Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Our Lady of Sorrows
1. Sick. Sick. Sick. Not really sick, but annoyingly sick. A cold virus has been kicking me around for almost a week. Sick of being sick.
2. Had a heart-to-heart with Curly-haired daughter last week. She is now engaged. She's been hemming and hawing about wedding plans, and I suspected the reason. She does not want to get married in the Church. My heart is broken, but I am trying to be calm. I know there is virulent and strong opinions about this type of situation ("No, you should not attend the wedding under ANY circumstances!") but we are trying to keep lines of communication open. But I'm sick about that, too. It's the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows; a good day to pray.
3. Just to top things off, had a horrible nightmare about Youngest Son last night. I could see and hear him suffering, but I couldn't get to him. Freud, anyone?
4. Dear Hubby is sick now too. I don't expect this will be another spectacular week in our home....

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8: Nativity of Mary

Mater mea, fiducia mea!
My Mother, my confidence my trust my assurance!
 
Thanks to Holy Card Heaven, for its treasure trove of beautiful prayer cards!

Monday Morning Musings

Mako Fujimura's "Walking on Water" - an ArtPrize entry
1. Mass was so beautiful yesterday, and it was nothing "special." Ordinary time, typical music, sound homily: such beauty. Entering into Eternity with The Eternal One.

2. I am trying to figure out how to knit in the round. I'm assuming that like any new skill, this shall take some practice. And swearing.

3. Getting ready for ArtPrize here in the beautiful city of Grand Rapids. I love ArtPrize: the art, the people, the food, the fun. And art...so much art!!

4. I have blessed with the opportunity to write a short book on human trafficking, and will be attending a very important conference on this in just a few weeks. I am thrilled for the opportunity, but this work is very hard. It is horrible to read about such evil over and over again. Please pray that I'm blanketed with the protection of God's grace.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Glorious Unfolding

It's tough out there folks. The world stage is a blood bath, our president is oblivious or stupid, persecution reigns. So many families I know are struggling.

We need, more than ever, to think on beauty. We need to surround ourselves with nature, art, music, literature. We must lift up our hearts and minds to God in His created realm, and the sub-creation of humanity.

Last night, I went to get a massage. This, by the way, is a form of beauty. It is the beauty of the human body, the healing touch, the care for God's creation.

I was so relaxed driving home. I was amidst miles and miles of apple trees, all bursting and burdened with fruit. It was that point in time known as the gloaming: the most magical time of day. And I heard this song:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

(Steven Curtis Chapman, Glorious Unfolding)

Take time this weekend to enjoy the beauty around you. Breathe. Rest your eyes on a piece of art. Read a poem and linger over it. See what glorious unfolding God has in store for you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

When all the choices are hard

I am seeing so much pain right now. Not just the "big news" of war, torture, genocide. So many families - really good families, trying so hard to raise their kids in the faith - are facing enormous issues right now. Addiction issues, mental health issues, teens who are bound and determined to be rebellious in really hurtful and damaging ways...

We always have choices. We always have good choices. But we don't always have easy choices.

There are so many times as a parent when I've wanted to throw my hands up and say, "Done! I am done parenting. I'm buying a camper and driving across America with the dog. I'll send postcards." And I don't mean that as a fantasy or a funny anecdote: I've planned that damn trip so many times I can't tell you.

What do we do when all the choices are hard? We choose the best one, just like always. And we pray. Pray harder than ever before, because the choice is hard, and the consequences are hard and life will take a hard left-hand turn and we'll end up somewhere we never imagined. It won't be a bad place - because we made a good choice. It was a hard choice, but a good one. But that hard left turn means the car will overheat, the kids will be cranky and we'll max out the credit card.

Then, after a lot of prayer, we'll look up and see that the place we ended up is...okay. Nice, actually. A good place. Because we made a good/hard choice. Eh, we'll still have bills and kids to deal with and a car to fix, but things will be better. Different but better.

Because we did two things: we made that good, hard choice and we prayed. Everything else is up to God.

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday? No, Tuesday Morning Musings

1. It's official: I'm in that 'sandwich' generation. Love my mom to death, but I'd be so much more at ease if she moved to assisted living. She's having none of that. Stubborn Irish women.

2. I keep seeing it over and over: Satan is working so hard to destroy good families. He chooses faithful families for a reason. It's war.

3. Best parts of a long weekend: spending time with my mom, a surprise visit from my niece and great-nieces, seeing a gaggle of great-nieces and -nephews at Mass on Sunday, a peaceful, safe drive home, and being able to lend a hand to a friend who's carrying a heavy load.

4. Knitting! Working on a lovely little project!

5. New book! I love the Jack Reacher series. New book is out today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mid-week Musings

3 Sisters - artist unknown
I've been without a computer (it's tough to update the blog on an iPad...) so here we go!

1. My first love died. He was 52. I don't know the circumstances of his death, but I do know he battled mental health issues for 30 years. May he rest in peace.
2. His death prompted to me to reach out to my best friend since 8th grade. We've sort of slacked of in keeping in touch. No more - life is too short.
3. I've been given the go-ahead for a big project at work regarding human trafficking. Please pray for me! My hope is that it will touch many lives, all for the glory of God.
4. Both my sisters have been laid up. One has had a re-occurrence of Epstein-Barr, and the other had major surgery on her foot. Sister duty has been busy!
5. Heading north for a long weekend with my mom. Pray that the visit goes well; she is at the point where I'm concerned about her living alone much longer.
6. Got a membership to the gym and I'm serious: gotta get healthy and strong!

May your day be bright and may God make clear your path!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Saturday morning at the beauty shop

Mrs. Guste
In places all across America, older ladies reign at beauty shops on Saturday morning. They need to look good for church the next morning.

And beautiful they are. Robbie Kaye, a photojournalist, began to explore the world of ladies in their 70s and 80s at the beauty shop. The result was a gallery titled "Beauty and Wisdom." I saw her work first at Mashable, but you can also check out her website.

I hope you do. These ladies radiate.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. - Prv. 31: 25

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What to do if someone asks you to pray for them

It happens all the time: at church, whispered in the pew before Mass begins or chatting over a cup of cookies afterwards. Or on Facebook. A text. A hurried phone conversation.

"Please pray for me." "Pray for us."

What to do?
1. Say, "I will."
2. Pray. Unceasingly. Specifically.
3. When and if the issue is resolved, pray in thanksgiving.

What NOT to do?
1. Tell the person you know a great doctor.
2. Let them know you have a book on essential oils that will help.
3. Mention that an exorcism might be in order (I'm not making that one up, by the way.)
4. Tell other people, lest you gossip.
5. Badger the person about how things are going.
6. Forget to pray for them when you've said you will.
7. Pray "sloppily" by simply tagging on, "Oh, and for Larry" at the end of your evening prayers.
8. Tell them what happened to you in the same/similar situation.
9. Tell them what happened to someone else you know in the same/similar situation.
10. Offer specific dietary advice: "You know, if you go on that Paleo diet...."

There are times to talk, and times to pray. When someone asks you to pray, then pray. If they do not ask for advice, don't offer it. Pray. Pray. Pray.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tough Ladies Wear Pink

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries





These sisters might look sweet as cupcakes, but they do tough work: http://blog.acton.org/archives/71697-unlikely-mercenaries-fight-human-trafficking.html

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

1. The Collect (the prayer that starts Mass) yesterday was beautiful:

O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

2. Saw The Giver yesterday. If you liked the book, you'll like the movie, although a lot of liberties were taken. Jeff Bridges is superb, and the theme remains intact.

3. Had fun hanging out with the Hubby yesterday. Explored the beautiful Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, and had the best sushi I've ever had. Bought some tea, and I'm enjoying Chocolate Cherry Bomb this morning.

4. Well, that was a first. Tallest Son took me out for a pedi. He got one too, and paid. I think he's hooked.

5. AAAARRRRGGGHH. Back to school. Took Dark-Haired Daughter to get some clothes on Saturday. Ugh.

6. The leaves are changing! Indeed, the maples are getting tinged with red. Middle of August.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mary, Queen of My Heart

Head from Filippo Lippo's Coronation of the Virgin
It's been a rough week. With the death of Robin Williams, the news that one of our spiritual advisors has been asked by her order to move and begin a new ministry, the 15th year since the death of my sister-in-law, to not knowing where Youngest Son is, I can't say there's been much to celebrate.

Thank God for the Feast of the Assumption.

Many years ago (I'm pretty sure I was 15), my sister-in-law led me to make my Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Assumption. It was in an OLD little country church. It was built lovingly by Polish immigrants, and the stained glass was beautiful. You know many pennies were saved by people of little means to make that church as lovely as they could. I also remember that the kneelers were extremely close to the pew in front of you; you sort of had to kneel at a 45-degree angle. "Offer it up!"

I had to cantor the Vigil Mass last night. I was praying through all my sorrows before Mass, as an older couple in our parish lead us through the Rosary. By the time Mass started, my burdens were lightened. As I sang through the glorious Marian hymns, and listened to Father explain the Ark of the Covenant in both the Old and New Testaments, I knew that - as always - I was wrapped in Mary's mantle, covered in her prayerful protection, just as I have always been, since the day of my consecration.

It was such a lovely Mass, and the music was refreshment to my parched soul. I stayed after and re-dedicated myself to Mary and her motherly love, asking her to strengthen me in my faith, to pray for me that I might always have the courage to say, "Fiat."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Monster That Is Depression

Sweet, funny, kind, hysterical, soft, insightful Robin Williams has died. It seems that the Monster That Is Depression got him.

I remember one night when I was in college. I was at a friend's house; she had just gotten engaged. My roommate was graduating, another friend had decided to leave school, and my boyfriend was already done with school. It was a festive evening, lots of celebration and laughter.

And one point, I left the group in the living room, and stood looking out the darkened dining room window. I felt a sadness I had no words for, and could not express. It wasn't just that I was feeling the weight of my best friends being gone; it was the weight of the entire world. There was no logical reason for the pain I felt. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the first entrance of The Monster That Is Depression into my life.

Recently, I checked myself into a mental hospital. I was in the belly of the beast, and I could no longer cope on my own. I envisioned lining up all my pill bottles and getting that bottle of vodka from the fridge. I thought I could drive my car into a bridge abutment. Somehow, someway, the pain would stop. Nothing else seemed to be working.

My time in the hospital was the best thing I've ever done for myself. It not only gave me coping skills that I need to stay healthy, I heard - for the first time - others speaking openly and with raw honesty about the same thoughts I had: I'm a failure, I want to die, I want the pain to stop, no one cares, the world would be better off without me. You have no idea what a relief it was to know that I was among others fighting the same Monster, and we all had - until that point, at least - been winning.

The Monster has backed away from me now, but I never let my guard down. The cost is too high. I am a warrior, as are others who fight the Monster. Unfortunately, some warriors fall, despite the most valiant efforts.

I hope Robin Williams finds peace and joy and rest eternal in the hands of a God who has also fought monsters, and understands the battle.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Shameless Cooing Over Goddaughter Ensues



Monday Morning Musings

1. What a joyful, blessed weekend! My husband and I have our first goddaughter in the family: Francesca Elise! (pics will soon follow!) Francesca and her sister Josephine were adopted by my niece and her husband and the girls were baptized yesterday.
2.In the peaks and valleys that are my life, Youngest Son has completely gone off the rails. All we can do now is pray for him.
3. Curly-Haired Daughter got engaged! We are thrilled, as we not only love the young man, but are thrilled that he treats Daughter like a princess.
4. Oh-my-gosh-! We have a wedding to plan!!!

I think that's enough for now, don't you??

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bittersweet life of an adoptive mom

This letter sums up my thinking and emotions. Here is just a bit:

After a year of making more sacrifices than most mothers to care for my broken children, still they tell me their hearts are only half as full as they were before – with their father. Their father who spent his days so strung out on drugs and alcohol he didn’t know they were there. The same father who can’t even keep appointments to come visit them. All my effort and sacrifice cannot measure up to him in their minds. It is I who pays for his sins. I pay for sins that are not mine in the face of society. My eldest, if I’d given birth to her would have made me a teenage mother.

I bear that stigma everywhere with frowns and sideways glances. It is especially bad at church where I’m the youngest woman there with a child in elementary school. Most women my age are in the nursery commenting on how much their kids look like them or their spouse.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why we must keep fighting for life

Jonathan van Meran, at LifeSite.com is braver than I. He decided to visit the Gosnell House of Horrors Abortion Clinic. I am sure I could not do that.

However, what he found makes it clear that we must continue to fight for women and children. Abortion is an abomination.

I stop a young African American just across the street from 3801 Lancaster and point back at the decaying building.

“Do you know what happened there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that was the abortion clinic,” she said.

“Do you know anyone who had an abortion there?”

“Yeah, me.” She responded. “It was Valentine’s Day, 1997. When I went in, the women were packed into the waiting room like cattle. I went into the room, and some guy yelled at me to take my panties off. Then they gave me anesthesia and I don’t know what happened.” She shook her head sadly and kept on walking.

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

I have to admit, I struggle with understanding the Transfiguration. It's one of those events in the life of Christ that I don't "get." I'm not sure what the "take-away" is.

Here is a lovely, short piece from from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (via Scott Hahn) that helps:

I hope you enjoy this brief reflection of Pope Benedict XVI on the Transfiguration, which is drawn from his very last Angelus Address:

“The Evangelist places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. Indeed, prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions. Instead, prayer is what leads us to love in action. The Christian life consists in continually scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from Him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'”

“I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to 'scale the mountain', to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church. If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. Let us call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary: May she help all of us to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in works of charity.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to evangelize when you don't really want to, or are scared to, or just don't know what to do

You know you're supposed to evangelize. Share the Good News. Be part of the New Evangelization. But maybe you don't know how. Or you're scared. Or you really don't want to.

It's okay.

First of all, "Be Not Afraid."

Second, there are ways to evangelize that do not require you to stand on a street corner and shout out Bible verses. (In fact, don't do that. You'll just look odd.)

Here are some ideas:

  • Wear a crucifix or a cross.
  • Be kind. Always. Better to be kind than right.
  • Invite a friend or family member to go to Mass with you. No big deal, "Come to Mass with me and then we'll get breakfast."
  • Make sure your home reflects your faith. Do you have a crucifix in a prominent spot? A prayer corner? If a guest came to your home, would they know you're Catholic?
  • Does your work space reflect your faith? You don't need to have a rosary hanging off your computer, but you can have a prayer card taped on it. You can have a small cross on your desk, or a screen saver that reflects your faith.
  • Ask someone about their faith. Just be curious and polite. Share your views and say thank you when the conversation is done. 
  • Use social media to witness. Share a Scripture verse or prayer.
  • Pray for the courage to be more courageous about sharing the Catholic faith.
  • If someone says something wrong or off-base about the Church, kindly correct them. 
  • Help in your parish's religious education program.
  • Visit a nursing home and offer to pray with the residents. Offer to pray the rosary with Catholic residents. Trust me: you will be appreciated!
  • Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You don't have to convert people; just be Christian. Use Bl. Teresa of Calcutta as an example.
  • Befriend a saint and ask for his/her intercession in being more bold about your faith.
  • Pray.
  • Pray.
  • Pray.