Women Too Scared to Speak?…NOT

My feeble journey on a hopeful path to holiness has led me to some interesting places over Pricillathe past year. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a talker. I love to talk to people and learn about them. But mostly I love to use my voice to bring them to the Lord. You need your voice sometimes to evangelize.

Over the years, I have dipped my toes into public speaking, a talent forcibly developed when Sr. Agneta had me enter the Optimist Club speaking contest back in the early 1970’s. I was SCARED TO DEATH. Until I realized when we were practicing that I could just take off my glasses and couldn’t see the millions  dozens of people in the audience! It took me a few other experiences after that through high school, but I found I didn’t mind it at all.

An article from the Washington Post in October 2014, listed public speaking as the top fear of 25% of Americans…if you ask your friends if they would rather eat bugs or speak in public, they would eat the bugs.

Mary MagdaleneSo, I thought when it comes to evangelization, I could handle it. Not so easy though.
Of course I can stand up in front of a group of nice Catholics and talk about my walk with Christ, about my failings and his saving me from myself. BUT, as I recently learned, it’s not so thrilling to present the same to an audience not expecting to hear that kind of story. The words just seem to stick in my throat.

I found this out when this Spring I participated in two such events. One was the culmination of a writing project through Heal My Voice and another, an invitation to present to the Business and Professional Women of Maryland. Neither of these were related to spirituality. But, my faith life is closely intertwined with my professional life as a pastoral counselor. So What Would Jesus Do?

I spoke. I had to clear my throat a few times as my heart was lodged there.

What happened? At both events, women came up to me and connected to me through their own experience of being afraid to speak about their faith. They use words like “inspired” and “refreshed”. They talked about being more free to spread their own stories of faith!

Using our voices openly is supported by the Scriptures, in Ephesians Chapter 4, we are toldLydiaeach of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift‘ and ‘speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ’.

Consider all of the women in the New Testament. Mary, the Mother of Christ, Mary Magdalene, the four daughters of Phillip the Evangelist, Pricilla, and Phoebe. They were not afraid. They had the love and mercy of Christ giving them courage!

Is this not the radical Christ presence? Be not afraid. Do not hold your tongue. Share the love and mercy of Christ. You will probably find you are not alone, you may find some new friends, and you may bring them to Christ!

May the peace of Christ be with you on your journey.

 

  

The Time is Now…speak with our Mother

roasry in handsI have been writing about the virtues of the mysteries we meditate on during the Rosary and more often I am brought to think about the powerful tool of the Rosary in bringing peace to the world.

‘Even though the Fatima prophecies were made in the 20th Century, we must still hold them in high regard today. As Pope Benedict XVI said on May 13, 2010, “He deceives himself who thinks the prophetic mission of Fatima is concluded.”’ James Hanisch

The article below, from EWTN news, gives me more pause for thought and compels me to attend to my love for our Blessed Mother with real devotion…to avoid the “near occasion of sin” of neglecting my prayer for less worthy tasks on my daily to-do list!

A Nigerian bishop says that he has seen Christ in a vision and now knows that the rosary is the key to ridding the country of the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram. Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme says he is being driven by a God-given mandate to lead others in praying the rosary until the extremist group disappears.“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told EWTN News April 18. In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it. “As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.” “I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”

Fatima with ChildrenCould it be that all the virtues given to us in the Rosary can be attained by simply praying it or even singing it, not just saying it, each day? I have been amazed at the power of the Rosary in song (Our Lady’s Musical Rosary by Donna Cori Gibson). Even my 3 year old granddaughter loves to sing “Hail Mary full of grapes…” as we sing in the car! As with Fatima, the Blessed Mother speaks to little children for they see the truth with the clarity of innocence.

May our Blessed Mother protect us and save each life on this Earth from violence. Amen

 

 

  

Bringing Peace through Disconnecting

red phone off the hookIn the past months, we have been overwhelmed with news reports of the horrific tragedies on every inhabited continent. I must admit there are many days when I just disconnect. In fact, when I do this I always think of how it must have been in the days of Christ when news travelled slowly and for the most part by word of mouth. How much easier to focus on the needs of our community, to take care of each other, and to know there was support right next door.

Imagine the quietness of walking along the pathways of Nazareth or Bethlehem.
Imagine the way your body would feel after a day of actual physical work.
Imagine the connections of conversation that would happen during your day  because there was no iPod, cell phone, email, or even mail in the mail box to convey your every thought and opinion!
Imagine the opportunities for silent conversation with God.
Imagine the lingering moments of travel by walking to where you need to be, the only sounds being nature around you.
Imagine happening upon the disciples or Christ himself during those times!

Today, take time to disconnect from the chaotic.no Wi fi in the forest
Today, just pray for the world. God knows what needs to be done.

We don’t need to know the details. We know that there will always be strife in the world until He comes again.
Christ told us this.

The most effective way that we can be Christ in the world, that we can work to make the world a better place is to act on those circumstances that are in our own neighborhoods.
IMAGINE if everyone did this! IMAGINE the joy we could spread by touching one person daily with mercy and kindness!

May you see the way you are to bring mercy and peace to someone today…

  

In Mary’s Footsteps…

pathway of stones on stonesWhen the path is not clear, we look for a guide. How to choose a suitable guide for our journey? This question easily brings fogginess to the mind, blotting out clarity, and allowing us to continue our stumbling on the path of our own feeble creation.

For a Catholic woman, there are many choices, with hundreds of saints gone before us. And also, some still with us here on Earth, yet to be beatified for their daily, humble doings unseen, for there are saints that each of us know deeply in our own lives. Although they may escape the Papal crowning, our Lord sees and honors each of them as much and more!

While we may choose any or all of these blessed women, the Mother and guide of them all is our Blessed Mother. And with this in mind, she has been uppermost in my mind for many months now, with a renewed vigor and a compelling desire to turn to her daily.

So when the announcement of the exhibition Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, was announced, I was thrilled and made immediate plans to attend and spend time with the creations of others who also loved and followed in her footsteps.

caccia-orsola-maddalena_virgin-child-st-anne_moncalvo_web

Today’s visit found me attracted to the beautiful Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Madonna col Bambino e Sant’Anna) by Orsola Maddalena Caccia (Moncalvo, 1596–1676), pictured here. It resonated with me at this time in my life because like St. Anne, I am a grandmother and a mother.

As my husband and I stood before it, it was he who mentioned that you never think of Jesus having a grandmother. She is not mentioned in the Bible as a part of his life, so it is impossible to know exactly what part she may have taken in his life. But, I am a fan of historical fiction, so I love the idea of envisioning St. Anne watching the Christ child playing outside his home, while Mary took care of her daily work inside…I can’t wait to ask her once I meet her in Heaven!!

May the Lord and his Blessed Mother and grandmother, St. Anne, bless you especially this week as we remember His death and Resurrection.

  

The Great “Yes”

 

Annunciation Henry Ossawa Tanner

What do we say “yes” to?
Who do we say “yes” to?
Why do we say “yes”?
Ponder these questions.

When have we said “yes” and been unsure?
When have we said “yes” and regretted it?
When have we said “yes” under duress?
Ponder these questions.

Would we have said “yes” to the Angel of the Lord?
Would we have said “yes” without hesitation, in full trust?
Would we have said “yes” in obedience?
Ponder these questions.

Will we be asked to say “yes” to the Lord today?
What will be our answer to the Lord when that next chance to say “yes” in all humility, trust and complete love is presented to us?
Will we recognize the next time the question is being presented to us?
Ponder these questions.

We ask our Blessed Mother to be with us today especially so she may open fully
our spiritual eyes that we may see each opportunity
to respond in solidarity with her Son’s love and mercy.

Her secret to a humble and loving response?
Following her God daily and adhering to His words in her every action.

“I delight to do your will, my God; your law is in my inner being!” Psalm 40:8

May we be so blessed. Amen.

Image “The Annunciation” by Henry Ossawa Tanner

  

Another share on Charity…

As I have been trying out the living of another virtue, Charity, I have been preparing to write my own blog entry on the subject for the past week. But other people’s blogs keep seeming so appropriate and fun to share. I must say that the Lord has once again asked me to be charitable here in my own space…

Haley Stewart, writer of Carrots for Michaelmas, provided a surprising piece on the virtue cinderella castleof charity as seen in the current version of the movie, Cinderella.

Another great revelation about this story? It’s Christian foundation! Read Father Robert Barron’s great article about it here, if you haven’t already!

Its a movie I will be seeing as soon as possible for a fun night out. Imagine a product of Hollywood with no doubts about whether it is appropriate! Worth spending the money on an actual theater viewing!

shutterstock_247370791 …and in view of the virtue I am trying to live out I will pay for a ticket for the person in front of me when I go…I challenge you to do the same as a small piece of your Lenten almsgiving!

May God send you blessings…

 

  

Charity (def): Sharing something good

So we are moving on to the virtue of charity. If you know me, you will know that I LOVE perusing the Internet for luscious tidbits and I have to admit I have dug myself to the outer limits of the ethers on occasion. Always indulging my curious mind!

IMG_0578

As an act of charity and goodwill, I am going to share with you someone else’s writing on Mary’s ardent virtue of charity. Then I will be going to Reconciliation to repent of my envy of her wonderful blog site! Kudos Christy!

Christy from Fountains of Home, a young Catholic mother of five, finds time to love the Lord, her family and friends and shares all about the ups and downs of life in her blog. She has that wonderful humorous outlook on life that as women and moms we all need to tap into!

Last year she wrote this amazing blog on Mary’s virtue of charity…so glad I can share it with you! Hope you enjoy it!

 

  

Ashes and Sackcloth: A new meaning

 

As I live in a pile of ashes that seems to follow me through Lent this year, I have found that soulflamea flame inside me is creating them. They are ashes of sin burning away from my mortal body. They leave behind skin that is raw and painful. Denial of bodily cravings, leaving mind-numbing television behind, and dragging my feet through the mud of humility, makes me evermore aware of the the burning fire of the Holy Spirit in my soul…

womandust

 

It tries to breakthrough and the burning is not quenched by any salve, but only by more time in prayer, with the Eucharist, and with my eyes wide open to the trail of the past, its revelations of where holiness may be possible.
I long for Easter and the new skin of purity to be worn through the next year, for a taste of the glorified body that will eventually be mine to inhabit.

All praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, be merciful to my soul!

  

The Rewards of Humility

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Next week, we will be moving on to another virtue, but we will not leave humility behind. Putting this virtue in the forefront of my daily life has been quite revealing and it is summed up by this verse from Galatians.

Moving through the day and deciding what tasks on the ever-growing list were pulling at me most ardently took on a new character. I found myself more aware of the fact that many of the items were strictly what I wanted to do. No one had asked me to do them, they were just things pulling at me from my endless pile of “good ideas”. This awareness actually allowed me to relax (just a little!) and sort out the real priorities.

Because we are in the season of Lent, I had lofty ideas of getting up at the crack of dawn everyday, spending a couple of hours in prayer and writing, going to Mass everyday, not watching any TV at all, and of course, eating nothing but healthy food! And I have to admit that last year this was my Lenten plan and it went very well!

white flowers

But I am in a different place this year. Last year’s Lenten observances were a practice that moved me into a deeper relationship with God leading to a fuller life in His Spirit and with His people. So this year Lent has to be for the person I am now. And she is someone that God wants to slow down and actually enjoy the life she has been blessed with. Someone that needs to learn to stop and listen and be less task oriented. Someone who needs to stop “shoulding” herself and beating herself up for the things she didn’t get done.

Why is this so important to humility? Because we are to do nothing that God has not put on our list, at least until we talk to Him about it. When we get caught up in our own “important-to-do” list and are feeling overwhelmed, it is a clear sign that we may be caught up in our own need to be important or good. Become a servant of Christ today.

  

Soul Stories: The Energy and Healing Power of Our Words

The soul is among other things a reservoir for our emotions and storytelling, especially in
the oral tradition, as it allows the person telling it to share their unique emotions with the listener. The shared emotions will evoke a response in the listener that brings them into the story. A good writer can do this also. As we tell our story, we have an image in our mind and when we listen to a story we create images in our mind to illustrate the words. The emotions combined with the images give the story meaning outside the bare words hanging in the air.

Our emotions expose the soul’s urgent appeals to pay attention to our spiritual nature. They may fall or rise with the soul’s emptying and filling. We can embrace the times of splendid fullness as our union with God. St. Teresa of Avila would call this consolation. The times of emptiness are desolation, a lack of feeling the closeness of God even though our intellect tells us God is certainly there. In fact by our Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit places God within us at all times. We just forget. We are human and need reminders.

conversation

People describe these empty and full times through the stories that accompany them. It is in this way we can heal ourselves and lead others to their own healing. As a therapist, I listen to stories. Deep personal stories of despair, loneliness, anger, hurt, and hopelessness, the telling of which brings forth the emotions from a soul desperate to be cleansed and nurtured with love. The old chapters begin to instead be just a preface to life’s new chapters told with hope and belief that there can be happy moments and deep joy.

As Catholics we read stories in the Scriptures. We recognize the Old Testament was “written” by people of the Jewish faith and these writings remain their Scripture today. These stories though were first spoken and passed down through the ages as revered family history important to life centered on God. Currently the role of the maggid is being revived and recognized as important especially in our technology focused society. A maggid is more than a storyteller, they are someone whose mission is to bring the people to God.

Jesus preaching JoN

Christ would have been seen as a radical maggid. People brought their fears and doubts and He told them stories or parables that were a lesson for living. Imagine hearing Christ proclaim these first stories! They form the most important parts of our New Testament. Emotions of all kind were evoked by his storytelling! He challenged them to listen with spiritual ears of the soul so their lives could be healed of sin.

As we journey through Lent, allow the stories of the Passion to enter your soul and release the stories you need to tell, if only to yourself and God, so that true healing can take place.
Then with renewed energy, tell others about your joy in Christ and invite them to share the experience!