Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I forgot how tough it can be to post during the summer months. Last year I managed to write regularly but for the life of me I can't remember how I did it. We are leaving to go to the beach this weekend so I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post. I don't bring my laptop but maybe my brother will let me use his.

 Randy, Michaela, and I are looking forward to spending some quality time together! Atlantic Ocean, here we come!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prayer request

My friend Ann and three of her brothers are leaving tomorrow to go on a missionary trip to Liberia. You can read about it here: Please pray for the safety of the entire team and that they may lead many hearts to Jesus. Thank you, everyone :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

O Great Spy in the Sky

There are two extreme views about God that give me a stomach ache. One makes me anxious - the "spy in the sky" God that is constantly on the watch for every misstep that I make, just waiting to fling a bolt of lightning on me for eating 2 chocolate chip cookies stuffed with cookie dough ice cream ... and then having another one.
Yep, I don't like to get caught with my hand in the cookie jar by this guy.

The second is the "pie in the sky" God who beams on us with delight and says, "It's okay. Have another. You are doing great! Sin is only sin if you think it's a sin."

I'd rather get caught red-handed by the first one given a choice between the two.The first is just a projection. I think the second one might really be satan.

God is not a spy, anyway. Spies do things secretly. God ADMITS that He sees all things and knows all things. (sigh)

Watch out for those ice creams that say "overload", "maxx", or "extreme", I think these are hints from God. He knew we weren't "getting it" so He wrote it clearly on the packages ;)  Maybe He should just write:


That's even more cut and dried and doesn't allow us any wiggle room.

Sabbath Moments - Family

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

School is out for the year and I've been trying to spend a lot of extra time with Michaela so I haven't been posting as often. This week we had a great time!  I took her to the park, for walks, scootering, and swimming. We also started praying the family rosary together in the evenings again. We attempted this when she was younger but she couldn't sit still through 5 decades so we didn't push the issue because we didn't want to give her a dislike for the rosary. Instead, we would hear her prayers in her bedroom before she went to sleep at night and then do the rosary ourselves. Now that she is older we invited her to do the rosary with us again and she said yes. She has done very well and even leads it on some nights! 

I've been trying to work out a summer schedule for Michaela and I while Randy's at work. When I was ill it was difficult to have a regular schedule, we often had to just "wing it" depending on how I felt each day. Now that I have more energy I'm trying to form a routine for cleaning, playing, and my other daily duties. Wish me luck! I'm trying to give the reigns of my family life to Jesus and praying for the grace to understand his will in this area. Illness can form some negative patterns in a family and the adjustment to a new way of living can be difficult. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What is holiness?

What is God's idea of holiness? I've come to realize that his idea of holiness and my own differ. The more I open myself up to God the more aware of this I become. In my younger years I thought that the more a person prayed and went to church the holier they were. Needless to say, I was often very surprised at the "unholy" things some of them did. This frustrated me to no end as a teenager and young adult. My thought was this:
"If you were going to do deeds of darkness then why pretend that you were really doing God's work by praying and going to church, too?"

I didn't really understand human nature. Everything was black and white for me and when gray mixed in so did confusion.  I grew older and began to see that sanctification was God's work... but requires a response from us. As I matured in prayer I began to see that prayer itself isn't holiness. Prayer is more like a lever that God uses to pry open our hard hearts. If our nature wasn't fallen, prayer would be unnecessary. We are fallen, however, and the intimate communion we once shared with God isn't there like it once was. It takes work now...both on our end and God's end.

Prayer changes as the heart is opened. We soon come to realize that we are not holy and need the transforming power of God's grace in our daily lives. We also see that our own thoughts on holiness do not have much resemblance to God's thoughts on holiness. How do I know this? By the contradictions in the lives of most (all?) people, myself included. It reminds me of my post yesterday about the mixture of organic milk and junkfood cereal - God's love being the organic milk and our sins the junkfood. God pours his love and wholesomeness on our sinful hearts, rids us of the poisons we have carried around with us, and infuses us with his own goodness. His desire is to fill us with good things but we often cling to the poisons that harm us instead. (I should have put fruit in the cereal yesterday, I would have had a great time with that analogy!)

What is holiness, anyway? I can explain it intellectually ... but my heart is still a bit unsure.  What I do know is this: 
God will work it out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some organic milk with your food dyes, Sweetie?

While I was getting dressed this morning my husband was "making" breakfast for my daughter and I happened to overhear their conversation. It went like this:

"What chemical do you want for breakfast this morning, Peanut?"

"I'll have the glazed food dyes, Daddy."

"Do you want the ones with the extra fiber and the added calcium?"

"Is it more nutritious, Daddy?"

"I don't think so, Peanut."

They think they are so funny. What a pair of froot loops!

You might think I'm kidding but this conversation really took place. Meant for my ears I'm sure. I've tried to train them but I don't think you can teach an old dog new trix. How about some truth in advertising?

t - tons of sugar
r - red lake # 40 
i - infused with preservatives
x - x-rays recommended after ingestion

 No...I didn't do the grocery shopping this week.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sabbath Moments- Junkmail for Jesus

Colleen at Thoughts on Grace  hosts Sabbath Moments, a weekly meme that reminds us to live in the present and to "let go and let God".

One of the things that I have tried to do over the years is to incorporate different aspects of my daily life into Christ, the goal being to have every area under his care... including tasks I hate like cleaning and sorting through mail. Why do companies send us so much junk anyway? How many fliers does the same store have to send me in one week? I pull the bills out and the junkmail piles up on my dining room table. Quickly. Receipts, bank statements, letters, schoolwork and other "stuff" ends up in this pile too. It's hard to motivate myself to sort through it so I do it for Jesus. I sing hymns, shred mail and papers (by hand) and offer it for the souls in purgatory. I imagine Jesus shredding their debts.

People may think it's silly to shred junkmail and do little things like this for Jesus but I have a problem with self-motivation. When I was ill, the only way I could drag myself out of bed in the morning was for Him. I cleaned for his sake (maybe not very well), cooked for his sake, worked for his get the picture.
I am well now but still have a problem with motivation (see my previous post) so this still helps me immensely. So today, I sorted junkmail for love of Him.

God is in the details.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Because I don't want to do it

This is a bit embarrassing to admit. I am very thankful that the Lord healed me but it's been quite an adjustment. I don't have the "outs" that I had while I was ill. Before, if something was hanging over my head and I didn't want to do it I could honestly say that I didn't feel well. Now, I can't say that. For instance:

If my house is a mess it's because I don't want to clean it.
If I don't go to Mass during the week it's because I don't feel like it.
If I don't exercise it's because I'm lazy.

It's pretty difficult to admit to the Lord that I am not doing certain things on some days just because I don't want to. 

I bet the Lord is smirking up there.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spiritual bandaids

One of the purposes of prayer is to open us up to God's Presence within us. We are temples of the Most High and prayer and meditation open us up to this reality.When we pray we are giving The Lord access to our innermost beings. He removes the bandaids that we have put on our wounds so that He can access them.  A bandaid doesn't fix a wound, it simply covers it. These bandages are the protective devices that we have put up over the years. Our defenses. Sometimes God removes them slowly. Sometimes quickly. Ouch! We are shocked at how much the wound has festered. Next time we'll go right to the Divine Physician.

 God heals us. I have often been told over the years that I really should do certain prayers a specific number of times for them to be answered. Nonsense. God can hear the softest whisper. God can read our hearts. He doesn't NEED our prayers. He is completely self-sufficient on his own. However, He knows that we NEED HIM!  It's not the formula but the heart that matters. People can get attached to certain prayers and forget that it's not the prayer but the GOD behind the prayer that matters. Does this mean we shouldn't do novenas? Of course it doesn't. But neither should we think that if we follow a specific prayer formula our prayers will be stronger and more likely to be answered. Better 1 heartfelt prayer than 20 mumbled ones.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

...and we'd like to welcome you to munchkin land

I feel sorry for the 1st grade teacher/saint  at my daughter's school. I just filled the kids in her class with Munchkins and juice, read a book and then left the teacher to deal with the aftermath.  (Math? Not today, Teacher! So sorry!) The kids were bouncing off the walls. How was I supposed to know that if you fill up their tanks with sugar and then read them a book about animals that they would think it was their duty to imitate the monkeys, hyenas, and ring-tailed lemurs?! No wonder they have bars on the windows.

I tripped over a duck-billed platypus when I made my escape. No joke.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What does God see?

When God looks around this beautiful world He created what does He see? It saddens my heart to imagine what He must think of the false reality that we have made for ourselves.

 "Show me, Lord. Take off these worldly lens I am viewing the earth through and show me the truth."

There is not an area of our lives that has escaped corruption. Though there are pockets of goodness and beauty still, the majority of the human race has given themselves over to lies of every kind. May the Spirit of Truth pierce our hearts and lift the blinders off our eyes. If you think I am being overly harsh I ask you to pray and look around you with honesty. If someone from 100 years ago saw how we are living today I think they would be apalled. Instead of rejecting evil we have accepted it into our society and some have even embraced it. Our governments, banks, major corporations, schools, the film industry, our books - you'd be hard-pressed to find an area that hasn't suffered internal rot. It started slowly...but sin snowballs. The more a society gives in and accepts sin the more vulnerable they become. Abortion, pornography, rampant crime, disrespect , adultery,  corporate greed, dishonesty.... need I go on?

And so I ask an honest question:
If Jesus stood in front of us and gave his opinion on the shape of the world today, what do you think He would say?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ants in her pants

 If nothing else, my little girl is honest. After sitting through Mass and paying attention the entire time she told Sister E. during bible study,  "I'm just a kid. I have too much energy in me and I cannot sit down any longer. I just can't do it, Sister."

Well...that was certainly to the point.

Sister E, don't say I didn't give you fair warning :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sabbath Moments - Soaking in the Rays of His Heart

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

This week I spent some time with the Lord in adoration. A small chapel in our city exposes the Eucharist during the week and I enjoy my visits there. After a period of prayer, I sit in silence and "listen" to what God speaks to my heart. I try to cast all cares and worries away and simply focus on Jesus. It's very peaceful and I always leave feeling blessed. To be in His Presence and just absorb the love that He so wants to share with us is a gift beyond measure. We do not understand the fullness of the blessings and healing we receive through Eucharistic adoration and probably won't until we get to heaven. When I go to adoration I know that I am "bathing" in Jesus' Mercy and "soaking" in His Love. How our souls must shine when we depart!

Friday, June 11, 2010

O Heart Divine!

Nothing...and I mean nothing moves me more than meditating on the Heart of Jesus. In the early years of my prayer life I was so consumed by this that I started uniting my heartbeats with his. When I couldn't find time for prayer I would simply unite each beat of my heart with each beat of his. This proved very fruitful for me as Jesus' Heart was always in the forefront of my thoughts. I do this before I go to sleep, too. As a matter of fact, it's such a given at this point that when I hear my heart beat I think of Jesus. By uniting our hearts in this manner I have received "grace upon grace" without letup. Jesus is the Gate of Heaven through which we all must enter:

The Sign of the Cross

O Most Beautiful Gate
O heart Divine
Upon Thy Portal
Is nailed a sign
All who would enter
Whom the Father shall see
All who would enter
Must enter through Me

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sleeping in boxes

My nephew and his friends are sleeping in boxes outside their church this weekend to raise money for the homeless. Each teenager has to build their own little "box house" and sleep in there overnight. The pastor of their parish is joining them. I'm going to sneak by there Saturday night and take a peek at their "village". Please keep the homeless and these teenagers in your prayers.

Over the years the amount of homeless people in our small city has increased. One of the homeless that I met last summer was Jacob. I thought I spotted him riding a bike a few weeks ago but am not absolutely sure because he whizzed by pretty fast. Another homeless man that my husband met was Gregory (bizzarre story). I hope they're doing well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Come as you are

We have to come before God just as we are. He wants us to do this. It gives Him great pleasure when we entrust our sinful selves to his care. He can clean up sinners... He's been doing it for years. When we humbly admit our faults and failures and invite Him into our hearts He immediately begins clean-up duty. Who does He have difficulty cleaning up? Not sinners. No way.

A far greater obstacle for God is when people think they are not sinners. "I'm a good person. I'm nothing like that guy over there passed out on the sidewalk. Get a job, you bum!"

I wouldn't be surprised if the person passed out on the sidewalk was in better shape spiritually than someone that speaks like this. I'm not saying that this is the case, I'm just saying that I wouldn't be surprised. I once saw a man who was sleeping on the sidewalk. I was worried and shook him until he woke up because I thought he might need medical attention. He was very sweet and gentle. Told me that he was an alcoholic, had passed out, and that his head was killing him. We spoke about God,  family, and food :)  He believed in God and wanted to stop drinking but "wasn't doing a very good job quitting".  Perhaps not...but he was honest. I knew God would help this man.

I watched a number of people walk by this man without giving him a second glance. These are the ones I'm praying for the most.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The "if onlies"

For much of my life I've had a bad case of the "if onlies". Perhaps some of you are familiar with these little termagants. They tend to live with the "then maybes". "If onlies" are spineless little creatures that keep one from being happy. For those of you who are unaware of these wee beasties let me explain their favorite method of attack. It goes something like this:

"Lord, if only I was healthier then maybe I could do more for you."
"If only I was born 100 years ago then maybe I could be holy."
                     or even
"If only I hadn't committed this or that sin then maybe my life would be easier."

The "if onlies" can attack people of all ages. Even teenagers:

"If only I was prettier then maybe I would be more popular."

"If only I had one of those whatevers then maybe I would be happy."

"If onlies" are insidious little thoughts that harm everyone. They keep us from being content with what the Lord has given us and keep us from progressing spiritually. Here's one that has bitten me a few times:

"If only everyone would turn to God then maybe I could be the saint that you want me to be."

That "if only" is highly problematic. Not based in reality at all. For one thing, we are called to be saints no matter what is going on in the world. For another, it's aiming the blame for my own lack of progress on whether others convert or not. Plus, it's so far from the truth it's laughable. We actually have a greater chance of becoming saints these days than ever before. Surrounded by temptation as we are gives us endless opportunities to overcome faults and sins. Every time we resist what's tossed before us daily is meritorious. We know God's grace is always available... Jesus already overcame the world. Accepting the truth about the world we live in and using it as a means to our own sanctification is a positive step that will bring us closer to  Jesus. We should teach our children how to do this, too.

I bet hell is filled with "if onlies".

Monday, June 7, 2010

Eucharistic Miracle

I was visiting Spirit Daily and came across a link to a story on DA MIHI ANIMAS that I found incredibly moving. Talk about the power of the Eucharist!

Blog Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of The Beautiful Gate. I deliberately started it in June last year because June is the month of the Sacred Heart. Originally, my first post was going to put up on June 19th in honor of the feast day but I got impatient and started early :)  Thank you all for your encouragement and support! May God bless each and every one of you!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

What gift could be greater than the the gift of God Himself? The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. He is fully God and fully man, not half God and half man. When we receive Communion we are partaking in the Divinity of Christ as well as his humanity because the two are inseparable. We consume Him and He consumes us. This is truth.

There are Catholics that do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This brings to mind the Gospel of John when many walked away from Jesus because they could not accept his words. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:52)  Jesus let them walk away rather than compromise the truth of his words.  "As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."  (Jn 6:66)  What strikes me about this passage is "many of his disciples returned to their former way of life". In refusing to accept the truth they refused to be transformed and returned to their old ways. They didn't "walk with him" anymore.

We must walk with Jesus. He is "the way and the truth and the life" as he states in the Last Supper Discourses (see John chapter 14). Through the Eucharist we come to share in the life of Christ.  Throughout the Old Testament and the New we see prefigurations of the Eucharist. The "showbread" , the "manna" in the desert, the priest Melchizedek who brought out the bread and wine. Even the place and manner of Jesus' birth points to the Eucharist. Bethlehem means "house of bread" and Jesus was born in a manger (a feeding trough). Where is the difficulty with understanding the truth about the Eucharist?

I find it interesting that there were twelve baskets of bread left over after Jesus miraculously fed the crowds (Jn. 6:13). Twelve is usually a symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel which signifies the Church. I connect this with the passages about the showbread in Leviticus 24: 5-9, another foreshadowing of the Eucharist.  It points to Jesus feeding his church the "Bread of Life" in every age.

"How I hate this folly of not believing in the Eucharist, etc.! If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what difficulty is there?"                       Blaise Pascal

Saturday, June 5, 2010


On a more positive shirts and various other saintly mortification devices are not necessary today. For those of you who like to keep abreast of modern underclothing and footwear design you may have noticed that we are already "wired" for this. All we have to do is offer it up!

Yes, I'm bored.

Sorry folks...

Sorry about the bra thing. It was just something I needed to get off my chest.


I don't remember how long ago it was when I started getting fed up with the world. TV sickened me, I had trouble finding good books (and I'm a bookworm), even shopping became a dreaded chore. Forget movies! I stopped going years ago. Stopped renting them, too.

When I take a good long look around me I am horrified at what I am realizing. The picture has only grown clearer as days go by. How much of what the world says I need do I really need? I'm beginning to understand that the answer is ...very little. Many things just seem to clutter up my life. I barely ever use my microwave (despite my lack of cooking skills I prefer to use the stove), I can wash and dry my dishes by hand more quickly than when I use a dishwasher (because I have a small family), my cell phone is barely ever used, I rarely use my alarm clock, I never use the DVD player unless I put something on for my daughter, I watch TV once in a blue moon, I had an electric can opener but still used the hand one...the list goes on and on.

When I was a teenager I resented the times I lived in. "Are you sure I wasn't supposed to be born 100 years ago, Lord?" (At least I'd ask this when we were on speaking terms.) It really, really, irked me. I got mad every time I felt that I had to try to "fit in" to be accepted. I should have known better. I wish I had understood that I never had to "fit in" and that being true to myself would have made my life much less complicated. You can't change the past though and at least it teaches us good lessons.

I may not be able to change the world now, either, but I can change myself with God's grace. I have been trying to simplify my life for a while and am curious to see where this will lead. One last thing:

Who invented the torturous devices that pass for women's bras these days?

I just had to throw that in :)  Tell me it's not true!

Friday, June 4, 2010


I know a woman who has one of the best conversion stories that I have ever heard. No, there were no trumpets. No conks over the head. No visions or miracles. Like many, she grew fed up with her life. One day she simply said:

"Jesus, come into my heart."  And He did. Right at that moment. Jesus came into her heart and now she is constantly on fire with love for Him. She attends daily Mass and is a powerful prayer warrior. She has a special quality that I've always admired in others. I call it "holy simplicity" but I think the real term is "purity of heart".  God is doing amazing things in her because she is so open to Him. She doesn't sift through her past, call herself unworthy or even worry about sins once they are confessed; she simply accepts Jesus wholeheartedly and  follows where He leads. In other words...her eyes are on Him. Constantly.

One might think that she had an easy life and had no "issues". This couldn't be further from the truth. She had plenty! After saying "Jesus, come into my heart" she just knew that none of them mattered. The words "God alone" hit me every time I think about her.

Purity of heart is a great thing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A mighty river

Grace is on my mind. Why don't people notice God's grace in their lives at times? Part of it can be from sin:

Imagine a stream dammed up. The water cannot flow, it pools and becomes very dirty from stagnation. This is a soul in grave sin. It is very ill and the water inside the pool is poisonous. The soul is choking on  the noxious fumes of it's own sin. Hopefully, the person gets disgusted and looks to God for help. This makes a chink in the dam and water starts trickling through. Water (grace) is strong and the chink grows into a hole and the water begins to flow more steadily. As the hole grows bigger pieces of the dam (sin) start breaking off. More and more water flows with increasing strength and power until the dam collapses and water floods through it. This is grace, a free gift from God.

Streams flow into rivers. As a stream grows stronger obstacles are swept away by it's current. Rivers are even more powerful and not much can stop them from flowing. They flow into the sea, which is the mightiest of all. Who can stop the sea?

The stream knocking down the dam is purgation. The river is illumination. The sea is union with God.

Lord, I have a long way to go.

Holding Grace's Hand

My daughter has a friend named Grace and the two of them often walk around holding hands. Walking to the pool or playground, one of them inevitably reaches out to grasp the other's hand. It's as if they innately understand the power of two. A united front. They even run this way at times with the faster child slowing her steps to match those of the slower one. It reminds me of God's grace.

God is always with us. Grace frees us, supports us, heals us, comforts us, molds us. The saints were not born saints. They became saints. When God reached out to grasp their hands they did not pull away but placed their hands in His. At first grace moves slowly, for it is patient. Then it moves at a steady pace because grace endures and believes. Next, grace runs for it is strong and courageous. Finally, grace and the human person fly in unity straight into Heaven, for grace is love and love is everlasting.

"It is not enough for me that God has given me grace once, but he must give it always. I ask, that I may receive; and when I have received, I ask again. "          St. Jerome

"Behold, I make all things new."             Rev. 21:5

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I was thinking...

I was thinking about my previous post and the word "anawim" kept coming to mind. This was part of a word given to me last year and I am reprinting it because I believe it is becoming more and more relevant to the times we live in: Another blogger, Barb from Suffering with Joy,  left an interesting comment on the term "anawim" underneath my post.  It helped me understand that our "greatness" is in our "littleness".  St. Therese had this littleness down pat. When we totally depend on the Lord and allow Him to shine through us... the sky is the limit. This is how humble fishermen became great leaders of the faith. God could do more through them because they didn't cling to delusions of grandeur about themselves like the Pharisees did. Knowing who you are and accepting yourself  "as is" allows the Lord to transform us in ways we cannot even understand. Thinking that we are something or somebody we are not puts a stumbling block in our path. Acknowledging our gifts and accepting ourselves (faults and all) makes us more open to God and much more accepting of others. It's kind of hard to judge someone when we see the very same things in ourself :)

This does not mean we should accept our sins. We should love ourselves and one another but hate the sins. People confuse this in our day. If you say something is sinful (such as abortion) you will likely hear how judgmental you are. This is ridiculous! Why do you think people have consciences? To judge right from wrong of course! It's the person we are not supposed to judge... not the sin! Our consciences are a gift. We cannot throw them out. This is incredibly dangerous and foolish though the world may tell us otherwise.

How I got on the subject of consciences I'll never know. I think it's because I went to confession today :)