Which Path This Lent?

Isn’t Lent a time to transform yourself into a person closer to the Lord?
If so, why is it so difficult to come up with a suitable plan?
Maybe I don’t need a plan?
Oh, that IS tempting!
God loves me just as I am, so why push myself into the possible tortures of 40 days of doing or being anything other than what I am now?
Hmmm…I think I’ve tried that plan before and look where I am now!

Return to your GodOkay, yes, there must be a plan.
BUT, dear Lord, please help me not to create a list of oh so holy activities,
that deep down I know will press me into becoming the least joyful Catholic of the year!
BUT I know it must push me to just beyond my believable limits, but not so far that I find myself bruised and discouraged with my failure at the end.

So, here I stand in awkward humility asking you to be with me…
When I am standing in front of the pantry, so “hungry” for a treat.
When I have an opportunity to feed someone truly hungry.
When I want to send the reactive email touting my much better ideas.
When I’m in a hurry faced with someone that needs my help and time.
When our forget my child is NOT an adult and my frustration is rising.
When I forget my adult children’s lives are not mine to live.
When my spouse disappoints me…one more time.
When I disappoint my spouse…one more time.
When there is something impossible…in my eyes.
When I’ve made my Lenten promise and it’s just too hard.
When I can’t see the benefits of my faithful promise.

I have 3 pillars to lean on
Fasting
Prayer
Almsgiving
Give me the grace to choose one simple action in each area
A simple, freeing, grace-filled action that will magnetically draw me to your heart

Forty days…you have done this Lord
When you were with us here
May I stay with you?
Can I stay with you?

Christ in gardenMatthew 4:1-11 The Temptation of Christ

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

May the angels be with us on our Lenten journey.

 

Today is the day!

This past weekend I let myself watch an entire movie from start to finish! I don’t know about you, but this is a real treat for me. Most of the movies I see are with 5 year olds. Yes, they are cute (the grandchildren, too!), but I never really see the whole movie as I am multi-tasking with drink/snack/clean-up/hugging services and then they are bored and on the way to something else before the movie is even half way over!

Good EarthToday’s blog title is inspired by The Good Earth’s main character, Wang Lung, a simple farmer in China, as he goes to pick up his bride from ‘the big house’ where she is a slave. He wakes with a grin that spans his face, saying ‘Today is the day!’. His friends are rejoicing with him as they echo, ‘Today is the day!’ In Wang Lung’s village, it is a day like any other, for working hard in the fields, a day in the middle of the week, but a day chosen for its good fortune for bringing home a bride! This day will change his life in many good ways! As the movie proceeds, we watch life with joys AND sorrows, successes and failures, come to Wang Lung and his wife, for this is REAL life.

Today is January 17th…just long enough for New Year’s resolutions to become less resolute! Did we strive too high? Is the hopefulness fading into our old comfortable patterns? Those patterns are sooo…comfortable! We all feel like Wang Lung on New Year’s Day, full of hope for the best, for big changes for the better! How are we doing?

SunriseThis year I decided not to make any of my normal resolutions. Hopefully, you will see me become a little smaller and in better shape, but my real hope is that this will grow from a re-SOUL-ute decision to focus on God being my center, my advisor, my problem solver and my source of courage, willpower, and unconditional love and mercy.

I hope that you will join me in letting go of the disappointment of broken resolutions to embrace each day with the joy-full thought of a day grounded in Christ’s love for you.

In the morning let me know your love for I put my trust in you. Make me know the way I should walk, to you I lift up my soul.  Psalm 143:8

Inspiration for a Struggle with Cancer…a Christian Singer Shares

I bet you know Darlene Zschech…she has been singing for the Lord for years.

I especially love her song, Shout for the Lord…tears everytime.

The past year has sent many people in my life into a battle with cancer and a friend recently told me about Darlene’s courage and inspiration for her. own journey. I thought you may want to hear her story and pass it on to others, too.

And because this will post on Mother’s Day, I send a special prayer to Heaven for my own mother who passed away in 1975, after seven years of courage and faithful love of the Lord and His mother, Mary.

God bless you all and may His Holy Spirit bring encouragement and healing for all battling this disease..

 

Lifting Up Women into Holiness through Prayer

This Pope Francis is no different than the Popes that preceded him. He sees the greatness in women of the world. This month, he asks us to pray for the safety and respect of all women.

Many who read this may find it easy to forget the struggles that women in the world live through and sometimes die from…We are blessed to be living in a world where this behavior is unlawful and is punished.

Here is his message for us.

If you are Catholic and it’s the month of May…

It’s all about Mary. IMG_5096

She has many titles…Blessed Mother, Woman Clothed with the Sun, Queen of Angels…

Marian feasts originate ultimately or primarily by ecclesial decision. The Church decides whether they should be local, regional or universal, and what degree of solemnity should be attributed to them (solemnity, feast, memorial) depending on the importance of the theme celebrated.There are universal Marian feast days…the Immaculate Conception feast, the Assumption feast, the Solemnity feast. And there are local feasts. You can celebrate some virtue of Mary every day of the year!

People’s love of Mary has resulted in probably thousands of prayers written to her the most familiar being the Hail Mary, of which the meditative repetition of comprises the Rosary given to the Church in 1214 by St. Dominic.

Artists have been creating images of Mary for two thousand years and she is represented numerous nationalities and races attesting to her role as “mother of all” as a gift from her son, Jesus Christ.

May procession

 

And, last but not least, who can forget the May procession?! I LOVED getting dressed up for this day at my Catholic grade school and bringing clippings of bright purple azaleas and iris from my mother’s garden to carry in the  procession and leave at the foot of the statue of Mary in front of our church.

What ever you decide to do to honor Mary this month, make it special. For yourself. For your children. And for her son, our Lord, Jesus Christ

 

Join in the Power of Prayer with the World

Certain evil spirits can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.” ~ Mark 9:29

cid_C7BD3925-9C9E-448F-8003-827622B26FB2Tomorrow starts the 23rd International Week of Prayer and Fasting, October 16 to October 24th. In this time of global crisis, it is more important than ever to take our stand as Catholics to fight against the power of Satan in the world.

He does not just float around in our environment waiting to cause turmoil.

He gains success by entering our consciousness when we make even the slightest turn away from God. He is cunning, making us believe that his ideas are our ideas and that they are the correct way to proceed with whatever we are considering. His most powerful weapon is knocking us off track in small ways that we perceive to be “okay”.

Such “okay” decisions as gossiping, little white lies to insure our looking good, ignoring tasks that need our responsible hand, judging others unfairly, improper handling of our finances that ignore the needs of the future and of the needy…this list is endless. You know best your own weak spots.

The way to fend off this insidious power of Satan? As the verse from Mark states, prayer and fasting. And in our Catholic faith we have another weapon. Frequent reception of the  sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist at Mass.

Fasting puts us in a state of grace by its use of our hunger to remind us to turn to God. It is our-lady-of-all-nationsa way of redemptive suffering for our soul and the souls of the world. Imagine joining with thousands of others in the next week in fasting and prayer. Especially the prayer of the Rosary. Our Lady has told us many times that she will honor this special prayer by bringing peace to our world.

Consider what you can do this week to join a real Army for peace. Daily Mass? The Rosary? Fasting from one meal a day? A show of mercy and kindness each day? An act of reconciliation with a loved one?…Ask our Lord in prayer and then, listen. He will show you the way you can be most powerful.

May our Lord and his Blessed Mother be with you. Amen.

 

Our Most Powerful Prayer for Times Such as These

Our lady of the rosary

I have spoken here before of my growing devotion to Our Lady and my new enthusiasm for the prayer of the Rosary. Today is the memorial of the Our Lady of the Rosary. She is the connection to Christ her son and has made many promises that this meditative prayer will bring peace to the world.

If you had asked me about praying the Rosary many years ago, I would have scoffed at it, feeling it an “old ladies” prayer. Well, to tell the truth, I am getting older and maybe, just a little wiser, so maybe that is why my attraction to the prayer grows. But, I do feel the fruits of it in my own life and see it active in the lives of others whom I know are devoted to it.

Our Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s in Pylesville, hosted another Living Rosary this past Monday, to commemorate the memorial. Some years ago a member constructed a rosary that fills the aisle of the church, constructed of wire and white and blue lights, a medallion and a crucifix. Members of the church line the pews at the aisle and lead each prayer with a lighted “bead” in their hands. The church is dark except for these lights and a few low lights in the narthex. It is a simple, yet powerful experience.

This year our Pope has declared that a Jubilee of Mercy will begin on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis lives and models mercy for us each day and is drawing many people back to faith in Christ through his actions. St. Mary’s will hold the 33 days preceding this Jubilee in prayer with a program of Consecration to Mary, a practice started by St. Louis de Montfort.

Anyone can do this offering of prayer in private or as a group! I urge you to consider it as a gift of self to our Lord and his mother and an offering towards peace in our world which starts as love between neighbors, our best merciful act.

Here is a wonderful article by Dr. Peter Howard on the power of the Rosary as a spiritual weapon with acknowledged evidence of the work of Our Lady of the Rosary. Enjoy!

May you be blessed by our ever loving mother and model of holiness. Amen.

Do Elevators Go to Heaven?

Okay, how many of us have had to create the important, but oh, so intimidating elevator imagespitch for our career or business? If you haven’t you are lucky; it’s a 30 second speech on why your business/product/etc. is something the person would want to know about. I know I have had to do this many times and I strongly dislike the creation and the delivery process!

I am an off the cuff chatter up-er of strangers anywhere…much to my children’s dismay as they tagged along with me in their younger days…”Mom, why do you have to talk to everyone?!“, they would protest. Well, because I like people and secretly I like to surprise strangers by talking to them when they least expect it!

But, recently, at our weekly ChristLife session on Sharing Christ, a dear friend brought up the dreaded concept of the elevator pitch. Only this time it made so much sense!

This week’s session focused on what some of our obstacles and fears are when it comes to sharing our stories about Christ’s presence and love in our lives. When my friend, mentioned the concept of the elevator pitch in relationship to evangelization (ugh, scary and intimidating word!) my dislike of the process vanished. How many times have I been in a situation ripe for sharing the comfort and encouragement of Christ, yet felt totally unprepared?

helpingWhy not create and practice an engaging introduction to roll off my tongue when the moment presents itself? No more stumbling and wondering when a situation arises, I can see it as a weapon against the Devil’s interference play of self-doubt and fear of rejection. All I will have to do is ask the Holy Spirit to push the “start” button on the recording in my brain!

So here is a challenge for you all. Create your mission field “elevator pitch”, your personalized gift to others that could open their hearts to Christ, and share it here. I will be working on mine too!

May the Christ, son of Mary, and the encouraging Holy Spirit be with you this day.

 

The Pope at the White House: Disrespect or Opportunity?

Pope HavanaI too, reposted the articles about the invitees to the Washington reception to my Facebook page with dismay about such disrespect. Later that evening, I found myself listening to God about His plans for such an event…and went to Matthew chapter 9:9-13 The Call of Matthew.

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew* sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher* eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’* I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

I think the White House and others with any agenda of disrespect, will find themselves dismayed when they find that their plan has backfired. They will see the Pope, a living Vicar of Christ, using their plan of disrespect, to teach the word of God through the loving actions modeled right in front of them.

May we remember, that within each of us is the imprint of the God who lovingly created us.

 

What’s In A Name?

Santissimo_Nome_de_Maria

 

Today is the Feast Day of The Holy Name of Mary

Okay, I am sharing a piece of information with you today that not all women like to divulge…I am 56, born in 1959. In today’s feminine culture, I am at my prime, but I will admit that being on this side of 50 gives one a different perspective on life. Deeper, wiser and more particular about what you want in your life.

Why the information on my age? Because my middle name is Marie, a popular form of Mary. In 1959, 2.62% (or 54,465) of the girls born were named Mary and it’s rank in popularity was number 1. Interestingly enough, there were 169 boys named Mary, in some way shape or form! In 2011, the latest census information available, the rank of the name Mary has fallen to 112th. In absolute numbers, the number of girls given the name Mary at birth has fallen 94 percent since 1961.

There are more than a few reasons for this drop in rank and the truth is the name is still a popular middle name in many of its forms, especially Marie. In Hispanic culture, where faith  is still predominantly Roman Catholic, forms of Mary are still popular as a name for girls. Faith inspiring a name…our Roman Catholic sacrament of Confirmation inspires this with the taking of a Confirmation name.

Philip Cohen wrote an insightful and well researched article in the December 2012 issue of The Atlantic magazine about the name Mary.

Bless our Holy Mother Mary! Incorporate her name as a reminder of her glorious work as intercessor to her son, Jesus Christ in your daily prayer.

May your day be blessed.