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,

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.

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 :)