Thursday, June 30, 2011

God Finds Us

"We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and of we give it time, it will make itself known to us." - Thomas Merton

We do not find God. God finds us.

The other day I was listening to another audio retreat, this one from Fr. Gillick. He talked about how we look for God and sometimes we think we find Him. But, Father said, in reality it is God who finds us. God comes to us where we are and makes His presence known to us.
As Merton said, We have what we seek. We are just not always aware of Him. We are not always giving God time to make Himself known.
I often seek God at the beach. I seek God at my church. I seek God in silence.These are places where I feel I so often connect with God. But it is really God who "finds me". It is in these "places" where I give God time. And it is these places where God often makes himself known to me.
I love this whole picture that Father Gillick paints here for us. The idea that God loves us so much, that he will chase us down, as the Hound of Heaven, that He will come to us where we are, and make His presence known to us.
We do not find God. God finds us. Because He loves us that much.

1st published on my blog 7/27/09

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Loving the Sacred Heart of Jesus

On the third Friday after Pentecost, which is July 1 this year, the Church celebrates the feast of the Sacred Heart, a devotion that was propagated in the Church from the 13th to the 16th centuries and came into full bloom in the late 17th century when St. John Eudes honored it with its own Divine Office and Mass propers and feast day. As often happens, what begins in one region, eventually, if it is worthy, spreads throughout the world to the whole Church and so we have this feast in the universal Church today.

To prepare for this feast, I wrote this post to share some new thoughts I've had about living with and loving Jesus.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance at the Crucifixion, is a symbol of His great love for us. We have this feast because devotion to the love (heart) of Jesus is a way we love Him back, heart to Heart. It reminds us that Jesus has feelings for every human being ever created without exception, and that those feelings are so strong he burns with the desire that we love Him in return. What lover does not burn with the desire to be loved by his beloved?

One of the beauties of different cultures is how language conveys meaning uniquely. In Korean, if a man is attracted to a woman and wishes to get to know her better (and vice versa), he will say he "likes" her, which means he wants to spend time with her, to interact with her, to find out if he should build a relationship with her.

If a man loves a woman (or vice versa) he says "she is in my heart." That means his feelings are so deep he carries his love with him always, is willing to make sacrifices for her or die for her if necessary because she is the most precious person to him in all the world. He seeks to please and delight her in simple ways because she is always, at some level, on his mind. This is not some infatuation, which the word "like" can account for. It is a permanent state that endures throughout the daily demands of his occupation, an attachment that never wavers, a love that places the loved one at greater value than self. It is both romantic and real. Our western use of "love" is overused and misapplied to such an extent it seems a lame expression for something so profound as "in my heart."

Jesus has us in His heart all day every day. He died for us. We are each of us most precious to Him. Our human hearts can't begin to fathom the love He gives to us because we can't imagine what infinite love is. Yet Jesus understands our creaturely limitations and desires that we "hold Him in our hearts", thinking of Him each day and loving Him in all we do. He may ask us to give our lives for His sake as He did for us and if we truly have Him in our hearts, we will do it with generosity and joy, no matter how horrifying the circumstances.

Grace allows us to grow in love of the Sacred Heart, to carry Him in our hearts. If we make a habit of saying this little prayer often during the day we will begin to return love for Love: "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I implore that I may love Thee more and more." He will do the rest with the delight of the Beloved.

The Beauty of Prayer

The power of prayer is unimaginable. Because we don't always see its immediate effects, many people, especially those who have just begun praying, don't understand the immensity of this gift from the Lord. The Lord hears every prayer, even the merest whisper of prayer - vocal prayer, wordless prayer, contemplative prayer, community prayer and the silent prayers of the heart that we are not even aware of - even the Holy Spirit within us prays. Prayer pierces heaven and we should have complete confidence that our prayers are heard and answered....every single one. I like to imagine prayer as beams of light which pierce the clouds of darkness around us. I came across this quote that really made me think of the power of prayer:

   "Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good. Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, bring travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, over-rules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.
  All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee...The birds rise and lift themselves up to heaven...
   What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To Him be honor and power for ever and ever. Amen."
                                        From the Treatise On Prayer by Tertullian (d. 259)

Yes, Tertullian, I think you've covered this nicely.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Real Presence

Today you have a hard time finding Jesus. But if you can find that lit lamp in the church, then you know where the Lord is. That light indicates that in that tabernacle is the Love of All Love-Infinite Love. You can’t love unless you get close to love. You can’t have a fire unless you get close to a fire. You can’t be warm unless you’re near the heat. We have to know that we are loved by a God who is real and present.

~ Mother Angelica

How many times have you drawn near to walk with me my Lord

And I have not recognized you;

How many times have I been slow of heart, debating your truth,

Looking for an easier path to follow?

But you O Lord are always faithful,

And in your great mercy you have never abandoned me;

Your presence is always before me, comforting, consoling and nourishing me.

Like Peter and John, you call me to your table

And in the breaking of the bread,

I am with you and You are with me.

Strengthen me in faith O Lord,

That I may bring that faith to others.

In Your Name I Pray

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hope Echoes...

Hi! I am Mary from Hope Echoes checking in on the Community of Catholic Bloggers.  I feel like the light weight on the "team."  The Lord and I have many laughs together and I share some of those and other thoughts on my blog.  I am both honored and humbled to be included in this group. I will add what I can and hope that they don't ask me to leave the room, so to speak.

I have found that one of the guiding scriptures in my life is from Romans 5:5.  "...And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."  For me, the gift of the Holy Spirit has enlivened my life, has energized my faith, has brought me to where I am today and takes me on this journey of life to meet Our Lord and dance with Him for eternity in Heaven.  I have hope in the resurrection and love in my heart that is filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit.  The really great thing is, it isn't just me, all of we Baptised have receive a full measure of the Holy Spirit.

I journey each day using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to grow closer to God and to bring the message of Christ to the world because of my Baptism. My Baptism was where it all began even though I was too young to know fully the gift.  I am known for scheduling my posts ahead, and although I wrote this last Thursday, today, when this appears I will be on a sentimental journey taking my 90 year old mother up to a family reunion and then on to the little town where I was born and to see the church where I was Baptised. I haven't been at that church since I was 4 years old, over 50 years ago.  What a tremendous gift I received there at that church--Salvation, the Holy Spirit, the light not to dwell in darkness.  That day, in that church I received hope that does not disappoint because the love of God was poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit.....

Come, Holy Spirit, enter our hearts and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

Welcome to the Community of Catholic Bloggers. Our site is meant to encourage the love of God and strengthen those who are seeking Him to follow in His ways.

RAnn at This That and the Other Thing hosts a weekly meme called "Sunday Snippets" where Catholic bloggers gather to read others' posts for the week.

The Community of Catholic Bloggers has interesting and varied posts every week because we have quite a few writers, all with different voices. I'm linking from Sunday Snippets to here to invite the Snippet crowd to pause and see our posts for this week.

God bless all our readers and contributors.

Christ's Unfathomable Love

I wrote this post last year for the feast of Corpus Christi and thought I would share it here this year. Christ gives us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. This is a love our human minds can not fathom, but our hearts of faith can.

The Feast of Christ's Unfathomable Love
This feast which celebrates the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord present in the Eucharist is one that allows us to reflect on that holy and divine Presence within each of us. The late pastor of my parish would often say, "This side of heaven, Jesus doesn't get any closer than this."
As baptized Christians, Jesus lives within each of us, but that life needs to be nourished. Personally I have found no better way than through receiving Christ in Holy Communion and in spending time before Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus loves us so much that He wished to remain with us even after His Ascension. I am sure He could have chosen any number of ways, but He chose the Eucharist in which to feed us with His own Body and Blood.
The history of the feast of Corpus Christi goes back to the year 1264 when Pope Urban IV instituted it for the entire Church. The Pope wanted the feast to be joy-filled with hymns and procession. Pope Urban asked Thomas Aquinas to write two Offices of prayer; Aquinas did this as well as write five hymns, many of which are used during Benediction to this day.
St Thomas noted that: "Material food first of all turns itself into the person who eats it, and as a consequence, restores his losses and increases his vital energies. Spiritual food, on the other hand, turns the person who eats it into Itself, and thus the proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, so that he may no longer live for himself, but that Christ may live in Him. And as a consequence it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual losses caused by sins and defects and of increasing the power of the virtues". 
In other words, may we become what we consume.
Much of the world celebrated this feast on the traditional Thursday (June 23). In the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday. 
My own parish had stopped the Eucharistic Procession for some reason about two years ago, but is resuming this beautiful ancient custom this Sunday. I am looking forward to participating and bringing Christ to the streets, not only in this procession, but also in the way He lives in me.
As Deacon Keith Fournier wrote in his reflection for this feast,  "On this Feast of Corpus Christi, as we march through the Streets of the world lifting Jesus Christ enthroned, let us say"Yes" to the invitation to become "living monstrances". Let the consuming fire of God's love purify us so that we can now be used to reveal His presence to a world waiting to be born anew."
God the Father loved us so much that He gave us His Son, the Son loves us so much He wants to remain with us and make us more like Him, the fire of the Holy Spirit is the expression of that love between the Father and the Son and it is enkindled in each of us if we let it.
May we continue to nourish Christ's life within ourselves and return the love He has shown us by receiving Him and visiting Him often.

*Note: Deacon Keith Fournier's reflection is titled: Corpus Christi: Body and Blood of Christ. We Are Living Monstrances.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Are you following?

Are you following me?

The beauty of the English language is that you can get different meanings from the same words.

The phrase above can quite literally mean: Are you walking a few steps behind me everywhere I go?

Or it could mean: Do you understand what I am saying? Are you following the meaning of my discussion?

Or in Blog terms it could mean: Do you follow a Blog? Are you pinged every time there’s a new post?

Hey – I’ve just learnt something new.

Apparently “pinging” is when the computer tells a reader that someone has added a new post to their Blog.

So the followers you can see on the right of this Blog get pinged every time someone writes here. (Sounds painful). So thanks to all of you for undergoing such pain every time we write!

Thanks also to other readers whether you visit once or regularly.

Back to the essence of today’s Blog.

What would it mean to you if I changed the opening sentence to: Are you following Jesus?

Are you (and I) physically daily in our lives following Jesus in everything that He said and has asked of us?

Do we follow Jesus in that we understand who He is, what He said, and what He came on earth to do?

Two thousand years after He walked this earth there is still confusion and controversy about Jesus. Who He is, and what He meant when He said what He said, and did what He did.

Do we really follow His meaning? Do we understand Him? Do we get pinged every time He speaks now, today, in this very day and age? For, make no mistakes about it, He does speak to us today – but perhaps not many are listening.

So there you have it: What does “Are you following Jesus?” really mean to you (and me)?

Now there’s a thought!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cherishing the Faith Until the End

When we realize that someone who is dear to us is nearing the end of their time on earth, every moment we spend with them becomes all the more special.

My own dear father has been suffering with grave illness for the past five or so years.

Many the time, we have thought him to be in his last hours and have headed to his bedside, only to watch the grace of God spare him and lift him to his feet once more.

Such was the situation this past week. And, after his return from the hospital, I was treated to a wonderful visit with him and my husband stayed home with the children and I was able to go with my brother and his wife and enjoy two days with my parents; talking, discussing, praying, reminiscing.

As we were sitting quietly in the living room at the end of the first day, my Dad began to talk about the Latin Mass and how he misses it so.

My dad is 83 years old, and as I've said, has had severe health issues. Sometimes, his speech becomes slurred and one can barely understand what he is saying.

And yet...

And yet...the beautiful Catholic Mass and Faith which he holds so dear to his heart remains with him.

We listened, as this beautiful man, in his humble way, began to recite the Mass, from memory, IN LATIN!

He went on to pray the Our Father in Latin.

Then, in English, the Hail Holy Queen.

This man, who was, only days ago in an MRI, looking for signs of a stroke, could somehow still remember the words to these beautiful devotions and prayers and was lifting up his tired, old voice to heaven; thanking God, for the beauty of  his Catholic Faith.

I thought of my own children. I knew what a cherished memory I was being given in these I will never forget and one I will think of, often, when the time comes to say goodbye to my beloved Dad.
I asked God then, to inspire my children with the same love of the Faith that my father has carried on to his golden years from his childhood.

I hope that they too, will continue to recall the devotions and prayers and traditions that my husband and I share with them now, as they are growing in their Faith.

I hope that they will embrace and live it when they are on their own; sharing it with others; perhaps their own children some day.

Ours is a beautiful Faith...The Catholic Faith.

And listening to my father pray in Latin was as good as hearing a symphony of Mozart.

It was music to my ears. And, I'm sure, it was music that went straight to HEAVEN.

I am happy to be a part of this new blogging community! I look froward to sharing and learning and growing closer to Christ in the beautiful Catholic Faith with all who write here and visit here! God bless each and all of you this day!

Knowing Me Knowing You.

There are moments in life when some of us get to “meet” God. We have a revelation within our very soul that God really exists.

For some, this happens in moments of great natural experiences. For example, they could be on a mountain somewhere surveying everything around them for miles and miles, or they could be beside a lake, or out at sea … and they suddenly “see” for the first time God in all His creative power and majesty. They come to realise in this situation of great beauty and immense vastness and peace that God did in fact create it all.

Others meet God through the Scriptures. They read the Bible and other Christian books and suddenly, or perhaps gradually, their eyes are opened and they “see” God for the first time. Somehow, the words which they are reading begin to have real meaning to them and they realize the true existence of their God and Master.

Some people meet God through sudden traumatic events in their lives. The “Road to Damascus” syndrome. One day they are happily (or so they think) leading their ordinary lives and then totally out of the blue something happens to change their perspective and view of life. An “AHA moment”, you might call it. They suddenly come to realise that God truly exists and they’d defend their belief and proclaim it for all to hear.

Certain individuals on the other hand are born “believers” – if there is such a thing. They are raised in a family where their parents believed and set a Christian example, as best they could. They sent their children to Church on Sunday, sent them to Religion classes and so on and, in time, these individuals in turn grew up as “believers” – just like their parents; as best they could. They may or may not have total conviction in their beliefs, but they do believe. Better than nothing, some would say!

Yes … there are certainly many ways how people get to “see” and “meet” God for the first time. And their first experience moulds and fashions their relationship with God.

As for me … I suppose I saw God through logic.

I recall at a very early age I came to realise that God does really exist. I reasoned that Someone, somewhere must have created all that is around us. It didn’t just happen.

As I grew older I also realised that it was not my logic which made me “see” Him, but it was God Himself who made me see what there was to see!

And this is what this Blog is all about I suppose.

A collection of people, calling themselves a Community, who, over a period of time they all came to “see” God in their own individual way. They all have a story to tell, no doubt. They all have one wish in their hearts. That whatever is written on these pages may one day, perhaps, God willing, lead someone somewhere to “see” God for the first time.

Please pray for all contributors and guest writers on this Blog.

Please spend time visiting us every now and then, and leave a comment, a word of encouragement perhaps, or share your experience.

And please tell others about us. By word of mouth, through your own Blogs or websites, or whatever other means. Because through you, we will all work together to spread His Word as He has commanded us to do.

God bless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some White Collar Jobs Are More Challenging Than Others

One of my Twitter followers is a convert from the Baptist faith. Yesterday he tweeted that he thought Catholics spent alot more time 'whining' than protestants. That thought struck me because I was thinking that today is the day to start a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the intentions of World Priest Day on July 1. Because Easter was late this year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart is late and coincides with the Feast of the Precious Blood which is always on July 1.
I doubt that anyone would argue with the statement that the Catholic priesthood is increasingly under attack. As anyone who simply believes what the Catechism teaches, follows the Holy Father and lives out their faith knows, in 2011 that simple belief and practice raises the ire of many many people. More so for Catholic priests because, if they're living their priesthood, they are a "sign of contradicition", like Simeon called Jesus, whose very presence often convicts others of sin. As such, Catholic priests, in a sense, walk around with a target on their backs for the world, the flesh and the devil.
So, in considering beginning a novena today for our priests, bishops and Holy Father, I thought about all the Catholics who say, "Oh, I can't do novens, I always forget." or "I can't fast, it gives me a headache." or "The bishops are all corrupt, why should fast for them?" etc. I've heard all of these statements more than once and it reminds of my Twitter-friend's statement regarding Whiny Catholics. We don't have to be too prophetic to be able to state categorically that, as the 21st Century advances, orthodox Catholics need to step up to the plate, stop whining and start helping our parishes, our priests, our bishops and our Holy Father. One way to do that is to actively participate in any way we can--through rosaries, novenas, fasting etc--in order to help construct what charismatics call a "prayer cover" for those whom God has called to lead the Church during this tumultuous time.
Here is an excerpt and the website for World Priest Day with a lot of information. Please consider participating!

Annual Day of Prayer for Priests

Blessed John Paul II has established that on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart the Church will observe the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

In 2002, the Catholic Church announced a special annual world priest day, a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests to be held on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The 2009 to 2010 ‘’Year of The Priests’’ was a tremendous success worldwide. We are most grateful to all who participated in making this year of prayer such a special gift to all priests.

We are now especially interested in receiving messages from lay people young and old alike, to be viewed on line. We also ask priests to share their stories of ministry with their brother priests and the lay people of the world on line.

We strongly encourage each and every one of the faithful to begin if not already doing so to pray for our priests, today, this day this very moment, in preparation through prayer, celebration of the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, so that the 1st July 2011 will be an even greater celebration of the priesthood of Jesus Christ worldwide along with the new Annual Rosary Relay.

Saintly Quotes - Preparation for Death

The Death of Saint Joseph

Picture source

First of all, it is a pleasure and an honor to be asked to contribute to this new blog. Thank you very much Mary for inviting me. I have been reading the past posts and each time I leave with a peaceful feeling in my soul.

My mom has a collection of old paperback books written by St. Alphonsus di Liguori and reprinted by a priest who wanted everyone to be able to read them. You may be familiar with them: The Glories of Mary, The Victories of the Martyrs, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, The Holy Eucharist and Preparation for Death. I am currently reading the latter.

This particular book is full of quotes by saints and holy people and put together beautifully by St. Alphonsus di Liguori. The following are some of the quotes I thought were worth sharing:

"Go to the grave, contemplate dust, ashes, worms and sigh..." - St. John Chrysostom

"The true love for the body consists in treating it here with rigor and contempt, that it may be happy for eternity; and in refusing it all pleasures which might make it miserable forever..." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"My Jesus, no more sins! no more sins!" - St. Catherine of Genoa

"My soul has been given so many years in the world, and has not loved Thee. Give me light and strength to love Thee during the remainder of my life..." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"Consider yourself already dead, since you know that you must necessarily die." - St. Laurence Justinian

" lead a good life a man should always imagine himself at the hour of death..." - St. Bonaventure

"Look to the sins of your youth and be covered with shame. Remember the sins of manhood and weep. Look to the present disorders of your life: tremble, and hasten to apply a remedy." - St. Bernard

"...Remember that the Lord seeks not only flowers, but fruits; that is not only good desires and resolutions, but also holy works..." - St. Bernard

"Let us consider that Jesus Christ submitted to a cruel and ignominious death in order to obtain for us the grace of a good death." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"...And what will a Christian say, who knows by faith that at the moment of death eternity begins, and that moment he lays hold of two wheels, which draws with it either eternal joy or everlasting torments?" - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"...if you believe that you must die, that there is an eternity, that you can die only once, and that if you then err your error will be forever, irreparable, why do you not resolve to begin at this moment, to do all in your power to secure a good death?..." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"...Oh! hasten to apply a remedy in time, resolve to give yourself sincerely to God, and begin from this moment a life which, at the hour of death, will be to you a source, not of affliction, but of consolation. Give yourself up to prayer, frequent the sacraments, avoid all dangerous occasions, and, if necessary, leave the world, secure yourself eternal salvation, and be persuaded that to secure eternal life no precaution can be too great." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"Since our souls will be eternal, we ought to procure not a fortune which soon ends, but one that will be everlasting." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"...if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"Consider the end of life and you will love nothing in this world." - St. Laurence Justinian

"All that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, of the eyes and the pride of life." - St. Laurence Justinian

"Memento Mori" - Remember Death

"I have always kept death before my eyes and therefore, now that it has arrived, I see nothing new in it." - Holy Hermit

" not he a fool who seeks after happiness in this world, where he will remain only a few days and exposes himself to the risk of being unhappy in the next, where we must live fore eternity? We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All the goods of this earth are lent to us..." - St. Alphonsus di Liguori

"The Lord waitheth patiently for your sake, not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should return to penance." - St. Peter

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father Francis Maple

Every now and then we like to invite guest contributors to this Community of Catholic Bloggers website. Today, we are very pleased to welcome Father Francis Maple.

Father Francis is a Capuchin Friar based in England. He is also known as the "Singing Monk" or the "Singing Friar" and has raised a lot of money for charity over the years with his singing, often in shopping centres and in malls. He has released many records (mostly vinyls) and some CDs and has written several books - sermons, cookery books, jokes etc ... He also contributes weekly articles to a local newspaper and now writes for a Catholic Magazine in the UK.
Father Francis spends a lot of his time travelling the country on Missions in various Parishes in the UK. He is on a Mission right now, and has kindly written to me with a couple of items to include on this Blog.

This is what he says:

Yesterday morning we had 42 at the Mission and 43 in the evening.  It was rainy and cold and I am sure it put some of the elderly from coming.  I spent the afternoon (nearly 2 hours) with a man who was suffering from depression.  He really enjoyed my company.  From the first moment he saw me we got on like a house on fire.  He had been away from the church for over a year.  We had a great time talking about many topics.  I even gave him a lesson in Latin which he enjoyed!  When I get back to Chester I shall send him my elementary Latin book.  I know he will enjoy studying it.  I would have loved to have had it with me and go through it with him.  I heard his confession and he assures me he will be at the Mission every evening.  So that was a success and I put it all down to prayer.  The priest didn’t think I would get much response.  I prayed before going that he would come back to the Lord.  We will share emails and I shall keep any eye on him this way.

Today is the longest day in the year.  I remember this year in 1956, I was 18, having to take a medical for the army.  I was a Capuchin novice at the time.  I was exempt from the national service but my exemption papers had come through under the name Mr. Marcel (my Christian name) and not my surname Maple.  This was discovered after my medical.  The recruiting sergeant must have taken a liking to me and kept telling the other young men, “This is the kind of man the army wants.”  I was telling him I could not become a soldier because I was going to be a priest.  However, I was pleased to have gone through the experience of a force’s medical.

God bless,

Fr. Francis

This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it, just don't stay angry. 
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Modern Day Miracle of the Eucharist

This week Catholics celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. Except for the United States, which has transferred the feast to this coming Sunday, the Pope, those who follow the 1962 liturgical calendar, and the rest of the world will celebrate it on Thursday, the day associated with the Last Supper. Except in the United States, according to my pastor, this feast is a holy day of obligation.

We know that Jesus is the Word of God and we listen to His word in the Bible. He also promised us in Matt. 18:20, "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." But we experience Jesus most personally and intimately when we receive Him- body, blood, soul, and divinity - in the Holy Eucharist. What more perfect way to honor this great gift and praise Christ in a most special way than through the feast set aside specifically for this purpose?

I wrote some history about the Feast of Corpus Christi and why we believe from the Bible in the Real Presence of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine at my other blog for those who are interested. Here I want to offer something to those who doubt or just don't believe.

Studies in recent years have shown that 2/3 of Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence, that they believe they only receive bread and wine at Holy Communion, a distressing indicator of the catechetical problems in the Church. God loves us so much, though, that throughout the centuries He has provided miracles to show us that Jesus is personally there, and prompt us to deeper faith. Today is no different. Our heavenly Father wants us to love His Son as He does, and believe in all He revealed while on earth, so He is willing to startle us with what seems impossible.

One of the most remarkable miracles of the Holy Eucharist in recent years occurred in Argentina. May all who see this video find peace and encouragement to adore Jesus more and receive Him more reverently and may all celebrate the coming feast of Corpus Christi with special joy.

"O death! Where is Your Sting?"

This past Friday, as I sat in church listening to St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, these words hit me like a sledgehammer:

"Five times at the hands of the Jews I received 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, danger from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through sleepless nights, through hunger and thirsts, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches."

After a reading like this one can't help but reflect on St. Paul's great courage and his zeal for spreading the Gospel. But do you know what really struck me the most outside of the hardships that St. Paul underwent?
It was the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing can destroy us nor take our life without the express permission of God. St. Paul lived through each and every one of these horrors because God allowed it to be so. Only He has the ultimate power over life and death. Death cannot claim someone before their time. Some may ask:

Well, what about those who never make it out of the wombs of their mothers? Or children who die young? How about those whose lives are taken by another? Those killed by drunk drivers?

Here we get into the area of God's permitting will which differs from his perfect will. This "permitting will" entered after the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. This may be an area that is very difficult for us to understand but God does not ask us to understand....He asks us to trust. To trust that good will be brought out of even the greatest evil.

I have a very good friend who lost her teenage son at the hands of a drunk driver. One day, a few years after this tragic lost, she said to me, "Mary, I have to tell you, had my son not died when he did, I have reason to believe that his soul may have been lost had he stayed on earth." This woman had a beautiful mystical experience regarding the salvation of her son's soul and, what she had previously thought to be "the unkindness of Our Lord",  changed instantly after a small  glimpse of a mercy so great and a God so good that He allowed this young man to die early in order to save his soul. She still grieved but she no longer questioned.

St. Paul's love for the Lord was so great that he understood that death would come when it was time to go, no sooner no later. All the apostles understood this, also. Though most of their deaths came in the form of martyrdom, God brought such immense good out of each of their lives and deaths that we are still reaping its benefits thousands of years later.

Every single person on this earth has a mission and I, for one, believe that even those "little ones" who never got the chance to take a breath here on earth fulfilled the mission they were sent for. God thinks in terms of quality not quantity - the souls of these "little ones" may have been so beautiful already that stepping foot on this earth may have not even been necessary.

Many years ago, I remember, after suffering from years of infertility, finally seeing that beautiful plus sign on a home pregnancy test. I joyously made an appointment with my doctor....only to find out after further testing that it was an ectopic pregnancy. I remember crying and crying for days on end, no one could console me.  I realized that, though this baby was in the wrong place, a baby it was, soul and all, and though he or she wouldn't live that this child had a purpose, nonetheless. Oddly enough, this ectopic pregnancy paved the way for my daughter to be born. Somehow, after years of doctors not being able to get dye through my tubes, something happened. Not only did God prevent my tube from bursting, after the HCG numbers bottomed out signifying the baby's death, somehow the doctor was suddenly able to get the dye through the very tube that had previously contained the ectopic pregnancy while the other tube remained completely blocked as usual. My belief is that this pregnancy stretched the tube in the area where it was blocked and when the dye was pushed through, this area was "unblocked" and enabled me to conceive my daughter, Michaela.

I cannot prove this of course, but I believe it anyway. What else could explain it? God can bring great good, even out of circumstances which we cannot understand with our limited perspective here on earth.

"I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be hindered."   Job 42:2

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Trinity's Response To Our Love

This is a reprint of a post a I did on my own blog last year for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. I thought I would share it here this year.

The Holy Trinity's Response to Our Love
"Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him."
~John 14:23

This verse always reminds me of the Trinity's desire to dwell within each of us. It is not taken from any of today's Mass readings, but as I was pondering this great mystery of our faith, it is the one that seemed to come to me. How truly awesome and at the same time humbling is God's response to the little bit of love I can give to Him.
"The complete Trinity dwells in us," (R.P. Philippon)

Prayer To The Holy Trinity
Glory be to the Father,
Who by His almighty power and love created me,
making me in the image and likeness of God.

Glory be to the Son,
Who by His 
Precious Blood delivered me from hell,
and opened for me the gates of heaven.

Glory be to the Holy Spirit,
Who has sanctified me in the sacrament of Baptism,
and continues to sanctify me
by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.

Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity,
now and forever.


(Prayer from Catholic Online)

Friday, June 17, 2011

To My Dominican God-daughter: Way to Glow

The saints and mystics had a name
For that deep inwardness of flame,
The height or depth or ground or goal
Which is God's dwelling in the soul.

All day and when you wake at night,
Think of that place of living light,
Yours and within you and aglow
Where only God and you can go.

None can assail you in that place
Save your own evil, routing grace.
Not even angels see or hear,
Nor the dark spirits, prowling near.

But there are days when watching eyes
Could guess that you hold Paradise.
Sometimes the shining overflows
And everyone around you knows.

by Jessica Powers (1953)


The preacher was telling the congregation about the evils of drink. “To drink is to follow satan. Drink is bad for you. It will lead you to damnation”.

To demonstrate his point he put two glasses on the pulpit. One contained water and one contained whisky. He then produced a small box containing two worms which he had dug from the garden before the service began.

He placed a worm in the glass of water and it floated about merrily. He then put the second worm in the glass of whisky and after wriggling for a few seconds it died.

“What does this tell you?” he asked.

A member of the congregation replied, “If you have worms drink whisky”.

There’s a message in this joke for us Christians. How often, whilst well-meaning, we try to tell others about our beliefs and end up confusing them and perhaps, un-wittingly, driving them away from God rather than towards Him.

It is worth remembering that not everyone is at the same stage of knowing God as perhaps we are.

You wouldn’t feed a new-born baby pizza or French fries; would you? So let’s go easy with new Christians or people who have yet to know the Lord as we do.

The best way to teach Christianity is by living it as Jesus would want us to.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” St Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easier With Jesus And Each Other

The title of this blog begins with community. It has been said that we were created to live in relationship. I went back in the archives of my own blog to see if I had written anything on community. I haven't thus far, but I did come across a post that spoke about everything being easier with Jesus.
For much of my life I felt that I had to do everything on my own; I didn't need God or anyone else. It was only in my return to my faith that I saw how wrong this mindset was. As I grew and continue to grow in my faith, I see more and more that I am completely dependent on God. Not only do I need Him, but I need others at times as well.
Everything is easier with Jesus. Putting my faith and trust in Him for everything brings great freedom. Sometimes though, He sends us certain people who we can trust. We need to go to those trusted friends or family when we need help. Asking for help is not something I have been very good at. I have gotten better since by return to God, but I still fight the temptation to try and go it alone. That's false humility and it doesn't please God.
Through prayer and discernment we can better see those times when we need to do something on our own, and those times when we need to ask for help. But even in those things we may need to do ourselves, we are not alone; God is there to guide.
We are made for relationship, for community~ here on this earth, but it extends past earth heavenward. We have our spiritual friends in the Communion of Saints to pray for us and with us.
God knows what and who we need in order to live the abundant life He came to bring each of us; we just need to ask His help.
The original post that spurred this one is titled Everything Is Easier With Jesus.

Community , A Common Union

To live a Christ centered life is to live in communion with Him. Communion, to share in common, to offer Him all, to feel Him within.....

I am up a little earlier than usual this morning. Sitting on the front porch with rosary beads in hand I can hear the birds speak to one another, softly at first, but their cheerful melody increases as their small community begins to grow a little larger.

Community…My small neighborhood community is starting to stir. Lights are coming on, garage doors are opening and engines are warming up. Their day is beginning too, though their melody is not nearly as sweet as the birds.

I start to say my rosary, as I do every morning and the Lord whispers softly in my ear, “Pray for your community today, for those that live nearby and for others that make up your community”

It is now the second joyful mystery, “The Visitation”. The charity and love of Mary prompts her to visit her cousin Elizabeth who lives about five days away. Though it is a laborious journey, Mary is joyful for she bears with her the Incarnate Word. The whisper of the Lord takes on another meaning now; I begin to understand what He is telling me.

Community… I need to start reaching out to my neighbor as Mary did, through prayer and deeds. The busier my life gets (or should I say, the busier I let my life get) the less I notice my neighbor. Forgive me O Lord , I acknowledge my selfishness and want no further part of it. Please take it from me.

I remember what I have read earlier this morning ; it is God’s will that we bring Jesus into the life of other people once He has entered into our life, to bring him into other people’s joys and sorrows, into other people’s darknesses and bitterness 1

Community…Give me such love for you, O Lord, and for all men, as will blot out all hatred and bitterness.” 2 Help me strengthen my communtiy by sharing your love and by noticing the needs of my neighbor.

1 Pray with the Heart, Medugorje Manual of Prayer, Fr. Slavko Barbaric, O.F.M.

2 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote these words while in a Nazi concentration camp.