Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle

Lord, how will You use me today?  Will I be the one to give a drink of water to a homeless man standing in tattered rags on a street corner, forgotten by everyone but You?  Will You use me to be Your hands to help a baby sparrow make it back to the nest?  Will You use my voice to ask a lonely person how they are feeling when it would be so much easier to just keep walking?  Will You ask me to do something I would rather not do, like be in the company of a family member who is so difficult to be around?  Will I be the one who extends the kind of welcome to a wayward soul that makes them want to come to Mass again?  Will it be in me that someone sees Your love and mercy and realizes how much You long for their return?  Are You going to ask me keep silent when I am insulted or wounded by the careless words of another?  Will I be the only one to hear You blasphemed by another, and consequently, the only one who offers You reparation for that offense?  Are You going to ask me for someone or something I believe I cannot live without?  Will I be the person who makes a difference today for a stranger who hopelessly searches every face they see for something as simple as a smile?

Most importantly, Lord, will You, in Your kindness and generosity, grant me the grace to accept whatever it is You will for me in life so that my only desire is to serve You  and You alone and my only fear separation from You, Who I should love above all things?

Your Only Begotten Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, died for my sins.  In His Name, my God, have mercy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Is My Vocation?

Pat Robertson understandably got himself in some hot water because of the advice he gave a woman who called him in search of consolation because of her philandering husband. Then I found out from Terry Nelson that St. Josemarie Escriva had a thing or two to say about a woman's domestic obligations versus her exercises in piety. I was with a couple on Sunday who I see once a year and we commiserated about how challenging it can be at times to manage our prayer life as well as everything else we have on our plates.

"Sometimes" the wife admitted, "I fall into bed at night and realize I didn't say any of my prayers." It seems that realization has her and her spouse evaluating their lives to see how they make more room for prayer and particularly for daily Mass.

One thing of which I am absolutely convinced is that this blog is not my vocation. Sometimes, it's a near occasion of sin because it's a handy tool for me to criticize this one or that thing. I think it is why I have struggled so much to write lately. I can't tell you how many times in a week I see or hear something and think of what a great blog post it would be, only to realize the better and more advantageous thing to do would be to pray for the person or situation.

It occurs to me that in addition to my duties as wife and mother, my vocation is prayer, prayer that is joined to penance and sacrifice. The penance and sacrifice need not be anything heroic or impressive. No one need know what was done for them on their behalf. It's only important that God knows.

The other day I was trying to remember why I never have time for this activity or that hobby anymore and I realized that what has changed for me is that I pray much more than I did back then when those activities occupied more of my time. In the scheme of things, I am convinced that for me it is what's most important and what is demanded of me.

And just what is prayer? St. Therese said:

"I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus."
One of my favorite memories from the childhood of my oldest took place in Washington, D.C. We had spent the weekend exploring all the Smithsonian Museums with another family and on the day we were scheduled to leave, at my four-year-old's request, we were going back to the gift shop at the Air and Space museum to pick up some souvenirs for two of her pre-school chums. I had explained to her the night before that we were just going to pick up something small and that while I admired her for wanting to be more generous, we were not going to get them the same souvenir we had gotten for her the day before. When she asked me why, I explained that she was our child but they were friends and that they wouldn't expect us to get them anything elaborate and would be happy with just being remembered. As I pushed her in her stroller the next day, "we" had a most charming conversation.

"Mom, we can't get the spaceship for Eli and Misho because they're not members of the family, right Mom, right? I got one because I'm a memory of the family, right Mom, right? But they're not members of the family, they're just friends, right Mom, right?"

I can still hear her little sing-song voice in my head, and the way she pronounced "family" exactly like her daddy. It was a simple little talk but one that touched me and which I can still her in my head as clearly as the day she spoke it.

There are many days when I imitate that now grown-up child in the way that I speak to the Lord. And because of my intimate relationship with Him, I know that He does not mind. In fact, I know that He is pleased to be part of my life and my conversation. At other times, I pray the rote prayers that I know are pleasing to Him and His Holy Mother. They were made part of my routine even before my return to the faith. What's more, He gave us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist and conversing with Him while sitting in His Presence holds infinite value for ourselves and those we hold dear. 
And yet I still never feel as if it's enough, because once He has you, it never can be enough until our everlasting retreat in Heaven. St. Teresa of Avila reminded her sisters that "the Lord walks among the pots and pans." This was to reassure those who had kitchen duty that they should not worry so much about missing a spiritual exercise because of their assignment, necessary for the welfare of the community. But she was certainly not proposing that her sisters miss every devotion to tend to domestic affairs. How many times do we make excuses for not making time for the Lord, even if it's just 10 minutes a day? How many times do I want to kick myself for "fitting" Jesus in to a busy day, rather than fit the activities in around Him?
Store up these treasures for yourself and your loved ones while you can. Excluding downright negligence of our domestic and family obligations, there is no more important thing we can do. 

I know it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Heresy of Good Personism

One of the common retorts I hear from people who choose not to practice their Catholic faith is this:

I'm a good person.  I don't hurt anyone and I go out of my way to help people.  What kind of God would punish me for not going to Church?  What kind of God  sends  people to Hell for missing Mass on Sunday?

Anytime I struggle with understanding why people don't believe in or honor God, all I need do is take a walk around the neighborhood.  People don't think they should  have to step to one side or move in any way to accommodate someone walking towards them.  They are so important, no matter who they are and where they're going, that everyone should just get out of their way.  How can people who believe themselves to be so self-important ever consider there is Someone greater than they are?

People are full of themselves, leaving no room for God.  They don't realize that whatever inherent goodness they do possess comes from Him and that the only worth their works have is from and and in Him.

I saw this today on the site The Catholic Thing.   I love the title and can think of many people on my prayer list who are guilty of the Heresy of Good Personism.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why The World Doesn't Take Us Seriously

This hit home with me.  You can read it National Catholic Register.  Kudos to Matthew Warner for putting into words what I've been saying here and elsewhere and for taking the necessary steps to make Christ the center of his life.

If we want the world to take Catholicism seriously, we must first take it seriously ourselves. That means making radical changes to the ways we live our lives. We need more people to answer the radical call to sainthood. We need saints. Not just saints of the past, but your sainthood.
When the world sees you, they don't have to see a saint, but at least let them see a sinner set on sainthood. We shouldn't need to tell people we're Catholic. They should smell it in our sweat. They should see Christ radiating authentically and naturally from every move we make. If they can't, we need to shut up and stop talking about what's wrong with everyone else and we need to start living a more compelling life.

We need an army of saints willing to live a radical life for Christ and others. Saints are compelling. Empty words and prideful lectures are not.

Each of us have been called to live a radical life. To be a saint. - Matthew Warner

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" - St. Catherine of Sienna

Monday, May 13, 2013

Still Here, Still Praying

Sorry for the dearth of posts but sometimes I'm just not moved to say anything, so I don't.  Please know that I continue to keep all of your intentions in my heart and before the Lord every day at Mass and Adoration.  I'm also very busy getting ready for the prom, the wedding and the impending job search of my youngest, my oldest and my middle child, in that order.

I had a very lovely but busy Mother's Day.  I hosted dinner this year because my father will never agree to going out to dinner and I didn't want my mother saddled with cooking. I did all of the preparation Sunday evening so I could just pop things in the oven, but I still wound up spending the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  Before that,   I went for a long walk in the morning, had a delicious breakfast courtesy of my husband  and then off to the Noon TLM.  The Saturday evening before we attended the Novus Ordo as a family (well, four of the five of us did) and took part in the annual parish May devotion to Mary.

By the time I got to Mass yesterday, I was already feeling kind of beat and I'm sure this contributed to the  sadness that struck me as I communicated with Jesus.  It is my habit to conceal my face in my hands with my eyes closed so I can drown out every distraction, and so it was yesterday.  I was thinking of how Easter would soon be over, and how ironic it is that as the Church enters Ordinary Time, the Archdiocese begins announcing clerical changes.  I started thinking of the implications those changes could hold for our parish, but how our focus must always be on Christ.  I was thinking of how the oldest is soon to marry, outside of the Church, and wondering what more I could or should have done.  I can't think of ever feeling so overcome at Holy Communion, and being somewhat lost in my own emotions, I hardly noticed what happened.  I felt someone slip their arm around my waist and pull me gently towards them for just a moment.
Someone obviously knew I needed a hug.  I did, and I'm very grateful to whatever person or benevolent being saw fit to give me one.

The novena to St. Rita began today. In addition to my own personal intentions,  I am asking her to intercede on behalf of the boy who went missing in Florida and for a cousin who is awaiting test results for a brain tumor.  (I don't know what's going on but it seems like every time I turn around someone else is battling a brain tumor).  For the first time in a few months, I was too tired to get up to go to my usual early morning Mass, so I went a little later at another parish.  It is my intention to try to get to at least the novena prayers each day if not a second Mass. ( I will only receive Holy Communion once, however, and make a spiritual Communion if I go to two Masses.)

I am growing increasingly fond of my future son-in-law, who shows a greater interest in Catholicism than his future wife does.  He is respectful and asks some very thoughtful questions.  We spent about an hour after dinner yesterday discussing the sanctity of life and Catholicism in general and I can tell from previous conversations that he will give what we spoke about much consideration.  In getting through to him, I will get through to my daughter, who I love very much and will not surrender to life outside the Church without great effort.

During the novena, we pray to St. Rita:

"By the surrender of your children, rather than have them offend God, obtain our request for us".

I know this wife, mother and Augustinian nun will hear my prayers, as well as yours.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Even Until The End of Time

I know that's how long He'll be with us, but I can't help but feel sad on Ascension Thursday.  It is particularly difficult for me at the Traditional Latin Mass, where the point that Christ has ascended to His Father is driven home by the extinguishing of the Paschal Candle.

I often wonder what Mary thought and pondered in her heart at this time.  Once, I attended a talk on St. Therese where the priest told us that the Blessed Mother missed Jesus so much that she didn't so much die as her soul was, in his words, ripped from her body.  After having been a witness to both His Passion and His Resurrection, was it then that Mary began her second mission for the Church, the mission of praying for souls, now and at the hour of our death?  Oh, to have Mary's faith and trust!

I don't know why, but when I was taking my walk this morning after Mass, I thought of how fortunate the cloistered orders are, to live for and with Christ alone. I was thinking that maybe it helps overcome the withdrawal that happens at the end of Christmas and Eastertide if one is walled in with God.   I should not think so much of what I may be missing because of how truly blessed I have been these past few months.  To be able to get to daily Mass and on most days, Adoration and to have had Ascension Thursday off and know that I'll be off for two of my favorite novenas as well - one to St. Rita and the other, of course, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Next week a friend is planning a reunion tea with some of the pilgrims who visited Cascia with us the year before last.  I have been appointed the official baker for the event and how good God is to His unworthy servant that she has the time to be able to do so.

I am amazed  with this time off how quickly days fill up and how there never seems to be enough time to get everything accomplished. How did I ever manage while holding a job that consumed 50 or more hours a week, excluding travel time?   The next few weeks will be especially busy not only because of upcoming devotions but also the wedding of our oldest daughter (which is another story for another day).

Until now, I should be grateful for this little slice of Heaven granted to me by the King of Hearts.  I imagine He might laugh at the comparison of my respite to Paradise and if He could, He say: You have seen nothing yet to compare to what has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  Until then, know that I am with you always, even until the end of time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Faith, Hope and Trust

Yesterday, I got a voice mail on the phone that should never have happened.  Someone in the office at my daughter's high school called to tell me she never showed up for school yesterday and consequently, missed a major exam.  It was now well after 3 PM and school had already been dismissed, so I texted my child and when I got no response, I called her.  Still nothing. I immediately called the school.  I knew she had a late arrival time yesterday for the exam but to me it was inexcusable to wait until the end of the day like this to notify me.  What if something nefarious did happen to her?  Hours had been wasted.  I called and got the aide who left the message on the phone.  Let's just say her response left something to be desired and just as I was about to hang up and head to the school myself, Child #3 strolls in the door.   She forgot her ID badge and thus didn't swipe in, but she most certainly did attend school and complete the exam.  It was hard to know whether to celebrate or want to throttle the aide for not bothering to do her homework before calling me.

I have always felt a small measure of comfort in the fact that my youngest is tall and does not look like an easy target for would-be troublemakers but that doesn't mean I don't worry.

Fast-forward a few hours and I get a message that a childhood acquaintance who happens to be related through marriage to a cousin is in desperate need of prayers.  Her son has gone missing in the waters in Florida and 24 hours later has still not turned up, dead or alive.  I know this particular family has endured the kind of unspeakable grief and hardship that leaves you wondering how they have survived and now this has happened.  Apparently, the boy was in a "tough love" program for juveniles battling addiction and had gone with the rest of the group to the beach on Sunday.  When the counselors did a head count, he was missing.  The Coast Guard is now involved in the search.  I pray that he is found one way or another so that his family and his mother in particular can have whatever peace this type of closure might bring.

Fast-forward another hour and the joyful news erupts that three young women who had long ago gone missing have been discovered, alive and considering all things, well.  One of them has a child presumed to be hers.  I was so moved by the fact that even in her desperate attempt to escape, her motherly instincts prevented her from leaving that child, conceived against her will, in the prison that held her for years.  I listened to the parents of other children who were not so blessed talk about the agony of not only losing a child but never knowing what the outcome was.  One of the mothers did not live long enough to know that the ending would be happy.  I can only imagine what life has been like for the other two, who could never entirely give up hope so long as a body was never found.

My prayers today are of thanksgiving that these young women have been found alive and also of petition that the missing swimmer will be located.  I also pray that all our children will be protected by God and His Angels from the diabolical evils that seek to steal them, whether in the form of addiction or the kind of evil impulses that lead men to do the unthinkable.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Hour is Coming

"They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you."

How easy it is for us to accuse the Apostles of being a bumbling gang of backward cowards, afraid of their own shadows.  But I wonder what my reaction would be to someone telling me "whoever kills you will think he is offering a service to God."  I know I'd like to think that I would never deny my Lord, but if the small tests I face on a daily basis are any indication of that, I have no room to poke fun at the Disciples.  If I am lacking courage in the small things, how would I ever expect to have them in the greater?The mistake, of course, is to think that on my own I can do anything.  If faced with the trials that the Apostles met, my only hope, as was theirs, would be complete reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are There REALLY Still Catholics Who DON'T Pray the Rosary Every Day?

Father Z has a poll going and I have to say I find the comments surprising.  Why wouldn't we do something that Our Lady has requested of us, particularly knowing the graces she has promised to those who faithfully recite her Rosary?  St. Padre Pio called his Rosary his weapon.  Do we still think we're too busy to pray the Rosary?

If we have time to read blogs, we have more than enough time to pray the Rosary every day.

If we have time to leave comments at blogs, we have more than enough time to pray the Rosary every day.

Do we watch television?  Text?  Chat on the phone?  Read the newspaper? Commute back and forth to work?   We have time to pray the Rosary every day.

If praying poorly was an excuse not to pray the Rosary, I would have given up long ago.  It's not always easy to pray it devoutly as Our Lady asks of us, but it should help to know that even saints like Therese struggled.  We will never know the value of a single Rosary offered even when we just weren't feeling up to it, thought we were too busy, etc. until the Virgin Mary is pleased to tell us face to face.

The Evil One told the chief Vatican exorcist that every Hail Mary "is like a hammer blow" to his head.

The kind people at the Mary Foundation sent me a free CD of the Rosary along with other daily prayers.  Here is a YouTube video which provides the same background that is given on the CD.  Ignore the music - the message is worth having to listen to it for a few minutes.

Lord, Have I Thanked You Yet Today?

Dear Lord,
On this glorious day with the not a cloud in the deep blue sky, I give You thanks for all my blessings.

For the ability to attend a  Novus Ordo Mass reverently celebrated, in strict accordance with the rubrics.
For an orthodox priest to celebrate the Mass.
For the gift of Your Son in Holy Communion.
For the church in which the Mass is offered.
For the gift of Your Son daily in the Tabernacle and for His generous Company
For the husband and the children sent to bless me.
For the little canine "children" who follow my every move.
For the precious time You have granted me in my kitchen.
For the precious time You have granted me to spend with my elderly parents.
For the simple but more than adequate place we call home.
For a comfortable bed and a roof over our heads.
For the freedom to worship You as we please.
For the peace that too few others know.
For the birds that visit the feeder and yes, even the squirrel who wreaks havoc.
For seeing to our needs.
For bringing us to another day in Your service.
For faithful friends who forgive my neglect of them and remember me in their prayers.
For the daily crosses You send so that I may one day join You and the company of Your Saints.
For the prayers of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all Your Saints.
For the protection of St. Michael and all the angels.
For giving me another day to try to make amends.
For Your unfathomable love and mercy.

For this and more, Dear Lord, Your humble and unworthy servant gives You thanks.  Thine be the glory, O Lord!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thank You For Your Prayers

Dear Readers and Friends,

I thank you for your prayers these past months.  First, I will be returning to work (God-willing) in mid-June.  I am grateful for the opportunity given to me and St. Joseph most surely had a hand in this, along with all of your prayers.

Also,  I am happy to report that at least for the time-being, the headache from you-know-where has subsided.  I have to tell you that I kept hearing the words of St. Therese in my head when she said:

"I can easily understand why people without faith are tempted to take their life when they suffer like this.  I tell you, when one is suffering like this, one is but a step removed from going out of one's mind."

Believe me when I tell you that I know what I endured was a mere pittance compared to her suffering.  I also know I had reached the point where I was swallowing Motrin like M & M's with little regard for what consequences I might incur.

I wasn't feeling  that swell over the weekend and when Monday rolled around I considered rescheduling a much-needed dental appointment but decided against it.   What a mistake.  I really didn't feel anything on Monday after the appointment but Tuesday, Wednesday and a good part of today were another story altogether.  It was hard to tell where the pain was emanating from exactly. First it felt like sinus.  Then it felt like a mini-drummer was practicing his licks behind my right eye.  At other times, it felt like my skull was literally on fire.  I had to drive my mother to a funeral yesterday and I have many pressing chores around this house that need to be completed before I return to work (as Kelly can attest to, having visited The Homestead last week).  Not to mention the weather has been picture perfect and it's very hard to take a walk or sit in an Adoration chapel when your whole face is throbbing.

I didn't have a good picture of how unpleasant I was to be around until this morning when my loving husband told me that trying to talk to me was like trying to talk to a "black cloud of death".  Yikes! I did some work around the house and then  I went up to lie down for a bit.   Even though I still felt dreadful when I got up, I walked to the nearby CVS and scoured the over-the-counter pain medication section for something that might help me.  I settled on Excedrin Migraine.  So far, so good.   I know my GI system will pay for it but anything is better than an aching face and head.

I frequently called upon St. Teresa of Avila, patron saint of headache sufferers,  to intercede for me, that if she couldn't win me any relief from the pain that she might ask God to grant me the patience to endure.  She did not disappoint. I can only thank God that I was not working when this happened because I don't know how I would have made it.

Again, I thank you for all your kindness toward me and rest assured that as precarious as my prayer life is when I'm feeling like this, I do remember your intentions every day.  While the quality of my prayers may have left something to be desired,  Our Lord surely looked favorably upon the trifles added to them on our behalf.

God bless!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle

Dear Lord,

Where all Your adorers?  Why are You here all alone?  Is there no one who could spare 5 minutes to sit with You?

You do not demand that we adopt any one posture while in Your Divine Presence.  You do not demand that we say anything in particular to You.  You are pleased just to see us.  If we would listen, we might hear You tell us how much You love us.  You do not care that we might complain ceaselessly to You about the choicest gifts You send us - crosses and small trials so that we might one day share in Your glory, a glory wholly unmerited on our part.  If You mind the trivial favors we ask of You, You do not let on..  You will never do anything to discourage us from future visits.

You are always ready to listen and to love, and yet how few times do I appear before You, ready to listen and love You back?  How many times have I set out to make You the center of my world, and left abruptly because of some meaningless pursuit that will bear no spiritual fruit?    How many times have I squandered my time before You because of anxiety or worry about some matter of no importance?  When will I learn?

Lord, I'm not at my best today.  What I have I offer You,  in reparation to Your Sacred Heart, for the consolation of the Immaculate Heart of Your Most Holy Mother, in honor of Your foster-father St. Joseph and of all Your saints.  Take all my misery, my failure, my ingratitude and join them to my poor prayers for all the intentions for which I have been asked to pray, for the conversion of sinners and the release of the poor souls in Purgatory.  

In imitation of my sister St. Therese, I say: My God, I love You.