Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prayer and blogging

I haven't been posting very often. Each time I decide to go on the computer to write I find that I am pulled into prayer instead. The Lord wants me to "pray, pray, pray" rather than follow my own inclinations to post, post, post (lol) and I am trying to be obedient. I guess it makes sense that He wants me to pray more and spend a little less time on the computer during this time of preparation. I think I've already told everyone how caught up I can get once I go on the computer, so I've been spending less time on here. I've become used to the Lord asking me to lay things down or put them aside for a while. When I follow his leading I feel at peace. When I don't ...I feel distressed in the spirit. Knowing how good our Lord is, He probably just doesn't want me to stress out right before Christmas.

I guess this is my way of saying that I probably won't be posting much this week, either :) And in case I'm not back before this weekend:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

I had a good week. My tree is up and decorated. (Shhh! Don't tell the Advent police!) My Christmas shopping is all done ( not wrapped yet, though). I even attended a Christmas party last weekend! It was at my brother's house and most of my family attended. My brother lives in a beautifully restored Victorian house just outside of Boston and there are usually between 100 and 200 people that attend the party each year. Thankfully, the house is very large!

Michaela and I made a gingerbread house together this week. I should have posted a picture so everyone could have gotten a good laugh! It resembled a gingerbread shack rather than a house! Still, we had a great time making it and that's what counts. Michaela looks forward to doing this each year and she thinks the gingerbread "shack" looks awesome. Well...okay...so do I.  I think I would have been disappointed if it came out perfect. There's not much fun in perfect, is there?

I've been able to spend quite a bit of time in prayer and reflection this Advent. I look forward to this time spent with the Lord. I've been doing some spiritual reading (books and online), too, which helps focus my mind and heart on God during this season. A big thank you to all the bloggers who have posted such wonderful Advent meditations on their blogs lately!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Novena to end abortion starts today

A Christmas Novena to end abortion starts today at Pray More Novenas . They are looking for more people who are willing to sign up to join them in this endeaver. The prayers are listed on the site.

LET IT PASS AND IT WILL PASS

Here's an excellent article from Spirit Daily - LET IT PASS AND IT WILL PASS. Well worth the read!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dethroning the god of self

I have been terribly hard on myself over the course of my life. Often, unmercifully so. For most of my life I had the bad habit of  "critiquing" each step I made, judging and over analyzing everything. It was like living with my own interior judge and jury. Not pleasant, let me tell you, since this judge and jury never took a break. Afraid of the devil? Who me? Worry about the "Accuser"? As if I had the time for him when I was so busy accusing myself! I didn't have much trouble being compassionate with others. I had difficulty being compassionate with myself.

After having myself as judge and jury for most of my life it sure was a relief when God started taking over the job. The funny thing is that I relinquished the reigns slowly. Did I think I was doing a better job than the King of Mercy would? Talk about pride! I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking. I think it had (and has) more to do with:

Pride and dethroning the god of self. Sooner or later everyone must get rid of the false gods they have set up for themselves. And the most difficult one to boot off the throne is the god of self. It's been a problem since the Garden of Eden and is certainly a huge problem today. Those who think they have escaped this aspect of the Fall are deceiving themselves. One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a saint is thinking you are one. The saints didn't think they were saints; they understood the depths of their fallen nature and their total dependency on God's mercy.

GOD'S mercy. Not their own. We are not as merciful as God. Not with ourselves, nor with others. Yes, many people have compassionate hearts but it cannot be compared to God's. Not even close. We can judge actions but not people. And this includes ourselves.Even when we prepare for Confession we are to ask for the light of the Holy Spirit and see our sins in HIS light, not our own. After all, we are going to Confession to confess our sins, not to confess our human nature. God is fully aware of our brokenness and seeks to HEAL us not to condemn us.

Those who "pick" on themselves are playing God. It's like saying to God, "I know what's wrong with me more than you do." Which isn't true, of course. He knows us through and through. The difference between when we try to accuse ourselves and when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin is like night and day. Some of the signs to watch out for are these:

Scrupulosity - Been there, done that. Definitely not of God.
Confusion over sins - The Holy Spirit brings clarity. (Been here, too)
Despair or hopelessness - Satan's doing the accusing here. (Yep, here too)
Depression - This is an odd one. Obviously there are cases of physical depression, too, so this is a bit harder to discern. For those who don't normally battle depression this can be a good sign that we are trying to "outrun" the Holy Spirit rather than waiting for His light. (ditto)
Frustration - "This is ridiculous! It's impossible not to sin!"  Well, of course. And God well knows this. Even the saints fell. (Need I comment?)

The Holy Spirit brings true sorrow...then peace.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hark, all ye fashion designers!

I have to admit something. Woe is me. I have "muffin top". And my poor husband has "Dunlap disease". For all you folks who may be unfamiliar with these terms:

"Muffin top" is the roll of fat that sticks out above the tight, low-cut garments that pass for jeans these days. Its partner is "plumbers crack", which used to only be a working man's problem but now affects the entire population. Unfortunately, one must bend over even in modern society, though perhaps fashion designers have forgotten this small detail. I guess exercise would help get rid of the "muffin top" epidemic, but there seems to be no cure for the "crack" virus which has plagued the world for a few years now. "Dunlap disease"  (when your belly dunlapped over your belt) has been around for years and is the male equivalent of "muffin top" .  Dunlap disease is now reaching the level of a worldwide pandemic as jeans get slimmer, tighter and lower.

What to do?

Well, I just so happen to have a solution. At least, it's a solution for those of us who would like to breathe again. The duds these days are truly duds. And since we were kicked out of the garden and no longer have the option of running around naked, my solution is this:

Let's take a page from biblical days and gird ourselves in robes and tunics! And before you say, "That's just plain nuts, Mary!", please let me remind you just how low and uncomfortable jeans are getting. A few inches more and...who knows? Privately, I think some parts are better kept hidden. It's not like I'm suggesting fig leaves, you know. Flowing robes and long tunics just make good sense if you think about it.

So...think about it:

We could bend over with ease. You could go without shaving your legs for months and no one would know. Fat? Skinny? No problem! One size fits all!  The only muffins would be the ones in your kitchen. You could wear sneakers (or no shoes at all). High heels - gone forever.There would be no "I have nothing to wear to the big bash tonight!" And men would never hear "Honey? Do these jeans make my rump look big?" (What rump, Honey?) Shopping would be a cinch! ROBES-R-US! Here we come!

Not good enough reasons? How about this one:

Wedgies.

I knew I could convince ya.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Immaculate Conception

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!"

   How often I've prayed this prayer. How often I've bowed my head in sorrow and supplication, placing myself in Our Lady's gracious hands, trusting her intercession. Mary was God's "hidden secret". From birth to death she lived in the Divine Will. And there she lives still...for all eternity. May we model ourselves after this humble Jewish woman and unite our own "FIAT" with hers. This is the "YES" that makes us truly free. It is sin which binds and enslaves us.

  "This is something we should indeed learn on the day of the Immaculate Conception: the person who abandons himself totally in God's hands does not become God's puppet, a boring "yes man"; he does not lose his freedom. Only the person who entrusts himself totally to God finds true freedom, the great immensity of the freedom of good."
  "The person who turns to God does not become smaller but greater, for through God and with God he becomes great, he becomes divine, he becomes truly himself. "   
                                                                           Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When will I learn?

 When will I ever learn to just leave my hair alone. Last year, pumpkin hair. This year... spaghetti head. And a huge Christmas party to attend in 5 days. For those folks who don't know what spaghetti head is - it's when a vain woman makes an appointment at a salon for a shimmering head of shiny dark blond highlights in her mousy colored hair and (much to Satan's glee) comes home with white spaghetti strands in meatball brown hair. Sigh.

Rats. Foiled again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sabbath Moments - Miraculous picture of Jesus?

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we "let go and let God" and try to live in the present moment.

This Advent I am trying not to complain. It's not that I complain out loud a lot but I catch myself grumbling in my head. Earlier this week I told the Lord I would try not to grumble and would try to just let things be. Well, guess what? Within a few hours I lost my internet connection. A few hours later the heat and hot water went.

So what did I grumble about?

The internet connection. Yep.You heard that right.  I washed up in freezing cold water and it didn't bother me a bit. Neither did my cold toes. Frostbite could have probably set in and I'd have never noticed. But having no internet? This irked me to no end. And that, folks, is why this lady has to fast from the computer now and then!

On a brighter note, I was looking at one of my favorite pictures of Jesus this week. Supposedly it's a miraculous picture (I posted it below)  but whether it is or not doesn't matter one whit to me. I just like it and it makes me smile. Here's why:

About ten years ago I was going through a tough period in my life both physically and spiritually. One day while I was talking to the Lord I said, "You know what, Jesus? I don't think I've ever seen a picture of you smiling. You must have smiled and laughed during your life on earth but I guess no one thinks of you like that. I wish I could see a picture of you happy." I didn't mention this to anyone.

The very next week a lady I worked with gave me a copy of a photograph. It was a picture of Jesus smiling. She was translating some books about Luisa Picaretta, the mystic, for some sisters at a nearby convent and one of the nuns had given it to her. The story that Sister told her was this:

Another sister (I don't know what Order) had taken a picture of a priest during the Consecration at Mass (no idea why) and after the picture was developed it showed Jesus instead of the priest. The priest is still in the picture though - if you look at Jesus' heart area you can see the outline of the priest with the Host raised
in his hands. It's not as clear as the picture I have but you can still see it if you look.

I tried to research this photo on the internet but couldn't find anything. And if it's a fake...it's still a miracle to me. It was the one and only time I had ever told the Lord that I wished I could see him smiling and one week later I was given this picture. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

God speaks to us in various ways...

God speaks to all his children. I firmly believe this. Now, someone may say, "Oh no! You are wrong, Mary, God has never spoken to me." I beg to differ. He most certainly has. And often. I might even go so far as to say daily. Does anyone really believe that God speaks to only a few "special ones" and gives the rest of his people the cold shoulder? So maybe the question here shouldn't be whether God speaks, but rather...

Do we listen?

I think one of the problems is that people expect to "hear" Him with their earthly ears. An audible voice. And this happens at times but is not the most common way He speaks. He is God, after all, and doesn't need to communicate through a human voice, though He can do so if He chooses.

So what are the ways He speaks to us? Here are a few. None as important as the very last way I mention in this post though.

Divine impressions - these are often more clear than audible words because they go beyond the human language. Human language is limited but God's words impressed upon the spirit are not. I think this is a fairly common way that God speaks to us.

While we sleep - I really don't think sleep is only for the resting and healing the physical body. I think God speaks to us while we sleep. As a matter of fact...I've caught Him in the act numerous times. But only because He allowed it. He refreshes our soul as well as our body when we sleep. This only makes sense, right? We are spiritual beings, too. I'm sure that this aspect of our nature isn't neglected while we sleep. God wouldn't waste the perfect opportunity to work in a hidden manner without our interference, would He? Fat chance of that happening. God works nonstop and loves to work without hindrance.

Through intuition and signs - Spirit Daily has a good article about this today. Just click here to read it.

Infused knowledge- When God directly infuses knowledge previously unknown to a person there can be no doubt that He has spoken. Only God has this kind of direct access to a soul. He gives the person a "leg up" so to speak. 

These are just a few of the ways that God speaks. And for each and every human being who may doubt that God speaks....here is the greatest Word ever spoken:



                                               "IT IS FINISHED"                John 19:30

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Advent with Our Lady

Last month I had a dream that really stuck with me. In this dream the Lord asked me to "put my hands to the plow" and, also, to renew my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this dream he showed me a picture of myself praying the Rosary with all my heart and how much this pleases Him. I guess this is his gentle way of letting me know I've been getting a little sloppy in my meditations.

This Advent I am asking Mother Mary to help me prepare for the coming of her Son. I have dedicated this liturgical season to her and have asked her to take my hand as we walk through this time of preparation together. Under the guidance of Our Lady, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope to give this "spiritual house" a heavy duty cleaning so that Jesus will find a clean heart to rest in this Christmas.

I am offering all my Masses this month to Our Lady for souls who are living in the darkness of sin so that through her intercession the light of Christ may be brought to their hearts.

May everyone have a fruitful and blessed Advent!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Sabbath Moments are the moments when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Michaela has five days off from school. Of course, I would like to say that she can't wait to go back BUUUT nothing could be further from the truth. She has been ecstatic ever since Tuesday afternoon. Dancing around the house singing,  "Five days off! Five days off!" I'm not sure this bodes well for the future (lol). It's been fun having her at home all day though! We've played a lot of fun games on her Wii system and tonight we are going to have a family movie night.  She likes playing games against me because I stink at most of them and she likes to win. Randy and Michaela are competitive and their antics and comments while they are playing against each other crack me up!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal at my parents' house. Great conversation, lots of laughs, and food galore! Everyone brings a couple things and we had tons of leftovers. Eight desserts to choose from - I kid you not. As a matter of fact, the first thing I did this morning after dressing was to put on my pedometer. I often attach it to my pants first thing in the morning and try to hit 10,000 - 15,000 steps per day ( note the word try).  Perhaps if I "tried" harder I wouldn't have 3 different sizes in my closet. On a lighter (or not)  note - I am doing my fiscal duty by helping to support the economy ;)

This week I've tried to focus on thanking the Lord for his many blessings. He has been very good to me and I am grateful! Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Virtues, Grace, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

I added a new favorite website to my sidebar that I thought others might be interested in as well. If you click on Spirituality 101 you can find a wonderful series of articles on virtues, grace, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It's a great site. My husband stumbled upon it during a google search and am I glad he did!

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their day. I know I did!

God is good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

World Wide Rosary Today for Persecuted Catholics in Iraq

Please join me in praying the Rosary today for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq. Click here for more information. Thank you - they desperately need our prayers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cross Wise - Suffering with Joy

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."      Mt. 16:24

There are folks who are wise in the ways of the world and then...there are folks who are Cross wise. Their vision has been lifted from this world to the next. The Cross, which seems such an obstacle to some, is a stepping stone to our Lord for others. They use their sufferings to draw closer to Christ and to obtain graces for others, also.

This week's Catholic Treasure is Barbara Schoeneberger's - Suffering with Joy. Barb is a gifted artist with a very keen intelligence and I always enjoy reading her thoughts and insights on various issues including, but not limited to, dealing with a chronic illness, the Church, the Arts, and Sacred Scripture.

Barb has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. In 2008, she also went through 3 hip surgeries. Despite her battle with chronic pain, Barb remains upbeat and offers her sufferings in reparation for sins of the world. You can read her story here. She is an inspiring and courageous woman and I highly recommend her site.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sabbath Moments - Holy! Holy?

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

 God has been very good to me. Sometimes I have the bad habit of focusing on my flaws instead of God's amazing kindness. As if my petty little human imperfections matter more than the greatness of the Lord. The world becomes a very small place when one focuses on oneself. I know better than to do this. I know it's insulting to God's mercy and prideful but I still catch myself nitpicking myself and wishing I were holier. This topic comes up a lot in my prayer life. I call them my "whining sessions" because I'm not quite sure they pass as prayer (lol). Since the Lord is always with me - He's stuck listening. This week, when I caught myself acting as my own judge and jury I tried to put a "check" on it before I got carried away and tried to turn my focus toward God instead. I have come to the realization that it's always best to wait for the Holy Spirit to bring things to light because He is far gentler than we are! Trying to outrun the Holy Spirit just leaves me frustrated with myself.

I'm quite sure we impede the work of the Holy Spirit when we worry about our spiritual progress too much. It's like saying to the Lord, " I can't trust you with my sanctification. I am worried about my holiness because I don't quite believe you are powerful or loving enough to take care of this for me."  Or perhaps we think he'll let us down and that we won't reach the impossibly high standards for holiness that we set up for ourselves with our fallen natures that (of course) know better than God what holiness is ;)  I am very convinced that our ideas of holiness and God's are very different.

This counts as a Sabbath Moment since this is what I am thinking about in this present moment. Right?

Besides, my original Sabbath Moment about the Bible got deleted ( don't ask).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is horrifying

Allison at A Broken Fortress posted this article about a Minneapolis couple who are accepting online votes on whether they should abort or keep their baby. The couple's website is http://www.birthornot.com/. I don't know whether this is a ploy to get attention or if the couple is truly sick enough to leave a child's life in the hands of strangers.
It crossed my mind that these were pro-lifers trying to make a strong point but if this is the case - they are using evil means to get their point across and are causing scandal. If they are pro-life, LifeNews is unaware of it and is very concerned.
Whichever ultimately turns out to be the case - it's one of the sickest things I've ever read. This makes a mockery out of a little baby's life. Please pray for this baby... and the parents who are making sport of this little one's life.
And if this is really true...evil has been raised to new heights.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blessings

Dear Lord,

Today I want to take the time to thank you for your blessings. I wanted you to know that I am very grateful that I can:

-Pour a coffee without spilling it anymore
-Get myself dressed without pain
-Lift my daughter with ease
-Sleep
-Go for months without getting sick

I also thank you for walking beside me all the years I was ill and for lifting me up when I didn't think I could go on any more. My heart is yours, Lord.  Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Darkness and Light

Christ be my light.

 I have to admit that I have had difficulty posting for a while. I even know the reason why.

I am confused. Baffled by a series of events that took place last spring around the time of my physical healing. Some before the healing, some after. I guess when God decides to intervene in a person's life in an extraordinary way he doesn't half step it. The healing of my physical body isn't what left me confused, it's the spiritual happenings that went along with it. The most I dared to write about this was a post last month called, "What if things are worse than we think?"

While I was being healed physically I "saw" an amazing interconnection among God's creation. I didn't just "see" it, I experienced it.  Not in a New Age pantheistic sense. I was still very much aware of my individuality as a human being but I also became aware of a spiritual reality that exists along side of us. Maybe along side of us isn't the right phrase. With us would express it better. I was alternately amazed and horrified by what I saw. Amazed - because we receive a lot more help and support from the spiritual realm than we realize. Horrified - because I have a glimmer of an understanding why Jesus would say, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

God is very merciful. If we could see the ripple effect of our sins we would sin a lot less. I would like to say that we wouldn't sin at all, but this would not be true since we would still have our fallen natures to contend with. We would also realize our utter dependence on God's mercy. Not partial dependence - total dependence. And this loving gift of mercy is given to all. We cannot stop the ripple effect of our sins but God can and does. Thanks to the Cross of Jesus. We owe Him everything.

Love has a bigger effect. The love of God washes over humanity. If sin has a ripple effect, love is like a tidal wave. It is far more powerful because it is from God. Evil is never from Him.

Can something be both the best and the worst thing you've ever experienced in your life? Can one's life be both "tipped upside down" and "set aright" at the same time. Because this is the way I think about it. My life was tipped upside down and yet, at the same time, set aright. Because God is kind, He allowed me to experience his love in a special way before showing me some "not so pleasant things about myself and this world" to put it bluntly. I cried so hard. "Lord, how can you love us so much?" He does, though. Very, very much. 

What I experienced has had both positive and negative aspects to it.

On the positive side...I have very few illusions left about myself. This isn't a bad thing. I also received spiritual healing along with the physical. That's a blessing, too. Plus, I have a better understanding of the mercy and support of God.

The negative side was temporary, thankfully. Being human, my first thought was to question my sanity. This didn't make sense, however. After all, why would God heal me physically just to throw something worse on me. Plus, as much as I would have liked to chalk it up to a lapse in sanity, I felt very sane. My second thought was to wonder how much Satan may have muddied up the waters. The second is probably likely, to a degree, which is why I am careful in what I write about. I say "to a degree"  because I have no doubt that I received tremendous healing and grace during this period of time and I am very thankful to God for it.

 When I spoke to a priest about the difficulties I was having making sense of things that had happened he gave me very good advice. He asked me to focus on my daily duties and tasks and to forget about the rest for a while. So I did. This helped me adjust back to "normal life".  I was blessed that he didn't bat an eyelash when I explained about the physical and spiritual healing, some priests have difficulty dealing with stuff like that. He took it all with equanimity and gave me practical, down to earth advice. This is also one of the reasons that I took most of the summer off, though part of it was lack of time.

The good outweighs the negative of course. God doesn't allow something to happen unless it's for our greater good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sabbath Moments



Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are those moments when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Those of you who read my last post probably know that I am a great fan of the Blessed Mother and the Rosary. This week I have spent a lot of time with these beads in my hands. Whenever I am feeling troubled or down I turn to Our Lady and I have received many graces over the years through her intercession. These moments I spend with the mother of God are very special to me and I am thankful for her love and care.

I often pray in the car. Everyday, actually. Sometimes, I use this time to simply thank the Lord for the blessings in my life. I'm sure people wonder who the crazy lady in the car who always mumbles to herself is. I can't pray silently in the car for some reason. I usually end my car praying sessions with music. I even alter the words to everyday songs and change them into songs of praise. It's nice to be able to use activities like driving as opportunities to get closer to the Lord.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praying the Rosary and Purification of the Soul

  I am a huge advocate of praying the Rosary.

 Praying the Rosary on a regular basis has an interesting effect on the soul. The more you pray it, the more sin begins to repulse you. Especially your own sins. Can a person pray the Rosary daily (with sincerity) and not be changed? I don't think so. Mother Mary must have obtained some great graces for those who pray it because ... it is life changing.

  One of the first thing I started doing after my conversion was to pick up my beads daily and meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. I had led a sinful life for years and was not really aware at the time just how deeply sin wounds us. I was susceptible to certain weaknesses and sins, especially in my thought life, and the Rosary became the weapon of choice for me. Actually, sin had dulled my soul to such a degree that the Lord had to "cheat" and poured extraordinary graces into it. He was "waking up" my soul and our Lady was helping.  It was necessary because one doesn't come back from sin on their own. It's pure grace. And sometimes this grace comes in ordinary ways, other times extraordinary. I am guessing that the Lord allowed me many glimpses into the work He was doing so that I wouldn't lose heart or despair over my sinfulness. God never stops knocking though we may stop answering the door at times.  A long time in my case. Thankfully, God is persistent.

I use the Rosary for intercessory prayer, to obtain virtues and special graces, as reparation for my sins and to meditate on Scripture. While meditating on certain Bible passages other verses often come to mind and I am often amazed by the connection between the verses. I don't always stick to the mysteries during the Rosary. Often I just try to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and see where this takes me.

When I pray the Rosary I'll notice thoughts that try to sneak into my meditations. Distractions. These are my "attachments and concerns" usually. If I can't ignore them, I sometimes pray about them because I know they are popping up for a reason. They tend to be the same distractions with slight variations over and over so this is a good hint from the Lord about things I need to work on.

Another way that the Rosary has benefited me is that over the years I have become aware of its purging effect. Slowly but surely Our Lady cleans house. When I go through these purging stages I often feel like Pigpen from Peanuts with a cloud of dirt and dust surrounding me and clouding my vision. I feel filthy but the truth is that I am actually just more aware of my faults at these times than during times of consolation. I had a humorous dream years ago about Mother Mary with a broom and have no doubt that she's working hard still.

The Rosary has become my "signal" to the Lord that I'm ready for more cleansing and that I am opening myself up to whatever work He desires to do in me. My tacit permission to go on. God doesn't force himself on us and respects our free will. Some people use a holy word to show their acquiescence to the work of the Spirit, I often use the Rosary. It seems to work better for me, plus I am also fulfilling my promise as one who is consecrated to Our Lady to pray the Rosary.

If I could give 2 pieces of advice to those who have recently returned to the Church it would be this:

Receive the Eucharist as often as possible and pray the Rosary. Oh, and one more - go before the Blessed Sacrament. These three things will change your heart no matter where you are on your journey.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

My heartfelt thanks to all the men and women who have fought so bravely and risked their lives over the years to protect this country. May God bless you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Two Josephs

I have an endless fascination with the two Josephs and the three Marys in the Gospels. I swear that a week doesn't go by when these significant men and women of the Bible don't cross my mind. I'm constantly googling information about them, though I'm not quite sure where I'm going with it. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks about this because I stumbled upon this little poem recently which stoked my interest even further:

How Life and Death in Thee
          Agree!
Thou hadst a virgin Womb
         And Tomb.
A Joseph did betroth
        Them both.

Both at Jesus' birth and death we can find a Joseph on hand waiting. Silent but important figures. One helped Jesus out of a virgin womb while the other placed Jesus in a virgin tomb. The Bible makes these two points clear - the virgin womb of our Lady and the unused, virgin tomb that our Lord was placed into at death by Joseph of Arimathea.  There are a number of interesting parallels here which have given me much food for thought. There are even more than this but I thought I'd start here:

- One Joseph prepared a place for his birth - one Joseph prepared a place for his death.
- They both cradled his swaddled body.
- A virgin womb - a virgin tomb ( The Bible clearly states that this was an unused tomb.)
-  Jesus was born in a cave ( grotto) and his body at death was also placed in a grotto.
-The word grotto comes from the word crypta (vault, cavern) which ultimately comes from the Greek word  krypte - "hidden place".

Both the virgin womb and the virgin tomb were sealed. They were "hidden places" where 2 of the great mysteries of our faith took place. In both these places God changed the course of human history. In Jesus' birth, when the virgin womb was opened, we see that Divinity has descended to humanity. In Jesus death and burial we see that, when the virgin tomb was opened, humanity was lifted to the divine. Both are "clean" births, untainted by sin. The "new Eve" and the "new Adam"  have rewritten history.  We can now enter heaven, it is a rebirth for all humanity. In Baptism we were all buried with Christ and through his death and resurrection we may enter into eternal life. I often wonder if God placed the second Joseph at Jesus' burial for the very reason of pointing out the similarities between his birth and death and what these mean for mankind. We only have to look around the earth to see that God likes to speak through symbols. We see this in the Bible, too, which is rich in symbolism.

 During Baptism we are sealed in Christ.
Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible mark of his belonging to Christ (CCC).
 " Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life."             Rom. 6: 3-4

Don't even get me started on the three Marys. I filled a couple pages of a notebook on them.






















































































































  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we focus on the Lord and take time to just be with Him rather than do. I had some great Sabbath Moments this week:

Last Sunday my church held a family gathering day in honor of the saints and Mother Mary. All the children dressed up as their favorite saints and took part in a procession as they entered the church for Mass. Michaela was dressed up as Our Lady. The kids were adorable! After Mass, we all went over to the center and took part in activities to help the kids learn about Our Lady. It started off with a talk, followed by a story wall activity center, and then the kids made family banners. The morning ended with all the families gathering in the gym to pray the Rosary. A few years back the older kids had made a HUGE paper mache rosary that spans almost the entire gym. Each family stood behind a giant bead and took part in praying the Glorious Mysteries. It was awesome!

On Wednesdays and Fridays a group meets before Mass at my church to pray the Rosary together. This Friday we prayed for our country, state by state. Before each Hail Mary, the leader would pray, "We plead the Blood of Christ upon the state of Alabama and upon each and every soul in that state. " And then it would go on to the next state, with prayers for our government leaders in between decades along with a song such as "God Bless America". I have a great devotion to the Precious Blood and always cover those I am praying for with the Blood of the Lamb so this Rosary really touched me. Powerful! I am going to do this at home, too!

The pictures aren't very clear but I'm sharing them anyway!








Friday, November 5, 2010

"So shall the King desire thy beauty"

"Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm"

Since I began blogging about a year and a half ago I have come across many wonderful Catholic blogs. On occasion I'll come across one that speaks to my heart in a special way and inspires in me a greater love for our Lord. This week's Catholic Treasure is Daughter of the King. I've always felt that Karinann's site is aptly named and that God has blessed her with a special gift that I like to call single-heartedness ... her eyes are fixed on God. She writes with a beautiful honesty that is hard to come by these days and her love for God is palpable. When I think of Karinann it seems to me that she is very like Mary, Martha's sister, despite her busy life, and that she has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. I also have no doubt that, spiritually, she is paving the way for many conversions.

 Karinann's Reversion Story is a powerful witness to God's love for his people and his longing to heal them and gather them to himself. I was deeply touched by her story. For those of you that have family and friends who have walked away from their faith please read her post today. It will fill you with hope.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank you, Victor!

A big THANK YOU to Victor at Time for Reflections for the lovely flowers and the kind words. Your thoughtfulness and your wonderful blog are deeply appreciated!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Living Alleluia

Every part of your life can be a beautiful hymn that tugs at the heart of the Lord. Jesus sanctified every aspect of human existence during his life here on earth. Your very breath glorifies God. As do all the little things that make up the course of your daily life. Work, play, household tasks...we have numerous opportunities each and every day to compose a living Alleluia to our Lord. Is there anything that cannot be done in the name of God? Is there anything that cannot be used to compose this glorious love song?

Sin. Sin is the only thing I can think of that does not glorify God. Everything else can be a tool of grace to compose the incredible song that is your life. There are many people who separate their daily tasks from their spiritual lives not understanding that it is these very same duties, done for love, that make us holy. God is very easy to please. We do Him a terrible injustice when we think of Him as a hard taskmaster. All He asks is that we live our day-to-day lives humbly and with love. He'll take care of the rest.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Virtues

Our new computer is up and running and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. Did you know that I used to be able to do all my dishes while my old one booted up? It was a laptop and had no memory available. A great virtue builder, certainly, but how much patience does one need to build up? Besides, we have kids to take care of that virtue. 

Speaking of virtues, I was thinking of how, God, in his goodness, put so many natural cures for vice upon this earth. Think about it.

What's the built in cure for vanity? Aging of course! It's the great equalizer and no one is exempt. And God is an equal opportunity employer - since wrinkles look good on men, simply take away the hair on their heads and make it sprout out of the ears instead. And perhaps their noses if they still aren't getting it.

Give the impatient a few kids and toss them in a voting line. They'll have no choice but to be patient.

Spiritual pride? No problem! Put them on blogger (lol).

Okay. I'm kidding around. But only a bit.

Speaking of virtue, I'd like to thank all my blogging friends who practiced charity by not mentioning that the background on my blog is electric pink and not the "lovely mellow rose" which I assumed was showing up on everyone's computer (since that's what showed up on my old one). My first thought when I brought up Beautiful Gate on my new computer was - YIKES! My second thought was - People are kind :)

I guess it's time to change the color. I'll have to wait until the pack of wild animals (oops! I mean kids! So sorry!) are gone.

The best cure for impatience? Four kids, three hamsters, one dog - all in one room. Trust me on this one.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Going computer shopping

We are breaking down and buying a new computer. The one I am currently using is a nightmare and is costing us too much to repair. I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Gem Reflects Light

There came a time on the earth when people no longer pointed upward to things of God but, rather, pointed at themselves and even downward at things less than themselves. That time is now. Art, film, books have become some of the greatest purveyors of this distorted way of thinking. What artists and writers  fail to understand is that their work is often a reflection of the state of their souls. Reading a book tells one a lot about the author, just as gazing at a painting tells us much about the artist who created it. Even fictional works contain a hidden autobiography which speaks volumes about the author.

It's always nice to find a gem hidden in the midst of dirt and stones. Today's Catholic Treasure is Time for Reflections . Victor Moubarak's short stories are food for the soul and nourishment for the spirit. The author uses his stories and the character of Father Ignatius (Whom I jokingly call St. Ig ... because he'd surely be beatified if he existed!) to draw our attention away from ourselves and the problems we are facing in this day and, instead, gently turns the focus towards God. This is where our focus should be. Victor has a gift for pointing out the truths of our Catholic faith and the great truths of life with wit and wisdom. May God continue to inspire him!

"A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."           Luke 6:45

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you to all the kind bloggers who prayed for my father and Kevin. They are both significantly improved though Kevin has a major uphill battle ahead of him. Kevin was transferred  to a Boston hospital 2 days ago and he has made a lot of progress since the transfer. He has 14 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, and a collapsed lung (which they are reinflating today) but the internal bleeding has stopped. They may even move him out of ICU and into a regular hospital room soon. Prayer is powerful! Thank you!

My father, too, is finally making progress! He is eating and sleeping again and he is much less depressed. Even his walking is improving slowly but surely. We were all very worried about him. I pray that he has no more setbacks.

God is good :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prayer request

Once again I am requesting prayers from my blogging friends. My father is not doing very well. Since getting home from the hospital he has had one infection after another. He also has diabetic neuropathy which is affecting his entire body. He has lost 15 pounds in the past few weeks and is very discouraged and depressed. He was deeply touched by all the people who prayed for him a few weeks ago and asked if you could pray for him again. I think he's worried that he is dying.

Could you also pray for a family friend (Kevin) who is in critical condition in the hospital? He sustained internal injuries after a motorcycle accident and may not make it.

Thank you so much! I truly believe in the power of prayer. Though the results might not always be what we want, God always answers them in whatever way is best for those we are interceding for.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Catholic Treasures - " As the family goes, so goes the nation...."

"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."  Pope John Paul II

This week's Catholic Treasure is BENMAKESTEN. If God were to appoint an army to help straighten out the families of this world, it seems likely to me that He would assign the task of captain to Judy , the author of Benmakesten. Judy is passionate about family and faith issues and her advice to Catholics of all ages is practical and down to earth. She is a born teacher with a deep understanding of the importance of marriage and families in God's plan for the world. When I was on her site today a verse from the Bible immediately popped into my mind:
 "Zeal for your house consumes me."
 I thought about this and nodded my head. This perfectly describes Judy. Zeal for God's house consumes her. And this zeal is catchy!

"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church."  Pope John Paul II

Monday, October 18, 2010

Discerning the times

I'm going to be very blunt. Should the era we live in concern us? YES.

The Holy Spirit is putting out a world wide "wake up" call and very few are heeding it. There really is no need to "discern the times". It is written, as clear as a bell, everywhere we look. One would have to be completely blind spiritually not to see the writing upon the wall at this point.

Despite the clarity of the picture around us, God, in his goodness, is going to allow this picture to become even clearer. The demarcation lines between good and evil will continue to grow greater and soon no one will be able to walk between these two lines but will choose one or the other. There will be no middle ground.

I have written about this in the past and in no way has this sense of the "spiritual emergency" our world is facing lessened. If anything it has grown stronger.

We should pray daily to the Holy Spirit for the light of His truth to pierce the darkness of our times and for the grace to stand firm in our faith despite the obstacles around us. In this way we can become "little beacons of light" for others.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Sabbath Moments are those times when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Well, I certainly had plenty of time for prayer and reflection this week since I was visited by a stomach bug that resisted all my attempts at swatting him away. Stubborn little virus. Needless to say, I only went as far as necessary for most of the week.

 Did you all know that some people CALL the bathroom, "the necessary"? As in, "Please excuse me! I simply MUST go use the necessary!" I am somewhat baffled by the extreme terms people use to express their need to go to the bathroom. What's wrong with the "ladies room"? Sounds polite to me. Still, the necessary is much more polite than the term "john". I hate that expression. All folks named John hate that expression, too, I'm sure. This term was probably invented by a mom who was trying to give her tot a "cue word" so she wouldn't be embarrassed by what her toddler might shout out in a public place when he or she had to go potty.

Anyway, I managed to read a few of the books I picked up at a nearby shrine and used the new rosary beads I bought there, also. Unfortunately, the beads that I quoted the other week as being "the sturdiest I've ever seen!" are not so sturdy after all and the Cross is hanging by a thread. I did have some good meditations while praying with them, though!

Before the stomach bug began, Randy and I did get the opportunity to take Michaela on a beautiful nature walk. The walk takes you past meadows, ponds, and through the woods. It was beautiful! Especially since the foliage is close to peaking around here! We had a great time!



The wildflowers are still around. But not for long!






Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Saint Teresa, who turned off the light?

Dear Saint Teresa,
As you know, since I make sure to remind you on a regular basis, your castle is very confusing to me and your mansions make me dizzy. You are well known for your honesty, so I know this does not offend you. Have pity on your poor little sister in Christ who stumbles blindly of late, struggling to find her way in this darkness. Turn my castle light back on, if you would, so I can see where I am going!

                                       Your friend,
                                                       Mary

P.S. ( Just to let you know, I was not yelling at you in the last sentence but merely being emphatic. I may be mildly irreverent but I am not totally witless.Oh, and please don't forget to obtain a few more "holy cheats" for me while you are speaking to the Lord on my behalf. These come in very handy on earth! Thank you!)


Some favorite St. Teresa quotes that make me smile:

"About the injuction of the apostle Paul that women should keep silent in church? Don't go by one text only."

"If this is the way You treat your friends, it's no wonder You have so few!"

"How is it , Lord, that we are cowards in everything save in opposing Thee?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Uncomplicated God

God is uncomplicated. It is we, as fallen human beings, who tend to complicate things so much. If there is one thing that I am sure about it is the simplicity of God. In our worldliness, we often carry the false notion that we must do great things to be pleasing to God when nothing is further from the truth. We heap unnecessary burdens on ourselves and others and then get upset because we are stressed out and lack peace. Humans tend to equate their self worth with what they do rather than who they are when actually our worth is in the fact that we are created in the image of God and this is innate to our being.  This cannot be stripped from us, it is God's fingerprint upon us and marks us as his children.

God is not a hard taskmaster.  Humans are hard taskmasters. If we think about this, we can see that this is true. Doesn't society these days push productivity to the nth degree? There is nothing wrong with being productive, it is when a human is judged by the amount he or she can produce rather than who and what he or she is that trouble rears it's ugly head. A society that judges human worth on production alone turns people into machines. Where does this leave the very young and the elderly? They come to be seen as  burdens instead of the gifts of love that they are. Abortion and euthanasia are the fruits of this ungodly value system and we are reaping in tears what we have sown in our unwillingness to love unconditionally. 

God places tremendous value on human life. The elderly and the young are his pride and joy. The young are untainted by the world and just beginning their journey here and the elderly are finishing their blessed journey and preparing for their rebirth into heaven. If we gaze long enough and hard enough into their eyes, we just might catch a glimpse of eternity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Catholic Treasures

One of the first sites I started following as a blogger and enjoy to this day is Anne Bender's blog -
Imprisoned in my Bones. I am pretty much a daily visitor there. As a matter of fact, I used to drink my morning coffee while reading her posts until school interfered with this routine. Anne is a gifted poet and writer. I can picture God standing over Anne's cradle as a baby, anointing her hands with a kiss and turning to the angels with a smile,  "This child shall paint pictures with her words and these words will touch the hearts of many." God has blessed Anne with a beautiful gift and this blogger's heart is as lovely as her words. I highly recommend this site!

Monday, October 11, 2010

What if things are worse than we think?

What if sin in this world is a lot greater than even those who love God are aware of? What if are own vision is too clouded by the world we were raised in to notice? What if we are way, way, off the mark without even fully realizing it due to the slow increase of both personal sin and the sins of society as a whole?

 Personally, I believe this to be the case.

Most of us have heard the story of the frog and the pot of water. If the frog is placed into a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out but if the frog is placed into a pot of cold water and the water is heated up slowly he will be unaware of the danger and never even try to escape. A simple analogy but perhaps the most fitting one for the situation we find ourselves in these days. We are becoming a world inured to sin. Inure means to habituate to something undesirable by prolonged subjection. An even better definition is: to harden somebody to something; to make somebody used to something unpleasant over a period of time, so that he or she is no longer bothered or upset by it.

Can you see this happening? Things that would have horrified our ancestors are "no big deal" today. People have been immersed in this pot of  increasing sin for so long that they often do not even recognize the danger this puts them in spiritually. God, being cognizant of our ignorance, is pouring out his light as never before in hopes of setting our feet straight enough to take the leap out of this deadly pot. He also sends out "pot stirrers" so people will not sit comfortably in their sin but will be shaken out of their apathy a bit. One of these "pot stirrers" that comes to mind is Mother Angelica but there have been many over the years. "Pot stirrers" are those who speak the truth clearly, without the wishy-washiness and political correctness of our current age and we need to listen to them. These courageous souls that God continues to place in our midst are often thought to be fanatics and overly conservative but perhaps the problem really lies in the rest of us who have become apathetic and too accepting of compromise in an area where there should be no compromise. After all, what kind of legacy do we want to leave our children?

"Do not conform  yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect."     Romans 12:2

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace . These moments are those when we "let go and let God" and live in the present moment.

Thursday, Randy and I enjoyed a visit to St. Joseph's Shrine in Massachusetts. While we were there we went to Confession and visited their book/gift shop. We bought some books and new Rosary beads made out of olivewood from the Holy Land. These are the sturdiest beads I've ever seen and I appreciate the symbolism of the olivewood. And being a bookworm, I'm always looking for new reading material!

Michaela wrote her first prayer this week. I loved it so much that I decided to share it:

Our God, the mightiest of the mighty,
Our Lord, the strongest of all,
Creator of everything,
please bless us with faith,
give us your grace.
Please give us the power to help
defeat the devil and sin no more.
We lift up our souls to you.
Help us to come to you in all things.
Amen

Pretty good for a 7-year-old :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary

October is the month of the Rosary and today we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Rosary has always been one of my favorite devotions. I like praying the Rosary and meditating on Holy Scripture while reciting the mysteries. Sometimes, when I can't seem to get in the mood for prayer, I simply unite my voice with Gabriel's and say with him, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee." I picture him standing next to me with Our Lady in front of me as I do this. Then, I say with St. Elizabeth,"Blessed are you among woman. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb." This usually is enough to put some heart into my prayer. When you place yourself right on the scene and take part in what's going on it's impossible to do half-heartedly. After all, our imaginations are gifts from God so I might as well find good use for it. Praying in this manner keeps my mind from wandering and helps me focus when I am very distracted.

Allowing yourself to be drawn deep into the mysteries of the Rosary opens up a huge avenue of grace for those who pray it. It is a powerful weapon in our battle against evil. It gives Our Lady joy to intercede for us and to obtain the graces and virtues necessary for our sanctification. Padre Pio called the Rosary the "weapon" for our times.

 I'm inclined to believe him :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Catholic Treasures

Each week I would like to feature a blog or website that I enjoy visiting that reflects the richness of our Catholic Faith.  We are blessed to have a vast array of sites dedicated to sharing that faith with others. This week, to start off, I am featuring two. One is a blog I've been following for a while, the other is a brand new website by the same author :

Thoughts on Grace - a great blog authored by Colleen Spiro. Colleen shares her reflections on God and her thoughts on spirituality with us at this site.

Catholic Prayer Life - Colleen's new website! At Catholic Prayer Life you can find information on Catholic spirituality, Catholic prayers and devotions, E-cards, audio reflections, and more!

Check them out!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Door of His Mercy


Today is the Feast Day of  St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Apostle of the Divine Mercy.

Every human person was created in God's image. Satan, in his absolute hatred for God, will stop at nothing to deface this image. As God's children with this divine imprint upon our souls we not only must battle against our own proclivity to sin but we must also battle powers and principalities. God's grace, however, is more powerful than satan's antipathy. Not only does the Lord help us battle the forces of evil, He also provides remedies for our own sinfulness.

It can be discouraging in our day to look around and see a world mired in sin. Viewed through human eyes it can be downright overwhelming. Many people would like to pretend that everything is just fine on the earth. Truth, however, tells us that this is not so. God would much rather we walk in his light and face evil, including our own, than bury our faces in the sand and pretend that it doesn't exist. One of the ways God does this is to expose the sins of the world (and our own) to a greater and greater degree until we must acknowledge it. He makes them obvious to us. Not so that we will despair, but so that we can turn to Him and accept the mercy and healing He longs to pour upon us. What easier way to draw our attention to the condition of our world than to have us confront it on a daily basis. The wounds of sin have surfaced on our earth and God  is longing to pour the balm of his love and mercy upon us.

In honor of St. Faustina's feast day, I have chosen a passage from her diary that reflects Jesus' yearning to show mercy to us all, if only we will accept it:

Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more mercy than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to my compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable mercy. Write: before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice. *                             1146


* The Diary of Maria Faustina Kowalska
   The Marion Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
   used with permission (but I have no clue where the copyright mark is on this keyboard, lol)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are moments that we live in the present and pay attention to the gifts the Lord has given us.

Randy, Michaela, and I went apple picking with my sister and her kids. We had a great time! The farm is only 5 minutes from my house and it's a great place for kids. We enjoyed a hayride out to the orchard and picked tons of apples. The hayride takes you by pumpkin patches and fields of flowers. Beautiful! We picked Honey Crisps, Macintosh, Cortlands, and Macouns. After we dropped our apples off at the car, the kids fed the goats and checked out the rabbits and sheep. There is even a hay maze at the farm made up of huge bales of hay that kids love to run around on top of and in. They had a blast! So did I :)

We didn't get pumpkins yet. We'll probably wait a few more weeks for those. The flower fields were beautiful!
Two of my favorite people!
Feeding the goats!

This guy's my favorite! The kids didn't like him much because he kept butting the other goats out of the way. Isn't he cute?!

Thank you, Lord, for a wonderful day with my family!

Googling God and The Divine Mercy

Over the past month or so I've been peeking at my site stats out of curiosity as to what draws people to my site. I was especially interested in what key words brought people to The Beautiful Gate. What I found interesting is that, other than the keywords "beautiful gate", many visitors end up here accidentally by googling "purple shampoo" and "rotten potatoes". I guess brassy hair and foul potatoes are quite common (lol). I can see why. Having pumpkin head is no picnic. But I would rather have my heart shine as a beacon than my head! Still, I often pray that God leads people here accidentally on purpose and this seems to be the case at times. Who says that God doesn't answer prayers!

For those who visit and are wondering if purple shampoo really works? Yep! It does! Cuts the brassiness in half. John Frieda puts out a purple tone restoring shampoo that you can find at CVS and a few other drugstores. Just figured I'd make your search easier.

 I'd like to make another search easier, too. Often, what we think of as an accident is actually the hand of God working in our lives. I cannot count the number of times God threw people in my path when I was far away from him. Though at the time I didn't recognize these events as coming from the Lord, it is clear to me now. Looking back, I can see that the Lord guided my steps, carefully, back onto the right path through "chance" meetings with those who knew him well or through "random" events. Through these instances He was paving the way for my conversion. Of course, at the time, these things went right over my head. I didn't know that God actually took a personal interest in people's lives unless it was to pick on them and I was flying under my own steam back then, with an occasional prayer thown in for fire insurance. Little did I realize that these little prayers of desperation were soon to be answered in a big way. Maybe He didn't want to scare me because I was a fearful person, though outwardly this may not have always shown. I didn't think that this world was all that great a place to live and nothing about the circumstances in my life had really proven this to be otherwise. While I believed in God, as I grew older I certainly didn't credit him with much kindness or love, that's for sure. After all, what kind of God would allow so much suffering in the world? I think I blamed the suffering on him rather than recognizing that our sins cause the deepest sufferings here on earth.  I remember being in awe of God as a child and determined to become a saint or a martyr, but life got in the way and my early love for him was buried under the ashes of despair and fear. I soon forgot God (probably on purpose) but he didn't forget me. God resurrected this earlier love for him in a powerful and unexpected way.

I had heard of Saint Paul and his "Damascus moment" but it never occurred to me that God still did such things. That is why I was so surprised when I sat on my bed one evening, cried out, "Jesus, I am fed up with my life!", and instantly found myself in the presence of a great light. I immediately understood that I was in the presence of Mercy, Himself. This knowledge was communicated to me. Not through words. God can make things known without words - through directly infused knowledge. I had no awareness of my body at all but total awareness of myself and Jesus. Rays emanating from his Sacred Heart pierced my soul and I was filled with love and peace. I received tremendous healing. It was as if scales fell from my soul and I could suddenly see and understand God's incredible love for me and for us all. When I was returned to my body I was still sitting in the same position as before and stunned at what had just happened. Nothing like this had EVER happened to me before and I was in a state of shock.

It kind of tips your life upside down. Especially the life of a sinner like me.

An after-effect of this time in his Presence was the realization on my sinfulness and what a grace I had received. During my first Confession after this experience, my sins just poured out of me. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an immense gift to the Church.

One of the things that struck me was the color of the rays which pierced my soul. They were colors that I have never, ever, seen upon this earth. At the time I had never heard of Saint Faustina and so knew nothing of the Divine Mercy picture or the Chaplet. When I did find out about her I was immediately captivated by both the picture and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I have the Divine Mercy picture on a stand by my bed as a constant reminder to be thankful of the gift I have received. As in the picture, the rays I saw were both light and dark. A deep, dark, rich red and a lighter color tinged with a pale pink. This is a bit different from the picture but these colors were not of this world and this is the best I can describe them. My URL is based on the Divine Mercy and the title of my blog is based on the cripple who begged outside of the "Beautiful Gate" of the temple. It seemed like a fitting title because I was crippled by sin before entering the Gate of Jesus' Mercy. I needed healing before I could walk.

As for rotten potatoes, after you clean the cupboard, put a box of baking soda in there. That should do the trick :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's not to love?

Humans have a habit of projecting their own ill will and unlovingness onto God. I could be wrong but my guess is that our love for God is in direct proportion to our own willingness to be loved.This just makes sense. God is not going to refuse to come into an open heart. His aim is redemption and restoration but we cannot hold Him at arms length. How can you embrace someone if you are holding him off? We have many, of what we perceive to be valid, reasons for thinking that God may not be fair, or perhaps is a bit cruel and should be feared, but none of these things actually hold water when held up for inspection.They are simply reflections of our fallen human nature staring back at us. God is not an overbearing despot ruling over a kingdom of slaves or puppets. (Lol! You can tell this must have crossed my mind many a time over the years, can't you? After all, you have to write about what you know!)

I was thinking about God's love this morning. Well, actually, I was imagining God peering down at the world  many years ago with sorrow and sadness, wishing He could break through our defenses, standing up, casting his crown aside and saying to the angels, "I'll just have to go down there and SHOW them the face of LOVE." This may be a bit simplistic for a meditation but it's effective! And, basically, that's exactly what God did in the Incarnation. What's not to love?

We have a God who:
Became man
Heals us spiritually and physically
Forgives all who ask with sincerity
Loves unconditionally
Died for us
Wants an intimate relationship with us
Prepares us for eternity with Him
Sends angels to guard us
Dwells within us

This is the truth that we are left with once we peel away our petty projections. And so I ask again:
What's not to love?

Thank you!

Many thanks to everyone who prayed for my father's recovery. My family and I appreciate it. My father is out of the hospital and feeling much better. Prayer is powerful! He got out yesterday and even made it home in time for the football game (lol)!

God is good :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prayer request

Please pray for my father who is in the hospital with pneumonia. My mother had to call an ambulance last night because she couldn't wake him up. He went to Mass as usual yesterday morning but fell asleep on the sofa when he got home. He woke up and ate lunch but was very listless and my mother was worried. She couldn't wake him up for supper at all. An ambulance took him to the hospital and we found out he has pneumonia. Until yesterday he didn't even have any symptoms! I think that he didn't even realize that he was sick because the polymyalgia makes him feel "fluish" most days so it's hard for him (or us) to tell if something's wrong when there are no obvious symptoms. I can relate because I used to have the same problem. I spent the day at the hospital with him and they have him on oxygen, an IV, and antibiotics. I hope this takes care of it. He cannot stand up at all and is very confused. Oddly enough, he has been on my mind the past few days and I had started a novena to the Little Flower for him. Now I'm glad I did!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

40 Days For Life

Today marks the beginning of the 40 Days For Life Campaign. Karinann at Daughter of the King  has posted a reflection and a prayer which can be used during this period and also a link  (which I'm thieving) where you can follow along and find more information about this campaign - 40 DAYS FOR LIFE. I invite everyone to join us in asking the Lord to end abortion, here in our own country, and worldwide.

Thank you, Karinann!

Spiritual care packages

My dad gives the best gifts in the world. Forget expensive presents wrapped in fancy paper, those take minimal thought and effort. My father's gifts are from the heart and more precious than gold. Instead of going out and shopping for Christmas or birthday gifts he does Holy Hours for those he loves. Not only does he do Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament for my family, he also has Masses said for us. He often sends me beautiful cards telling me this! Considering how difficult it is for him to get around, going out and doing Holy Hours for his loved ones takes a lot out of him. He even kneels for as long as he can, despite being in pain and barely able to walk.

I'm not sure he'll ever really understand how much his gifts of love mean to me, though I tell him so. I feel so thankful whenever I receive these "spiritual care packages" in the mail.  Perhaps in heaven he'll understand the enormous value of his gifts and the flood of grace contained therein. When I was young I just wanted him to be well and a regular father like other kids had, which was impossible due to his handicaps. Now that I've grown in wisdom I can see that by choosing this father for me, God was giving me the most extraordinary gift of all. Though he may not have been able to always support us physically... his spiritual support has been non-stop.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"I will accept good works"

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. What a milestone! Life has not been easy for them and the two of them have overcome many obstacles in the course of their marriage.

My father has been ill since I was a child. He suffers from mental illness, diabetes, and polymyalgia. Though he worked when I was a young child, by the time I was a young teenager he was too ill to hold a job. This left my mother the sole breadwinner of a family with 5 children. She supported us by cleaning houses during the day and businesses during the evening. As you might imagine, this left her exhausted, and us kids pretty much fended for ourselves. My dad wasn't doing very well at this time and was usually in bed.

My mom grew very close to the Lord during this period in her life. With work, five children, and a household to run, she would virtually tumble into bed at night, totally exhausted. Her lack of prayer time concerned her. Well-meaning friends would tell her that she needed to pray more. One of her friends prayed for 6 hours a day (Yep! I'm serious!) and would tell my mom that she HAD to pray more if she wanted to progress spiritually. My mom would try but would doze off in the middle of them. She started fretting about her lack of a structured prayer life and worried that she was not doing God's will. One night, she went to bed and started apologizing to the Lord for praying so little. As she was apologizing, a perfectly clear vision of Jesus appeared in her head. In this vision, Jesus raised his right hand and gently said "I will accept good works."  My mom was instantly flooded with a sense of peace. When she related this incident to me years ago she stated that the expression on Jesus' face was kind but a bit pained, as if to say, "Do you think so little of me? Do you think I am not aware of your difficult circumstances?"

My mom learned to make her work a prayer. She would offer Jesus her cleaning, uniting it with Him, during the course of her day. She learned to give Him every area of her life and in this way she found the "sacred in the ordinary". Her children, in the meantime, grew up with a roof over their heads and food on the table. And her children are thankful. She made her life a "living prayer".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"I will not take part in this."

At times we find ourselves placed in a situation that calls for us to take a firm stand and this is especially true for those in the medical field who are pro-life:

My younger sister is a nurse at an urgent care facility. They treat illness and injuries that are not serious enough for an emergency room visit but still require medical attention. While she was at work 2 weeks ago, she found herself in a position that left her very shaken. The physician on duty walked up to her and said, "I need you to call in a prescription to the pharmacy. After you call it in, I want you to call the patient and explain to her EXACTLY how it must be taken. It is important that she follows the directions. I can't stress this enough, it may not work if she doesn't follow them exactly."

It was for the abortion pill.

My sister refused. She said quietly but firmly, "I cannot do this. I will not take part in this."

Free will works both ways. She is not the only one who refused to be a link in the chain of abortion. A PA refused to treat the woman the day before. I applaud them both.

I cannot help but think that those firm but quiet words of respect for life echoed into eternity - I cannot do this. I will not take part in this...

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we remember to live in the present moment and unwrap the gifts which the Lord has laid before us.

My daughter has three Robo dwarf hamsters that she loves to spend time with. What she does not know is that while she is in school I love to spend time with them, too (lol). They are tiny little creatures 2 inches long, babies still, and I like to take them out and feed them while they sit in my hand. Two of them like to be petted and will sit still while you stroke their soft fur, the third is skittish. Their names are Lolly, Tootsie, and Honey (aka "the Pop sisters") and they live in the Taj Mahal of all habitrails. Actually, only 2 of them live in the Taj Mahal presently - Honey has taken up residence in my living room wall and I can't get her out. She snuck in there through the heating element and prefers the wall rather than the delights of her palace. My husband cannot quite understand why. Neither can I.  They have a sky wheel, a lookout tower and the halls leading from one room to another are a tubular masterpiece. What's not to like? Other than living in captivity and at the whims of a seven-year-old that is ;) This doesn't seem to bother my dog at all.

I started two novenas this week, one for myself and one for someone else. Both were to Our Lady. Mother Mary is quick to intercede for those who request it and it delights her when we place our cares and worries in her motherly hands. Jesus never refuses his mother's requests because she never asks for anything that would not be good for us. Mary's love and motherly intercession is a great and powerful gift to us and I thank God for her.

Now that school has started, I use the time spent waiting at the bus stop ( the bus is always about 20 minutes late) as an opportunity for intercessory prayer. I pray for everyone who crosses my path while I am there - the children, parents, and others who pass by. I do this in the car, too. I even do this while I'm waiting in stores. This way, I don't get impatient and I do something productive at the same time. Waiting becomes enjoyable when you do this.

The weather has been beautiful and the leaves are continuing to change color. I love looking at the foliage in September and October. It has a long way to go but it's still awesome!

Thank you, Lord. I am grateful for the beauty of creation.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sins of the past








My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future, to your Providence!
                                                                                         St. Padre Pio

Life is a series of present moments. The past is just a shadow of the present and the future has not arrived yet, so the "here and now" is all anyone can count on with any certainty. Sanctifying each of these present moments, by living in the Divine Will, is our job here on this earth. We may at times fail in this duty but we should not let this discourage us, nor should we dwell on it except to try and see what we can learn from our mistakes. It helps to look at the past as a teacher; we can reflect on what it has taught us without getting caught in its traps. The traps, whether it's focusing on sins you may have committed or on how others have sinned against you, can lead to despair if we dwell on them too much. For those who are discouraged by past sins, it's best to leave it in the hands of Jesus. I have learned this the hard way, of course! Hopefully, my words can help others not make the same mistake. By placing the past in the hands of Jesus, I do not mean to suggest that counseling is not helpful. Often, counseling can help those who have suffered traumas and can speed up the healing process. A third party can often put things into perspective better than we can on our own. It's okay to acknowledge our hurts as long as we don't make them our primary focus by constantly reliving them. In this post I'm talking more about sin in general , not about extremely traumatic experiences.

Satan exists, though he would prefer us to think that he doesn't. This makes his job much easier because he knows we won't gear up for battle if we don't believe there is an enemy. Satan has an army and this army will use any weapon it can to attack us at our weak points if we allow it. One tactic that he uses is to try to keep us living in a past that no longer exists. The Blood of Christ covers the past, to doubt this is to doubt the power of His saving blood. Wounds heal if left to God's mercy. We can see this in our physical bodies, and the physical is a reflection of the spiritual. If we constantly "pick" at a wound, it continues to bleed. It's better to leave it alone and to focus on the present battle while trusting the Divine Physician to take care of our wounds.

It takes guts to face Jesus, admit our sinfulness (or to forgive the sins of those who have harmed us) and then move on. To do this requires not only looking at oneself squarely in the face but also looking God in the eye and saying, "Yes, Lord, I was wrong and I'm sorry." Humans like to be right, after all (lol). To forgive others we must see that our own nature is as prone to sinfulness as theirs. The degree of sin may differ but the tendency to sin is the same since we all have fallen natures. When we refuse to forgive others we condemn ourselves. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. We choose to forgive with our will, not our emotions. Emotions cannot always be trusted and can hold us back if we let them rule us. They are good but they are subject to us and we should should not be subject to them.

We may end up with some battle scars in life but at least we can say we had the courage to enter the battle arena. Our scars are our badges of honor and scar tissue is tougher than regular skin. Life's tests make us stronger if we let them. We take our memories, both good and bad, into the present with us. And while the past may be a nice place to visit on occasion...I wouldn't want to live there.