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Archive for June, 2013

Gay rights and gay marriage are a big deal in the news these days. It is a struggle in our society and can be very polarizing … it’s difficult to discuss in a constructive way as people become angry and dialogue quickly devolves into accusations.

So it was very refreshing to find this blog. The writer expressed what I feel in such a wonderful, tender way.  Here is an excerpt, but I hope you will take time to read her entire blog:

I think most of these folks are just living their lives as best they can, just like you and I.  I also think of their loved ones. They are a son or daughter, a parent, a coworker, a childhood friend, a neighbor, a confidant. To them, they are not a statistic. They are not a news story. They are a person. To be valued and loved.

I completely agree with this. What I feel most this week after digesting all of this news, is sorrow. I see people celebrating the legal decisions and I feel the same sorrow as I felt when my son decided to live with his girlfriend; or as I felt when an alcoholic friend decided she could indulge in just one glass of wine; or when another friend who has trouble managing her finances overspent yet again.

They want me to rejoice with them, but I can’t. Certainly not out of hatred, for I love them so very much. It is because I believe that what they have chosen will not bring them “happiness” but a great deal of pain. It is not good for them physically, mentally or spiritually.

I don’t think this has been a good week for our country, and I am very concerned for the future. This struggle is far from over, and I pray for us all.

 

 

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“Once back in the time of the judges there was a famine in the land; so a man from Bethlehem of Judah left home with his wife and two sons to reside on the plateau of Moab.” (Ruth 1:1)

So begins the book of Ruth.

As I read this story again, I notice something new …

Whatever this man and his family had in Bethlehem was not enough; they were seeking “more.”

But notice verse 21 of the same chapter. After moving away, the man and two sons all died. The man’s wife Naomi returned to Bethlehem and told her kinsmen:

I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. (Ruth 1:21)

It appears Naomi’s perspective has changed. She left to find more … but only after losing it all did she realize how much she truly had.

How many times does this happen to us? How many times do we fail to appreciate what we have until it’s too late? The death of a loved one, an illness, a lost job … these all make us realize an emptiness where once we were filled.

It’s easy to notice what we don’t have and to focus on that. I have been struggling with a vague feeling of discontent lately, wishing I had some fun plans for the summer, or a lake retreat to look forward to. I have been trying to get past it, to prevent this feeling from taking root.

God is so good to bring Naomi’s change in perspective to my attention. It helps me to re-focus on all of the wonderful blessings I do have.

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Thank you dear God, for opening my eyes and my heart and returning me to a place of gratitude. Thank you for helping me to see how very filled I truly am!

 

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I just read the most cool thing … that Psalm 23 can be seen as a foreshadowing of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion! They are all represented in it:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The shepherd is Jesus!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
The pastures are the living, life-giving words of scripture that nourishes believers. The still waters are the waters of baptism!

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
The sacraments, being protective, lead us on a sure path safe from fear or harm.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The rod and the staff are the outpouring of the Comforter … the Holy Spirit who guides us.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
At Easter Vigil, newly-baptized catechumens are led to the table prepared for them, the Eucharist. Their heads are anointed with oil. The overflowing cup, the chalice, is the Eucharistic wine that fills the heart with the joy of divine goodness.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
“All the days of life” are a process of conversion, a journey toward the dwelling in the Lord’s house forever, a journey in the visible Church, a membership in the people of God.

I just loved this, and how (once again) I see my Catholic faith in scripture.

The blog where I first read it can be found here.

 

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I have been pondering Judges, chapter 19. It tells the story of a Levite who retrieves his runaway concubine and on their journey back home, they are attacked by a mob. He throws her to the mob and she is raped and abused to her death.

We often look at the old testament and are left wondering how people could behave like that. How could they have been so barbaric? Why did their society treat women like property, completely disposable? What kind of a society is that, and how could anyone want to be part of it?

And yet …

Today in our society people are still treated as property, easily disposed of when it is “convenient.” And their disposal is barbaric, without concern to the pain they feel. They don’t even get a decent burial – they are considered a bio-waste.

Our president, elected twice by large margins and hugely popular, said recently that a proposed bill banning late-term abortion shows contempt for the Constitution and “assaults women’s rights.” I thought the Constitution guaranteed the right to life?

I can only shake my head in sorrow. Is there anything new under the sun? Not really. What is it in human nature that causes us to seek power and then turn around and abuse that power against someone else? We are every bit as viciousness as any society in the past, and our reasons are just as self-serving.

Dear God forgive us, though we surely don’t deserve it. Have mercy on us, and even more than that I beg you to have mercy on those little souls.

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Pray without ceasing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Of all of the wonderful passages in the Bible that have touched me, taught me, comforted me, led me … I think this one has sparked the most thought and brought about the most change in my faith life.

Pray without ceasing.

Really? How does one truly accomplish that?

Some would say that the way we live our life is a sort of prayer. And while I agree with that, for me it doesn’t completely satisfy the admonishment from Paul.

While pondering this passage, I understood that all of the constantly running thoughts in my head could be directed to Him. Rather than a conversation with myself,  I realized that with a little conscious effort they could become conversations with Him. He already knows my thoughts anyway; why re-run and rehearse and plan everything all with myself, when I could include God?

That realization sounded simple, but I do think it became the foundation for major spiritual growth. It has brought many little changes in my life that have made a big difference, such as realizing that I nurtured some really ugly stuff in my head that had no place in the presence of the Holy One. I began to take more care in what I watched on tv and movies and in books because I tend to spend a lot of time replaying them later. I became more aware of my thoughts about other people and began to turn to God more quickly to ask His help in dealing with them. When fear or worry creeps in I am much better at talking them over with God and releasing them into His hands.

I am just much more focused on God and attuned to Him, now. None of it happened overnight and it is a work in progress … I certainly can’t say I truly pray without ceasing.

But I am progressing, and I know that is the point.

 

 

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It is not easy to be still … it goes against human nature. We fill our senses and thoughts with music, with tv, with books and news and reading and talk radio. Our minds are constantly escaping to these distractions.

And if our minds are on these things … they are not fixed on God.

bestill I have been reflecting on all of this as I read Fire Within by Thomas Dubay. St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross both wrote about detachment and it is so cool for me to think back to how God has brought me so far to a point of detachment, before I ever realized what He was doing.

If you listen to a lot of music, how does it make you feel? If you watch a lot of tv or read many books, do you also spend a lot of time thinking about those later? If you are a news hound constantly reading and listening to news and politics, are you often upset or angry about all you read and hear?

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “If we fill the palace with vulgar people and all kinds of junk, how can the Lord and His Court occupy it?”

Indeed.

I have learned very gradually that whatever I find going on in my mind is important – it is a reflection of the things to which I expose myself … and often, areas on which I need to work.

It is not easy to be still. It makes us uncomfortable; we want to fill the quiet. It takes practice, patience and persistence. Eucharistic Adoration was difficult for me at first – an entire hour of being still! But now I hunger for my time in the quiet with God. What a gift, and what a blessing it is! And I wish I knew how to explain it to my loved ones, to share what I have learned and to have them understand how much more valuable it is than anything we “give up.”

It is not wrong to enjoy things of this world, whether it is music or entertainment or the beauty of nature. St. John of the Cross gave us guidance to know if we are enjoying these things for the right reason: if they turn your heart and mind toward God, they are serving a good purpose and holding the correct place in your life.

Lord, help me take time to reflect on these things; to notice my thoughts and to ask you for help when my mind is turned away in anger or irritation. And when I notice a blessing or a beautiful thing in nature or music or anywhere in “the world,” let those things lift my heart and mind in gratitude to You who created it!

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Another procedure on her heart; one that was supposed to take 5-6 hrs. but took 9.

Another day spent reflecting on what a good mom she has been; what an amazing, adventurous woman she is. Hours spent thanking God for her presence in my life; thanking Him for blessing her in her later years with a man who shares her interests, who has blessed her greatly even as she has blessed him.

I look at him standing next to her bed in recovery, eyes teary because the surgery wasn’t completely successful and he’s afraid she will be disappointed; afraid she’ll sink back into a dark hole of depression that he doesn’t understand.

And he’s afraid of the shadows on his lung, on the base of his tongue. He’s already braced himself for the worst, and is afraid. He will wait another week or more to discover the correct diagnosis and what he is facing.

She is 77; he is 80.

I hold her hand and look at her face … the face of my mommy. The next morning I walk into her room to find her wide awake, sitting in a chair eating breakfast. She jokes with the priest who stops by to offer her anointing of the sick, and later in the day I drive her to her home. She is in good spirits, and we are grateful for the gift of “time” that we have.

I pray for them both, LORD, with a heart filled with love for them, and for You. I accept your will – whatever trials remain for them, I trust you and I know that through them, you are making them holy. I only pray that you smooth their paths as much as possible, stay close to them, and draw them to yourself. I hope that the end of their lives, are the best years of their lives.

And I thank you again, LORD. You are a Creator of the beautiful and I am humbled by your love for each of us.

 

 

 

 

 

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