This makes me think… about qualifying my alone moments

Finding Solitude

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

-Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey- 

9 Days for Life: Join the Novena and Share it!

9 Days for Life: Join the Novena and Share it!

The US Bishops are encouraging us to join in prayer, penance, and pilgrimage to protect life in our nation. Sign up to pray the novena and to receive other prompts by text, email, and more at the USCCB website.

The annual novena “9 Days for Life” takes place Saturday, January 17 – Sunday, January 25. Pray for the respect and protection of all human life with new intentions, brief reflections, and more each day. Download the novena online, or participate through Facebook, email, text message or an app. Join at www.9daysforlife.com! 

I can’t be at the March for Life due to obligations I have at my church, but I can “be there” in prayer — so can you! Let’s do this!

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A few years later, I’m still tripping up on the Mass responses

Ok, I admit it, some days, especially when I’m tired, I forget and revert unconsciously to the “old” Mass parts.

Even though I’ve written articles on the subject of the new Roman Missal and helped explain the changes and their theological meanings to others, I still get tongue-tied. I still trip up and sometimes just fall into the old patterns of the Gloria and the Creed. I’m trying to be gentle with my midlife self — it took me years to learn all those prayers; I’ve been praying them since childhood. So now I’m finding its taking me a few years to learn the modifications to the prayers. I still cannot, off the top of my head, pray all three different Memorial Acclamations. If I were a Jeopardy contestant, I’d fail this category.

So what to do?

I’m just having to be more intentional, and actively keep using the missal. It certainly keeps me more focused on the words I pray, rather than rattling them off.

It is also keeping me humble. I thought this would be easier. Much of it is coming together for me, but then I skip a line in the Creed, or forget to say “Lord of hosts” in the Sanctus.

I ever so relate to the centurion’s claim to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Lord, heal me of my frustration toward my slow adjustment… only say the word so that I may say the words I need to pray in union with your good people who seem to have adapted better than I have! Lord let me never forget you, even if I’m forgetting the changes to these prayers now and again. Amen.

This makes me think… God is restless for us

Praying without ceasing means: never losing contact with God, letting ourselves be constantly touched by him in the depths of our hearts and, in this way, being penetrated by his light. Only someone who actually knows God can lead others to God. Only someone who leads people to God leads them along the path of life.

The restless heart of which we spoke earlier, echoing Saint Augustine, is the heart that is ultimately satisfied with nothing less than God, and in this way becomes a loving heart. Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. God is restless for us, he looks out for people willing to “catch” his unrest, his passion for us, people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts and at the same time open themselves to be touched by God’s search for us. Dear friends, this was the task of the Apostles: to receive God’s unrest for man and then to bring God himself to man. 

The wise men followed the star. Through the language of creation, they discovered the God of history. To be sure – the language of creation alone is not enough. Only God’s word, which we encounter in sacred Scripture, was able to mark out their path definitively. Creation and Scripture, reason and faith, must come together, so as to lead us forward to the living God. There has been much discussion over what kind of star it was that the wise men were following. Some suggest a planetary constellation, or a supernova, that is to say one of those stars that is initially quite weak, in which an inner explosion releases a brilliant light for a certain time, or a comet, etc. This debate we may leave to the experts. The great star, the true supernova that leads us on, is Christ himself. He is as it were the explosion of God’s love, which causes the great white light of his heart to shine upon the world. And we may add: the wise men from the East, who feature in today’s Gospel, like all the saints, have themselves gradually become constellations of God that mark out the path. In all these people, being touched by God’s word has, as it were, released an explosion of light, through which God’s radiance shines upon our world and shows us the path. The saints are stars of God, by whom we let ourselves be led to him for whom our whole being longs.

Benedict XVI, Homily, Epiphany 2012.

A Catholic Writer’s Prayer

A Catholic Writer’s Prayer

This has been my prayer for many years. 

I reread it often. Rather, I pray it often. 

I’m happy to share it with you, and if you do pray it, kindly send one up for me too. Thank you.

 

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Heavenly Father,
there have been fits and starts to my creative life.
Help me to live more deliberately
in the creative flow of your Holy Spirit.
Let Jesus, the Word made flesh,
show me, by true incarnation,
how to use my words
for good and not for evil —
to bring comfort, hope, and healing…
to evangelize and catechize…
but always, always, with love and in love.

Lord, give me the ability
to trust you as the Creator of my life,
and the Giver of my gifts.
Help me to trust the gifts you have given me
and to use them for your glory.
Help me not to worry who gets the credit
and to be generous in what I give>
Let me provide the quantity and
leave the quality to you.

Let me start and let me finish with You, Lord,
and in You — let me be assisted
through the gentle mediation of Mary, my Mother.

Lead me not into doctrinal error
and do not let me lead anyone astray…
only close to You, Lord —
for me and for whatever audience you give me–
whomever they may be, wherever they may be.

Use me, Lord.
I’m ready to do your Will.
Thank you for the gifts and
thank you for the years of my life that remain.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hail Mary…  

St Francis de Sales, pray for us.

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Photo on 9-27-14 at 11.07 PM

 

Mary, what wonder woman you are!

Mary, what wonder woman you are!

The-entire-Trinity-has-a

 

Happy New Year and Happy Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

When I give retreats to women, based on my book, I love to talk about Mary as our Wonder Woman. She really is!

To hear a recent talk, go here.

For more posts about Mary, go here. 

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My favorite Christmas hymn is “What Child is This?” Yet it was only recently that I learned all the words. Some hymnals sell it short.

Here’s the fullest rendition I could find. It’s so powerful as a song-prayer.

What Child is This?

(text by William Chatterton Dix 1837-1898)

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and donkeys are feeding?
Good Christian, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce him through,
the cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
the Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Top Post for 2014: Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home

Why is this no surprise? It is a topic that also coincided with the most downloaded podcast at Among Women.

The Family. It’s all about the family. For lay Catholics, this is Job One. We must support marriage and the family. (I’ll be going to the World Meeting of Families in Philly come June. Maybe I’ll see you there?)

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My family, Christmas 2014. L to R, Back row: Son-in-love Benjy, daughter & middle child Katie, eldest son Bobby, youngest son Peter. Bottom row, Bob, Brady, and me.

So here’s the top post on The Back Porch from the last year: Saint-Making Starter Kit: Parents Who Love God and Live It In The Home. It’s got links to a study on faith in family life and links by me and others on the subject.

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In other statistical date: The most popular place on this website was not the blog at all. The page that out-distanced any of my blog posts was the book page. I guess I ought to be grateful that folks are still looking for it, so humble thanks to you, dear readers. Let me also again thank the Catholic Press Association for the award given to Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious, too. I’m sure that did not hurt my stats much either.

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Then again…

Stats are a funny thing. You learn things like what search engine traffic brings you…. for example, these two posts from 2013 still send this little blog crazy traffic:

4 Magazines for Catholic Women – which really is a bit dated now as only ONE — Catholic Digest is still in PRINT. Verily and Regina are only online. (Verily had a great print product but it was too costly for them to maintain.) And Radiant’s team is on hiatus… (a problem for a small press.) So, today I say: go subscribe to Catholic Digest! Yes, yours truly writes for them.  FWIW, if my blog stats are any indication, editors, many Catholic women are still looking for magazines…

You are the apple of God’s eye — I guess that’s what happens when one of your posts stays in Google’s top 10 for the search of that bible verse. It was a little bitty sharing from my morning prayer and, well, there you are.

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Thank you for reading in 2014. And if you also listen to Among Women, thank you for that too. We’ll talk again soon.