Monday, January 28, 2013

March For Life 2013

I was unable to attend this year's march in person but was with them in spirit through prayer.  I found these wonderful pictures from St. Blogustine and Jill Stanek's Blog and wanted to share them.  
A picture speaks a thousand words.

Good question.  Why is that?

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion” – Mother Teresa

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!


Monday, January 21, 2013

The Universal Prayer

Lord, I believe in you:  increase my faith.
I trust in you:  strengthen my trust.
I love you:  let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins:  deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
and call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,
correct me with your justice,
comfort me with your mercy,
protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts:  to be fixed on you;
my words:  to have you for their theme;
my actions:  to reflect my love for you;
my sufferings:  to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:
in the way you ask,
for as long as you ask,
because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
strengthen my will,
purify my heart,
and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins
and to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
and to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
and see myself as I really am:
a pilgrim in this world,
a Christian called to respect and love
all whose lives I touch,
those in authority over me
or those under my authority,
my friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
greed by generosity,
apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
and reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
temperate in food and drink,
diligent in my work,
firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
my conduct without fault,
my speech blameless,
my life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
keep your law,
and come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
that my true future is the happiness of heaven,
that life on earth is short,
and the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death
with a proper fear of judgment,
but a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
to the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(The Universal Prayer is attributed to Pope Clement XI.  I heard this prayer recited by a priest after Communion in a mass during the summer of the year following my graduation from college.  My now husband and I went up to the priest afterward to ask the name of the prayer, and the priest generously gave us the prayer card he read from.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quick Bytes #46: Overheard

Overheard at a church function ...

"Isn't it ironic that Jesus spent all His time blessing children and teaching adults, and yet we do the exact opposite?"

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Finger of God

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts become troubled or afraid." John 14:27

I've been meditating on this verse from John for many years now. When God first drew me back to himself I used to beg and plead for his peace daily. God would give it to me but I would lose it again easily as the cares and anxieties of the world set back in.

The Lord's peace... oh, how I craved this. The finger of God upon my heart always.

This is the precious gift I've longed for my entire life...this peace that surpasses all understanding. I reached for it but it kept slipping through my fingers. I could not grasp it, I leaked grace like a broken vessel. Because I was (and am) a broken vessel.

I didn't know that God especially treasures broken things. That He tossed aside his crown and came down to earth to save what was broken.

I didn't understand that He gave his peace to broken men.

 God wants us to have peace during our earthly journey. When Jesus gave his peace to his disciples they were far from perfect so this peace isn't dependent on your "idea of perfection". No, this peace flows from the understanding that God loves us dearly. It's a gift to his beloved sons and daughters. He treasures each and every one of us and knows who we are and who He created us to be. In order to trust in God's picture of us, we first need to throw out all the false pictures that others have painted for us over the years. And the ones we have painted for ourselves.

Toss them out like the garbage they are.

But what if we think that others just may be correct in the way they see us?

They can't be correct because they can only see a tiny piece of who you are.  Without seeing and knowing the deepest part of you they cannot have this kind of understanding of who you are.

You are not who others think you are, no one knows you but God. We become layered with other people's misconceptions of us until we cannot even see ourselves anymore. They form clouds over our hearts blocking out the full light of God's love.

Ask the Lord to reveal your true self. It may be gradual (or not), but God will show you that only His perception of you is the true one. And you are His child. Counterattack your unloving thoughts about yourself with the knowledge that He loves you. He loves you with an infinite love. Believe in this. It is total truth. Let Him love you; you were created to live in this love. This love is the firm foundation of your entire existence. Let your life flow outward from this base of love and things will run much more smoothly. We place in our path so many obstacles to receiving the clear light of the Holy Spirit and this need not be so.

Remember to treat yourself with the same mercy that God treats you with. God is incredibly merciful to us and so, we too, must treat his creation lovingly...which includes ourselves.

May the finger of God be upon you always.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quick Bytes #45: Analogy

Imagine arriving at the Sacrament of Reconciliation just in time to see Jesus walk into the confessional.

After getting over the initial shock, you would probably assume He was going in to forgive your priest.

But imagine that instead, you watched as your Savior walked out of the confessional, and into a pew to start praying His Penance.

Imagine our perfect Lord going through Confession just like we would.  It wouldn't make any sense, right?  He who is sinless doesn't need to be forgiven!

I imagine that is how John the Baptist felt when Jesus asked to be Baptized.  It probably made no sense to him because Jesus was already pure.

But sense or not, Christ still felt it was important to set an example for us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Nobody, no Catholic, active in their parish, involved in ministry, an example for others, or maybe just nobody, wants to admit, until it is too late and the divorce papers are about to be signed, that their marriage is in trouble.  Troubled marriage speaks of personal failure, of not taking advantage of the graces of the sacrament, of sin, or vice, or moral lapse.  Admitting to a troubled marriage is shameful.

I personally think it is fantastic that their are wonderful marriages of best friends who always work things out and would find it incomprehensible that anyone would not have a marriage just like theirs. There are many other married couples who have their ups and downs, but manage to make things right most of the time.  But, disagree with me if you will, we live in a disposable society and marriage is one of the most disposable of all throw away relationships.  If there is trouble in a marriage--one partner spends too much, drinks too much, has a sexual problem, is unfaithful, is mean, is verbally abusive, has issues from childhood, and on and on, the best first advice that anyone will give you is--get out!  Don't put up with that! It is even implied or stated directly that something must be wrong with you if you stay in such a relationship.

But, then, as a Catholic, there is the divorce/annulment problem which at the very least is expensive, and at the worst is the prospect of becoming a wounded person, unable to fully participate in the life of the Church. So, for a Catholic in a troubled marriage, there are no easy solutions.  There is marriage counseling, but finding a trustworthy counselor isn't easy, in my experience. And it is expensive and time consuming.

Many Catholic couples through the years have toughed it out in difficult situations.  The release through death of one of the partners is the final solution to some of those marriages, sadly. The particulars of my own situation aren't all that relevant, except to say that I was in one of those difficult marriages.  There were some tough problems, but anyone looking at my marriage from the outside would judge it wonderful.  Anyone who knew my husband and I in the Church or out would say that we were upright, moral, and loving people.  And we were.

But, underneath it all, although we didn't fight much, and we didn't treat each other badly for the most part and we were good people, our marriage was miserable.  We were in a stage called misery and we had been there for most of our married life. Our strongest shared value, in my judgement, is that neither of us ever wanted to be divorced.

In the midst of a disagreement that got heated one day last fall one of us threw down the gauntlet--either marriage counseling, or Retrouvaille or else we are through with this marriage.  The other partner jumped on the Retrouvaille.  We had heard of it, like Marriage Encounter, without the encounter part or the lovey dovey stuff.  It was help for troubled marriages.

The task seemed insurmountable, fix problems that had been a lifetime in the making. At Retrouvaille, the couple attends a retreat for a weekend at a hotel. We learned a lot on the weekend. We learned more on the follow up sessions that went every other week for what seemed like forever. I learned who my spouse was and I listened to him and he did the same for me. That sounds really simplistic and glosses over the very big problems that we faced.  But, that was what Retrouvaille did for us at first, helped us to focus on the ways we loved each other, were gifts to each other, rather than focusing on the problems and areas of disagreement. For us, a key was looking at the differences in our growing up families and how that colored our expectations and reactions to each other. Retrouvaille offers exercises in listening, and in problem solving and in conflict management, but not the disageements are not the first thing to focus on.

It hasn't been easy.  It took a lot of tears and hard work and it will never be over, we will practice the things, the techniques, that Retrouvaille taught us for the rest of our married lives, if we want to get out of and stay out of misery.  We will probably stay involved with our local Retrouvaille community and we will become the married couple that the rest of the world saw us to be.  God willing, and He is.

If you recognize this troubled marriage because you are in it or know someone who is, recommend Retrouvaille.  It is easy to find on the world wide web.  Most marriages are fixable. Dispite all the many troubles that life can present.  Try!

(And I have been very reluctant to share this because some may want to offer sympathy or encouragement, but actually I am doing very well.  I can see the problems I have been through as clearly a blessing and gift from God.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quick Bytes #44: Resolutions

I will serve God better - and love my neighbor better - in 2013.

Can you imagine how much better the world would be if all of our
New Year's resolutions started with that?