shirts, backpacks, etc…This was because a predator could call the name acting like they knew the child.


There are certainly regrets I have from raising my children but being overprotective isn’t one of them. The regret is my selfishness and not spending more time with them. Don’t get me wrong my two boys gave me some gray hairs.


One particularly bad day, I was taking a bath and lamenting to our Lord. I use the word “lamenting” because it just sounds better than complaining. Anyway, I was lamenting the fact that I must be a sorry parent because I was having a tough time with these boys. As I continued to groan about my inadequacies, God interrupted my thoughts. He said, “Listen, I’m the perfect parent and look at my children running amuck!” I really didn’t expect God to use a work like “amuck!” I expected something like, “Listen thou, I am thy perfect parent and gaze upon my children sinning endlessly.” But He said “amuck.” Well that got my attention, and I said, “You’re right, Father.” He probably smiled when I said He was right, because He’s always right. He didn’t need me to confirm it. Feeling much better, I thanked Him and seeing as we were chatting already, I asked Him a question. “Father, when you’re talking about your children not always acting like little angels, are you talking about me?” I waited. I asked, “God?” I waited again and still no answer, maybe a chuckle but no answer. Opening my mouth to lament the fact he wouldn’t answer, I realized He was talking about me. He is the perfect parent, and we are his imperfect children. The good news is He loves us imperfections and all...even when we are running “amuck!”


Father, thank you for loving us through the good and bad times. Amen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Carmelite Monastery Jackson MS Heaven Look

Today the Carmelite Monastery in Jackson, MS is celebrating Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The actual ceremony will be held Sunday evening, July 19th. For many years I attended Mass on Saturday morning in the beautiful chapel located there. The stain glass, Stations of the Cross, and statues are older and reminiscent of churches of my youth. I miss the stunning trappings of God's house, decorated with stories of His love and family members. When my children were small and we walked into the chapel, they would look around in awe. You could see it on their face. It always seemed to be a holier, quieter and safe place.

Today in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, I am linking to my first post here on this blog, because she always tells us to look to Jesus and Heaven!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bad Thoughts During Prayer?

This post on prayer may seem strange to some, but others will immediately understand. Many years ago when I began to pray in a more meditative manner, instead of the grocery list of prayer I followed most of my life, I found my prayer time was being attacked. It was disturbing to say the least because I stared having vile thoughts during prayer. Right away I thought something was wrong with me, but thankfully two things happened letting me know I was actually doing something right.

The first thing I did was go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When I told the priest what was happening, he leaned back in his chair and smiled. He told me to keep praying. He said the evil one was assaulting me because he didn’t want me drawing close to God. Shortly after that my own devout dad told me this same thing happened to him. Believe me it was nice to know I wasn’t alone. My dad told me to pray these words when it happened, “Father, I offer up these thoughts for some soul right now in danger of dying in mortal sin.” Or you can say, “I offer up these thoughts for some soul right now in danger of dying and not in a state of grace.” Both are really the same. Anyway, the next time this happened to me, I prayed that prayer and the thoughts left immediately. At that point I couldn’t even think the thoughts if I tried! Interestingly it turns these vile thoughts to the benefit of souls, and it thwarts Satan’s plan. I know it sounds like a strange thing to offer to our Lord, but He tells us to bring all our troubles and trials to Him.

If you continue to have problems with prayer then it is probably your own concupiscence. Still offer this up, and pray for God to give you the grace to overcome this problem.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be Not Afraid

We have a wonderful woman teaching us the background and meaning of our Sunday readings. The reading and study of Amos impressed me this time. Amos took care of sheep and was the keeper of the sycamore when God called him to become a prophet. He is considered to be the earliest of “writing” prophets. God was disappointed with the Israelites and sent Amos as His prophet. God was sadden by His people because they had become greedy! Amos had a difficult task because everyone was prosperous and didn’t care to listen to him. He was also bold because he was not a professional prophet. He was an unknown in the temple. The professional prophets were attached to the king and his court, and religion was all for political gain. The religious authorities of that time didn’t want Amos around because he threatened their power.

In the Gospel reading of Mark we see Jesus sends the disciples out, much like God sent Amos. We know the background of the disciples and they certainly were not professional prophets. They trusted Jesus by showing they were not afraid. Each left with one tunic to be as beggars relying on the hospitality of others. They were to shake the dust off of their sandals when a town rejected their message. One living in these times did not want pagan soil on their shoes.

I am reminded of the phrase we sing and hear, “Be not afraid, I go before you always.” God promises if we but trust, He will provide. And when we come to that place where we are rejected because of God, when it is evident that harden hearts won’t soften for Him, we are directed to shake the rejection from our feet and travel on unafraid in His Way!

Lord, help us to know when to stay and when to walk away. Give us courage to journey in your light. Amen

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Phantom Fat? More like Phantom Skinny!

Visited the doctor today only to find out I'd gained back the eight or nine pounds I'd lost. I needed to keep it off, and then take some more off too. It made me think of something I heard recently. Something that made me laugh. I'm not saying what I heard is not true, but I have a different spin on it. The term I heard was "Phantom Fat!" This is a situation where someone overweight or obese has a weight loss. The problem is, even though they lose weight they still feel like they are fat. Over many years the individual has become accustomed to having the fat and so still believe they are fat when they are not.

When I heard that it all made sense to me. My problem isn't Phantom Fat, it's Phantom Skinny! I used to be skinny, so now that I've put on weight I just don't think I'm as big as I am. Don't get me wrong, I know my size has increased. My clothing alone tells me that, but I just don't get it until I see the dreaded photograph. I took for granted, for most of my career, the weigh-in at work. I watched people sweating the scale. It wasn't until the end of my career that I became one of those sweating! So here I sit with a term for my condition, Phantom Skinny. My skinny has disappeared and some how, some way, real fat has taken it's place.

Lord, thank you for the bounty you supply. And I truly know the "some how" for my fat. Forgive me for when I am a glutton...and please let someone discover a "real" get rid of fat pill with no bad side effects! (Doesn't hurt to ask or dream LOL) Remember God created humor, I just wish there was a way to literally laugh my "rear end" off!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dreaming of those Deceased ~

Last night my husband asked me what I was doing today. I rattled off some possibilities. Then I asked, “Why?” He said, “Tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday, and I told my Mom we’d go to the cemetery. Right then, I knew the priority for today was going with my husband and mother-in-law.

When my husband and I married, his dad was deceased for over a decade. I remember feeling sad knowing his dad wouldn’t be at our wedding. I was also thankful I had my own memories of my father-in-law. These memories are clouded because each comes from childhood. When I met up with my husband again, I hadn’t seen him since he was in the fifth grade. But two different nights before we married, I dreamt about my father-in-law. The most vivid one consisted of us all sitting down for dinner. I woke up feeling very good.

The other couple I was sad about before I married was my grandparents. My paternal grandfather died before I was born and paternal grandmother when I was very young. My maternal grandparents were around for a very long time, but both died before I married Tim. I was in my late thirties at this time. One night I dreamt I was at a wedding reception. My grandpa was there wearing a very fine suit. I asked, “Where is Granny?” He reached behind him, and she stepped forward holding his hand. Once again I woke up feeling very good.

I truly believe God was sending me a message. The message of course was one of family. He was letting me know, you may not see them, but they will be there. Just like He is here, and wherever He is, there is the Son and the Holy Spirit. We sometimes forget we are ONE Body of Christ. We are still united to those who have gone before us in His Body; only a thin veil of physical death separates us from that cloud of witnesses. The cloud of witnesses we read of in Hebrews ~ surrounding us always.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear

Our Lord’s words in Scripture lets us know that every child has an angel to guard him or her: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels see the face of my heavenly Father continually (Matt 18:10) Theologians teach this is not only for children but all of us, an angel given to us from birth to death.

We’ve seen more interest in angels in the last couple of decades. When I was small my friends, who were not Catholic, never spoke of their Guardian Angels. My mother, who is Baptist, prayed with me every night. Even though guardian angels were not emphasized in her religious tradition back then, she made sure I was aware of mine. I would ask her where my angel was, and she’d tell me right behind me. I almost threw me neck out trying to catch a glimpse of my angel. Over the years there have been instances where I believe my angel has guided, instructed, warned and whispered. I plan to post one such event this August. Even though I’ve had some close encounters, I still ignore this wonderful messenger and helpmate sent to me by God. I’m praying that I will be able to grow closer to this particular grace bestowed by our Lord.

If you have a story of an encounter with an angel or angels, I would sure like to hear about it! Please leave a comment.

May God place His angels around you and keep you safe!

Friday, July 3, 2009

One Nation Above God ~ What?!

Obviously the title of this post is a play on words. Hopefully it will be thought provoking. The correct version should read, One Nation Under God. It seems to me this is part of our problem though. We as a people have put ourselves above God and others. The more advanced mankind becomes the more we seem to regress when it comes to God. It is kind of like when my mom used to tell me, “You’re getting a little too big for your britches!” What happens when we block out God? His grace doesn’t flow as freely. It’s not Him, it’s us. My dad uses the illustration of a dirty window. We have dirtied the window so all of the light doesn’t shine through!

This Independence Day let’s take a moment to remember we are actually dependent on God’s love, grace and mercy. When we gaze into the darkened sky anticipating an explosion of colorful fireworks, we need to think that beyond the darkness in our own lives the Son of God is waiting to shine upon us. Also we don’t want to forget to clean the windows of our souls, the view is more spectacular than the best fireworks and the fire of His love never fizzles out!

Have a happy and blessed 4th of July. Thank you to those who are serving our Country and freedom, thanks to those who have served, those wounded and those who sacrificed their lives.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Make Time for the Divine ~ Finding Peace

Time is such an odd idea once you contemplate eternity. Just to name a few methods, mankind measures and marks off time by seconds, hours, days, weeks, season and years. Time can be remembered by birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and deaths. Some of my readings are touching on the idea we all have of “if only.” If only I can get that first job, I’ll be happy. Maybe it’s if only I can buy a house, I’ll be happy. There are possibly infinite if only, I’ll be happy” scenarios, but is our mission in life to be happy 24/7? Does this really happen for anyone? I can’t see how. Eventually we experience illness, death of loved ones, ridicule, gossip, no chocolate (not devastating, but disappointing) and all kind of unhappy events.

Rather than waiting on the next event or success to make us happy, we should focus on the present moment. In taking more of mankind’s measured time to spend with God, I’m finding a place of peace. Not just peace of heart, but the peace that passes all understanding. This is probably a bad analogy, but it is like riding in a car with someone you love. You don’t have to make small talk. The two of you can just ride along knowing the silence doesn’t diminish your love for one another. This is how my time with our Lord has been the last couple of days. You may wonder what I’m doing different. The difference is I’m spending more time with God. I’ve started praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 pm (the time we believe Jesus expired on the cross). After prayer, I’m reading some books I didn’t have “time” for. My night reading and prayer schedule remain unchanged, but adding another time for prayer and study is a renewal. Maybe just maybe, God is getting it through my thick skull when He says, “quit running ahead, take some time, and just walk with me for awhile.”


If you are unfamiliar with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, following are some of the prayers:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Read more about Divine Mercy.