The Art Of Being Kind

My Dark-haired Daughter will likely never work at a job. She can't handle more than the simplest of math. Her reading comprehension is terrible. She struggles to follow the simplest of directions. We don't let her cook anything unattended, and she still has terrible nightmares.

But don't be fooled: she has a tremendous gift. It's the gift of being kind. No matter where we go, who we see, what we are doing, she is kind. She notices things about everyone (and I mean EVERYone) we meet and has something kind and uplifting to say:

"I like your skirt."

"Oh, your nails are so pretty!"

"I like your haircut."

"How old is your baby? He's so cute!"

She goes on her merry way, spreading a bit of cheer to all we meet. It can be in the grocery store, a flea market, a garage sale or church: she notices, is kind and takes a moment to be present with that person in the most charitable of ways.

What a gift.

Tuesday Morning Musings ('cause Monday was a holiday)

  • Our pastor, a few months back, asked us to really focus on the Collect, which is the opening prayer at Mass. This past Sunday's was: Grant, almighty, God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honor of the risen lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold t in what we do. 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. Amen. So, are you celebrating these days of joy?
  • If you're not reading the Matt Walsh Blog, why the heck aren't you???
  • Curly-Haired daughter's new beau (whom we like very much!) is allergic to...well, everything. Including cats and dogs. Not sure if we'll be able to keep him. (Thanks goodness he's not allergic to beer; then he would have been gone immediately!)
  • When was the last time you rolled down the windows and sang along to the radio? What are you waiting for?
  • If you work in an office, and someone stopped by your desk/office, would they know what was most important to you? Do  you have pictures that represent your faith? Your family and loved ones? Does your work space represent who you are and what you believe?

Kindly help if you can

It's been awhile since I've said anything about this, but we are still trying to raise funds to help pay for legal fees surrounding my Dark Haired Daughter's sexual assault. Our case is on-going, and (duh) expensive.

Please help if you can: http://funds.gofundme.com/index.php?route=share2/link&url=5m4am8

Honestly, every little bit helps! And you will have our prayers for your intentions!

The truth about trials

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. - 1 Cor. 10:13

Gotta admit: not my favorite Scripture verse. Why? Because I think that sometimes God IS giving me more than I can bear. I don't want all this nonsense, stress, upheaval, trials and tests. I want what I think everyone else has: a relatively easy life, a few bumps in the road, but nothing major - or at least, nothing major ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.

Yet, that is not what God is calling ME to. I don't know why I have what I have in my life. I don't understand it. But if you look at that verse again, God isn't promising us understanding; He is promising us strength, faithfulness, a way out, the ability to bear what comes our way. That's not trivial.

I have a lot of crosses to bear. I'm not trying to play the martyr here, but it's the truth. Sometimes the list seems longer than an eager eight year old's list for Santa. I know there are others with longer lists, and there are others with shorter ones. I don't know why. And I have to know that not knowing is okay. In fact, it's not ours to know. No where in Scripture does God say, "You will see everything clearly in this life all the time." Nope. It's only in our eternal life that we will have a fuller understanding of how God has worked in our life.

I'm not going to lie; that is not always a great comfort to me. When I am beaten down and weary, when I am clutching my rosary and too tired to pray it, when I bow my head before the Eucharistic Lord and cry out, "why??," when I weep for the pain, both physical and emotional - the trials seem far more than I can handle.

But I have to remember that this is not the TRUTH. It is not MY truth, it is not GOD'S truth. The TRUTH is Jesus Christ: the way, the truth and the life. The TRUTH is that promise in the Scripture above: strength, faith, God bearing me up - always, forever. I have to rest in that truth, even when my trials weigh me down. God is faithful - that is all I need.

Monday Morning Musings

  • If you're following a truck on the expressway with Porta-Potties precariously perched on the back, change lanes.
  • It's supposed to be 70 degrees here in MI. Let's just say we'll believe it when we see it.
  • My sister, who's been away from the Church for decades, is going to register at our parish! Praise God!
  • Yesterday, we had four young people receive First Communion for the first time at the 10 a.m. Mass. It was so beautiful, and Father gave such a good sermon reminding all of us what the Eucharist really was - not a symbol, not just "looks like" or "seems like" but really, truly Jesus Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
  • From my morning prayers: From morning to night, every day of our lives, between the shores of our home, of our streets, of our encounters, flows the Word in which God seeks to dwell. - servant of God Madeleine Delbrel

No such thing as spare time

I was thinking this morning that I have time...a luxury a mom doesn't have when her children are small. My kids are mostly grown, and I only have two at home. I'm not spending every day doing loads of laundry, preparing and cutting up food for seven people, driving here-there-and-everywhere.

I have time. And that means I should pray.

Oh, I don't mean that every waking moment should be spent on my knees. I still have lots of obligations. But my mother taught me a lesson when she was caring for my father as he got ill with Parkinson's and then as he was dying.

For about three years, my parents' home was like a monastery. My mother would rise early to care for my father, pray, tend to some household chores, pray, prepare some food, pray....There was a rhythm to her days that mimicked that of a monastery or convent: work and prayer, work and prayer.

Now that my father has passed on, my mother still spends hours in prayer every day. She has many people to pray for: as matriarch of a large family, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren depend upon her prayers. Many of my nieces and nephews are doing what I was doing 15 years ago: loads of laundry, meals, driving, etc., as they raise their young families. My mother's prayers keep us all propped up as she raises each of in prayer and supplication to God the Father and Mary, Our Blessed Mother, every day, day after day.

I still have hobbies that I enjoy, and I plan to keep on enjoying them. I've not been called to the monastic life. But I do know, from my mother's example, that as my life shifts into a new phase, so must my prayer life.

Thank you, Mom. I can't imagine a better gift than your prayerful example.

You can't be depressed! You're Christian!

Oh, I wish I'd written this, but alas, the credit goes elsewhere. Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C. and suffers from depression. This was in Christian Post:

 #1 – Someone who is a Christian will never wrestle with anxiety and depression.
If this is true, then what about Moses asking God to take his life (Numbers 11:14-15), and then Elijah (I Kings 19:3-4) and later Jonah (Jonah 4:3) all asking to die? Paul admitted that he despaired life (II Corinthians 1:8) and even JESUS said that His soul was "Overwhelmed" (Matthew 26:38).
#2 – The way to overcome being overwhelmed is to pray and read your Bible more.
I often tell people that the theme song of hell is "Do More, Try Harder!" For far too long Christians have said they believe in grace, but when it comes to worry, anxiety and even depression we rely on works.
This Sunday at NewSpring Church I am going to talk about ONE THING that EVERY person can do (Christian and non-Christian) that is the first step towards healing.
#3 – A person who trusts Jesus will not take antidepressants.
I recently wrote an entire article about taking medication for mental illness. But, just so you know…I take an antidepressant and I love Jesus right now more than I ever have in my entire life.
#4 – Anxiety and depression is just who I am and I will never be able to experience any type of freedom.
This is a lie!!! I battled through depression in my past and am battling through anxiety right now. Jesus said in John 10:10 that His plan is for us to have an abundant life!!! That's not just when we get to heaven, but right NOW too!!
#5 – If I admit I am battling with these things people will think I am weird.
It will surprise you when you begin to open up about how you honestly feel how people will look at you and say, "me too, I thought I was the only one who felt that way."

Visiting A Convent - Behind The Walls

I'll admit it: when my kids were little, and days were demanding and I never seemed to have time to pray, I dreamed of a nice little cell in a nice little convent somewhere. Quiet would reign, prayer would be continuous, and peace would ensue.

I was kidding myself, of course. As an Irish lass, I wouldn't last a day in the silence that is necessary for such a rigorous way of life. I'd be the "How do we solve a problem like Maria?" sort of nun.

And yet...there is still a draw to that type of holiness. Over at Regina Blog, there is a lovely post about the life of Benedictine nuns, and their life "behind the walls."

AT HOME AMONG THE BUDDING DOGWOOD, REDBUD AND SAND PLUM TREES STANDS THE PRIORY, a great log cabin that once housed the monks of Clear Creek Monastery. Flocks of sheep attended by ever-vigilant sheep dogs raise their heads as a rare car drives by. Monks from the Abbey  can be seen off in the distance tending cattle, vineyards or construction. 

Several times a day, the Nuns can be seen moving between the Priory and the Oratory, engaged in their Horarium, Latin for ‘the hours” and the name given to the daily schedule of those living here.
  
"Our walled fence is simply a sign that monks and nuns have left the world, to be strangers to it, to be apart from it, thereby to be living (as far as frail human nature allows) the life of intimate union with God, participating in the angelic life of Heaven,” explains Mother Prioress Annuntiata.

Head over to that blog and read and enjoy the photos. And dream of that calling; it is rare and beautiful.

Suicide, Sin and Hope

At The American Catholic, blogger Donald McClarey discusses suicide. He quotes G.K.Chesterton (a fine man, a fine writer, but not a theologian):

"Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin,” Chesterton wrote: “It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.” Chesterton goes on to say that the act of suicide is selfish: “A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything.” 

I do agree with McClarey that suicide is a selfish act, but he poo-poos mental illness:

Contemporary views on suicide of course would view that attitude as harsh and Neanderthal and usually blame everyone but the suicide for their act of self murder. 

"Blame" is not the right word with suicide, just as it's not the right word when someone dies from complications from diabetes or heart disease. We all have the duty to take care of our health, but depression can bite you in the a** quicker than you can say, "Bob's your uncle." And that pit is incredibly hard to climb out of. Everyone in the world can throw you a rope, but many of them are greased, some fray and burn your hands, and you still have to do most of the work yourself. And when you're depressed, every action requires 10x the energy that it normally would.

Rather than quoting Chesterton, let's look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Whew! Where do I even begin??

Well, first, I'm glad to be back.

I checked myself into a psychiatric care program last Tuesday. I've been dealing (very poorly, as it turns out!) with depression and anxiety. It was consuming me, and I needed help. Thanks be to God, we have a tremendous psych hospital in our area, and it was just what I needed.

I thought I was doing things right, and in some cases, I was. But I wasn't caring for myself very well. In fact, I realized I would never treat another soul as badly as I beat myself up. I'm working on that.

I also am working on knowing - really knowing - that my children's choices and decisions are not a reflection of my parenting. As heartbreaking as some of those choices are, have been and will be, they don't mean I was a bad parent. This is a biggy for me: I know someday I'll have to stand in front of God and explain myself. I thought that meant that I was wholly responsible for choices my children make, but of course, that isn't true. They have free will, have been taught right from wrong, and we've modeled as best we can our Catholic faith. The rest is on them.

I would also ask that you keep some people in prayer. There were a couple of young women I met while in the hospital who really touched my heart: Maria, Laura, and Meghan. All three were struggling mightily with  deep depression, and all three have such great spirits, sweet hearts - each one. Please say a prayer that they recover well.

I'll be sharing more; May is National Mental Health Month. Let's remember that mental health is important and still very stigmatized. Many people refuse to seek help because of this. Pray that all who need help get it.

Glad to be home!

Into the Foggy Dew

If you've ever driven through a thick fog, you know what fear is. You can't see anything. You're not sure if you're stil...