Category Archives: Faith

A Prayer for Grace–Answered

I’ve been distracted by a problem-not my own. It’s bugging me. A situation that in my view is blatantly just not right. Even tragic in some ways. I haven’t been asked for my opinion. I completely don’t see eye-to-eye with the person (people) making these choices and it only occasionally affects me indirectly. It’s literally driving me crazy and it’s making me resent the people who are making these lame choices. What bugs me even more is that I know it’s not my place to judge or even have an opinion. In short, it bugs me that it bugs me. I know this is temptation with a capital “T” rearing its ugly head.

I keep telling myself…”Keep your eyes on your own paper.” “Check out the plank in your own eye before examining that other person’s eye.” I know it’s wrong to be distracted and consumed about this. Not only that, I have my own life and vocation – I have plenty on my plate and I mess up plenty-believe me. Not everyone would agree with my choices. I’m certain a lot of people don’t.

So I pray. I pray mostly that I can stop obsessing about the choices that others make and just show them love no matter what their choices are. (It’s fair to read that no matter how much I think they’re %&$* ing up).

An answer came. Not in the form of an opportunity to show these people the “right way”. Not in the form of a panicked plea from them-“What are we doing wrong?”. Not in the form of an innocent question….”How would you do this.” No, the answer was sobering, humbling and clear as anything. Let me explain.

I keep a prayer journal and write in it sporadically. Just recently, I was trained to serve funeral masses at our church. I consider this an honor and feel privileged to do it when I am able. I have also only recently learned about the powerful intercession of the faithful departed and had the inspiration to consistently beg the intercession of the souls whose funerals I serve. As often as I remember, I’ll ask for their help. I got out my book to start recording their names on the back cover. There, at the top of the back cover, was the following quote that I had written a few months ago:

“Take care not to meddle in things that do not concern you, nor even allow them to pass through your mind; for perhaps you will not then be able to fulfill your own task.”

–St. John of the Cross

OK then. I am well aware that I struggle with remembering to strive to do God’s will in my own life. Not only did this admonition direct me to stay out of the affairs that have been preoccupying my thoughts. It gave me permission NOT to make it my business at all.

It’s a relief to let it go. I can’t say that I won’t get bent out of shape the next time I hear about [what I think is] an idiotic choice but I’ll try my best to remember to ask God to show me where I am falling short instead.

Congratulations Mark!

Sorry, one of these days, I’ll figure out how to make photos look better on a blog

Mark made his First Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday. It was a beautiful day. The DRE at our church has given me the option of choosing our own day during a regular mass or doing it with the big group. Both Kate and Mark have opted for going by themselves at a normal Sunday mass. The other kids served on the altar. It was nice to have them up there together and they were all happy to watch Mark receive up close. He was so brave and not nervous at all. There’s a dear retired priest who helps our pastor and he was scheduled to celebrate the Mass. He’s always so sweet on special occasions and gave Mark a little card.

A few days before, we met with the DRE to practice and she gave him a DETAILED tour of the sachristy, the sanctuary and the stained glass windows of the church. She was firing questions at him constantly. I didn’t get the feeling that she was testing as much as sharing, teaching and also wanting to discern his overall readiness. She remarked at one point at being surprised that he knew or was familiar with some of the things that she was talking about and frankly, I was too.

We were all so proud of him and I think he’s grown just a little bit in maturity-I mean ever so slightly. As the youngest of 4, he’s babied a lot. He’s not reckless as much as he is impulsive but I noticed this week that he’s just slightly less so. Grace? Maybe. But I’ll continue to pray that he stays as close to Jesus as he was on Sunday.

The Domestic Monastery

I’m stealing an idea from another blog that I occassionally read and linking to this article because I don’t want to forget it and don’t want to lose it. The author compares motherhood to a religious vocation in which the members are called to prayer by the ringing of a bell. They stop what they are doing and pray. The mother’s bells are the children constantly interrupting. I loved this and honestly, it was the first time I began to think of staying home with the kids as a VOCATION. I always felt privileged to be able to be home but until I read this article, I had never considered it a vocation.

Nobody would ask a priest or sister the kinds of questions I’ve been asked. “So…what do you do for yourself?”( I get to stay home all day with the people I love most and I don’t have to dress up to be with people I don’t love). “Don’t you miss being in the real world?”(Last time I looked, the kids were real) “Doesn’t it get mundane?”(Doesn’t your job get mundane-EVER?) “Do you ever just want to talk to an adult?”(I talk to adults every day). “Don’t you miss the stimulating conversations?” (I don’t remember discussing quantum physics at work, mostly we laughed about Seinfeld episodes).

Phew!


Running to the confessional-he’s always making us laugh
 
I was wiped out by the time it was my turn to go into the confessional. Mark really wasn’t nervous (he was excited) and I knew he’d do fine but maybe because he’s the youngest and definitely less mature than Kate was at the same age, I was a tad stressed. I also wanted him to have a good experience. He did. We’re lucky to have a priest who supports my decision to prepare the kids for the sacraments at home but he’s also very smart and loves to tell the kids about obscure things that he’s learned and you never when he’s going to start firing questions at them. But he was so kind and I heard him ask Mark as he was opening the door, “See, wasn’t that easy?” It was a good, mostly grace-filled day.
    
Luke and Mark being silly on the way out
 
 
Congratulations Mark, God Bless! We love you!
“Oh God, who exalted Blessed Mark thy evangelist
by the grace of preaching the gospel, grant,
we beseech thee that we may ever profit by his teaching
and be defended by his prayers, through Jesust Christ,
Our Lord, Amen”

My Youngest Sheep

Mark’s making his first Reconciliation today. I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the year that he’d be ready, spiritually speaking-Lord knows he’s ready behaviorally. I wanted to be sure he appreciates the magnitude of the grace he’ll receive, what it means to be forgiven no matter what and frankly, to remember his sins.

He knows right from wrong, for sure. What’s hilarious (and this has been true for some of the other kids) is that he’s worried that he won’t be able to think of any sins when he gets in there. Without being specific (“How about when you complain about doing your chore every morning”, “How about when you kicked your brother last week?”), I’ve been trying to guide him in the “types” of things that little boys do that could be viewed as sinful. I don’t want to hand him his litany of sins on a platter. But honestly, how hard can it be? So, I’ve been trying to remind him to pray to the Holy Spirit to help him remember his sins so he can make a good confession, we’ve done an examination of conscience for kids (though not as regularly as we should) and he knows his prayers. He doesn’t seem to be worried about the progression of things once inside the confessional, so that’s good. The other kids have also tried to “help” him prepare but I don’t think it really has. They’ve told him Fr. will tell him he’s NEVER getting to heaven for THAT sin. Nice. But we are all excited for him. Is that the right word?

On another note….but related, I’ve been reading a little book about St. Gertrude the Great who is credited for this prayer on behalf of souls in purgatory. I came across something pretty humbling.

In all Gertrude’s writings, among the numberless irresistible invitations of the Heart of Jesus urging men to seek Him in the Eucharist, we find but one passage breathing the spirit of severity. It refers to those communicants who permit their tongue to be stained by sins of uncharitableness and criticism. One day after after Holy Communion, as St. Gertrude was thinking with what care she should use her tongue, honored and sanctified as it was above all the members of her body by the Body of Christ being laid thereon in Holy Communion, Our Lord instructed her thus: “One who does not abstain from vain, idle, or sinful discourses, and who approaches Holy Communion without repentance, is like a person who gathers a heap of stones at the threshold of his door to throw at his guest when he comes to visit him, or beats him cruelly on the head with a rod.

Okay, then. Oopsy. Luckily, I was planning to receive the sacrament myself, today. What struck me about this was that the admonition wasn’t regarding what we might normally consider more “serious” sins, (lying, cheating, stealing, coveting) but a behavior which is almost second-nature in our culture, that is judging and questioning or criticizing their choices, weaknesses or mistakes. Those who know me, know that I don’t engage in malicious gossip as a matter of habit, but I do occasionally indulge in the type of uncharitable discourse that I think Jesus spoke to Gertrude about. It’s tough not to criticize or judge others, either in thought or in speaking. But, clearly, it’s not my place and this passage gives good reason not to approach Jesus in the Eucharist if I’ve engaged in it without asking forgiveness and the grace to refrain from it.

It’s sort of like when one of the kids calls one of his siblings a nasty name in my presence. Somehow, it’s more offensive to me than if they did it when I was out of the room. I get it.

40,000 in 40 Days

I’ve had a few topics in mind for the first day of Lent, this one won.

I know we typically pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory during the month of November and throughout the year as loved ones die or as we remember. I only recently learned about the Prayer of St. Gertrude The Great, which Our Lord promised would release 1000 souls from Purgatory each time it is said. The prayer also extends to living sinners.

As a Catholic who was received into the church as an adult, it’s taken me a long time to understand Purgatory (I’m certain I don’t fully), souls in Purgatory, the idea of “offering up” sacrifices and sufferings for souls in Purgatory. But I believe our prayers are tangible and effective. I believe in divine revelation to saints, I believe in the COMMUNION OF SAINTS and I even believe that our own prayers may someday benefit our own souls. That’s a suspension of time and space idea…you know, God’s time is different than our own.

I purchased a prayer card with St. Gertrude’s prayer on it for each of member of my family and I’m dedicating each of us to releasing 40,000 souls during the course of Lent. Do the math, that’s 240,000 souls. It’s such a quick prayer, if we each say it 5 times, that’d be over a million every day.


“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.”

 

Wanna join me? Leave a comment if you think you or your family might participate-or not, either way, your prayers will be heard. One more thing, I’ve also recently been reading about the powerful intercession of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Leave a comment if any of your prayers have been answered.

Words to Ponder Going into Lent

I’ve always loved this passage from Paul’s letter to the Philipians

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ” Philippians 4: 8

Pretty direct. Wouldn’t it be lovely if I didn’t have to make a conscious effort to rid the mind of anything outside of this prescription? Besides making an effort to dial back during this season, I will apply these “whatevers” to rid the brain of toxicity in all it’s forms; speech (gossip, debate, complaining), thought,  literature, visual images on TV and the web and where ever else I can cull it out.