Monthly Archives: February 2015

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!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

An Interesting Thought About Lent…

field of flowers and church

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

Just a simple thought to ponder today…the day after Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, the start of promises we have made about fasting, prayers, and almsgiving.

Did you know that Lent is about abundance?

For how can we purposely fast unless we have enough to eat?
How can we give unless we already have enough money, time, energy?
And how can we pray unless we have the gift of knowing there is a God to pray to?

“God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
– Phillipians 4:19

And because this is true we must remember that God works through the abundance he gives us as we share it with others.

In the words of my Pastor, Fr. Henry Kunkel…”think about it, think about it”.

May you be abundantly blessed today!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Mary’s Lesson for Us on Humility

I promised you last week that I would write today about how the Blessed Mother serves as our greatest model of the virtue of humility…and I must say, I really needed to do this lesson for myself! It is a virtue that we tend to learn through recognizing its absence, for when arrogance, pride, and self-importance make themselves known in others, we likely feel an urge to turn away and discredit any good works the person may be doing. Ahhh…here again is the Evil One at play!

AnnunciationWhen Mary gave herself to the Holy Spirit to become the mother of Christ, I must wonder if she had any idea what was happening to her. If she did, would she have accepted so readily? Without a deep relationship with God, probably not. Her Jewish heritage showed her the way of blessings was through obedience,  so when the angel Gabriel appeared, even though frightened, she gave her consent because she loved God so much.

Her humility was shown throughout her life in that she was in constant, prayerful communion with God, listening for His direction. She did not make decisions on her own without consultation in prayer and a knowledge that the action she took was guided by God’s will for her. What we know as ego, was probably very subdued in this woman of God.

In our world, there is temptation to be successful and popular. This temptation is easily used by the Devil to lure us into believing that because our idea has to do with work of the Church or ministry to others for Christ it is okay. Well, let’s take a minute. What are our real motivations? Money, to be known by many, promotion of our own visions and ideas? These are so hard to sort out!

Again, take a look at Mary. Nothing she did took higher priority than that which God had Mary with Elizabethplanned for her, but she did not let the other duties of her life go by the wayside. One example is that she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, at a very difficult time in her own pregnancy, a time where she could have easily been shamed and left behind by Joseph. She could have hidden herself. Her willingness to charitably support her cousin led her to an experience that would confirm the angel’s message and calm her fears, and the verification that she indeed was carrying the Savior.

If we wonder why there is not more about Mary in the Scripture, there are many speculations, but one is that the most important things she did are revealed to us. We may be quite curious to know more about her, but the interactions recorded in the Bible are lesson enough for us.

Br. Alexis Bugnolo in Franciscanum, the official blog of the Franciscan Archive gives us a list of ways to put our good works ideas to the “test” for humility.

1. Does it stir up our pride or vanity?
2.  Will its accomplishment require us to neglect the other duties of our life?
3. Will its fulfillment put us in the way of those sins to which our nature draws us most easily?
4. Will the works bring the conversion to the ignorant and/or consolation of spirit to the faithful?
5. Do the works increase our virtue and lead us to hear God’s true call to other work to be done for Him?

stainedglassmaryqueenIf what you are longing to do can pass these tests and you have been brought to them by prayer and sacrifice in order to see clearly, forge ahead!

If you are having difficulty in discernment, seek the advice of your pastor or a spiritual director.

I hope this is a help in your path to holiness. Be blessed as we enter into the Lenten season.

 

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

More Lenten Preparations

As you know I have been writing about humility and working on incorporating this virtue into all aspects of my life.  Today I am practicing this virtue by not writing my own thoughts and sharings of knowledge, but by offering you a resource which will be a gift to you as you prepare for Lent.

Dan Burke, author and now commentator on Divine Intimacy radio, has prepared 3 radio programs for us to use as we get ready for a very important liturgical season.

I hope it bears spiritual fruit for you…

DivIntRadioPREPARING FOR LENT – DIVINE INTIMACY RADIO

You can copy and paste the link below into your browser if clicking the link above does not work…

http://spiritualdirection.com/preparing-lent-divine-intimacy-radio

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

A Humble Voice Sings the Litany of Humility

Well, I’m still working on the virtue of humility. It’s hard! So I thought a different approach may be uplifting…here is the Litany of Humility from the album “I Thirst” by Danielle Rose.

Enjoy! And join me in trying to be more aware of areas to be more humble. I’ll get more in depth next week and talk about some ideas of how and touch on how the Blessed Mother shows us the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCacRoKtVZs

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Lenten Preparations

Ash WednesdayI don’t know about you, but to me it feels like it was just Christmas and now we will begin the season of Lent in just two weeks. Ash Wednesday is on February 18th this year. A fact about Ash Wednesday that I heard on the Catholic Channel yesterday…it’s not a holy day of obligation! This only means you do not have to attend Mass on that day. I guess it may be a good thing because more people will likely show up for a shorter service to receive ashes.

As I was thinking about what to write today, it came to me that the decorations of Christmas add such a feeling of being in a different time during the days between Thanksgiving and Epiphany. There is a constant reminder that something is happening. There is something to celebrate.

While Lent is traditionally a time of deprivation and sacrifice for most Catholics, the past couple of decades have seen a trend toward fulfilling the mission of the Church through acts of kindness and mercy. Instead of giving up chocolate, we give of ourselves at a soup kitchen or volunteer to read to underprivileged children. In this way we act as Christ so others can see Christ in us and we see Christ in them. We show them love.

This change in practice is fitting as Lent is the time to celebrate the most loving thing God ever did for us. He became one of us in Christ and allowed himself to be tortured and killed for our sins while in his human form. He felt the pain and the agony. He was not in some divinely protected state, it was horrific suffering. HE DIED FOR US. HE SUFFERED FOR US. For you. For me. For the people we love and the people we despise. For everyone because everyone was created by God.

And this is to be celebrated.

I encourage you to decorate your home for Lent. Not in any gaudy way. Leave the bunnies Home altar 2and eggs for Holy Week. Home altars are encouraged in our Catechism (2691). So consider designing an altar in your home. A place that honors what Christ did for you. Pick a place that will be seen frequently, mine is in my foyer. Use a Bible, holy cards, candles, statues, pictures, icons…whatever makes the connection for you.

Allow its creation to be a family project. Children can add their own special touches allowing them to be engaged in the love of Christ. Encourage the family to say a short prayer together at this altar. Make liturgical changes in your altar. At Lent, I add three iron nails and a small grapevine wreath to represent the crown of thorns. After Easter Vigil, they are removed and replaced with a cherished statue of the Risen Christ.

Your altar is a silent, but powerfully comforting place in your home. A reminder that our homes are where the Church lives day in and day out.

Enjoy this creative and prayerful process…and if you like, post a picture of your altar!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Praying for humility

mary humility 1Prayer is the foundation of developing a virtuous life. It is the key that opens the door in our soul to seeing with our spiritual eyes.  As I read this prayer today, the urge to shut that door was strong! I have been working so hard to be a good person Lord! But there are so many areas that I need to clean up!

So I start this prayer with a loud groan and crying out to you Lord for your mercy and grace as I continue this path each day, having to start over so many times, even within a day.

To think about:  Where in my life do I need to take a second look? When do I forget that it is not me, but our Lord, who has ensured my successes? Do I think myself better than others and forget each of us is created by God? 

The Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I,
 
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

May your day be blessed with ease of being a steward of the mercy of Christ!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!