Sacrifice Unseen

This reflection from today’s Give Us This Day magazine brought me to tears. It seemed a direct and personal Word of comfort and guidance for me from the LORD:

“The Lord addresses His mother in the hour that, for her, is the hardest. She is not unprepared for this hour, but the hour does not therefore weigh any less heavily upon her. For it is now that she gives her beloved Son back to God. She does this in darkness …

“A sacrifice that is performed in full view would not be a Christian sacrifice. If a man renounces some lower good for the sake of some higher one that he knows and has in view, then that is no sacrifice but only a choice between two goods, one of which appears more important than the other.

“But if he renounces some good that he loves in order that God might receive what he desires, then that implies a true sacrifice, because he does not know what form God will give to that which he offers him. The sacrifice lies in surrendering the ability to hold this in view.”

Adrienne von Speyr, The Birth of the Church

It gives me much to ponder.


A Moment

It’s been two months since our trip to Portland and the wedding. I wrote description to my friend after we got back:

I had a moment one day when we were walking downtown – all the kids were quite a ways ahead and I was hanging back with Julie (my sister-in-law) who couldn’t keep up. As I watched the kids ahead, I had an overwhelming feeling of being blessed – like a pitcher of water being poured over my head filled with blessings, overflowing.

Suddenly, like a switch, as the kids got further ahead of us and further away, I felt overwhelming sorrow at my loss of them. It’s a little hard to explain but God has gently been removing them from my life for quite a few years now and I’ve learned to surrender them to Him.

But in that moment, I realized He’s not done yet and I have to let go even more. It makes me so sad but Jesus, I trust in You.

I’m still pondering that experience and what it might mean. I don’t suppose I’ll really know until everything unfolds in due time.

But Jesus, I do trust in You. Lord, help my unbelief.


Foolishness of the Cross

At daily mass yesterday, Father Secora gave a wonderful homily about the foolishness of the cross vs. the wisdom of the world.

Father said that the message of the cross is essentially this: pouring out our lives for others out of love.

He contrasted two stories from the previous day’s headlines:

The first story reported how the EpiPen – a life-saving prescription for people with known life-threatening allergies – has gone from a cost of $57 in 2007 to almost $700 today. Many low-income people are unable to afford it, though the failure to have one on hand in an emergency could be fatal.  The CEO of the company that makes the EpiPen earns over $19 million a year.

The second story was about two nuns found murdered in Mississippi. Nurse practitioners, they provided medical care to people who could not pay for it in some of the poorest communities in this country. Their medical training would have enabled them to “earn a good living” but instead they dedicated their lives to serving others.

It’s easy to see the application of these two stories to Father’s definition of “the message of the cross.”

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.

Where is the wise one?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? (From 1 Cor:1)





A jumbled mess

As I try to sort through this jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings, I’m struck by how connected two opposites are: my greatest blessings are also my greatest struggles.

I truly, honestly know how deeply and greatly blessed I am. I feel deep gratitude to God for the blessings He has poured out on me from the moment of my creation. And my greatest blessings are my children – they are healthy, beautiful, wonderful young adults finding their way in this troubled world with their own style. Individually they are each unique and kind and make me proud; collectively they are my very heart – I love and enjoy being with them more than any other people on earth.

My biggest struggle is about them … but also not about them. It’s about them in that for several years now God has steadily been taking them away from me.

It’s not about them in that the deep sorrow I feel about this fact is between God and me.

For sure, it has turned me more fully toward God; our relationship has grown; He has increased my faith and my trust in Him; He has drawn me ever closer.  Enormous blessing.

At the same time, I miss my kids. I am so sad that we once were very close but no longer are. I struggle with the fact that the last time I saw two of them was 1-1/2 years ago; the next time I see them will easily be another 1-1/2 years, and more likely 2 years or more.

I feel great loss and sadness about it and I feel very alone; there is nobody I can express my feelings to. I can’t tell my kids – who wants a guilt trip? And I can’t discuss it with my husband; as my eyes well up with tears again he looks away, uncomfortable. He’s not being unkind or mean, he just doesn’t get it, really. He loves them and is proud of them and tells others about them, but he’s ok with seeing them “whenever.”

And so I’ll return to my home after a lightening-fast visit; I’ll settle back into a routine of work and living in my own little corner of the world; I’ll watch as friends and co-workers celebrate holidays and birthdays and frequents visits with their kids and grandkids; and I’ll struggle with this strange mix of being happy for them and feeling envy and knowing I’m blessed and feeling great longing for my own kids and fighting to stop wallowing in self-pity.

And I’ll continue to ponder the mysteries of His ways and trust Him even in my emptiness.

Jesus, I trust in You.

Rejoice Always! Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


For Me Alone

Sometimes the little blessings God places before us are simple and beautiful and very personal.

This morning I sat on my porch swing and started a novena, praying for the upcoming marriage of my son Joseph to his fiancée Amber.

As I was praying, a purple finch alit on a branch in front of me. He was soon followed by a female and they perched together, either grooming each other or sharing food.  finches

They sat there together for the longest time before flying away and I thought how appropriate and sweet it was to observe the pair even as I prayed for Joe & Amber.

Then the male returned and I don’t recognize a finch song when I hear it but he was directly in front of me, so when he opened his mouth I learned that he has more of a chatter than a song, and it’s a long burst.

And that made me laugh because Joseph is a very chatty guy. So I continued my novena, praying a Hail Mary and then stopping as the finch burst forth its chatter-song and we traded off that way for quite a long time.

And it was wonderful and a blessing and it was just for me alone. Because to whom would I try to describe it? With whom could I share it? Who wouldn’t roll their eyes at me and think me a little nutty?

Yet without a doubt, I was given this gift by our kind and loving Father. His creation – His little finches – joined me in prayer this morning and we gave glory to God, together.



icons of God

Father Secora loves to teach and at daily mass he said that the family – mother, father, children – is an icon … a reflection of the holy Trinity.

My first reaction was pure delight. It seems so obvious now that he said it, but it had never occurred to me! How cool is that? The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and Son, just as children are between husband and wife.

As I pondered it, I thought of how every one of us is that child – we all had a mother and a father. We don’t all marry, nor do we all become a parent; but we all have been the child in our little reflection of the Trinity.

My delight turned to sorrow as wondered how much longer that will be the case. Recent news stories report that scientists are close to creating children without parents. Headlines such as “Scientists Create Embryos That Are Both Animal And Human” and “Report: It’s ethical to create embryos from DNA of 3 people” were once purely science fiction; now they are current news and not at all unusual.

This all seems to go beyond man wanting to be equal to God. In a very real way, it seems man is trying to kill God by destroying His earthly icon … families.

It would be easy to fall into despair considering all of this. But today a particular quote caught my eye and though I’m not a “prophecy” type of girl, it does give me hope:

“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.” – Sr. Lucia of Fatima

God’s got this. I just need to remember Isaiah 30:15:

“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust shall be your strength.”










I love the story of Jesus in the boat. He is sleeping on a cushion when a storm so frightens the disciples that they wake Him in fear for their lives. His words, “Peace, be still” silence the raging storm.

It is a story of His power and command even over nature’s terrifying violence. I love it so much that I have a print depicting the event hanging in my home.

Peace Be Still by Stephen Gjertson

Peace Be Still by Stephen Gjertson

Today I was blessed with a new look at that scene and how it applies to our lives today. Many saints have written about their struggles with a “dark night” in their lives when God seemed very distant from them; when prayer seemed dry and the human feelings of being close to God evaporated. I have gone through such a time and it is very painful; it’s a struggle to continue crying out to Him, wondering if He’s turned His face away or if you’ve done something wrong.

Since that time in my life I’ve read more about the dark night and have come to understand that it is a time of testing, of teaching one to walk by faith and not by feelings.

This morning I read a passage by St. Therese of Lisieux during her dark night. She wrote:

“[The retreat] was far from bringing me any consolations since the most absolute aridity and almost total abandonment were my lot. Jesus was sleeping as usual in my little boat; ah! I see very well how rarely souls allow Him to sleep peacefully within them … He will undoubtedly awaken before my great eternal retreat … “

That just made me smile, seeing how she connected the passage in Mark with the dark night.

There are times in our lives when Jesus is sleeping in our little boat, or appears to be. But He most certainly is not uncaring. Have faith; in an instant He can calm the most violent storm.

“A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
(Mark 4:37-40)

May I always allow the Master to sleep peacefully within.