Sunday, February 24, 2013

today --

-- I am thankful for --

-- a 17 year old son who got up and washed the supper dishes without being asked.

-- the same son, yesterday, playing out with his band for the first time.

That's him on the drums. It was hard to get a good picture. It's a strange  feeling to be welling up for your kid while he plays screamingly loud hard/progressive rock in a funky theater in downtown Philadelphia. But I have heard them practicing in our basement and they truly are good musicians. You never know where you may end up on your kids' journeys through life. I wouldn't trade it.

--for my other son, Daniel, mentioned in my last post, who is again employed and starts Monday (Yay! and whew! and thank you Saint Joseph and all my dear praying friends) who came up from Delaware to join us in watching Ben play. Dan is also a drummer and confirmed that they were good. :) And it was nice having him around.

-- for Corrie being seizure free since Thanksgiving and cleared to go back to work. Just waiting to hear back from them, but we believe it is going to go well. 

-- for Melissa going to work at a job I once worked and being received well. We all know she will do wonderful things there.

-- for Rachael just about to pay off one of her student loans by diligently working at a local arts and crafts place, where she is well liked and appreciated.

-- for my husband, who provides piano background music when he's not working his butt off for us.  He'll be playing at the Academy of Music again this Sunday (March 3rd). He's working up Clair de Lune at this moment. One of my absolute favorites.

--for my daughter Meghann, her husband Jeff and of course Kaden -- all of whom I miss so much it hurts -- recently while I was talking with her on the phone, he piped up, "I miss you. Nonnie!" So sweet, but ow ow ow.

 -- for Malaika for taking us through the 13s once again and keeping us on our toes.

-- for our kitty. Sometimes he stinks. And tears us to shreds when we give him a bath. But he's so darn cute.

 -- for a nice conversation with my brother yesterday.

-- especially for another opportunity this Lent to draw closer to the Lord.

With all the events about to unfold in the Church, with all the nutty happenings within our own government and worldwide, there are so many sobering things, one could easily become overwhelmed. Not to ignore it, but sometimes, I have to look at what is given directly to me, and make sure I appreciate it, and do all I can to fulfill my immediate vocation. Right now, that is wife-ing and mom-ing to the best of my ability, and being the best daughter to my Father I can, by seeking His will and offering myself each day.

I am thankful for simplicity in the midst of confusion, joys in the midst of sorrows, peace in the midst of turmoil.

Friday, February 22, 2013

7 quick prayer requests and the promotion of a great blogger

1. I would ask your prayers for some friends this Lent; namely, Kristen, Jan, Joyce, and Mary; each who are going through particularly tough ordeals and would greatly appreciate them.

2. For all priests, certainly, but in particular, Father M., Father C., and Father K.

3. For the Holy Father and the process soon to be underway, the speculations of which are already driving me crazy.

4. For Father MacRae, of this wonderful blog, who has been nominated for Best Catholic Blog, through If you would like to help him out, you can vote for These Stone Walls, here.

5. For my son, Daniel, who was unjustly fired from his long-time job.

6. For Chuck, my ex-father-in-law, and much-loved grandfather to Meghann, who is in his last time on this earth. And a special request I have asked God on his and the family's behalf. He has been suffering with Alzheimer's for many years.

7. Finally, I would ask your prayers for me, and all my intentions. I have not been able to get completely well ever since getting the flu/cold/virus/something -- some six weeks ago.I get a little better and then, down I go. It gives me something to add to my prayers, for sure, but also detracts from my ability to function. I am limping along, but my limper is getting worn out. As well as my patience. And today, added on, is a nice migraine. Sooo much to add to my prayers.

Just to put things in perspective, and to humble myself after complaining of my headache, and other things today,

I want to thank Manny, who posted a lovely memorial of a fellow blogger, Ros, who touched many with her sweetness. He included this song and video from The Passion of  the Christ, that Ros loved, and now, so do I. I listen and watch every day, and want to watch the movie again during Lent. So, Ros, your legacy of sweetness and devotion lives on. Thank you. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

prayer. it's what's for dinner.

Well, spiritually speaking, anyway. Unless you're doing some hardcore penances this Lent. If so,  may the Holy Spirit be with you.  I am not at the point where I am a Big Food Giver-Upper, although I am doing small food-related things.

  Mainly I am just trying to bust through that wall of bricks otherwise known as My Thick Skull, that keeps me from being dedicated to prayer and daily mass. That and my friend Epstein-Barr, who keeps coming for tea when I haven't invited him. If I can't shake him, maybe I can just ignore him until he goes away. Or start wearing disguises.

Anyway, about prayer -- I read this passage on the blog of a friend:

We do not pray in order to improve our talents, to develop more clearly an intellectual synthesis, or widen our culture, religious or otherwise.  We pray in order to tell God once again that we love him and know that he loves us, and to relate ourselves to the plan of mercy that is his.
We run still greater risks in the realm of sensibility, and in believing that our prayer has value only when we have “felt” something.  The modern world takes special interest in “experiences,” descriptions, states of the soul; there is a kind of cult for everything that can yield some kind of “interior witness.”  We delight in working out a projection of ourselves that arises from the senses…
Saint Paul speaks of “groanings” (Rom 8:26) or of a “cry” (Gal 4:6).  What is important is not our experience but the gift we make of ourselves.  We should enter into prayer, not to receive, but to give, to give ourselves and lose ourselves.  And if friendship with God is to remain pre-eminent in our prayer, we must enter into prayer in order to give ourselves as a free gift, with the knowledge that we may not always really give what we are giving, and yet without being concerned about what we are giving.  – Father Bernard Bro, OP

Even though that sounds hard, there is a certain relief. Thank God I don't have to feel something to know my prayers are being heard, and are reaching His ears.

As a good priest and friend often says, we don't merit more by "thinking real hard" about everything. I am guilty of going to far into my head -- not that I am an intellectual, far from it -- but I get lost on the merry-go-round of my thoughts about Him, rather than just presenting my sorry self before Him and simply saying my prayers. Well, I am practicing that this Lent. Just showing up, giving what little I have, and casting myself upon Him, because He cares for me. (1 Pet. 5:5‐7)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent stuff.

 Here is some of my favorite Lenten reading and a few prayers. Just thought I would share them with you.
Also a few sites with lists I found interesting. One is brought to you by Life Teen. I have heard the masses are bad, (I have never been to one), but I liked the list.

This is from The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis. (who in the world has à for a middle name/initial/something)? 




    MY CHILD, you should give all for all, and in no way belong to yourself. You must know that self-love is more harmful to you than anything else in the world. In proportion to the love and affection you have for a thing, it will cling to you more or less. If your love is pure, simple, and well ordered, you will not be a slave to anything. Do not covet what you may not have. Do not possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of freedom.
    It is strange that you do not commit yourself to Me with your whole heart, together with all that you can desire or possess. Why are you consumed with foolish sorrow? Why are you wearied with unnecessary care? Be resigned to My will and you will suffer no loss.
    If you seek this or that, if you wish to be in this place or that place, to have more ease and pleasure, you will never rest or be free from care, for some defect is found in everything and everywhere someone will vex you. To obtain and multiply earthly goods, then, will not help you, but to despise them and root them out of your heart will aid. This, understand, is true not only of money and wealth, but also of ambition for honor and desire for empty praise, all of which will pass away with this world.
    The place matters little if the spirit of fervor is not there; nor will peace be lasting if it is sought from the outside; if your heart has no true foundation, that is, if you are not founded in Me, you may change, but you will not better yourself. For when occasion arises and is accepted, you will find that from which you fled and worse.


    Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of all vain care and anxiety, so that I may not be drawn away by many desires, whether for precious things or mean ones. Let me look upon everything as passing, and upon myself as soon to pass away with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun, where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. How wise is he who thinks thus!
    Give me, Lord, heavenly wisdom to learn above all else to seek and find You, to enjoy and love You more than anything, and to consider other things as they are, as Your wisdom has ordered them. Grant me prudence to avoid the flatterer and to bear patiently with him who disagrees with me. For it is great wisdom not to be moved by the sound of words, nor to give ear to the wicked, flattering siren. Then, I shall walk safely in the way I have begun.

I was reading through the Imitation, and got stuck here, and have been reading this section over and over. In some things, I am a slow learner.

Ah, what to give up? Actually, I have been honing the way I do Lent for almost ten years, since my conversion. I stop doing a lot of the things that eat up my time and have little substance. Most TV (not all), certain online things (not all--obviously), and some foods (definitely not too many). I spend more time in prayer and spiritual reading, daily mass and rosary, nightly examination of conscience, and try to get to confession weekly.

This is that list from Life Teen. Definitely not your usual no-chocolate Lent. 
Here is a more comprehensive and conventional list of ideas, from Catholic Exchange.


 Here are a few prayers I love, from the little gem of a prayer booklet we got during parish visitation this year. 

Mother of Compassion

O Holy Virgin, in the midst of all your glory, we ask you not to forget the sorrows of this world. Cast a look of pity upon all who struggle against life's difficulties, and who cease not to feel all its bitterness. Have pity on all who have been separated from those they love. Have pity on the lonely and friendless. Pardon the weakness of our faith. have pity on those whom we love. O Holy Mother, show a mother's compassion toward the sorrowful and those who tremble under life's afflictions. Give them hope and peace.

Prayer for Those Whose Lives I Touched

Beloved Shepherd of Souls! As I tread into the sunset of my life, I grow anxious for the spiritual welfare of souls who came to know me. It grieves me to think of the offenses they may have committed because of words or deeds of mine. I have in mind those who were my close responsibility
as well as those whom I sponsored in Baptism and whose spiritual condition is no longer known to me. In Your Merciful Goodness I now plead for the pardon of the soul who because of me may have lost Your favour. Humbly I implore You, let not one of them be lost, but when they leave this world may they find glorious entry into the Kingdom of Heaven! On behalf of those who may need to atone for offenses I may have caused them to commit, I offer You any infirmities or sufferings I am to undergo during the remaining years of my life. Dear Shepherd of Souls, grant them life eternal.
                                                                                                                               F.E. Callaghan

Monday, February 11, 2013

so here we are

Today, I awoke to the news of Pope Benedict's plan to resign. It made for a strange day! Of course we will go on and the Church will be fine. But it's a shaker-upper, for sure. I loved him as Papa and pray we get another with his wisdom and depth.

I left off my last installment at depression and suicidality. Sorry about that.

I want to pick up a couple years later. After I tried doing things My Way.

 "what is my way?"

Really, I was going through a process, but it took me these years, and I had not found yet how not to fall into my old patterns.

What, you may ask, made the difference? I had been a Christian for some twenty-plus years, I understood the Gospel, I read my Bible, I had experienced the filling and touch of the Holy Spirit. Why was I not able to live in accordance with that? Why were my wounds and sins dictating my actions?

The single biggest factor was that I knew Jesus, but I had not been exposed to His Real Presence in the Blessed sacrament, nor had I received Him in the Eucharist. I had the knowledge, at least most of it; I had brushes with the Spirit of God, and I had received Jesus into my heart, accepted and believed. But all that was coming from me. What comes from Him, what He offers, is Himself. He adds Himself into the equation, joins to our flesh when we receive Him in communion, and MAKES IT POSSIBLE for us to have the power to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Up until that, it is all effort. I wrote about my conversion more here.

I was that sheep that wandered away, and I needed Him to come and find me, which He did when He brought me to Himself in the Catholic Church. He knew I loved Him and wanted to again live as His daughter, but did not know how anymore to go about it.

If you know me at all, you know I do not bash my Protestant/charismatic roots, as I was given good teaching, guidance, love and care along the way. But I also was one of the walking wounded, by the very hands that 'fed' me. Going by the Word, the leadership of the last couple churches instructed the congregations to "have nothing to do with that one" --(have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.-2 Thessalonians 3:14)-- trouble is, while I was definitely doing things that were sinful, nobody seemed to recall what I, the person, had just gone through for the last 13 years (or more), and that I was the very same person that, not that long before, was considered in good standing in the church. You know, while I was being abused,  demeaned and despairing for myself and my children.  Not to say that that verse has no meaning or no truth. If it's in the Bible, it is true.

I now know I simply did not have the tools. Jesus needed to come and get me. Praise God, He did.  I hold no anger for my previous churches or friends, but I do still occasionally feel the hurt at the lost relationships, or when the sting of being ostracized pops up here and there. I resolved not to do that to people that lose their way, nor judge their hearts. Or contribute in any way to making them feel as though God doesn't want them anymore.

This is one of the problems of the independent interpretation of scripture.

But with His help, and the glorious power of His presence within me and without, He drew me. He gave me back, music, the love of all my wonderful children, who, each in their own way, gave, and continue to give love, joy, wisdom, meaning and direction to my life. I may have played a part in giving them life, but they truly have kept me alive and loving life. He gave me a wonderful husband who loves us all.

He has not 'taken away' all depression or anxiety, insecurity or all effects of my past. I offer any small suffering to Him or ask the Blessed Mother to use them for her intentions. I am glad just to be able to be with Him, and I appreciate each day He gives me.

It is simple, but not easy. If we take that one step toward Jesus, He will take us up and go with us the rest of the way. It is not easy to have trust, humility, abandon and docility. To discipline our natural laziness, forgetfulness or self interest. To let go of our own motives. I have not mastered any of these things, but I know I can always ask for what I need.

Start by asking for what you need. Do you need the gift of faith? Do you need the desire to pray? To go to mass? Ask.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.*

 Thanks for going through my journey with me. I hope it in some small way can touch someone who deals with depression, anxiety, lack of faith, or doubt.

God Bless you~

Looking forward to homemade chocolate cake for Fat Tuesday and then a peaceful, fruitful Lent!

God Bless you~


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

He really did change my world

Recently, a blogger friend of mine began a new blog to which he dedicates Tuesdays to sharing some of his favorite music, blues. Yesterday, he posted a song by Eric Clapton called, "Holy Mother." Clapton's life was chock-full of  difficulties, addiction, and tragedy. His music contains a lot of his journey, and has at times, outlined how he relies on his faith in God. This song is one beautiful example.

Another song Clapton sang in 1996, "Change the World," though not written by him, really did change my world. It came during the last few years of a turbulent thirteen-year marriage, when things were really escalating, and my hope that things would turn around was fading. I heard the song while driving, and it pierced me to the core. I heard God in it, telling me that He saw me, loved me, and had a plan to do something about my situation. This message did not instantly heal me, nor keep me from making further mistakes, but it did throw me a rope to hang on to while I made my way to shore.

Jesus truly does come and rescue that one wandering sheep.

If I could reach the stars
Pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth
That this love I have inside
Is everything it seems
But for now I find
It's only in my dreams

And I can change the world
I will be the sunlight in your universe
You would think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world

And if I could be king
Even for a day
I'd take you as my queen
I'd have it no other way
[ From: ]
And our love would rule
This kingdom we had made
Till then I'd be a fool
Wishing for the day

That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You would think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world
Baby if I could change the world

I could change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You would think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world
Baby if I could change the world
Baby if I could change the world

Saturday, February 2, 2013

part two of the journey

Another link from my growing up years that paved the way for my eventual bouts with depression was my search for male attachment and my attempts to construct a "good" family. At least in the image I had.

To be clear -- I know that my parents loved me immensely and sacrificed to give me wonderful things such as music lessons, instruments, a pool in the back yard, and many other advantages lots of kids do not have, (my own for example,) so this is not a "my parents ruined my life" theme. It IS a "my parents' wounds and sins, compounded by my own wounds and sins had an effect on my life," kind of theme.

My father, whose personality I share, was reserved in the Vocal Praise and Lavish Affection department. What can I say, he was of German descent. But he was also known as the man who had the Patience of Job, and who would give the shirt off his back to help someone. Which is why he had very few shirts.  He had a very large heart as well. He just didn't wear it on his sleeve -- because again -- not a lot of shirts.

I was also my parent's only girl, born late-ish in their lives (mid-forties), so there was a generational gap between us. These factors played into a kind of uncomfortable distance relationally between he and I. I knew he loved me, but for instance, if I came downstairs ready for the prom, his reaction was usually --"yeah." It was like the grunt of approval. But I got it, and it was okay. But there was another part of me that I guess really wanted some input. I had a teacher/basketball coach in 7th grade that was a mentor and support. I think he picked up on some of the turbulence going on for me at home, through some of the things I said in class and on the court.

My mom, God rest her soul, was an alcoholic. And my eldest brother, also now deceased, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was also an alcoholic. This made for continual drama in the house; not the kind that is solely dramatic, but the kind that is driven by crises. Without going into any of the specific stories, my home life was punctuated by episodes of things that required calling the police.

I became extremely independent, and carried on with my life. I was loved, financially supported, but in some ways, not raised or guided. I figured out a lot of stuff myself, mainly by blundering through. That feeling of being rejected and abandoned, was intensified when my father passed away when I was 18, and my mother, when I was 23. In one sense, I was used to going it alone, and in another, was trying to create that family I craved. I had had an abortion at 18, was married and divorced, with my first child in tow, by the time I was 23.

At this point, I considered myself a Christian. I had prayed the prayer, given my life to Christ, knew, in part, right from wrong. But I lacked something. Partly, a human base of support, but in hindsight, I lacked the power to carry out the Christian life. More about that later.

 I didn't have the strength or foundation to find my way alone. I did work, but we lived in extreme poverty. The only reason we had a roof over our heads was the kindness of some good friends, and later, a landlord that did not throw us out for late or non-existent rent.

My points in sharing these things are a few:

1.  There is truth in generational sin. When parents have certain issues, for instance, alcoholism, that go unaddressed, the children receive the consequences. If there is coldness or distance, the children develop ways to fill the void, or deficiencies in forming healthy relationships. This can seem obvious, but things such as this can be passed down until someone breaks the pattern.

2. I was truly unconscious of how I was striving to make up for what I lacked. I remember telling someone along the way that I was definitely NOT that girl that sought male attention because of a lack of fatherly affection. Ugh, I did not want to be part of the predictable statistics. But that I was, in that way and others. I often deeply felt I was in the wrong life, and was even told that by the occasional teacher or employer.

 Finally, while mired in a destructive marriage that lasted 13 years, I began to fall into a depression. I didn't realize that yet, though there were others that recognized it. When the marriage came to it's end, I had been so indoctrinated by the anger and control problems (the unaddressed sins and wounds of my ex), that I was brought to the lowest point I had yet known. I believe I even was exposed to demonic activity. I could post about that aspect alone, but for now, suffice it to say, I was vulnerable and asea in the wake of those years. In my blindness, I grasped still, for human help and love. I made the single biggest mistake of my life (that's saying something. considering all I had already made), by allowing my kids to be split up between my ex and myself. So much evil and pain resulted as the sin and wounds spread now to my kids. I went fully into depression and had periods of being suicidal.

Here are a few pictures of me in high school.