Friday, September 30, 2011

Abandonment to Divine Providence

From Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade's Abandonment to Divine Providence (from the English translation of the tenth French Edition of Fr. de Caussade's (d. 1751) Abandon a la Providence Divine, edited by Fr. H. Ramiere, S.J. 1921):
The divine will is to the soul in all things its method, its rule, and its direct and safe way. It is an unalterable law which is of all times, of all places, and of all states. It is a straight line which the soul must follow with courage and fidelity, neither diverging to the right, nor to the left, nor overstepping the bounds. Whatever is over and above must be received passively, as it carries on its work in abandonment. In a word, the soul is active in all that the present duty requires, but passive and submissive in all the rest, about which there should be no self-will, but patient waiting for the divine motion.

O heavenly purity! O blessed annihilation! O unreserved submission! through you is God drawn into the centre of the heart. Let the faculties be then what they will, provided, Lord, that I possess You. Do what You will with this insignificant creature; whether it works, becomes inspired, or becomes the subject of Your impresssions, it is all one. All is yours, all is from You and for You. I have no longer anything to look after, anything to do. I have no hand in the arrangement of one single moment of my life, all is Yours. I ought neither to add to, nor to diminish anything, neither to seek after, nor to reflect upon, anything. It is for You to regulate everything. Direction, mortification, sanctity, perfection, and salvation area are all Your business, Lord; mine is to be satisfied with Your work, and not to appropriate any action, or any state, but to leave all to Your good pleasure. ~ a prayer of Fr. de Caussade

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Forever Yours

As I rise to face the challenges of this day, O Lord;

My heart is filled with joy, for I am aware of your constant presence within me,

Always gentle, always leading onward.

You want so much for me; you have so much to teach me.

And I am like an eager student; I want so much to learn your ways,

To follow the course you have prepared for me.

Please accept all my thoughts, words and deeds this day, as a small sign of my love for you. May I have the wisdom to see your hand at work in and through all circumstances, transforming my perspective. And in all my trials, may I rejoice with a trusting heart knowing that you are by my side.

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Will this medicine work, doctor?

When you visit your doctor you expect him to make you well and to ease your aches and pains.

But what does the doctor expect of you?

He expects you to trust him, and to believe he has your best interests at heart.

Your relationship would not be the same if you thought your doctor was inexperienced or incompetent in any way.

And when you seek advice from your lawyer, he expects you to trust him and to act on his counsel.

And when you turn to God with all your woes and worries, He too expects you to trust Him and to know what He is doing.

He does not expect you to tell Him in every detail how He should solve your problems.

“Thy will be done.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Repeat Offenders


Have you ever resolved never to commit a sin or fault ever again and bang! the next thing you know you're at it again? Like nagging your spouse over some annoying habit or yelling at the kids to clean up their rooms? Or maybe it's that tendency to overindulge yourself in your favorite treats? Or gossip about things and people? Or not do stuff you know you really ought to do and inconvenience others?

The list could go on and on, right? Priests get it all the time in confession. Somebody comes in and says he is discouraged because he keeps confessing the same sin over and over, intends to improve, and the good intentions come to naught.

If you give up the devil has already beaten you. Surely God doesn't want us to throw in the towel. So why does God let us keep falling? Here's an answer from Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD.

…God permits it in order to humble us more - we must join to humility an immense confidence in the divine help.

"He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved" (Mt. 10:22), said Jesus. He who will persevere unto the end is not he who will never fall, but he who after every fall will humble himself and rise again, relying on the infinite strength of God.

One no less than the great Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux says:

If it is Your will that throughout my whole life I should feel a repugnance to suffering and humiliation; if you permit all the flowers of my desires and good will to fall to the ground without producing any fruit, I shall not be disturbed. I am sure that if I persevere in my good efforts, in the twinkling of an eye, at the moment of death, You will cause rich fruits to ripen on the tree of my soul.

What a happy thought.

I apologize to my fellow bloggers. This was supposed to go up tomorrow and I clicked the "publish" button accidentally. I know we only want one post a day so it will be easier for all of us to get read.

As The Sparrow Finds A Home

Psalm 84:2-5

How lovely your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young,
My home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God!
Blessed are those who dwell in your house!
They never cease to praise you.

I thought of this Psalm as I sat on the grounds of the former Catholic school and convent where my mom now lives. Many years ago they turned it into senior apartments. The sparrows in the picture flock around the many full birdfeeders that the residents provide for them.  There is still a Catholic Church on the grounds where Mass is said every Saturday evening. These sparrows have found a home near the altar of the the Lord. 

I yearn and pine for the the courts of the Lord as well.  May I never cease to praise Him!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Courageous The Movie

Courageous is coming to theaters on Friday, Sept. 30th!  I've only seen the preview but I can already tell that this will be a movie that awakens the desire for strong holy families.  It will demonstrate the need for strong spiritual fathers as the head of their families.

I'm planning on going to see it on opening night!


Here is a link from Courageous Catholic Resources with reviews from Catholic bishops and Catholic laity.

I've linked this post to Trish's L.A.C.E. meme in the attempt to spread the word about the movie and the Community of Catholic Bloggers!

Blessings,
Noreen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three wishes.

There I was face to face with St Peter. He looked at his computer monitor and said. “Yep … your credentials are OK. You’ve made it. Welcome to Heaven!”

I smiled silently.

“We like our guests to be very comfortable here” continued the Saint, “and not feel too disoriented from where they come from. So you’re allowed to go back to earth for a short period and bring with you three items from down there which will help make you more comfortable up here.

“I have to enter them on the computer … so, what will they be?”

I stopped and thought for a few moments. Three items … what could I bring from earth which will make my eternity here more pleasant … as if that were possible.

I saw him smile at that last thought.

Perhaps I could bring my MP3 player with all my music collection … that would be nice.

He frowned a little and was about to type when I added … “Oh … it’s got Latin hymns on it too …” He said nothing and I saw him type in the reflection of his spectacles.

Perhaps I could also bring my DVD collection of all those movies I never had time to see …

He interrupted my thoughts by saying, “Whilst you’re thinking about this can I also tell you that you can bring three people from down there to share Heaven with you. Who will they be?”

“Three people?” I thought, “but I know more than three people whom I’d love to see in Heaven for eternity.

“My wife … my children, my extended family, my friends, and all my Blogging friends whom I’ve ‘met’ through the Internet. There’s many more than just three people I’d like here with me.

“But … but … their lives are so inter-dependent. If I bring my wife here, who will look after the children left behind? And is it right and fair to bring young children here before they’ve had a chance to live life? How about my extended family … I can’t bring one and leave the others behind?

“This is so unfair!”

“Sit down,” said the Saint sternly, “you think it is unfair because you see things through human perspective. You analyze and measure things your way; often in a possessive manner.

“You say things like my wife, my children, my parents and my friends … as if these people belong to you.

“No one and nothing belongs to anybody and everything belongs to God.

“God gave life and only He decides when it ends and whether people come here or … the other place.

“You humans often complain when a young life is taken or when someone leaves dependents behind with seemingly no one to care for them.

“You forget that God is there to care for them, and He leaves plenty of opportunities for those people left behind to take on the task He has set them.

“Whilst everyone has his allotted time on earth, whilst there, their main job is to do His will so that when their turn comes they end up here!

“You understand?”

I nodded meekly.

“Now tell me,” he continued with a smile, “which Latin hymns do you have in your collection?”

“Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do.” Matthew 7:21.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Each One Has a History

I stood in the middle of the Antietam Battlefield today.
This is hallowed ground.
The battles that took place here during the American Civil War were so fierce, so bloody and so devastating that more lives were lost than had been in the War of 1812, The Spanish/American War, and the Revolutionary War combined.

There we stood.

Monuments, as well as original and restored structures all around us.

The movie we had watched in the Visitor's Center told us that during the morning following the battle, all that could be heard in the air throughout the fields and surrounding town were the moans and cries of the men.

How sobering. How very sobering.

My children and I made the Sign of the Cross as we stood amidst the corn fields where so much blood had been shed. We thanked God for our freedom. We prayed for the souls of those who gave their lives and those who had to go on living without them. We offered the Lord's prayer and we sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee".

As we made our way along the roads and trails, we came to the National Antietam Cemetery.

Thousands laid to rest...many with "unkown" markers.

We lingered when we came to the rows and rows of Pennsylvania fallen.

My daughter, 16, kept slowly turning 'round in circles looking out over the vast expanse of plots, saying, "This is amazing. Every single one of these people has a history and yet, we'll never know what it is...even those in the unknown graves have histories".

What a thought.

I pondered this for a while.

I wondered about the wives, the daughters, the sons, the grand-parents, the employers, the brothers and sisters and neighbors and pastors...who had to "hear the word" that their loved one or friend had died in battle. 

We do not know who they are nor what their lives were like afterward.

As I considered the events that led up to "this place", "this place of REST" and tried to formulate a "history" of each in my own mind...a thought came to me that was so comforting, so pleasing, and so real...

GOD knows their histories...every single one of them...He even knows the full name of each unknown soldier!

He knows how they died, where they died, why they died.
He was with them the day they were born and with them the day they fell.
HE IS WITH THEM NOW.

Not a single moment in their lives was in vain or remains unknown for GOD knows all...truer still...

GOD knows EACH.

On September 17, 1862, America found herself in the midst of the bloodiest single battle in  her history:

23,000 killed, wounded, or missing.

God created every single one of those 23,000 and though we would not recognize many of their faces were they standing next to us today...HE would...for He was their Father as He is our own.

And so, as I turned to leave the cemetery and looked back over my shoulder one last time...I smiled...for there is really no such thing as "an unknown soldier", is there?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Among Us

This beautiful reflection comes from our guest author Isaac.



Among us…

I remember that day,
The day on which the man from Nazareth walked among us.
He was the son of Joseph and Mary;
A carpenter, just like His father.

Now this man walked with us.
Along the sea road He trod.
This very path He traveled.
On His quiet journey.
He taught and spoke while we listened.
We hung on every word.
His gentle words of wisdom enveloped us,
While His peacefulness settled the crowd.

Then on that day in the Holy City,
He was led through the stone streets.
Led to His death,
Oh the horrible fate.
The soldiers whipped Him.
But we knew not why.

There I was, witnessing the fate of an innocent man.
Little did I know Who He was.
But through it all He remained calm,
As serene as those days of past,
The days when He walked among us,
Christ the Savior of the World.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quick Bytes #2: 0.000000000000000001%

The average life expectancy for us humans is about 75 years, give or take.

If we are focused and obedient, we will get to spend eternity in Paradise with Jesus.

That means that our time here on earth represents < 0.000000000000000001% of our "lifetime".

I'm 99.999999999999999999% sure that will change my perspective on things.

God Bless.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Monkeys!

Someone once said that if you put enough monkeys in a room with typewriters eventually one of them will write the works of Shakespeare.

And that's what's wonderful with the Internet and blogging.

It has given us all an opportunity to bash at our keyboards and every now and then someone writes something sublime, something profound, helpful, encouraging and up-lifting for one's fellow readers.

Yes ... something truly Christ-like and Saintly is written every so often amongst all else that is bad in Blogland. And that in itself is just wonderful.

Here's something that came out of my typewriter the other day written by William Monkey Shakespeare.

To Blog or not to Blog
That is the question.
Whether it is nobler in the mind
To keep one’s thoughts to oneself
Than reveal them to all
On screens large and small.
And by doing such
Suffer the slings and arrows
Of outrageous readers
Who’d rather Block you
Than read your feeble Tweeters.
Or to bravely face your qualms
And courageously Blog on
Regardless of your audience
Be it great or be it small;
Just Blog on into eternity
And have yourself a ball.

So let's keep blogging our Christian message for everyone to read and hopefully to find Christ in what we say.

And we should also visit each others blogs, and new blogs, and encourage others to continue blogging.

I often visit Christian blogs and find in the Comments Box: "0 Comments ... 0 Comments" and I feel sorry for all those Johns the Baptist writing alone in the World Wide Wilderness with no one to even say "Thank you!"

"Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disiciples ..." Matthew 28:19.

God bless.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Way ~ The Camino de Santiago

Last night I was privileged to accept an invitation to a prescreening of a fantastic movie that will be released on Oct. 7th in the United States called The Way.  This movie was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and stars both him and his father, Martin Sheen as the lead character.

This movie is a powerful and moving story about family, friends, tragedy and hope.   It takes place along the Pyrenees Mountains that separates France from Spain.  The story focuses on the Camino de Santiago or the Way of St. James which is a very personal and spiritual journey that people of all faiths and backgrounds, from around the world, have traveled for a thousand years.  The majority go on foot while others ride bikes or go on horseback with the pace set by each individual person. The pilgrims undergo this amazing 500 mile hike that takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks or much longer depending upon the person.  Villages all along the way give shelter, beds, food and warm hospitality to all of their guests.

Pilgrims go on "The Way" for various reasons such as spiritual, penance, or adventure.  It leads to the Cathedral in Santiago where the remains of St. James is reported to be.  The Camino ends with a twelve o'clock mass at the Cathedral.  Thousands of pilgrims traverse The Way each year.

Martin Sheen plays the father, Tom who comes to France to collect the remains of his son (played by Emilio Estevez) who died early on in his pilgrimage.   Tom decides to embark on his own pilgrimage to honor his son and to wrestle with the pain and emotions of life filled with regret, disappointment and love.  Through his chance meetings of fellow trekkers, Tom learns of their personal stories of pain and heartache that we all can relate to in our modern world and he begins to heal.

Here is the trailer:





This movie is a refreshing break from the typical Hollywood movie making machine.  No worries of hearing bad language, inappropriate sexuality, or violence.  It's a wholesome story based on morals which shows all along the way absolutely stunning Catholic Cathedrals constructed centuries ago.

What made it even more exciting, was that Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez were present at this screening and answered questions following the show.  They were both charming and engaging as they discussed their Catholic faith and their movie.  Currently, they are on a bus tour to promote their movie and may be coming to your town.  Here's the link: The Way

It's a must see!  We need to get the word out that we want movies made with good standards and morals.  We want Hollywood to take notice!!  Please spread the word among your family and friends so we flock to the theaters for this wonderful movie!!

Blessings,
Noreen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Words of Wisdom from the Book of Sirach

A holy Jew who lived 200 years before Christ

Picture source

One of my favorite books of the Holy Bible is the Book of Sirach. Sirach: (The Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus), was written in Hebrew by a man named Joshua (or Jesus) and later translated into the Greek by his grandson. The book includes traditional Jewish wisdom. In reading the passages I find many ways I can correct flaws in my daily relationships with others. It is a shame that this book is not included in the Protestant bible as the Protestants consider it apocryphal or not authentic. Until recently, I was reading a passage and copying down verses that I found to be worth remembering. I share some with you now:

Be Cautious:

"Before investigating, find no fault; examine first, then criticize. Before hearing, answer not, and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech. Dispute not about what is not your concern; in the strife of the arrogant take no part..." - Sirach 11:7-9

"The day of prosperity makes one forget adversity; the day of adversity makes one forget prosperity...A moment's afflictions brings forgetfulness of past delights..." 11:25-27

Faithfulness to God:

"My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. - 2:1-18

Humility:

A stubborn man will face badly in the end...A stubborn man will be burdened with sorrow; a sinner will heap sin upon sin. For the affliction of the proud man there is no cure..." 3:17-28

Sincerity and Justice:

"Use your time well. Guard yourself from evil; and bring upon yourself no shame.." - 4:20

"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -4:28

Against Presumption:

"...of forgiveness be not over confident, adding sin upon sin. Say not: 'Great is His mercy; my many sins He will forgive..." Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day..." - 5:1-10

Sincerity in Speech:

"...be swift to hear, but slow to answer...Honor and dishonor through talking! A man's tongue can be his downfall. Be not called a detractor; use not your tongue for calumny..." - 5:11-17

"Say nothing harmful, small or great...A bad name and disgrace will you acquire; that for the evil man with double tongue!" - 6:1-4

True Friendship:

"Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him." - 6:5-17

Conduct in Public Life:

"...Do not plot to repeat a sin; not even for one will you go unpunished."

"...be not impatient in prayers, and not the giving of alms..."

"Plot no mischief against your brother, nor against your friend and companion."

"Delight not in telling lie after lie, for it never results in good..."

"Do not esteem yourself better than your fellows..."

"More and more, humble your pride..."

7:1-17

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

God’s Pizza

I rang the local supermarket manager today and I complained about a frozen pizza I’d just bought.

I really looked forwards to enjoying that pizza. I started the oven to get it to warm up to the required temperature as it said on the pizza packet; and then when this was achieved, I pulled out the pizza out of the packet. It was wrapped in that transparent cellophane stuff as usual … and that’s when I discovered that the pizza had no toppings!

Yes … the pizza had no toppings at all. No tomato sauce, no cheese, no lovely pepperoni sausage slices covered with herbs and all the other beautiful ingredients that I can clearly see in the picture on the card-board box. The pizza in my hand was completely devoid of any toppings whatsoever and bore no resemblance to the pizza depicted on the cardboard box. I was getting hotter than the oven with anger.

I told the supermarket manager that I was really upset about this. I’d come home expecting a great Italian meal, I’d set the table with my best cutlery and a good bottle of Italian wine, got the oven ready and hot … only to be disappointed with a pizza with no topping.

The manager apologized profusely on behalf of his Company and asked me to return the offending pizza to him in person and he’ll compensate me with a new pizza and a very generous voucher to be exchanged for anything from his shop.

Our telephone conversation lasted about five minutes or so, and it was only when I finished speaking to the manager and I put the phone down that I realized I was holding the pizza in my hand upside down!

How often do we complain to God when things go wrong in our lives when all along it was our doing which caused the problem in the first place?

Have you reason to complain about God’s pizza right now? Check first that you are not in the wrong and ask His forgiveness instead.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quick Byte #1: Forgiveness

There is only one condition in the entire Lord's Prayer:

"and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..."

Kinda shows you how important forgiveness is to God, huh?

God Bless you.

--------------------------------

For those of you that do not know me, I'm Michael from Reach Paradise.  I am thrilled to now be part of this wonderful group. My plan is to post very short, though provoking statements called Quick Bytes, but will go wherever the Spirit takes me....

Monday, September 12, 2011

God's Love Holds Me Up

"When I say 'My foot is slipping,'
your love, Lord, holds me up." (Psalm 94:18)
The Lord holds me up, no matter what is happening in my life. His love carries me and holds me and helps me to know I am not alone.
Sometimes I slip. Sometimes I fall. Sometimes I am afraid. But the Lord's love always holds me up.
Years ago my husband almost died from a blood clot after heart surgery. I remember waking up the morning after the crisis, lying in bed, unable to get up, paralyzed by fear and a sudden depression.
I prayed - Lord, help me up. I have to go to the hospital. I have to put on a good face for my husband and my children. Help me up, Lord. Please!
The phone rang. It could be the hospital, so I got up. It was a friend. All I could do was cry. I could not talk. I hung up and went back to bed.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again. This time it was my spiritual director.

"How are you?" he asked in that kind voice of his.
I fought back sobs. I told him about my husband. Then I told him of my sudden depression. He told me that sometimes all we have left is hope. We have to hang on to that hope, he said.
We talked for a few more minutes. He encouraged me. He cracked a joke. I laughed. When we hung up, I was smiling. My mood felt lighter.
I did not go back to bed. I went to the hospital to see my husband with a smile on my face and a song of hope in my heart.
Later it hit me. I had asked the Lord to help me up, and He did. He called my friends and they answered His call.
God's love held me up.
Praise you, Lord. Thank you for your Love and for always holding me when I slip and fall. Thank you for hope and for answered prayers. Help me to trust in your loving presence always. Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Consolation in Darkness

Suffering dogs the footsteps of every man. It leads us to ask the deep questions of life: Why was I born? What is my purpose? Can any good come out of this? Why me? Is there really a caring God or am I all alone in this? Is this all there is?

In moments of suffering we can forget about the joy in our lives, because what we feel at the moment most deeply is pain. It is during these times we are most vulnerable to seeing only the tree in front of us and failing to be aware of the great forest around us. The answer to our questions is bigger than our human imagination. It is God made man.

In the summer edition of Tower Topics, a magazine published by Conception Abbey of Conception, Missouri, Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB, writes with a backdrop of his April pilgrimage to the Holy Land:

Yet one does not have to go to the Middle East to discover that life itself is a pilgrimage for each of us: it is a journey to holy places, an opportunity to let Jesus beckon us to follow him on the path to holiness. We know that God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, making every day of life a sacred journey. But we can't predict when someone we have met might, in some quiet and unobtrusive way, open God's message of hope to us just a little more deeply. And we never know which day may be our last, when the end of our pilgrimage will have arrived and the great mystery is made clear before God.

Living life as a pilgrimage, we know that our destiny is heaven, a reality beyond this present existence. The less baggage we carry, the easier it will be for us to fix our eyes on the wonders around us in which the Creator is revealed. Possessions will mean less, people will mean more. And we know that money cannot buy happiness.

Each day is a new beginning, a moment to come before God to "sing a new song," as the Psalmist tells us. We can sing a new song of praise and thanksgiving for blessings received. We can also sing a new song of need, worry, or fear, knowing that God alone can answer them for us.

May our appreciation of life's pilgrimage lead us in paths of peace, hope, and joy, until that day when God's glory is ours forever.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When Christianity becomes a discussion.

A few friends were discussing religion and the conversation turned to whether animals go to Heaven.

Some thought this unlikely since animals have no souls; others believed they’ll meet their pets in Heaven.

This set me thinking.

Which animals in particular would go to Heaven? The good ones? Whilst the bad ones are destined for hell.

Are there bad animals? Do they think, plot and plan like humans, or are they slaves to their own instincts? Can they possibly sin?

Would all animals go to Heaven? Including the cows, pigs, sheep and chickens we kill to eat?

I would hate to come face to face with my Sunday roast admonishing me for what I have done.

What about the mosquito I killed in the garden this morning? Will it haunt me for eternity?

And all those fishes caught by Peter and the disciples when asked to cast their nets in the lake by Jesus. Will they be there too?

The point I’m trying to make here is that religion relies on Faith. When Christians engage in debate such as this not only do they risk confusing themselves, but they also risk confusing those who are new in their walk with the Lord.

I really don’t know whether my beloved Max will greet me in Heaven wagging his tail. In the meantime, I try to steer clear from such hypothetical discussions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An Old, Contemporary Prayer

O Jesus, supreme Goodness, I ask You to give me a heart so enamored of You that nothing on earth can distract it…a free heart, never seduced or enslaved, an upright heart which never goes astray. - St. Thomas Aquinas

Is it not wonderful that an 800 year old prayer is so fresh and real? The human condition never changes. We still need today what St. Thomas asked for so long ago, do we not?