I’m over at CatholicMom.com today… with 3 Reasons to Offer Things Up

I’m over at CatholicMom.com today… with 3 Reasons to Offer Things Up

Here’s an excerpt from “3 Reasons to Intentionally Pray: Jesus, I Offer This to You”… from CatholicMom.com

When I was growing up and going through some trial, well-meaning Catholics would tell me to “offer it up.” For a very long time, I didn’t understand what benefit that might bring until I learned that my offering something to God was not about what I was doing with it, but what God did.

In recent months I’ve been using this simple prayer throughout my day: “Jesus, I offer this to you.” I pray it when facing some kind of trial or frustration or problem. Nobody likes to go through unpleasant stuff. Yet offering these moments is lot like praying that beloved and familiar short prayer from the Divine Mercy devotion: “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Many Christians pray the Morning Offering – giving the whole day to Christ. That’s a very holy prayer. Yet Jesus also desires our hearts to come to him throughout the day, as St Paul says, “to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).” Giving over both large and small difficult moments to Christ is one way to fulfill that prayer.

Here are three good reasons to pray with intention: “Jesus, I offer this to you.”

1. What is difficult for me can become a blessing for others. 

“Jesus, I offer this to you.” This is much more than Jesus making lemonade from our lemons. Offering up our concerns in much greater than some kind of pious wishful thinking. This is trust that that graces from Christ’s Cross flow even now. Our trial of the moment may remain, but we ask God to use it for good. Through it, graces are unleashed and we participate in Christ’s saving work on earth.

When I suffer something in my own body, I’m painfully away of my own body and blood—the value of my own life and mortality. In some small way I take in the purview of what Jesus suffered for me.

Recently, I prayed as I sat in the oral surgeon’s chair to receive a dental implant — the process that inserts a metal screw inserted into my skull to hold a future porcelain crown. The procedure is a bit jarring. I experienced the disconcerting physical pressure of the drill without the unpleasantness of pain, spared as I was by painkillers. As the dentist drilled into my bone, my little prayer, “Jesus I offer this you” brought about that very image of Jesus’ suffering the nails being driven into his flesh and bones, His being impaled without any anesthesia.

Jesus trusted in His Father to forgive his executioners (Cf. Luke 23:34) and to bring forth something good and holy from his excruciating suffering. Trust and offerings go together.

The key to offering something up to God builds upon the trusting foundation we have in Jesus.

Read the rest at CatholicMom.com.

Thanks to St Marello’s Bookstore for a great event!

Thanks to St Marello’s Bookstore for a great event!

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St Marello Bookstore, next to St Joachim’s Church.

Following my recent talk at the Diocese of Fresno Congress, I traveled up north for a book signing and a talk in Madera, CA. St Joachim’s Church is blessed to have an amazing Catholic book and religious supply store right on its campus, St Marello Bookstore. 

I was privileged to visit and offer a talk for women there, as well as offering some encouraging remarks at the end of the English speaking Masses there. The talk also dovetailed nicely with the parish’s kick off of Endow — where I got to share the podium with Emily Espinosa – the new Program Director for Endow.

Emily Espinosa, program director at Endow.

With Emily Espinosa, program director at Endow.

My good friend and favorite California girl, author Lisa Hendey, dropped by the event and wielding her trusty smartphone, shot a few more photos.

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Me and Mary Ann Hutcherson, store manager.

It's always an honor to sign a book for a reader.

It’s always an honor to sign a book for a reader.

 

This makes me think… of Our Lady of Fatima

This makes me think… of Our Lady of Fatima

The 13th of October, 1917

We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way. Masses of people thronged the roads The rain fell in torrents. My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.

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Image of Our Lady of Fatima

“What do you want of me?”

I want to tell you that chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.

“I have many things to ask you: to cure some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things…”

Some yes, but not others. They must amend their lives and ask for forgiveness for their sins.

Looking very sad, Our Lady said:

Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.

Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.

After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands. When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours. Our Lord appeared and blessed the world in the same manner as St Joseph had done. This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel. 

Sister Mary Lucia of the Immaculate Heart*

Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs

*Lucia was one of the original three seers who witnessed the events and miracles at Fatima in  1917. She later entered religious life. This section from her memoirs accounts the events of the “Miracle of the Sun”.

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The Message of Fatima  is that of the Gospel which emphasizes the following points:

  • permanent conversion
  • prayer, namely the Rosary
  • the sense of collective responsibility, and the practice of reparation.

Learn more here.

Image credit

The F.U.N. Quotient… bloggy edition

The F.U.N. Quotient… bloggy edition

Sometimes ya gotta laugh…

These blogs raise bring me giggles and smiles.

It’s Like They Know Us

The I Love Dogs Site, like this post. (A cute Boston Terrier here.)

Catholic Memes, and over on Facebook too.

The Ironic Catholic, (After years of family camping, and eight years of NOT, this was a gem to read: “How family car camping is like the spiritual life.”)

And over on Twitter, there’s always Emergency Cute Stuff.

Remember, God gave us the gift of laughter… so do it often. It might be the key to your new evangelization witness in the world.

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Bonus: There’s still time to get your 2015 Nuns Having Fun Wall Calendar.

 

Banner Photo: Lily

The Beauty of Women in Art and in Real Life

The Beauty of Women in Art and in Real Life

First, a little artsy video… about the beauty of women through the ages…

Now, let’s take a look at real life today… I think this song explains pretty well the mistakes we make about “beauty”…

The solution to a flawed sense of self is to know who we are in God.

YOU are beautiful. Just in case you needed to hear that today. That’s the truth of the feminine genius that St John Paul talked about. 

IMG_2045Mary knew who she was in God. Do we?

Are we grateful for our femininity? There’s a wide spectrum of answers that most women give to that question. But if you are wrestling with that, maybe just find one small way to be grateful for who you are, as a woman, today.

I wrote a whole book on the feminine genius and the beauty of women, but let me leave you with one quote referenced in the last chapter from Fr Donald Calloway, MIC. In it he is talking about how Mary — the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother — is grateful for the gift of being a woman. Below, Fr Calloway reminds us of that… and that one day, as we grow in holiness, grace will deepen our beauty until it imitates hers in heaven.

What Mary has at the beginning, namely, sinlessness, all will have at the end of life if they cooperate with the gift of their embodiedness. Mary shows us to accept the gift of our embodiedness . . . the God-given sex of the body . . . the body is not an obstacle to be overcome but rather, a gift to be lived. Mary delights in her body, especially in . . . femininity. It is precisely in her gift of being a woman, that Mary was fashioned and called by God to be the Theotokos [Mother of God]. . . .

Just think what would have happened if Mary had rebelled against the gift of her feminine body! We would be in a very different situation today.

Indeed, we women ought to revel in the gift of femininity… we are made “in the image of God”! May our souls, our very depths, “magnify the Lord” ! (See Gen 1: 27, and Luke 1:46-47)

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Speaking of Mary: I’d like to see this exhibit coming soon… Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea – coming to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, on view Dec. 5, 2014–April 12, 2015.

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Need more on the beauty of women?

You might like this recent Among Women podcast “Show me, Lord, that I’m beautiful.”

Or this timely post from Jennifer Fitz, “Women Demystified: To Love Her is to Tell Her How Beautiful She Is”

Or find my book.

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I’m hitting the road today… gonna visit some beautiful women in real life in California this week and next. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Banner photo: Woman Bathing in a Stream (Rembrandt)

Zipping Down Country Lanes in New England… and walking them too…

Zipping Down Country Lanes in New England… and walking them too…

First, with an emphasis on zip…

Yes, we needed something other than MGB for the cooler weather… or maybe that was just needing something cooler. Period. (Let me tell you what a great husband I have….)

(Let me tell you what a great husband I have….he knows I’m a road warrior. He knows I love blue, too! )

Bob and I were sharing a car for while. But this summer, as he began a new job, he suggested I take this for a test drive… He didn’t have to ask twice. I’ve loved these cars since I saw one on vacation in 2003. 10+ years later, the “emptying nest”can handle this. As a former ad copywriter, I certainly appreciate zippy ad copy too, but I digress…

I'm in love with this little turbo!

I’m in love with this little turbo!

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Meanwhile, back on those country lanes, this is “high season” when “leaf peepers” from around the world visit New England and enjoy the fall foliage. We are about at about 30% “turned” right now, but things are getting more gorgeous by the day. Let me show you some of my local views. (FYI: You can click on the images to make them larger.)

I pass these ladies pretty regularly…

I pass these ladies pretty regularly…

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She is outstanding in her field.

She is outstanding in her field.

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Shadows getting longer...

Shadows getting longer in the afternoons…

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I love walking to these pastures.

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We have many ponds in our neighborhood. I love the cloud reflections after some recent rainfall.

Many ponds in our neighborhood. Love the reflections.

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”  (1 Chronicles 16: 31)”

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“…let the field exult, and everything in it!” (1 Chronicles 16:32)

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“Then shall the trees of the wood sing for joy before the LORD…” (1 Chronicles 16: 33)

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“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!” (1 Chronicles 16: 34)

Around our yard…

St Francis feeds the birds.

St Francis feeds the birds.

Mary, with the "burning bush" behind her.

Mary, with the “burning bush” behind her.

Brady, not quite as heavy as the pumpkin.

This is Brady, my pumpkin-sized pooch. Clearly he is not impressed by it.

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Previous autumn posts… on leaf blowers.

From the archived Among Women blog: “God’s World” by Edna St Vincent Millay, plus a poem by Maria Johnson, and finally my photo essay on barns. 

 

Pray the Rosary… (Resources, and more on this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

Pray the Rosary… (Resources, and more on this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

Mary with the Infant Jesus, St Catherine of Bologna, 15th century. Source: wikipedia.

Mary with the Infant Jesus, St Catherine of Bologna, 15th century. Source: wikipedia.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

I’ll go to Mass. I’ll have breakfast with a friend. Then I’m going to get my stitches out from some oral surgery that took place last week.

And I’ll pray the rosary.

In other words, its a typical day. And the rosary fits my life. It fits in my day anytime… morning, noon, or night. I often pray it in the car, or on my walks. Or with friends.

The Catechism calls the Rosary an “epitome of the Gospel (CCC 971).”

Here’s some of my favorite resources about this prayer that has shaped my life over the last thirty years.

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I’ve written about praying the rosary many times. About prayer in groups. About my grandmother’s rosary.

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I’ve got many Among Women podcasts about the rosary — about forming local rosary groups for mothers… plus interviews with several knowledgable guests like Rosary Army’s Jennifer Willits… and author Karen Edmisten with an epic primer on the rosary…  and the rosary and pregnancy with Sarah Reinhard. Plus one of my favorite podcasts of all time — the Among Women listeners sharing what they love about the rosary!

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My most favorite book to pray the rosary with is the Scriptural Rosary. 

The best advice about loving the rosary  and Marian devotion comes from the classic books of St Louis de Montfort.

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Finally, I’ve learned what St John Paul has long taught: the Rosary conforms us to Christ. Outside of the Mass, it is the most powerful prayer we can pray.

Christian spirituality is distinguished by the disciple’s commitment to become conformed ever more fully to his Master (cf. Rom 8:29; Phil 3:10,12). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Baptism grafts the believer like a branch onto the vine which is Christ (cf. Jn 15:5) and makes him a member of Christ’s mystical Body (cf.1Cor 12:12; Rom 12:5). This initial unity, however, calls for a growing assimilation which will increasingly shape the conduct of the disciple in accordance with the “mind” of Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). In the words of the Apostle, we are called “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27).

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”.

In this process of being conformed to Christ in the Rosary, we entrust ourselves in a special way to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. She who is both the Mother of Christ and a member of the Church, indeed her “pre-eminent and altogether singular member” is at the same time the “Mother of the Church”. As such, she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son. She does so through her intercession, imploring upon them the inexhaustible outpouring of the Spirit. Mary is the perfect icon of the motherhood of the Church.

-St John Paul II-
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 15
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Emphasis mine]

Among Women 185: The Life of Ryan, with Mary Ellen Barrett

Among Women 185: The Life of Ryan, with Mary Ellen Barrett

This latest episode of Among Women may require a box of Kleenex handy. My most wonderful and gracious guest is  Mary Ellen Barrett.

This week we look at the difficult subject of losing a child to death. Blogger and Long Island Catholic columnist Mary Ellen Barrett reflects on the fifth anniversary since the death of Ryan, her 14 year old son, who died during a camping trip. The search for Ryan, who at first was thought to be lost, went on for some time, and many, including myself, were glued to the internet for news of him during that search as prayers stormed heaven.

Listeners or blog readers familiar with this event will be encouraged by the musings and memories of Ryan’s mother, Mary Ellen. Those uninitiated will be blessed by the faith of this Long Island family who suffered the keenest of losses.

Since this is Respect Life Month, my goal with Mary Ellen is to talk about the beauty and dignity of Ryan’s life — his Christian devotion even as a young boy with special needs — as well as the ups and downs that he faced in family life and elsewhere. Finally, we discuss the outpouring of support from near and far for this grieving family, plus offer tips for helping others facing a similar grief.

In our saint segment, I once again look at the life of St Anna Schaffer, whose life of prayer and acute physical suffering offers a witness to us for how to make our heartaches and pains a path of redemptive suffering.

If you’d like to read a little bit about Mary Ellen’s life with Ryan, you might enjoy this recent article in Seton Magazine, or this one from Catholic Digest. I’ve left a few more, plus blog posts from Mary Ellen’s blog, over with the episode notes for Among Women 185.

Listen to Among Women 185 right now!

If you enjoy Among Women, kindly leave a rating and a review over on iTunes!

 

This makes me think… and makes me value my baptism all the more…

As Catholics… we believe that original sin isn’t something committed, it’s something contracted. We recognize that we have received from Adam and Eve a human nature devoid of the divine nature God originally entrusted to them. As such, we don’t so much see original sin as a “thing,” as we do a lack of a “thing” — that “thing” being sanctifying grace. And sanctifying grace isn’t just religious rhetoric for something special. It is the Holy Trinity dwelling within the soul.

What that means for us is that we receive a human nature from the moment of our conception. But because we receive a human nature without a divine nature, we’re spiritually dead from the start. That’s our inheritance from our first parents: spiritual death. We’re physically alive but spiritually dead because God’s life does not dwell in us.

Baptism changes that.

Sometimes we talk about Baptism as “wiping away the stain of original sin.” But that’s a flawed metaphor. It inadvertently suggests that something is there before Baptism that isn’t there afterward — almost as if we could perform a spiritual x-ray of our soul, before and after Baptism, showing first a dirty soul, which is later made shiny and new. But again, it’s not the presence of something before Baptism that’s the problem. It’s the absence, the absence of divine life. 

That divine life is what baptism restores. It gives us back the divine life that Adam and Eve lost. 

Scott Hahn
Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization