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.

This makes me think… about deepening my trust in Jesus. (It’s more than a feeling.)

Take this to your next prayer time… imagining Jesus saying these words to you…

 

Become very quiet. Reach out your hand so that I might enfold it in both of mine. Do you feel the love and tender care transfer itself through this contact? Now, as if you were blind, turn with me to face the future, and step out knowing complete trust in me to leave you on your way.  Relax in the peace of that assurance. When you have the least temptation to panic because of your darkness, quietly recreate this sequence in your mind to again realize the actuality of my guiding presence alight with love.

From Learn From Me.. He speaks, we listen, by Helen M. Ross

 

On midlife courage, surprises, and Providence

On midlife courage, surprises, and Providence

Jesus and Mary, thank you for the godly women that you send into my life.

Today I had breakfast with one of my good friends. The kind of friend that you lament that circumstances prevent you both from getting together more often, but you are so glad that you did.

We talked about the transitions we are in over eggs and toast, oatmeal and coffee. The mothering journey is different when you have adult children. The marriage journey is different than it was decades ago. The work we do now is ever changing from what we did long ago, too.

Yet the prayer life is deeper, more Eucharistic, steady. It is what always makes sense. And what makes sense of us.

:::

A few observances…

Midlife is one of those times when you really need courage…

-to make transitions,
-to try new things as we keep up with the old things,
-to be open to a season where both younger and older generations needs you…
-to finally be comfy enough in your own skin to accept whatever comes, with love and with more love…

God still has few surprises in store for us in midlife… so better get ready…

-you will shake your head and laugh at what God has planned for you… and those you love…
-because it is so good, or better, or crazier, and riskier than what you would imagine for yourself…

God knows you are much better at trusting His Plan for your life these days than you used to be.

-So you keeping showing up.
-Day by day
-Because He does.

:::

I am finding more and more comfort in the bedrock of Providence…

All I know about tomorrow is that God’s Providence will rise before the sun.

-Fr Jean Baptiste Lacordaire, OP-

This makes me think… about not keeping Jesus at a distance…

Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you dear sister, for you dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

-Pope Francis, Easter Vigil, Homily, 2013-

Among Women 158: Greeting the New Pope, Plus Meet “Theologian Mom”

Among Women 158: Greeting the New Pope, Plus Meet “Theologian Mom”

In this new episode of Among Women, I talk about this history-making week with the election of our new pope, Francis, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina. Plus in our first segment I discuss the significance of the Pope’s early morning visit on day one to pray before Our Blessed Mother at her basilica in Rome, St Mary Major. I also give some of the history of Mary and that basilica as I discuss some of its interior treasures.

Salus Populi Romani – a much venerated icon of Our Lady with the Child Jesus (found in St Mary Major)

In our second segment, I’m happy to welcome Angela Franks, PhD, wife, mother, author, professor and moral theologian at the Theological Institute of the New Evangelization (TINE in Boston) — whose twitter handle is “@theologianmom”. Together we talk about some of Angela’s professional interests regarding the eugenic legacy of Margaret Sanger and its harmful longterm impact on our culture, as well as our attitudes toward our bodies, sexuality, contraception, and good health. We explore the Catholic Church’s position of the beauty of the human person, and of women in particular. We cover why the Church continues to oppose contraception and upholds NFP (methods for natural family planning), and why our personal trust in God is key to fuller Christian life. If a new feminism incorporating the beauty of the gospel appeals to you, you’ll want to listen to this episode of Among Women. 

 

Splinters from the Cross… on worry

Splinters from the Cross… on worry

I’m a worrier by nature. But I don’t have to live that way. There’s more on this below.

:::

What’s with the splinters from the cross? Read this post from last Friday to catch up. This is my little attempt at keeping Fridays a bit more solemn in Lent. Last week’s post dealt with anger. This week, it’s worry.

Splinter from the Cross

Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.

– Author Unknown -

:::

Everyone worries sometimes, but some of us get caught up in it more than others.

For lack of a better way to describe myself, I have a outward side and an inward one, thanks to a choleric-melancholic temperament. That probably sounds a bit fake. It’s not being two-faced, or false in front of others, as much as its about having a strong persona that is capable of carrying on in the face of challenges and adversity. That take charge thing has a tendency to take charge, and protect the meeker spirit within. It’s like the British myth of keeping a still upper lip. But when stuff on the inside is churning, I am capable of waiting until I’m alone, or with someone I hold very dear, to come apart. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, as the cliché goes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an intensely passionate and sensitive side. I’m am all of those things all at once. Sensitive and spiritual, while dealing with a strategic pragmatism that wants to figure things out, charge ahead, and be not afraid. In social situations my choleric Pat tends to dominate my sensitive melancholic Patty. My choleric tends to have the voice. But the melancholic is the one with the words, and the strongest love. If you really get to know me, I’m a quirky combination of seriousness and silliness, but the serious side often wins out. If you read that link about this kind of temperament, you’ll see St Paul was thought to have this temperament. That’s a strange comfort to me. It’s good to know that to be a saint, God can work with the raw materials I’ve already got, just as He has before.

Looking back over decades of living with this temperamental mix, I can see the best and the worst of me. The best of my choleric qualities have worked as a fine combination in business, when things are task oriented and goal driven, but in its extremes, its not always the best when it comes to the ways of the heart and the needs of marriage and family life. That’s a been a cause of worry and grief, when my gusto far outweighed my gentleness. The melancholic tendencies I possess make my thoughts run really deep and ponderable, while at the same time they make me a deeply loyal and noble friend. The self-donation needed for marriage and family is easily offered, while in its extremes, a melancholic’s weaknesses lead to being easily hurt and resentful — always a source of worry, too, or too much self-focus.

It took me a long time to figure out how my “lion” ought to lay down with my “lamb”, to poorly paraphrase the Scripture. And that there is real beauty in both aspects to this temperament. It also took me until my forties, and many graces from the sacraments, to really understand just how my strengths and weaknesses could intersect with ministry, and the kind of work that I do now…

All of this is a long way to say I have a very vivid imagination — I’m full of ideas and zeal — yet I’m prone to worry and left to my own devices I can brood over things. It’s like my default becomes stuck and set to pessimism, to seeing the glass half full. It worries me. I don’t want to be this way. It seems antithetical to a Christian’s faith, or so my rational choleric take-charge mind tells me. But I can’t escape the still waters of melancholic worry.

So what do I do? I’ve learned there are three things that help. They all address fear in some way, which is the root of all worry.

(That’s why some of my favorite passages in the Bible are “Do not be afraid” and “Do not fear”. There are multiple references to them, so its a message God really wants us to hear and know: Fear is useless. We must trust.)

Trust for me has three elements: prayer + a big God + my knowing my dignity as a Child of God.

#1 I pray. 

Worry drives me to my knees. Precisely because I am a Christian I’ve learned that I am no end in myself. I can’t change the way I’ve been made, but thanks to grace, I can change the way I react to things. In other words, I think God made me with this temperament, precisely, to bring me to him. The things I don’t like in me, like the melancholic worry-gene, and the strong striver-take-charger, I can bring both extremes, my roughest edges, to God. Over and over again. And He doesn’t mind. In fact, he’s prefer it that way because he’d rather work through me than have me do things without him. Whenever St. Paul complains about his thorn in the flesh, I often think he had a melancholic streak that drove his choleric up a tree. A self-critical nature can bring can ruin in a soul without God. So can worry. I do both. So I need a lot of God.

Fortunately, we have a great many saints whose counsel against worry have lit a path for turning fears into faith…

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

— Padre (St.) Pio –

That part about God being merciful? That really addresses the heart of my self-struggles with worry. It demands that I trust Him. And that’s a good, healthy way for my lion and lamb to coexist… they both find peace in the trust of a merciful God.

#2 I trust in a Big God.

I’ve racked up a pretty big pile of annoying self-inflicted splinters over worry that did me no good — before I learned that trials and concerns must be borne in trust of God. Jesus wants me to seek him first of all in all things. Worriers would do well to memorize his words.

“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14: 1

Now what I’ve learned is that Jesus can take a worry-wart like me, and by his grace, turn me into a powerful intercessor. There’s always a reason to pray, and now I don’t hesitate. Now I even ask other people what I can pray for on their behalf. You would think if I’m already given to worry by nature, why would I want to take on anyone elses worries? But in prayer a curious paradox takes place. By my sharing their load, and by having a few fellow intercessors take my concerns too, it, ultimately reduces my worries! It increases my faith and trust in Christ, and in his Body, the Church!

Jesus said, “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Matthew 6: 24-34.

The Father that is mentioned by Jesus in that passage is my father, too. I often forget that. That Big God is not some impersonal omnipotent deity. He is my father.

#3 I remember whose I am.

When I can remember that God is a father, and I belong to him, it has the power to calm my racing heart. My worries find the exit. Someone else is the true grown up in the room, the  weight-carrier, the one with the world on their shoulder. I can curl up in his lap, and, as the 12-steppers say: “Let go, and let God.” This is why, when I faced the deepest worries of my life — related to my breast cancer diagnosis in  1996 — I found my deepest consolation in the wisdom of Scripture, and in the example of the saints, like St. Francis de Sales. They both teach me how to live the radical trust that is the birthright of a Child of God, given to me at baptism.

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope as they arise.

 God, whose very own you are,

will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will carry you in His arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cared for you today

will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering,

Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace

And put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

– St Francis de Sales–

Taming worry into trust has been a lifelong process for me. But I offer it up to God, again, this Lent, “asking him for grace sufficient.”


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