#Fast Friday in #Lent… cleaning grime outta the corners

#Fast Friday in #Lent… cleaning grime outta the corners

I’ve been at home a lot. There’s some much snow up here in New England, it’s keeping me indoors. Clutter within the four walls is starting to drive me crazy and slowly.

As part of my Lenten penances, and to grow in humility and diligence, I’m cleaning a lot of grime out of the corners. You know the kind. In the kitchen it’s the grimy places along the back edge of the stove where it meets the countertop and the wall. Or, there’s that infrequently seen part of the counter under the knife block. Just a few nights ago we moved the dog’s crate out of the corner where it usually stays put and swept up the sniggling little scraps that have fallen behind it the past year.

Last weekend, I actually took our furniture polish and cleaned up some wooden furniture needing attention. After first having to organize and dust all the shelves.

This coming week I’m staring down multiple stacks of books that I simply must categorize and place in the office or give away. Oh gosh, the office, that’s another zone crying for my attention.

I simply must manage the little piles whose girth keeps spreading.

There are many days that I lament that I do not have a cleaning service because I’m so lazy with the domestic arts. But our budget cannot afford it, so it falls to me. (Bob is a help when I ask… but he doesn’t complain much and somehow he doesn’t see the grimy build-up the way I do.)

Did you catch that previous admission? I’m l.a.z.y. Doing these little chores can become penitential for someone like me. Sure I tidy up a lot during the week…. but the deep cleaning… whoa, that’s a commitment. I can only overcome laziness and procrastination by growing more diligent. (Remember, my doing these thing without complaining and without any recognition is worth more value to my soul than talking about it in a blog post. So, you can see, I’ve still got some growing to do.)

It’s not lost on me that the penitential nature of Lent requires us to go after the grime in the corners of our souls. Those little piles of sins we’re been meaning to get to… but somehow, and I’m speaking to myself here, we’re simply willing to live with or ignore. Dat grimy gunk over dere ain’t botherin’ nobody, right?

Naturally, as a practicing Catholic, I know all the rules about venial and mortal sins. I’ve been at this long enough to try to really steer clear from the mortal ones…. but O Lordy watch me still trip over those venial ones…. especially the bad language. It’s a default code my tongue finds when I’m stressed, over-tired, or frustrated. And that’s for starters, and I already mentioned the laziness about chores…. but I don’t need to confess my sins to you here. Today I had to take off to confession and Mass, and, trust me, I was grateful to go.

Any of this familiar to you? I’m not here to nag you. Just reminding you that we’re all got stuff to confess and clean up. By all means, let’s all get to confession this Lent.

Release the grime. Make the commitment.

:::

For comic relief: Life is messy. Clean it up. 

:::

This might help: Forgiveness is Waiting for You:  8 Tips for an Awesome Confession

:::

Why #Fast Fridays?

:::

After I wrote this, I found this great advice from Chris Stefanick… loved that he mentions the corners…

 

image

#Fast Fridays in #Lent

#Fast Fridays in #Lent

Taking a Lenten pause from the The F.U.N. Quotient that usually appears on Fridays here at the blog. Friday’s are not just the end of the work week… they are the day our Lord died for us.

We Catholics traditionally fast from meat on Fridays, and we may be fasting from other things as well. So I’ll keep this fast personally, yes, but I’ll also try to give you a fast post to read and to reflect on in your day. Each will vary in a theme drawn from my own fasts.

 

Let’s start off with the virtue that undergirds all virtues we seek: Humility.

:::

Pray the Litany of Humility with a podcast from Discerning Hearts. (2 minutes)

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Amen.

(Text by Merry Cardinal del Val, secretary of state to Pope Saint Pius X
from the prayer book for Jesuits, 1963.)


Lyrics here.

“A saint is not someone who never sins,

but one who sins less and less frequently

and gets up more and more quickly.”

St Bernard of Clairvaux

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.

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.

 

:::

+

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.

+

Photo on 9-27-14 at 11.07 PM

 

Sheer Grace: A Savior Who Enters Our Dust So That He May Be Our Glory

Sheer Grace: A Savior Who Enters Our Dust So That He May Be Our Glory

A few of my close friends know that I am immersed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and much of my recent meditation and reflection has been around the my own need for God, and my need for a savior. The word that keeps coming up for me  is what God said to Adam and Eve after they were banished from Eden:

“You are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Gen 3:19

As a wife and mother… dustiness is daily life. I’ve been chasing down dust and dirt and grime all my life. It comes with the territory. The goal is to eliminate dust, right? But no matter how we try, we simply can’t shake it. Dust we are. Dust we have. Dust we remain!

IMG_4017This Advent, I’ve really come to know and understand that God loves me so much that He enters into our dust. (Last year, it was all about Jesus entering into my chaos.)

That dustiness represents our sin and death, our frailty, our being lost and confused and broken. It is a grace to know one’s sins so we can turn from them.

It is a grace to know we are dust.

But the greater grace is know that God became man… and entered our humanity — on purpose!

The Lord of Glory took on the dustiness of our life. He was born of Mary into a dusty stable, and visited by dusty animals and shepherds who brought their own brand of dust to his bedside. Jesus is well acquainted with dust. He knows and sees and love the dust of me. And you.

St Paul knew this well. He contrasts the dusty man of Genesis, Adam, with the God-man of the Gospel, Jesus Christ who, though born into this dust, was destined to redeem it…

“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15: 47-49

I love that this dusty Jesus cared to entered into my dust and will raise it.

As the Church prayed the O Antiphons this week, I was deeply consoled by this prayer…

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creatures you fashioned from the dust.

This is Christmas… it is the coming of the savior who is our redemption, God made man. One of the greatest sermons on this truth comes from the mighty pen of St Augustine. I’ll leave you with his wisdom

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of a virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. 

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not proceeded from us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ, were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head.For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become the son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

From the Office of Readings, Sermon from St Augustine, (Sermo 185: PL 38, 997-999)

This Christmas, I pray you and I will know this sheer grace…

From our house to yours…. Merry Christmas!

#GraceOfYESDay… who inspires me? Intercessors, Helpers, Missionaries, Caregivers, Mercy-bearers

#GraceOfYESDay… who inspires me? Intercessors, Helpers, Missionaries, Caregivers, Mercy-bearers

7CqeBIn honor of the”Grace of YES” day… (inspired by Lisa Hendey’s book, The Grace of Yes):

The people who inspire me with their yes include …

Intercessors: the men and women who silently, and particularly, intercede for others with their hidden prayers. I know I have been the grateful recipient of many prayers lifted to heaven.

Helping Servants: The people I know who quietly work in the ministry of the St Vincent de Paul Society in my parish and diocese. Their generous and thoughtful work brings what’s needed most to homes in my town. There are other ministries listed here, in Catholic Digest, that are worthy of our support. 

Missionaries: Full-time missionaries, like Jonathan and Kristen of Family Mission Company,  and campus ministers like Michelle Ducker, and FOCUS.  And part-time missionaries like Totus Tuus programs.

Caregivers: Those who bring relief and care to the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill, and those who have no family to belong to.

May the grace of YES to God in our lives lead us to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy

The corporal works of mercy include:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Finally, the grace of yes is “a vocation to love”, as St Therese of Lisieux once declared. Whatever our vocational state, let us be faithful Marriage partners and faithful priests and religious, and faithful individuals who are single for the Lord. May our “yeses” bring the work of mercy to the world.

 

Venerating the Saints: Relics and Real Life (a photo essay)

Venerating the Saints: Relics and Real Life (a photo essay)

As the month of all saints and all souls continues, I thought I’d share some cool photos of relics from some of my travels in recent months.

Relics, honored in the Catholic Church, are the bodies of the saints or objects connected with them or with Our Lord. God has often shown His approval of relics as sacramentals by working miracles through them. Relics deserve to be venerated. The bodies of saints were temples of the Holy Spirit and instruments through which God worked. However, no Catholic is required to believe in miracles [related to relics] any more than one is obliged to believe in private revelations such as those of Lourdes and Fatima. We honor relics by preserving them with reverence, visiting the places were they are enshrined, and praying before them.

The word relic comes from the Latin reliquirae, or “remains.” Relics are classified in three categories. First-class relics are parts of the bodies of saints, or instruments of the Passion (like fragments of the True Cross). Second class relics are objects that have been in close contact with the saints, such as articles of clothing or personal items. In the case of a martyr, the instruments of martyrdom are also considered in this category. Third-class relics are objects like Rosaries or cloths that have been touched to the body of the saint, or to either first or second class relics.

Most prized of all relics are the relics of Christ’s passion, particularly of the cross on which He died.

-Ann Ball, The How-to Book of Sacramentals_

In September, I was a guest at the Chiara Center retreat house, attached to St Francis of Assisi Church, the motherhouse of the Hospital Sisters of St Francis. (Here’s a cool PDF about all the highlights in the St Francis church.) St Francis of Assisi church is loaded with relics. Its sanctuary is pictured in the banner photo above. Besides praying before the Blessed Sacrament every day, I was privileged to view and pray before their collection of relics. Yes, I experienced Catholic geek overload. And it was wonderful.

I’m gonna supersize these photos so you can see the details… or as many details as my cameral phone can allow. (Note: if you are viewing on a phone, you might want to check back later on a larger screen to appreciate the larger frames. Some photos might be cut severely on a phone-sized screen. You can also click on the photos to view them.)

Reliquary of the True Cross

Reliquary of the True Cross

 

Close up of the splinter fragment of the True Cross.  (Here in Boston, our cathedral of the Holy Cross has a miniature fragment compared to this one.)

Close up of the splinter fragment of the True Cross.
(Here in Boston, our cathedral of the Holy Cross has a miniature fragment compared to this one.)

Documentation of the relic

Documentation of the relic coming from Pope Pius IX.

Reliquary for St Francis of Assisi, the church patron and patron of the Hospital Sisters' religious order.

Reliquary for St Francis of Assisi, the church patron and patron of the Hospital Sisters’ religious order.

St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi, relic.

Here’s a major relic of St Felicitas ( Oh yes, you know here — Felicity  — the martyr mentioned in the Roman Canon, Eucharistic Prayer I?)

IMG_3546

“For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, (Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia) and all the saints.” (Roman Canon)

Documentation of how this first class relic got to Springfield, IL… (a virgin and martyr for the faith)

Documentation of how this first class relic got to Springfield, IL… (a virgin and martyr for the faith)

More here about the how the Mother Superior made this request to have this relic for the motherhouse.

More here about the how the Mother Superior made this request to have this relic for the motherhouse.

The hallway in the Church basement where the relics are exposed in marble and glass displays.

The hallway in the Church basement where the relics are exposed in marble and glass displays.

Can you see all those little discs in the displays. Many many relics to be venerated.

Can you see all those little discs in the displays?  Many many relics to be venerated.

Here’s a few of my favorites…

The 12 Apostles plus the great apostle to the Gentiles, St Paul.

Relics of the 12 Apostles plus the great apostle to the Gentiles, St Paul.

St John of the Cross, relic

St John of the Cross, relic

St Gemma Galgani, relic

St Gemma Galgani, relic

IMG_3542

St Rose of Lima, relic

IMG_3541

Top to Bottom: St Alphonse Liquori, St Bernard, St Louis de Montfort, relics

IMG_3524

St Philomena, relic

IMG_3552

St Teresa of Jesus (St Teresa of Avila), relic.

IMG_3545

St Camillus, relic (ex ossibus = “from the bones”)

IMG_3553

St Kateri Tekakwitha, relic

IMG_3537

Top to Bottom: St Anthony of Padua, St Francis of Assisi, St Clare of Assisi, St Ludov, St Elizabeth of Hungary, relics.

IMG_3529

St Maria Goretti, relic (V.M. = virgin, martyr)

IMG_3526

St Anthony of Padua, relic

IMG_3518

St Pius X, relic

IMG_3520

St Catherine of Siena, relic

Finally, while I was away at spiritual direction school in June, I found a few more relics at Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer. Took a few photos of my favs.

Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer, Clearwater, FL

Our Lady of Divine Providence, House of Prayer, Clearwater, FL

IMG_2856

St Padre Pio, relic

IMG_2857

Close – up, St Pio, first class relic

IMG_2862

St Catherine of Siena, relic

IMG_2861

St Teresa of Avila, relic

 

Kind of just makes you want to break out into a Litany of Saints don’t it?

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Spirit,
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Michael,
St. Gabriel,
St. Raphael,
All you Holy Angels and Archangels,
St. John the Baptist,
St. Joseph,
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Peter,
St. Paul,
St. Andrew,
St. James,
St. John,
St. Thomas,
St. James,
St. Philip,
St. Bartholomew,
St. Matthew,
St. Simon,
St. Jude,
St. Matthias,
St. Barnabas,
St. Luke,
St. Mark,
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists,
All you holy Disciples of the Lord,
All you holy Innocents,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Stephen,
St. Lawrence,
St. Vincent,
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian,
Sts. John and Paul,
Sts. Cosmas and Damian,
All you holy Martyrs,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Sylvester,
St. Gregory,
St. Ambrose,
St. Augustine,
St. Jerome,
St. Martin,
St. Nicholas,
All you holy Bishops and Confessors,
All you holy Doctors,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Anthony,
St. Benedict,
St. Bernard,
St. Dominic,
St. Francis,
All you holy Priests and Levites,
All you holy Monks and Hermits,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalene,
St. Agatha,
St. Lucy,
St. Agnes,
St. Cecilia,
St. Anastasia,
St. Catherine,
St. Clare,
All you holy Virgins and Widows,
All you holy Saints of God,
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
pray for us.
Lord, be merciful,
From all evil,
From all sin,
From your wrath,
From a sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of uncleanness,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquake,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death, 
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
By the mystery of your holy Incarnation,
By your Coming,
By your Birth,
By your Baptism and holy fasting,
By your Cross and Passion,
By your Death and Burial,
By your holy Resurrection,
By your wonderful Ascension,
By the coming of the Holy Spirit,
On the day of judgment,
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Lord, save your people.
Be merciful to us sinners, Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will spare us,
That you will pardon us,
That it may please you to bring us to true
penance,
Guide and protect your holy Church,
Preserve in holy religion the Pope, and all
those in holy Orders,
Humble the enemies of holy Church,
Give peace and unity to the whole Christian
people,
Bring back to the unity of the Church all
those who are straying, and bring all
unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,
Strengthen and preserve us in your holy
service,
Raise our minds to desire the things of
heaven,
Reward all our benefactors with eternal
blessings,
Deliver our souls from eternal damnation,
and the souls of our brethren, relatives,
and benefactors,
Give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
Grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That it may please You to hear and heed
us, Jesus, Son of the Living God,
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of
the world,
Spare us, O Lord!Graciously hear us, O Lord!

Have mercy on us.

 

Christ, hear us,
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, graciously hear us
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

 

 

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

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

Happy All Saints Day!

One of the key teachings of Vatican II — is the universal call to holiness — or more simply, everyone is called to be a saint. As I read and share many saint bios and hagiographies  in my writing and on Among Women, I often discover that would-be saints often start out in devoted Catholic families. Not all mind you, but I’d say most.

Vatican II called married couples to live the graces of Matrimony in a daily way… walking the talk — to make of their homes, a domestic church… specifically that parents are to be the first preachers of the faith.

Today in the Huffington Post, there’s a quote that echoes what Vatican II taught us, from University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the National Studies on Youth and Religion. 

“Parents, for better or worse, are actually the most influential pastors … of their children,” Smith said.

Just for history’s sake, let’s dial back 50 years to Lumen Gentium – the key document from the Second Vatican Council.

From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state. [LG, par. 10][Emphasis mine].

We’re a society that loves research and its findings. Today we have more data on faith and the family from the National Studies on Youth and Religion.

The HuffPo piece “No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith as Young Adults” reiterates what the Church’s wisdom has been all along…

The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: parents.

Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.

Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid-to-late 20s.

In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.

The connection is “nearly deterministic,” said University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the study.

Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.

“No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth,” Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School. “Parents just dominate.

Parents, if you need a place to start, to recapture this calling to praying and living the faith in your home, here is an easy way to start: In the last 48 hours I posted the latest Among Women interview with Leila Marie Lawler, co-author with David Clayton of The Little Oratory: A Beginners Guide to Praying in the Home. Listen and start with what works for you. I highly recommend this book!

Here’s a few more resources:

Written by me:

Raising Them for Jesus, at CatholicMom.com

Raising Saints for Heaven (from my book Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious)

The Powerful Light of the Family Table, at CatholicMom.com

Among Women Podcasts:

Raising Saints

The Mom Podcasts

 :::

H/T to Deacon Greg Kandra for sharing the HuffPo story that got me to the keyboard.

image credit

 

Good for the Soul: On Writerly friends, Pray-ers,  and Sisters-in-Christ

Good for the Soul: On Writerly friends, Pray-ers, and Sisters-in-Christ

I am a blessed woman and I know it. For much of my life I have not only enjoyed the love and friendship of my husband, Bob, but I have known the wealth of women friends who are devoted to Christ and each other. And let me tell you, Bob himself is grateful that I enjoy such a rich sisterhood, as he benefits from a happy and renewed wife when she comes back from visiting with her friends. Smart man.

We women need good girlfriends in every phase of life. Catholic Christian women need to find other women with whom to share their spiritual journey. This is a subject that is dear to my heart.

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.”

-Sirach 6:14-16-

Spiritual friendships are borne not only of kindred spirits, but of the Holy Spirit. My friend, Lisa Hendey, calls them soul sisters. I call them sisters in Christ. My pal Maureen calls her possé the “rosary chicks”. Whatever you name them, all women need to be about reclaiming the gift of female friendship as a priority in our culture today. We need to affirm and uplift the dignity of Christian womanhood, and bring each other before the altar of God. (I can’t speak for the menfolk. Yet, Lord knows, they need their guy-friends too.)

Besides the busyness of my work this month, October afforded me not one but two opportunities to spend some extended time with two of my writerly friends, true sisters in Christ.

Listeners have heard me speak of Maria Johnson before, and many of you may know her from her blog and work with SQPN. Her day job as a college professor brought her north to Boston this month and I greedily invited Bego to extend her stay for a few days so we could make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy. 

I do that a lot: Make pilgrimages out of friend visits. It usually comes about because, to be honest, we need it. Modern women are so busy!

Taking mini-retreat days during our friendly visits or taking in a local church or shrine pays rich dividends in our souls and in the life of our friendship. I love the opportunity to pray daily prayers and rosaries, sure. But I also love all the catching up that goes along with the journey — the walks and the car rides. Going to Mass together and making a pilgrimage to a shrine enshrines the friendship as well… offering it a dignity more sublime than a casual visit might.

Of course, as my favorite Long Island pastor used to say, first comes the holy hour… then the happy hour. Joy in Christ has a spillover effect.

[Click on any photo to enlarge.]

A toast with Maria Johnson at the Red Lion Tavern in Stockbridge MA, Oct 2014.

After Divine Mercy: A toast with Maria Johnson at the Red Lion Tavern in Stockbridge MA, Oct 2014.

IMG_3626

That night outside the Red Lion I took Bego’s picture next to the Great Pumpkin. That ball of light is the pumpkin! (you can kind of see the orange edge of it.) (#camerafail)

Here's one with me in it! This just might be my fav photo of Bego and I-- drinking wine of course and dining al fresco in Boston's North End a couple summer's back.

Here’s one with me in it! This just might be my favorite photo of Bego and I– drinking wine of course (!) — dining al fresco in Boston’s North End a couple summer’s back.

A few years ago on Patheos, author and screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi offered this wisdom in a profound article on how creative types like writers and artists need friendship with those who ‘get them’…

Scripture says he who finds a welcome in a storm “finds a treasure.”

Friendship’s shelter for an artist is a place to retreat amidst the chaos of your creative process to find peace. Friendship’s shelter offers the shade of acceptance when the artist is laboring under the burning heat of criticism or rejection. It is a place where there is the warm light of counsel and perspective when the artist’s soul shivers in the cold darkness of doubt. Friendship is a wall of security against the tearing wind of instability that is the life of the creative person.

The spark of friendship is initially kindled when two people experience what St. Aelred of Rivaulx called the miracle of mutual attraction. In his wonderful twelfth-century work Spiritual Friendship, the Cistercian monk remembered as “the Bernard of the North” wrote that it is already amazing when we meet a person whose personality causes delight in us. When two people experience holy delight in each other—without any motivation of greed or ambition or other unholy need—it borders on the miraculous.

Holy delight means seeing the other person with Divine wisdom, to know her name the way God does. It’s a gift that Adam had and then lost: to know the essential gift and place of each creature. In friendship, we recover it and we are able to see the miracle that is the core in another soul. It is the friend’s gift to still delight when the other really needs a shelter, when her beauty is most obscured by tragedy, or sorrow, or suffering, or, in the artist’s case, by the demands of creativity. A real friend feels tenderness at a condition in which a non-friend would probably feel revulsion. Aelred goes so far as to say that friendship is “the kiss of Christ,” which He mediates through the physical presence of the human friend.

I could not agree more. I’m grateful for the friends who have kept me sane in the writing life in recent years… by offering refuge and camaraderie and counsel. Oh yeah, and they pray intentionally for me. And I for them.

“The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”
-James 5:16-

I just got back from three speaking events in California that were planned months in advance. When I realized the close proximity of the dates, and the central California locations, I just had to dial up my dearest friend in the Pacific Time Zone, Lisa Hendey. Fortunately for me, by the grace of God — our calendars aligned for a get-together. This, you will see, really was an act of God.

Besides being the founder of CatholicMom.com, Lisa Hendey is an A-list Catholic author and speaker in hot demand, and she’s about to launch her newest book, The Grace of Yes! But the biggest grace for me was her warm hospitality and the opportunity to enjoy her friendship and have her be a guest at one of my Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious retreats. (She was the paparazzi over here, too.)

It was Lisa’s idea that we escape the cities where I was speaking and head to the coast and to the wine country. She got no resistance from me. But before we departed, I loved praying in the Fresno cathedral of St John the Baptist.  In it, I found the coolest stained glass window of my patron, Patrick… I’m super-sizing it so you can appreciate the details of the wind in his hair and the blowing of the waves…

St Patrick, snake chasin'. Circa late 5th century.

St Patrick, snake chasin’. Circa late 5th century.

But I digress… But the real point here is that not only do we need patron saints, we need patrons in life — little local saints who support the work that we do, but more importantly, the life of faith in us — companions on the journey. I have that in Lisa. She has been such a supportive, generous friend in all the ten years I’ve known her.

And for what’s its worth: I’m so glad we also share a road warrior’s spirit! We put some serious mileage on her car this week.

Lisa and I first headed for Monterey and Carmel where we spent a wonderful afternoon praying in the San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo Mission, where St Junipero Serra – founder of the California Missions — died.

Entry into the chapel off the courtyard.

Entry into the chapel off the courtyard.

IMG_3747

Lisa and I at the mission.

Momma Mary was there too. (Our Lady of Bethlehem.)

Momma Mary was there too. (Our Lady of Bethlehem.)

Mission's altar

Mission’s altar

St Junipero Serra lies beneath the marble in front of his icon.

St Junipero Serra lies beneath the marble in front of his icon.

Then it was off to the Napa Valley . (Where I long to go back already.) I won’t list all the places we visited. A few may show up on Lisa’s Catholic Tourist blog.  Rest assured, we enjoyed the scenery, the wines, the restaurants, and the local church with Mass and adoration!

We interrupt this blog post for this commercial message…

Napa area Catholics: I’m primed to give a retreat in your area! My contact form is below!

IMG_3768

Napa area vineyards.

20141016_184537

I told you: From holy hour to happy hour — God is good!

Once again, capturing images of my friends with giant gourds. Lisa with Great Pumpkin II.

Once again, capturing images of my friends with giant gourds. Lisa with Great Pumpkin II.

20141016_162244

Wishing I could bring a cask home!

After a week of shared prayer and daily life, it was time to part. This New England woman is sad to put the geographical distance of a whole country between Lisa and myself. Our online friendship dates back to CatholicMom.com 1.0. years. Our in-person visits are treasured. Yet, I’m grateful for all the graces of the sacraments and prayer times we shared this week, the good times we had, the digital detox, and the restorative value of retreating with a trusted friend who loves Jesus and Mary.

I’m home now. I still have the messy desk that I left. But I’m full of gratitude.

517a931f-acf0-4954-b54a-16e6ac111340

Among Women 183: Falling in love with the Trinity — and the feminine genius

Among Women 183: Falling in love with the Trinity — and the feminine genius

This latest episode of Among Women features the faith story of Nan Balfour, whose love and faith in God led her to knowing her feminine genius .

Speaker_BalfourTogether we explore the gift of faith and what it means to fall in love with God, and how it changes the way we love and live. Nan Balfour shares pivotal conversion moments in her life — a life of on-going conversion — and how they led her to what she does now. Nan is a leader with the Pilgrim Center of Hope, and the conference coordinator for the Catholic Women’s Conference in San Antonio coming up Sept 19-20.

In our “Blessed are They” segment, we pray along with Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity — whose faith was wrapped up in love of the Holy Trinity.

Don’t miss this episode, and share it with your friends on social media, and put an announcement in your church bulletin for Among Women.

Don’t forget to like Among Women Podcast on Facebook, and leave a positive rating and a review on our iTunes page. Thanks!

For details on upcoming conferences and retreats with me, Pat Gohn, go here.