Thursday, July 28, 2011

encouragement--going deeper

 I don't know about all of you, but this summer has begun to be a time of  weightiness, heaviness, bogged-down-i-ness, langour, lethargy, ennui, malaise, and any other swimming-through-molasses sort of word you may like to add. Couple the national news, (I won't even enumerate the stories here, lest I give up on this post here and now),  the oppressive weather---

  ----and in our house, the approach of three people starting college (myself included), financial pressures of said undertakings, house projects underway, vacations not underway, midlife exercise program kicking my butt around the get the gist! SO! All of that said, you may be wondering about the title...

I can't help but see the parallels between things, and today is no different. I am currently in about my eighth  week of a self induced exercise regimen. At my age (fifty, tomorrow...yikes!), it is quite a challenge to shed stubborn mid section poundage, and overcome aches and pains that arise after particularly grueling workouts. And if you then count in the emotional waves that wash over we mid-life-type women, well, it can get quite daunting to keep going. But I did make some headway, only to very quickly find myself at a plateau. Pushing through this has been tough going, but I see that on a spiritual level, one can get just as bogged down. We can take all the right steps; pray, go to mass, adoration, amend our lives, and actively place our trust in the hands of Christ, but yet seem to be slogging across the desert in our experiential life. Not wanting to give up making progress, what should we do?

If you have been reading here much , you know of my deep affinity for the writings of Father Jacques Phillipe. The book I have been reading, In the School of the Holy Spirit, has been a great inspiration in the time which I find myself. Well, it would be terrific in any time, really..but he provides some encouraging answers to the above question.

This is a fundamental spiritual principle, found in the Gospel. Jesus speaks these mysterious words: “I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Lk 19:26).

In this way he proclaims one of the most important laws of life. Someone filled with resentment and unhappiness, bitter that life is not as it should be, will be deeply disillusioned. On the other hand, people who are glad for what they have received, and thank God for what befalls them will receive still more, until finally being overwhelmed by God’s generosity.
Called to Life, p.87

Hope is a choice that often demands an effort. It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid. Hoping means trusting. When we hope we are not passive: we are acting.

Love is also a decision. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, but very often loving people will mean choosing to love them. Otherwise love would be no more than emotion, even selfishness, and not something that engages our freedom.
Interior Freedom, p.9

Always back to Faith, Hope and Love. Those timeless anchors. There is a wonderful passage about how loving God is the key to real and true freedom,  It begins like this:

"...If we want the (apparent) contradiction between God's will and our freedom to be resolved, we ought to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love God more, and the problem will solve itself."...and later.."loving Him does not constrict our heart but enlarges it infinitely."
--In the School of the Holy Spirit, pp.89-90

Very often we feel restricted in our situation, our family, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts.
Interior Freedom, p.20

The very act of accepting where we are now, in all it's glory or lack thereof,  IS an action. It is trust, and if we can add "joyfully" to the "accepting" part, it is now an act of love. And as stated above, hope is also an act of the will. We all know that it is hard to remove ourselves emotionally from life difficulties. It is not pretending they are not happening, it is saying, to ourselves and to God, " I trust (have faith) that You have me right here for a reason that is for my good, not to harm me but to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) (prosperity of all kinds, not just material) and give me a hope and a future.

God wants us to accept His love and care for us and also give Him a chance to show it! If every outcome in our lives could be linked to our own efforts, how could we give God any credit? When we give gifts to our children, we don't want them to perform some task for them, then they are not gifts any more! Also, I appreciate when my kids ask me for something they want or need. We know God knows, but he also wants us to ask! Again, then we know where our help comes from!

Even though we know we need to pray, worship and make sacrifice; we should do this in pursuit of a greater love for God, and the gifts that flow from that, I suspect, will far exceed the gifts for which we were striving.

Peace, coolness, and Mercy for our country!


                         yes. I know these are not lilies

 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  ~ Matthew 6:25-33
Malaika's little friends, coming to visit at her handmade feeder.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

discomfort and delayed gratification

Here we go! We are embarking on repainting our first floor. Our landlord doesn't have the time, nor the inclination to paint while tenants are residing here, but he did provide most of the paint and materials. I was able to prevail upon him for a hint of color (pale trim) for our all stark white walls. We have been here six years and it just was getting dirty and beat up looking. We will also be refinishing the wood floors. So--pray for us! It is fun, mostly, except when it isn't. And it is hard having everything out of place and moving things around. Especially when there are many people--but yes, I am putting them to work whenever possible! Our living and dining rooms are old fashioned plaster, which means spackling and sanding, which also means having to wait a day for all that to dry...sigh.

  Here is the before. 


  yes, that is a child sleeping on the couch.

 I finally admitted to myself that we will not be able to go anywhere this summer. It was hard because I really feel we should try to get to my brother's in North Carolina as much as we can. We had a wonderful time last year! Ah well, but it doesn't seem to be within our power this year. We'll see if God decides differently, but for now I am trying to accept it. Maybe in the Spring.

Here are a few random family shots I like. No special reason.

Rachael. Turning 18 in a few days. Where did the time go?

                     my grandson--growing up....sigh. :)

Well, I just trust God that any difficulties, large or small, in time, untangle and get worked out, our life being right now much like the Drawer of Cords.  Like you, our family is in need of prayer for many individual and woven together needs. 

All the many cares of life that seem a bit insurmountable--I cast them on the Lord, because He cares for us. With the help of the saints and angels, and the special care of the Holy Spirit, we go forward!

I have been praying this prayer each morning--since reading the wonderful book, In The School of the Holy Spirit, by none other than, Jacques Phillipe.

Cardinal Mercier's
Prayer To The Holy Spirit

I am going to reveal to you a secret of sanctity and happiness.
For five minutes every day quiet your imagination, close your eyes to everything visible and your ears to all external sounds and withdraw into the sanctuary of your baptized soul which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There, speak to the Holy Spirit and say:

"O Holy Spirit
soul of my soul
I adore you.
strengthen and console me.
Tell me what I ought to do
and command me to do it.
I promise to submit to everything
that you ask of me
and to accept all
that you allow to happen to me.
Just show me what is your will."

If you do this, your life will be happy and serene. Even in the midst of troubles you will experience great consolation, for grace will be given to strengthen and help you to cope with every difficulty. 



I'll let you know what the results are! I fully trust there will be some.

Now I have to get to my exercising and painting.




Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Rambly Thoughts

I have been thinking about all manner of things spiritual and otherwise lately. Here are those that are rolling around in my head and popping up like the lottery ping pong balls. In no particular order:


On turning fifty in a few short weeks. I am really amazed that my well being and overall health are not as bad as they were even a year ago. That the human body can have such resilience, that even at this advanced age, with a little sweat and a bit of discipline, it responds and _somewhat_improves.  I have known, (but was trying to ignore), that my physical, mental, and emotional well being are tied to exercise. I just have to carve out twenty or thirty minutes each day (thank God for Exercise TV). At first I thought I had to choose between time for spiritual health and physical/mental/emotional health. But, darn, then it became quite apparent that they are all tied together. Drat.


But really the more amazing thing is realizing that God Isn't Finished With Me Yet. He seems to think it is perfectly okay to start a whole new chapter now. Perfectly reasonable to start school at the same time as my two college bound daughters. Some days, when I am wondering how I am going to even find time to get to the market, or remember what kids are going where today, or to take something out of the freezer for dinner: you may ask yourself (haha, eighties anybody?)..."how on earth is this woman going to add another Big Thing to her life?"  I guess the answer is the same as it was for exercising, only on a larger scale. Discipline, dedication, sweat, (mental, I hope), and huge portion of grace and faith. I am taking heart from the results of my exercise routine, that results beget results, and that results beget encouragement, and also that results beget the desire to not see any loss of what hard work went into those results; and knowing All Results go straight back to God with thanksgiving for His immense grace. Wow, that got a little Chapter-one-of -Saint-Matthew there.


On peace, acceptance, and being human. I sometimes feel a pang of sadness when I see or hear about people, especially but not exclusively, moms and dads, beating themselves up because of how they see themselves in comparison to others. I should say, to be accurate, what they perceive in others. I include myself. It is hard not to envy or covet someones lifestyle, when it appears to be something we think we want.

Maybe, freedom from a work-a-day schedule, ability to travel, or someone who has a very squeaky clean looking family, with homeschooled kids that don't watch TV, weave their own clothing and raise chickens. Someone getting noticed for something we feel we don't ever get noticed for, or whatever. There is always somebody doing what we are doing, only doing it better. The problem (besides the whole fact that envy and covetousness are sins) is that this kind of thinking takes the focus off where God has us right now today, what we have, who we are, and what we are doing with that. I think our consciences should be formed by what God thinks of us today, by what we have done for Him and the people He put in our lives today. Sometimes the picture we get of other people is entirely wrong, our image fed by appearances and our imagination. It helps to remind ourselves that we are a part of everyone else on the planet. What we say and do contributes to the overall well being (or not) of everyone else. We are not separate. If we sin, we affect God and make our mark on the world. If we pray, do penance or sacrifice, we make our mark in that way. Each of us matters intensely, and if we know how much we mattered to God and other people, I think we would see our role, our vocations in life as being uniquely crafted for us, for our benefit and blessing.

picture source:


On joy. I may have mentioned this before, but I have always noticed Christian joy when it surfaces from time to time. Not giddiness, or fleeting happiness associated with temporal things, but a simple joy that comes just from knowing Christ and finding His mark during the course of a day. It is something that I wish I could bottle and give out on the street. It contains all the things people strive for; peace, hope, contentment, motivation to do good, spontaneous prayer, thanksgiving. Charity. Serenity. All good stuff. Oh wait! It is sort of contained in something, or someone...the Eucharist. I don't know how I would do anything without Him. Oh wait, I wouldn't.
I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. John 15:5.


It's Friday! We had the pleasure of hearing mass by a very dear priest and friend, back from Rome for a little. And today I am relieved of going anywhere, something I love. The ability to putz around the house, write (obviously), clean a little, sit in the sun with a book, and tonight, watch Harry Potter (not the new one,  yet) with the kids. Yes, yes, I have heard about the evils of Harry Potter. I grew up reading CS Lewis and Tolkein. My family understands the use of magic as a vehicle for a story. 


Tomorrow Bob and I play music for the Helpers of God's Precious Infants Mass. If you would, please include us in your prayers so we will be able to offer our best to God and to the faithful that are so dedicated to helping the unborn.


Simplicity. I love it.I strive for it. Our household is full of people going many different directions, physically and spiritually. This demands a  lot of attention, prayer, and energy. And a goodly amount of stuff. So I have figured out that my simplicity will have to be of the heart. I strive to be that joyful, peaceful Christian person whose brow is smooth and worry free, whose gaze is direct and conscience clean. That is simplicity I can hope for.

 seven and a half--but just as important

 Please, in your charity, add my daughter's fiance, Adam, to your prayers. He had an appendectomy several days ago and is having a rough recovery. He is the one under the turtle.

Peace to all, and a lovely weekend!

In Him,



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

for my fiftieth year, a new career!

Yep. It just kinda fell out of the sky, right into my lap. I believe it is from the hand of God. Not that He goes around throwing steno machines at people, but He did give me certain talents that just happen to fall into the right categories, and the right circumstances in life, and the need for some additional income for our family, and plenty of places for that income to go...well., you get the drift.

But keep praying, dear people. There is the school, first. Now I love school, and I  love learning stuff, but this is going to be some Hard Work, and learning to "play" the steno machine well is going to be the Big Goal. After that, I could get to sit* (see note) in a courtroom, with which I am fascinated, and merrily record every word that  is said there.

*It has long been my assertion that the sitting down jobs pay the best. It has also long been not my job to ever get to sit down, even for a moment, at any of the jobs I have had. Occasionally I have been asked in a gracious and complimentary way (many thanks to you all, you know who you are) how I have stayed so "young looking" (whatever), having had seven children. My answer, besides, "one at a time" has been, "I haven't sat down for the past 29 years." That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The fact that my own mother began nursing school at age 50 continues to inspire me. I remember helping her study. I was eight at the time. She did well, and I intend to do the same. I will carry on the proud tradition! I feel better at this juncture of my life than I did in my late twenties and thirties, and every bit if it is purely the grace of God! If He has given me a talent, and nudged me in this direction, then, off I go! It is very exciting! As Mother Angelica famously said,  "Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous."

and about following the will of God-

People often ask me, “How do you know whether something is God’s Will in your life?”  I say, “Ask me next year, and then we’ll know whether it was God’s Will.”
The Lord isn’t going to come down and say, “Now, look sweetie, I want you to do this little thing for me.”  He’s not going to do that.  He gave you a brain.  He gave you a memory, an intellect, a will.  Do you realize that if you’re a Christian, you have Sanctifying Grace in you?  The Holy Spirit is in you.  Pray.  Move forward in His grace, and you will discover His Will for you. 
(Mother Angelica, from Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality, ©2007  by Doubleday Publishing)

Corapi--were you helped by him? Help him now and pray!

He taught many of us, and many of us are where we are due to hearing his teaching. If we all utilize what we were given  to give it back and pray for the man, he will have a great wave of prayer in his time of great need.

He recommended Mother Teresa's 911, so lets pray it for him now.

9 Memorares-

assumpt.jpg (4668 bytes) Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.

1 Rosary

1 Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Also I think it is fitting to ask for the prayers of Blessed Pope John Paul II-

.- The Diocese of Rome, in charge of promoting the beatification of late Pope John Paul II, released an official prayer in different languages, to implore favors through the intercession of the Pontiff.

The text of the prayer reads: 

"O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him.

"Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

"Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen."

Prayer to Obtain a Favor Through the Intercession of Archbishop Sheen

(For Private Use Only)

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit.   In every age, You raise up men and women outstanding in holiness, whose faithful service has contributed significantly to the mission of the Church.  In this very way, You used the life and work of Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen.  He inspired great numbers of Catholics and other people of good will to grow in virtue and lead lives pleasing to You and of service to their brothers and sisters in need.  He encouraged them to embrace the 'Gospel of Life' by recognizing that in all its circumstances, 'Life is worth living.'
If it be according to Your Will, Eternal Father, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here).  I make this prayer confidently in Jesus' Name, through the merits of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.   

And Last but not least-

  Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless America!

With all it's troubles, I still love our country. Despite what "hope and change" has brought us, I still believe in the American Dream.

Thank you to all the servicemen and women, past, present and future, who will fight and even die to keep us free.

Let's vote to keep ourselves and all human beings, born and unborn, free to enjoy life, liberty and happiness in this great land.

God Bless America!