Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Praying for a Cardinal

If you'd like to adopt a cardinal to pray for as the College of Cardinals meets to elect a new pope in the coming weeks you can do so here.  I will be offering prayers for His Eminence Philippe Cardinal Barbarin , Archbishop of Lyon, France. A big "thank you" to Karinann and Nancy for letting me know about this opportunity to offer extra prayers and sacrifices for a specific cardinal along with my prayers for the Conclave.

Picture of

Friday, February 22, 2013

This Makes No Sense

I just finished reading a powerful post written by Fr. Gordon MacRae called Giving Up Resentment  for Lent: Calisthenics for your Soul and couldn't help but think that not only is it my own Church (even sadder...his too) that treats Fr. MacRae in such a dehumanizing manner ...it's my own diocese.

Why can't they at least listen to what he has to say? How will it hurt them to simply hear him? Especially with all the new evidence that has come to light in this particular case. Isn't "visit the imprisoned" one of the Corporal Works of Mercy?

On a brighter note, Fr. MacRae's blog is a finalist for Best Catholic Blog at About.com. If you'd like to vote for These Stone Walls please click here. You can vote once every 24 hours.

Thanks!



Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Have Eyes to See

We have the eyes to see and the heart to know that things have gone terribly wrong in our world today. Terribly, terribly, wrong.  I would be a fool if I ignored what is staring me right in the face. On the one hand, God would consider me worst than foolish if I deliberately ignored the signs around me. On the other hand, the world would consider me a fool for believing and writing about the dangerous times we live in.

Given the choice, I choose to be a fool in the eyes of the world and to step out in faith and warn people that the time for mercy is now and that we would do well to use it wisely.

This is not about apparitions, false apparitions, seers, prophets, false prophets...though many of these are out there. This is about seeing what is right in front of us and acknowledging the truth of it before God. He has been warning us in many ways for at least a century now. While many may be able to overlook what people say about our times, can we really ignore what's clear as a bell and right before our very own eyes?

I'm going to say something that won't make me very popular:

Those who are ignoring these signs are the foolish ones.

Here are words of warning from a very wise man who clearly saw what was going on:

"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up."  
                                                                 Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II didn't speak these words simply to hear the sound of his own voice, he understood the terrible gravity of our times.

And so should we.

Because, seriously folks, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Dark Corners of Our Hearts

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons




Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account."   Heb. 4:12,13

Purification. A word that sets me trembling if I'm being honest. I like it... but hate it. I'm glad God cares enough about us to do this for us... though I have to admit that it is painful at times. Especially when He is dredging up the muck from the unconscious mind, the "stuff" that's below our immediate level of awareness.

It goes something like this:

God will pour light on certain unconscious behavior patterns, you begin to realize WHY you have been acting in certain ways for most of your life and you wonder "why wasn't this obvious to me" before now.

Everything becomes clear as a bell. It was hidden from you until now.

And it's a long, slow process. Most of the time, at least.

Years ago, when God first began to do this work in me, I was very resistant to it because I didn't understand what was going on. Was I really relating to others through the lens of the past? Through the scars of my upbringing?

Yes, I was. Still am no doubt. Everyone does this to some degree or another. There are no perfect families and everyone has wounds that they hide and behaviors they use to cover them or to protect themselves.  We just aren't aware of them.

Until the Holy Spirit makes us aware of them.

Even though some of these behaviors began as coping devices and may have been crucial to our survival growing up, not only are they no longer needed but they are detrimental to our spiritual health. If we refuse to let them go, our spiritual growth seems to come to a grinding halt. I've been "stuck" more than once due to my refusal to see. It's hard at times because these are unconscious habits so when they are brought to your attention by the Holy Spirit your first response is often: "Say what?? What do you mean I'm defensive? I'm not defensive!" (Lol. This is just an example...uhm...I think.)

Many of these less than lovely traits have to do with the way we relate to others and they need to be healed so we can love well.

Whenever I am going through a time of purification and I sense a lot of resistance on my part I turn to Mother Mary in prayer. I've found that Our Lady is a great, great help during these times. She sweetens even the most painful processes.

Her "ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace".






Saturday, February 16, 2013

Trust

                                                 Head faith = believing in God


                                         
                                                    Heart faith = believing God
                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  
                          By love can God be got and held, by thought and knowledge never 
                                                (From The Cloud of Unknowing)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To Banquet with Angels

The early church fathers weren't afraid to tell it like it is. Unlike today, they had no problem with the term "devil (s)".  I love how forthright St. Athanasius was:

Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkenness and bodily comfort - They delight in excess of every kind.  When we are "fat" with vice this prepares quite a "spread" for the evil spirits. They feast on vices. This includes "spiritual excess" because it is often pride based.

Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things - Fasting and prayer can free us from oppression and demonic harassment far more quickly than prayer alone can. It also sets our hearts on the things above.

The end result:
To fast is to banquet with angels  


Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkenness and bodily comfort. Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things. To fast is to banquet with angels.
                                                                       St. Athanasius



                                               

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stunned by the News

Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down from the papal office. To say I was shocked is a bit of an understatement. Here is the full text of his declaration:

Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

BENEDICTUS PP XVI


Source: Vatican Radio

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Check this out!

So, I woke up this morning to 2 feet of snow. Not having anything pressing to do (other than hours and hours of shoveling) I decided to visit a few of my favorite blogs and this is what I found:
Me? I'm Elvis' Wife.

 I almost choked on my coffee while reading it!

Thanks for the laugh, Sue!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Problem with Passivity


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


One of the spiritual difficulties I've struggled with over the years and still battle against is passivity. The problem with passivity is that it can look so good on the surface but it can keep you from taking direct action to solve a problem. This excessive passivity sometimes excuses itself under the guise of "surrendering things to God". It talks about problems but struggles when it's time to take action because it is apathetic and doesn't really want to disturb itself or because it is overwhelmed and doesn't know where to start.

So, what exactly is passivity? And why is it such a negative thing at times? 

The Free Dictionary defines passivity as:
The condition or quality of being passive; inactivity, quiescence, or submissiveness. Some of its synonyms are: spiritlessness, numbness, apathy, indifference.

 Submissiveness doesn't sound too bad, right?

Well, it all depends on who or what you are submitting yourself to. We can sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that we are "turning the other cheek" when the truth may be that we don't want to get ourselves involved in a difficult situation. Satan happens to love inertia. He can create a little hell for families or a nation just by convincing people that passivity is a good thing through things like:

"It's best not to disturb the waters because it may start a fight."
                                   and
"If I just leave the situation alone it will resolve itself."
                                    or
"One person can't make a difference anyway. What's the point in trying?"


And sometimes the "situation" resolves itself right into chaos simply because no one is willing to do something about it.

Apathy and sloth often clothe themselves as passivity. After all, passivity sounds better, right? It excuses its own behavior. "I'm just a passive person by nature" sounds so much holier than "I'm just an apathetic person by nature".  We all need periods of prayer, rest, and quiet but this is to prepare us for activity not for more passivity. A trap I've fallen into many times is excusing my lack of action by saying, "Well I prayed about it, didn't I?" The problem being is that the prayer needed to be followed by an action. At times I have taken "let go and let God" a bit too far and sinned by omission instead of commission.

God is active, not passive. Grace is active. It's important that we have an active, living faith not a dead faith that slaps everything into God's hands and goes its own way. Passivity is rarely surrender
to God, passivity is usually a surrender to self. When you look at the lives of the great saints you will see surrender to the will of God but very rarely an excessive passivity. Saints accomplished a lot. And some of them didn't even have to go very far to do this!

Here is an example of the difference between surrender to God and apathy/passivity:

I (Mother Teresa) had the most extraordinary experience once in Bombay. There was a big conference about hunger. I was supposed to go to that meeting and I lost the way. Suddenly I came to that place, and right in front of the door to where hundreds of people were talking about food and hunger, I found a dying man.

I took him out and took him home.

He died there.

He died of hunger.

And the people inside were talking about how in 15 years we will have so much food, so much this, so much that, and that man died.

See the difference?

                                 (Words to Love By - Mother Teresa)

The people at the conference thought they were helping to solve world hunger by their speaking (or praying) about it when action was what was needed in this man's case.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who believe they can do it all, take on too much, and fizzle out within a few days. I've done this too and I believe that God allows us to fail in our endeavors sometimes because we are working from a place of pride.

If we do see these traits in ourselves what can we do about it?

We can pray AND act, but with prudence and love. It's all about balance. Mother Teresa in Words to Love By explains it like this:

I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time.

Just one, one, one...

She goes on to say that this is what we are to do also. Begin with one. We can apply her words to other areas, it doesn't have to be feeding the hungry.

I like Mother's way because she understands that each person is special. They are not nameless faces but individuals who deserve her undivided attention. By looking at others and seeing who they are she brought healing to both their bodies AND souls. She treated both the hunger for love and the physical hunger.

May God kindle within us an active, living faith this Lent. A faith with a fire so bright that it
 kindles the same flame in the hearts of others around us. One by one by one...


You go to pray: to become a bonfire, a living flame, giving heart and light. 
                                                     St Josemaria Escriva













Tuesday, February 5, 2013

One Plus God

We look around the world today and think how crazy the world seems. It can be overwhelming to  realize what we are up against these days:

 "What's the point? What difference can just one person make anyway?"

Have you ever heard these words spoken to you? Or spoken them yourself perhaps?

I have heard them too many times to count over the years and I've even heard them come out of my own mouth now and then.

The problem with this type of mindset is that it sets us up to lose before we've even begun. Imagine if the saints thought like this? All we need to do is look at what Mother Teresa did during the span of her lifetime and we can see that she did not allow herself to fall prey to this kind of thinking. One person can make a huge difference if God is in the equation. Think of what each of these people accomplished during their lifetimes:

Moses + God = the liberation of an enslaved people

Mother Mary + God = the salvation of the entire human race

 Peter + God = the birth of the Church

We cannot say, "Yeah, but they were saints!" Moses was not a saint - he killed a man. St. Peter 
was simply a fisherman - a fisherman who denied Christ three times.

I love this example:  Therese + God = Doctor of the Church...with millions following her "little way" and she accomplished all this without ever leaving the convent or its grounds. (How's that for amazing?)

So never ask yourself what you can do.

Ask yourself what you + God can do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Have You Met Mishka?


Michaela and I LOVE Mishka! She is the most verbal husky I have ever run across and her
loud "gabbing" always cracks us up!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Those Fiery Darts

In my last post I spoke about the "meeking" process that we all undergo at some point or another. It's important to note that these fiery darts are aimed at the ego, not the true self. In my posts The Finger of God  and A Firm Foundation for Healing  I wrote about the need for healing of your innermost being, the shucking of negative labels off your back, because these false labels interfere with your mission in life. We need to be able to differentiate between the blows of satan aimed at destroying our true self and the fiery darts allowed by God that are helpful to us in recognizing certain patterns of sin in our lives.

Sometimes, when we are resistant to seeing these sin patterns and the flaws within ourselves God will speak through others. This is so that we'll become aware of the area that God would like us to focus on - an area that He is usually working on also. For example: if a number of friends or family members suggest that your thinking process may be a stumbling block in your life...then it's a very good possibility that this may very well be the case. Or if you have a tendency to overreact and everyone around you seems to point this out quite often then, hey, it's likely they just might be onto something.

Over the years, I've noticed that a big issue of mine seems to be with my thought life. After working on it for many years I thought I was doing a very good job in this area but I was overlooking the more subtle poisonous thoughts that can creep into our minds and go unnoticed by us if we don't stay alert. I bought into the lie that we can't control our thoughts. We may not be able to choose exactly what thoughts go (because we also have to deal with the spiritual realm in this area) into our minds but we can certainly have a choice in deciding what we want to dwell on. We can also be aware of just what we are feeding our minds. The more trash you put in there... the more trash is likely to come out. If you feed it poison, that poison is going to seep out somewhere, some way.

An issue I struggle with is passivity. God has called me on this a number of times, as have others. Some folks are under-reactors not over-reactors. Both these extremes can be problematic but, whereas overreacting is obvious, the effects of underreacting are much more insidious. The problem with passivity is that it can look so good on the surface but it can keep you from taking direct action to solve a problem. To my own mind I considered it "surrendering things to God". Sad, yes. Truth was, I often felt overwhelmed and refused to take the steps necessary to fix a problem. It's something I still battle with. And it bears no resemblance to true surrender. God is an active God.

And I probably never would have noticed if God didn't use many (many, many...lol) others to point this out over the years. So, though I was not grateful for the correction at first, in the long run it has been very helpful. At least now, I am aware of it and can take measures when I notice it coming into play. I think I've written about this before here (and, my apologies, you'll no doubt see more about this subject because I often see this trait at work in our world and its fruit can be devastating...both to individuals and nations).

Human nature has a tendency to resist correction, especially if it's worded badly. It's much better when it comes from a trusted friend or family member but this isn't always the case. At times it comes from the least expected place, like out of the mouth of your friend's child or maybe a co-worker. The point is: when we hear the same thing over and over it may be a good idea to pay attention to what others are saying.

Without question, there are also times when we should not listen to what others are saying. When an accusation is leveled at the very being of a person we should toss it right out. We need to be able to discern the difference between the two. Telling someone that they are stupid or unlovable attacks the being of the person not the actions of the person.

One tears down a person while the other is aimed at a behavior - this makes it easier to discern between the two.

(You can see the  "meeking" process at work in the combox of blogs at times. Every time I see this at work I can't figure out why the other person isn't "getting" it, especially when it's obvious... and then I remember how long it takes me to "get" it, even when it's obvious to others, and I understand :-)