Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Where's the Beef?

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 find the "sacred in the ordinary".

Every year I make plans for Lent and rarely do the plans I make come to fruition. My "idea" of a holy Lent is to attend Mass often, pray and read the Bible more than usual, give, and try to overcome sinful habits. And this is good. There is nothing wrong with these ideas. The reality of Lent tends to be far different than my "dream" of a perfect Lent usually is. So what has my Lent REALLY been like?

 I have only been able to attend daily Mass a few times so far. Instead of receiving Communion often I've been relying on spiritual communions instead. We've had to deal with the flu, colds, and injuries on a weekly basis. Prayer has been dry and forced. God is definitely doing some spiritual pruning here. I've been through times like this before and I realize that though it may seem as if all spiritual progress has come to a standstill the opposite is usually true and these are the periods where we not only ARE making progress but we are also learning about ourselves and God at the same time. To accept God's will gracefully requires giving up our own thoughts and ideas about holiness and trusting in Him alone.

So if asked if this has been a good Lent so far I would have to say:


The meat may be scarce but the fruit has been abundant.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Sometimes, I have no clue why, I seem to be blind, deaf, and spiritually dumb. Some days it seems as if everything is right there, ripe for the picking, while on other days there's just, well... nothing there to pick.  Nada, zero, zilch.  So I guess I'll have to take a short break until this passes. I do have a question for all the bloggers out there though:

Am I the only one whose mind goes blank and has trouble blogging on occasion? Or does everybody deal with this issue?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wasted Time

I love reading and meditating on quotes from the saints. Though often short and simple, they are filled with spiritual beauty and truth. Here is one that struck me by its simplicity and wisdom:

"Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it."
                                                                            St. Francis de Sales

 Never again will we have the chance to use that moment to its fullest - it is gone forever. Makes one want to use time wisely, doesn't it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Fasting from fasting?

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the moments when we keep our eyes on God and find the sacred in the ordinary.

We've had another little taste of spring this week. Thursday and Friday were gorgeous days and Michaela and I took advantage of the beautiful weather. We went for a long walk and then had a mini picnic on a bench that looks over a pond near our house. The pond was partly frozen but still pretty to look at. There wasn't a cloud in the sky! Considering how many overcast days we have had this month, to have the sun shining brightly on us was an opportunity we were not going to miss. We also walked through the woods which were a bit muddy much to Michaela's glee. I wonder how old a child has to be before they get over this love for mud?

Just kidding! I'm glad she likes mud! I've encouraged her to play in the dirt since she was a tot. I think dirt is good for kids and fun to play in, too.  Thankfully, kids are washable.

Earlier in the week I wrote about the "Fasting Cup" and the "Prayer Bowl". The Prayer Bowl is going very well, Michaela loves picking from it. The Fasting Cup? Well...not so good. She said she's not picking from that cup anymore! Lol! I guess it was harder than she thought it would be. I'm not that concerned because the idea was to teach her about Lent, not to make her feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Maybe when she's a bit older fasting will come easier. If I'm being honest, it doesn't always come easy for me either!

Her exact words:
I'm fasting from the Fasting Cup, Mom! Okay?

Kid logic. You gotta laugh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chasing Rainbows

None of us can really understand suffering though we certainly attempt to make sense of it. It's a mystery and one we won't completely understand until we are in heaven. Last year, I met with a prayer group a few times and  one day we were discussing suffering when one of the women said to me, "God doesn't want us to suffer. You can have the suffering, I prefer to live in the Lord's joy." I felt rebuked and hurt by this remark because at the time I was in a lot of pain and I felt that this comment not only belittled those who were ill (making it seem like they were at fault for being sick) but seemed to suggest that since I suffered a lot physically I could not also receive God's joy and peace. This woman was very gifted so her words hit me quite forcefully and made me wonder if I was doing something wrong in my walk with the Lord. I was very troubled by what she had said. Not so much the first sentence - I could agree that God doesn't WILL suffering but rather permits it and brings good out of it, but the second sentence really bothered me.

Why? Because I don't feel joy all the time. Sometimes I feel joy, sometimes sorrow. I certainly don't feel joyous when I read about tragedies and natural disasters, nor when my child is sick with the flu, feverish and coughing all night. These things sadden my heart.

After thinking about this woman's words for a while I eventually threw them out. I have yet to meet a person who has never suffered or is always joyous. Never. This includes Jesus and Mary. Both of them suffered immensely. Neither felt joy at Calvary.

The truth is - I'm not sure I would even want constant joy here on earth. Not as long as others are hurting. There will be time enough for that in heaven. While I am here I will weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. I spent many years chasing rainbows when I was young, trying to be "happy". Only to find that nothing made me happy for long. I realized later that happiness wasn't what I was searching for....I was searching for peace and this peace could only be found in one person:

Jesus...the Man of Sorrows. The God who suffered, not so that we would never suffer, but so that we might have eternal life with Him in heaven. I no longer seek "happiness"- I seek authenticity. And I no longer equate suffering with unhappiness. Some of the most pain-filled moments of my life have also been the most joyous - like the birth of my daughter. Death, too, often comes with much suffering, but just beyond this final agony is perfect peace and joy. It often occurs to me that suffering just might be the "door" to joy. Jesus sanctified suffering on the Cross and  by his suffering and death he opened the gates of heaven for us. He didn't do this through his joy - He did it through his agony. Crucifixion is brutal.

As for me, I have times of joy AND times of sorrow. My life is very real, not a dream. And I no longer chase rainbows ...

I chase He who created rainbows.

"We know  that all things work for good for those who
love God, who are called according to his purpose."    Romans 8:28

"What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
 or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written:
'For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us."     Romans 8: 35-37

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Saints and Blesseds

My "pick" for Lent yesterday was to research a little known saint (little known to me anyway) and during the course of my research I came across a great website - Saints and Blesseds Page. This site is filled with information on unusual and lesser known saints. I chose to research St Lidwina whom I had heard of but knew little about. She is the patron saint of ice skaters and the chronically ill. Her story is fascinating! Thomas a Kempis witnessed a few of her miracles and was so fascinated by this saint that he wrote a book about her that you can read online.

Breaking the Bank ... Victor's that is

Just a few more days to break Victor's piggy bank, folks! It's for a good cause and all you have to do is leave a comment at Time for Reflections. We aren't going to let him off the hook too easily, are we?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fasting Cup

My parish has family gathering sessions a few times each year to help its parishioners, especially the children, better understand their Catholic Faith. The theme of the most recent gathering session was Lent and what families could do to during this period of time to help the kids understand the meaning of Lent and the importance of abstinence, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. There were a lot of great ideas on how to get the entire family involved in Lenten practices and one of my favorites was "The Fasting Cup".  Michaela decorated a large cup and we each wrote down things on slips of paper that we thought it would be good to fast from during Lent and placed them in the cup. Michaela, knowing her father and I very well, wrote down a number of things such as giving up coffee, the computer and the TV, among other things. ( I'm sure Randy is hoping I'll pick the coffee slip!) Randy and I also filled out a number of slips with things that we thought she could do, also, like giving up video games, desserts, complaining (grin) and other things that she particularly likes. Each day everyone takes a slip from The Fasting Cup and gives up that item for the day (or longer for the adults).

We also made a "Prayer Bowl" that we filled with ideas for doing extra things for the Lord during Lent and each person picks from that bowl once a day. Today, my "extra" is to learn about a new or little known saint and tonight I will share what I learned with the others. Michaela picked "being extra loving to people" and Randy picked "praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet".  The slips in the Prayer Bowl contain anything from "extra Bible reading" to "Praying for the person in this world who needs it the most". 

Michaela is very excited about putting these ideas into practice and I have to admit that her enthusiasm is catchy - I'm not sure I've ever been so excited about fasting before. Seeing things through the eyes of a child seems to make all the difference.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Ashes Here

I guess we are going to start off Lent with a bang in this house. Michaela has the flu and has been spiking some high temperatures. The flu always makes me nervous because when Michaela was three she developed pneumonia after a bad case of the flu. Even with ibuprofen her temperature hit almost 104 degrees last night. I know kids can get high temperatures but I still get worried when it goes over 103. I called my mother and she offered her Mass and prayers for Michaela last night. During the hour my mom was at Mass, Michaela's temperature dropped to just over 100 degrees. I was SOOO relieved! Needless to say, I haven't really been able to leave the house so my goal of attending Mass as often as possible during  Lent kind of flew out the window when the flu flew in. Such is life!

Thankfully, Michaela seems to be doing a bit better today. She's still sick but seems to have a bit more energy.

I'll never complain about playing again.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Reminder and a Link - 40 Days for Life

The next 40 Days for Life Campaign begins March 9th on Ash Wednesday. The link shows ways in which you can get involved and help end abortion in this country and worldwide.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sabbath Moments - Attitude Adjustment

Sabbath Moments is a weekly meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. These are the times when we live in the present moment and find the holy in the ordinary.

 Michaela was on vacation this week and I spent most of my time with her. We played together, read together, did errands together - you get the picture I'm sure. And by the time Thursday rolled around I was completely irritated I must admit. Frazzled and ready to pull my hair out. I didn't want to feel this way but I couldn't seem to help myself. The truth of the matter is:

Too much playing makes me cranky and grumpy.

There, I said it. Embarrassing as it is to admit.

 I was "played" out.  Trying to find any prayer time was very difficult. Friday morning when I woke up I prayed my morning offering and asked God for the grace to "get through the day". What a pitiful prayer! I was embarrassed by my selfishness and not very surprised when the words, "I want you to SEE what's right in front of you" came back at me. Whether these words were from me or God was beside the point as I felt the immediate conviction that my priorities were out of line. Praying to "get through the day" is a bit insulting to God and definitely ungrateful. I changed my prayer after this to "Please grant me the grace to enjoy this extra time with my daughter, O Lord,and to be thankful for this wonderful day before me." After praying this way my grumpiness lifted and I had a great day!

It's important to start the day with the right attitude. When I have a "bad attitude" in the morning it tends to spill over to the rest of the day and I know it's not pleasing to God. Each day is a wonderful gift to be treasured and I was ashamed of my "get through the day" prayer. I have been blessed with a wonderful little girl and spending time with her should never be thought of as anything less than the gift it is.

Thank you for the "wake up" call, Lord.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I recently came across an insightful poem by Alexander Pope that made me think of our world today and its gradual acceptance of all sorts of sins under the guise of tolerance:

Sin is of such a dreadful mien
That to be hated is but to be seen
But oft seen becomes a familiar face
At first tolerated and then embraced

These lines pack a solid punch as they point out how quickly sin can worm its way into our lives when we refuse to take a stand against it as soon as it reveals its ugly face. A clear case in point is abortion which has been embraced to the degree that it is legal in many parts of the world.  Legalized abortion has led to a culture of death in our country (and others) because evil snowballs once it's accepted and gathers up speed. It's a short jump from destroying life in the womb to destroying life outside of it.

Most of us have been raised in this culture of death where abortion, partial-birth abortion, and even euthanasia are accepted or even embraced as part of an "enlightened humanity" which equates "choice" with freedom and an individual's personal rights. These very things that are accepted as an individual's personal "rights" would have been considered their personal "wrongs" until the second half of the last century. They called those personal "wrongs" sin back then.

It's frightening how quickly sin snowballs and picks up speed in its downward roll when it doesn't meet enough resistance to stop it in its tracks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sticky Stickers

Why it's tough to post this week:
School vacation...need I say more?

For those who don't have children I'll briefly explain:
Sit down at computer.
Type a word.
 "Mom, you just hafta come see this!"
Go see the hamsters battling over a treat.
Sit down at computer.
Forget the next word you were going to write.
Think of a new word.
"Mom, can you help me with these stickers? They're stuck!!"
Unstick stickers.
Sit down at the computer.
"I'm hungry."
Get up.
Feed child.
Sit down at computer.
"Mom! Did you know there's a state called New Hampster?!" I didn't.
Sit down at computer.
Stare at empty page.
Think with blank mind.
Smile with full heart.