Saturday, January 30, 2010

Praise for the Sunrise

















In this bitter cold winter weather,
I can always count on one thing...
the sun will rise.
It doesn't matter if my teeth chatter and my body shivers,
it doesn't matter if I awaken to a dark morning
and my feet hit the icy floor
instantly jolting me into a state of alertness.
What matters is that by the time I am sitting
behind the steering wheel of the van
driving my children to school,
our breath revealed before us in puffs of white,
and as we pull our hats a little more tightly over our ears,
God sends the bright, clear blue sky to cheer us,
and to the east
we see the sun rising in all of its splendor,
creating lines of glorious color-
pink, purple, yellow and blue-
on the horizon.
For ten breathtaking minutes as we fight
the early morning traffic,
our eyes are treated to a feast from our God
who loves us and wants to show His love
through His art in the sky.
And we adore Him and His gift of the sunrise
and we praise Him for loving us so much!


Thanks to Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart for this weekly Praise MEME.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seven Quick Takes-This and That













1. A highlight of the week: The words of my son, John, after an evening gathering of about 15 youth at our parish center "I like how the parents who chaperone are always happy and I love how much they care about all of us." Makes my day to know that all of our parental effort is noticed and appreciated!

2. I went bowling with my daughter Mary and her class as the entire school enjoyed a day at the bowling alley as part of their Catholic Schools Week Celebration. I can't believe that I can actually say that my mouth hurt from smiling so much! How cute those third grade boys and girls are dancing and bowling and really having a great time! As for us old mom's who chaperoned, we were clueless about how our children all knew the songs they were dancing to as we had never heard of them before. Finally they played a song by Bon Jovi and we all sighed with relief at something we recognized. And do any bowling alleys have manual scoring anymore? What happened to using your brain while enjoying a game?

3. Recipe for comfort at the end of a miserable day: 2 glasses of wine, a handful of chocolate kisses and snuggling under a blanket with my daughter Mary, enjoying one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Scarlet Pimpernel". How I love to watch Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy Blakeney-"They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel." Sigh.

4. This story about a Gen-x priest has been going around the blogosphere. I love it! Here it is in case you missed it elsewhere.

5. My favorite quote from the week was on Betty Duffy's blog..."It felt like we were two children, suspended for a moment by our mutual fascination in something other than ourselves"- Betty Duffy How I wish I could always feel that way-suspended in fascination by something other than myself!

6. I'm looking forward to attending a Women of Christ Conference tomorrow with my friend Danette and my sister Cindy. Some great guest speakers are scheduled including Vicki Thorn and my favorite, Fr. Don Hying. I am anticipating a wonderful day of inspiration!

7. Is it possible to burn out on church? My son Justin says so. He refuses to serve at Mass anymore, he says it's time for someone else to chip in once in a while after he has served 2+ Sundays a month for 5 years. Could my oldest, John, be close behind after being asked to serve for yet another funeral tomorrow? He is the only youth in our large parish (3200 families-I believe) who serves funerals. Even the parish secretary sounded like she was tired of asking him when she left the request on our answering machine. Anyone ever feel as though their children have been taken advantage of for their willingness to volunteer in church to the point of pushing them away?

Thanks to Jennifer at My Conversion Diary for this MEME

Radiant Springtime






















face burning with shame
I released my sins from my soul
and laid them at Your feet

they came forth from my mouth
slowly, stiltingly,
with quavering voice

fear held me in its grasp
as I held my breath and
awaited my condemnation

"I am not afraid of your sins,"
was the kind response,
and my heart was soothed

"Just place them gently
into My Sacred Heart
where all pain is transformed."

"I will carry you, and protect you
and forgive you. I will make
all things new."

And Spring grew in my heart then,
with its warmth and flowers
bursting through the hard ground

I am alive again, reborn
forever I will live in His love,
His peace and His joy

"Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces will not blush with shame."
Psalm 34

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

For Haiti-a poem, and pleas for money and breast milk

death came then
so quickly and unexpectedly

leaving behind hearts
lurching in
shocked pain

bewildered voices
crying "why?...why?"

in that one moment
the world ended
for them all

only God
could pull them forth
into tomorrow

For more inspiration, please visit "A Vocation to be a Priest" to read a wonderful contribution by John H. the UK editor. It begins...

Contributions to relief charities in Haiti continue to pour in, and so they should. Millions of people there live on the breadline - the country is the poorest in the Western hemisphere and it shouldn't come as a surprise that aid isn't getting through. People in Haiti have been killed, houses and hospitals are like a deck of collapsed cards, there is no electricity or phones, roads are blocked and fuel is in short supply. That shouldn't stop us dipping deep (very deep) into our pockets to let the folk there know that we care for them and that we pray for them. Keep reading...

Also, I received this urgent email from the Lactation Consultant with whom I work at WIC. I encourage you to please share it with anyone you know who may be able and willing to help...

January 25, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Urgent Call for Human Milk Donations for Haiti Infants

Washington, DC--The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.

This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy ship Comfort stationed outside Haiti. Comfort is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to Comfort. Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLLI are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the USNS Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.

At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk to Haiti infants on land has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.

Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers' Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available on the HMBANA Web site at (www.hmbana.org/index/locations < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=ZW9Cpc4EmoiINlQ%2Be0544jd95vRXUnJM > ).

Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the United States. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.

For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 (www.hmbana.org) < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=rdMBNU%2FGn4PYz5Yhpx5%2B7ouzTEXiAaJB > . Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (www.usbreastfeeding.org < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=1Fg8w9Pj7JTsTCuuAJHjNYuzTEXiAaJB > ), ILCA/USLCA at 800-452-2478 (www.ilca.org < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=%2FAM7SvEhXe7M3xIhym9dnouzTEXiAaJB > or www.uslca.org < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=yb1cBdQ5YbAcLVuSHrdNBouzTEXiAaJB > ), or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 (www.llli.org < http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=Jz2FRVfhTOTEHvraG%2BR1t4uzTEXiAaJB > ).

The USBC is an organization of organizations. Opinions expressed by USBC are not necessarily the position of all member organizations and opinions expressed by USBC member organization representatives are not necessarily the pojavascript:void(0)sition of USBC.

Accepting Comfort

My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless His holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all His blessings.
It is He who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
Who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

Psalm 102


I work toward wholeness, thinking I can achieve it through my own efforts. I talk and write and medicate and kneel in prayer and inhale chocolate everything. And I carry on, until the next wave of panic leaves me crying desperate tears. I try to choke them down, telling myself, "Focus on the good, today is a special day, a feast day in my house and I will celebrate!" (We have a custom in our family of celebrating the feast days of our Patron Saints for whom we are named. On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (1/25) we celebrate my husband and honor him and his Saint with a cake.)

I put on a brave smile and greet my family as they arrive home from their hectic days. I busy myself with preparing a grand supper. "Relax," I tell my husband, "tonight I will take care of everything." I light candles and play quiet music. I listen to Paul share stories about his day. Listening to him keeps me from focusing on myself, and that's good. Then he walks away to sit with a book and I turn to the task of meal preparation. The supper cooks, and I wash my pain down with a glass of wine. And the tears come back, strong. I stand in front of the stove, watching pasta cook, tears spilling fast, shoulders shaking.

Eleven year old Jack- sweet, gentle Jack -turns the corner and finds me there. "Are you crying mom? Can I help you?" He puts his hand on my back to offer me his physical comfort. Embarrassed to be found in my human state of self-indulgent sadness, I brush his hand away. "I'm alright," I lie. "I just want to be alone." He ignores my words and my gesture of rebuff and begins to set the table. I am grateful for him. My tears don't scare him off, he stands with me in my pain.

Soon supper is on the table, family is gathered together, having bowed our heads in prayer, boisterous talk ensues and my tears are forgotten for the moment. I look across the table to Jack, busy pouring too much salt on pasta and sauce, and I sigh with relief and contentment. He alone knew what I needed and he gave it to me, my little angel from God.

As the table is cleared, I finally reach out for him, tall, thin boy with the gigantic heart, and I hold him close in my arms. With my face buried in his hair, I whisper, "I love you Jack. Thank you for taking care of me." He whispers back "I love you too, Mom!" and then bounds upstairs to tackle his homework.

I close my eyes for a moment and pray. God always knows what I need. My efforts are all useless. All I have to do is stand still, and He will send me comfort in the form of my son, my precious boy. And I accept His gift of healing.

Unhinged







with repetitive openings and closings
of the same frustrating problem
over and over again,
the screw on the door began
to work its way out of the wood

each tweak of hardship
loosened the joint
until the screw fell out,
hit the floor,
and was kicked aside by
hurried feet

the door leaned;
weakened without its
small, but significant
source of strength

until the screw is found
and returned to its rightful place
within the door hinge,
the joist will grow weaker and weaker
until the entire door falls apart

Jesus, my Carpenter,
put me back together and
hold me firmly in place
within your gentle hands.
Fill me with your strength
so that I may withstand all
the wear and tear
of life, and the needs of those
who depend upon me. Amen.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Missionary Servants of the Holy Family






















There is a great new lay initiative beginning in Milwaukee, a group that will pray for strength in families. If all goes well, this will lead to a new religious order. The lay initiative is called Missionaries of the Holy Family and it is the unique calling of MaryClare Stephens. Yesterday the Missionaries held their first monthly Holy Hour and oh, how I wanted to go! I'm sure that regular readers know that I am extremely attracted to Holy Hours, and one specifically for families is right up my alley! But, my sons had basketball games and for me, an hour spent watching my son play and cheering him on is a holy hour. Time spent with family bonding and cementing our loving relationships is as holy as a family can get. I am very grateful to know that others were there at the Holy Hour praying for me and my family and I hope to join them in many future Holy Hours so that I too, can pray for all families.

According to the website: "The Missionarii Servi Sanctae Familiae, or the more common English name, Missionary Servants of the Holy Family is a Catholic lay group dedicated to the mission of praying for families, helping restore the sanctity of marriage and the family, making reparation and praying for an end to the sins committed against the family, all through the intercession of the Holy Family. The Missionary Servants of the Holy Family is for now just a lay group but all in God's timing and if it is God's holy will the MSSF ( initials for Latin name of group) will become a religious order and there will be religious sisters who will live a life dedicated and consecrated to praying for all families ( both broken families as well as those striving to live every day sanctity as a family), for the restoration of the sanctity of marriage and the family, making reparation and praying for an end to the sins committed against the family. The family and single branch of the MSSF will become a third order and if it's God's will there may even be MSSF priests and brothers."

Please pray for the success of this order and consider joining as a lay Missionary if God so calls you in this direction. To learn more visit Restoring the Family.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Praise for a Lovely Holy Hour for Life

"Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works." Psalm 139


What a busy day! Why is it that Sunday rarely feels like a day of rest? My sons, Jack and Joe served at 7:30 Mass and John lectored at the same Mass. After our family returned home, it was a quick breakfast and then back to church where John sings in the choir at the 11:00 Mass. A few errands to run, followed by a couple of basketball games at which I sat and supported my sons and their friends and it feels like the day is nearly over. Here I am, with just two hours to spare before our youth group has their meeting tonight. There's just no time like the present to join with Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart and offer a little praise before I'm too worn out to do so.

My favorite event of this past week, of which I am most grateful to God, was the opportunity to attend a Holy Hour for life that was simultaneously held in 100 parishes in our Archdiocese and was being offered by the Deacons of Milwaukee. I especially offer praise to God as this is the first time that adoration of the exposed Host has been held at my parish since I have been a member, that's seventeen years! So this truly was an historic event! If I don't offer praise to God for this tremendous blessing, I know I will burst!

I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the magnificent monstrance that must have been original to the parish 150 years ago. How wonderful it is to see our Lord contained in such splendor! I praise God for the sweet simplicity of the Holy Hour led by our deaf deacon. I praise God for the last minute panicked request from our liturgical director asking me to read at the service. How grand it felt to read from the book of Genesis and also to read an excerpt from Humanae Vitae for all of the vulnerable souls at both the beginning and the end of life. I was equally honored at the last minute request for my son John to offer his acolyte services for this same Holy Hour. It was so wonderful to watch my son direct and help our deacon on conducting his first ever Holy Hour. I praise God because this very special hour of prayer was simple, beautiful and heart felt and it followed an evening when I missed out on an opportunity to adore the Lord, so it was even more meaningful to be in His Holy presence.

I praise God that my daughter Mary asked to come along, even though it meant she would have to sit alone in the pew while John and I were busy in the sanctuary because Paul and my other sons were occupied with other activities and weren't able to attend. When we arrived at church, our dear friend Mrs. B was there and she was so glad for the company of Mary during the Holy Hour. She gave Mary a rosary that had been given to her for the purpose of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, only Mrs. B had never heard of the chaplet before and didn't know how to pray it. She confessed that she had asked two priests about it and neither of them knew it either. What a blessing this was, because Mary has recently learned to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and she was happy to tell Mrs. B all about it!

Finally, I praise God for this beautiful prayer offered during exposition and benediction of the Holy Eucharist:

"I devoutly adore you, O hidden God, truly hidden beneath these appearances. My whole heart submits to you, and in contemplating you, it surrenders itself completely. Sight, touch, taste are all deceived in their judgment of you, but hearing suffices firmly to believe.

I believe all that the Son of God has spoken; there is nothing truer than this word of truth. On the cross only the divinity was hidden, but here the humanity is also hidden.

I believe and confess both, and ask for what the repentant thief asked. I do not see the wounds as Thomas did, but I confess that you are my God. Make me believe more and more in you, hope in you, and love you. O memorial of our Lord's death! Living bread that gives life to man, grant my soul to live on you, and always to savor your sweetness. Lord Jesus, Good Pelican, wash me clean with your blood, one drop of which can free the entire world of all its sins.

Jesus, whom now I see hidden, I ask you to fulfill what I so desire: that on seeing you face to face, I may be happy in seeing your glory. Amen."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Prayer of Veronica

















My beautiful, precious Jesus, you are hurting so much. Your whole body is crying out for love and comfort. Let me love your pain away. Let me kiss your hands pierced by nails. I will gently bandage them and hold them close to my heart so you can feel my love enter into them and heal them.

Jesus, my wonderful Jesus, your face is covered with sweat and blood. Let me gently remove the thorns that pierce your brow. I will wipe away all of the hurt and sorrow from your face along with the sweat and blood. I will wash your hair ever so tenderly and rinse it with my tears. I will pour refreshing water for you to drink to quench your parched lips and throat.

My starving Jesus, let me cook a meal for you to satisfy your hunger. Sit at my table and I will serve you nutritious food to help you grow strong again. Your weak body will be revived. Your empty stomach will be satisfied.

My freezing Jesus, let me clothe you with soft, warm, comfortable clothes to take your chill away. Come; rest your tired head on my soft pillows. I will cover your tired body with warm blankets. I will play soft music to comfort you as you drift off to sleep.

When you awaken, Jesus, you will feel refreshed and renewed. Your smile will return with the knowledge that you are loved. Your hurt and pain will be diminished and you will begin to heal. You will regain your strength. Your joy will return.

Jesus, my renewed, beautiful Jesus, I will always love you and care for you. I will always comfort you when you are in need. You can turn to me and I will be here, ready to hold you, to feed you and to give you rest and joy.

Amen.

-as seen on Catholicmom.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letter to a Lost Life

Dear nameless baby lost to the world,
lost in such a tragic and degrading way,
I mourn your life that never was its own.

Isaiah asks if a mother can forget her children
the dreadful answer is yes she can, sometimes.

You were a child deserving only love and care,
deserving constant prayer.

Be comforted, sweet baby,
in the arms of God and His angels
who hold you and love you in heaven.

It is only in that safe and perfect place
that you can have what was denied you
on this cold, cruel earth.

Little soul whose purpose
on earth was denied,
I know that the joy of heavenly life
will be yours for all eternity.

Rest in peace then, sweet little one,
and remember in your prayers
all those who cannot accept
the beauty and dignity
of the lives that God has created.

If you can't have Jesus...






















My niece Jenny has been telling me about a lovely Carmelite Convent which holds a weekly Holy Hour. Only a handful of people regularly show up, so the priest takes the Monstrance to everybody, one by one, and holds Jesus right in front of them for a full five minutes. For five glorious minutes it is just you and Jesus, face to face.

So last night I made the half hour trek out to Jenny's house and then we drove another 15 minutes to the convent. My excitement and anticipation quickly led to disappointment. The priest wasn't there, so the people in the chapel were just saying the rosary and a few other prayers. No priest, no Jesus.

This morning, my son Joe, the 13 year old, was asking me how the Holy Hour was. I told him what happened. I told him that after the rosary, Jenny and I went out for a drink and a nice long visit, what we like to call "free therapy". Always the clever child, Joe said, "Well, if you can't have Jesus, at least you can have a drink!" I told Joe that I worry about him. He said he worries about me, too. What would I do without my family?

But, tonight I know that I will not be disappointed in my efforts to adore my Lord and Savior! One hundred parishes in our Archdiocese will be holding a Holy Hour for Life tonight. My parish is one of them! I've been a parishioner at my church for the past 17 years, and there has never been a Holy Hour there in all that time. I am very excited that I will be able to adore Jesus and pray for the innocent lives of sweet children in my very own church, my home.

But if those plans fall through, I can always have a drink, heh heh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Surrender to Acceptance

I've been reading a lovely and old-fashioned book called "Saints are not Sad" which is a compilation of the lives of forty saints. I'm becoming acquainted with some familiar saints from a new perspective as well as some saints of whom I have never heard of before. One such saint, St. Bede, has a wonderful quote. He says, "The perfection of the Christian life lay not in renunciation but in acceptance."

I have spent so much time these past few years trying to surrender myself to God's will. I prayed day after day with the word "surrender" in my heart. Mostly, I have met with failure. The things I try to give up, to do without and to surrender remain deeply embedded within my heart and soul. My long-ingrained habits are so hard to renounce! Again and again, I meet with the disappointment of failure in my efforts to surrender to God.

Now failure isn't always such a bad thing. I've heard that Abraham Lincoln failed at many things before finally meeting with the success of the presidency. St. Francis Xavier was also one who failed many times. In fact, Alban Goodier, SJ has this to say about St. Francis Xavier in "Saints are not Sad"; "There is a greater greatness than the greatness of success;and that is the greatness of failure. For that is the greatness of being, without the encouragement of doing;the greatness of sacrifice, of which others less great may reap the fruits." Still, a little success along the spiritual path would do much to keep me ever moving forward in hope, rather than clinging to the past in regret.

I've been noticing a trend in the blogging world. Several bloggers have adopted a "word for the year" in which they will try to focus their days. Some have chosen "joy", others "yes" and still others will be focusing on "fortitude". I've decided to join in and choose the word "accept" as my word for 2010.

So to embrace my word for 2010, I will keep an acceptance list of all of the things that I will accept as gifts from God, things for which I will be grateful.

I accept...

~much needed assistance from younger and savvier co-workers about computer issues

~sweet kisses from my daughter when I arrive home from work

~the lack of psalms prayed at daily Mass because Father believes they should be sung or omitted, never spoken

~the pain of arthritis in my neck

~words of love whispered in the dark by the man who has been by my side for all these years of marriage

~waking in the morning to the still dark sky

~rejection letters from publishers "it's not what we are looking for at this time"

~voiced raised in anger as teenage sons squabble and threaten each other

~the juice of a sweet, tasty orange as it sprays on my dress

~wrinkles around my eyes from much smiling and many tears

~the extra 5 pounds from Christmas cheer that doesn't want the party to end

Dear Lord, thank you for these simple gifts, both pleasant and not so pleasant, that you choose to bless me with today. I accept them in humble gratitude and submission to your will in all things. Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bride of Christ

You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
from Isaiah 62: 1-5


For too long I was desolate, devoid of feeling loved by God.
















Last Sunday, that feeling changed. I awoke to the beautiful sight of frost on the trees, a winter fairy-land, like a wedding gift from God. Excitement filled my soul as I prepared for Mass. I was privileged to be scheduled to lector and to read these holy words from Isaiah at Mass. As I stood at the ambo and opened my mouth to speak, a thrill ran through every nerve of my body as if I were electrified, and I knew that it wasn't me speaking these words, but it was the Holy Spirit speaking them through me.

When Fr. Dennis preached his homily, he began by speaking of the predictability of weddings. He said "At every wedding, I can count on the same music, the same white dress on the bride, the same food at the reception, the same look in the eyes of the bride and groom as they focus on one another in deep, rapturous love. That is how God looks at you."

I nearly swooned during the consecration when Father raised the host. I felt God not only looking at me with love, but flooding my heart, my soul and my entire body with His love. I couldn't wait to receive His Body and Blood into my very own being and to carry Him with me throughout the day.

My Lord and My God, I will always love You. I will always be Your delight, Your espoused. Rejoice in me forever, as I will be rejoicing in You. Amen.











In the endless eternity
Before my body existed
My soul flourished
As a nun veiled
In a black habit
With only my face
Exposed to the world.

I am still
The Bride of Christ.
Our union is consummated
Each time I attend Holy Mass.
I consume Christ
And
Christ consumes me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Humble Acceptance

In the world to come I shall not be asked, "Why were you not Moses?" I shall be asked, "Why were you not Zusya?"
Rabbi Zusya


“There must be a king over us.
We too must be like other nations,
with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare
and fight our battles.”
When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say,
he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him,
“Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them.”
1 Samuel 8:19-22


This reading has my name written all over it! I am like those people of Israel, wanting to be like everybody else. When I read the lives of the saints, I fall into despair because I am not as holy as they are and fear than I never will be. When I see that others are granted spiritual favors, I grumble in disdain because I haven’t received those same favors. I am forever dissatisfied with myself and the gifts that God has given to me, always believing that the grass is greener on the other side. It’s not the material gifts of others that I envy, but rather the spiritual gifts that are bestowed upon others that bring out that green monster of jealousy.

But God didn’t make me to pray with the perseverance of St. Monica, to fast and mortify myself like the desert monks or to write with the creative flair of Ann Voskamp. He didn’t make me to rise to the high ranks of Catholicism or to be a superstar of Christianity. God made me to be a simple wife and mother, waking each morning to the ordinary tasks of cooking, cleaning and loving. He made me to be myself and no one else. I am reminded of the words of St. Francis de Sales "Be what you are, and be it well." And by simply living each day with gratitude, accepting the life that God has given to me, I am pleasing Him immensely. All God asks of me is to accept myself and the life that He has blessed me with. I pray that I will have the humility to do just that.

My Lord Jesus, there will always be someone who is blessed with gifts that I do not have. Help me to enjoy their gifts, be inspired by their gifts, and to be drawn closer to you through their gifts. Help me to realize that the gifts with which you have blessed me are the ones you have meant for me alone and for no one else. Teach me to be grateful for what I have, for what I am able to do and for being the person you made me to be. Amen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The White Way of Delight


"Oh, Mr. Cuthbert," she whispered, "that place we came through--that white place--what was it?"

"Well now, you must mean the Avenue," said Matthew after a few moments' profound reflection. "It is a kind of pretty place."

"Pretty? Oh, pretty doesn't seem the right word to use. Nor beautiful, either. They don't go far enough. Oh, it was wonderful--wonderful. It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfies me here"--she put one hand on her breast--"it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache. Did you ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?"

"Well now, I just can't recollect that I ever had."

"I have it lots of time--whenever I see anything royally beautiful. But they shouldn't call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that. They should call it--let me see--the White Way of Delight. Isn't that a nice imaginative name?"

-from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery



















This morning I awoke to a breathtaking sight
every naked tree branch was covered
with the white frost of a winter morning

It was as if the Holy Spirit had traveled
through the night, breathing his heavenly mist
upon the trees, covering them with the white
perfection of heaven

The frost clung to the branches
and sparkled against the blue sky
waiting for the sun to touch them
with the warmth of love
and melt the frozen dust from their tips

For a few hours I was in the
heavenly White Way of Delight
and my heart ached with a
"queer, funny, pleasant ache"

Heavenly Father, thank you for "The White Way of Delight" that pleases me so. Thank you for the foretaste of the beauty of heaven.
Amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Praise for Extra-Ordinary Time


Joining in Praise with Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart

I love ordinary time. I love routine and repetition. It feels so normal. Normal is good. But sometimes, upon closer inspection those normal and routine events are anything but ordinary. They are the extraordinary signs of the presence of God and for those I give praise.

1.A gentleman holds the church door open for me and greets me with a smile. That gentleman is an 8th grade boy, one of my son’s friends. The rest of his class walked right by me without a glance in my parental direction, but this one boy, he took an extraordinary chance and revealed God’s goodness to me in his act of kindness and for this, I praise God.

2.It’s not news to my regular blog readers that I struggle with depression, it’s an ordinary, seasonal, hormonal part of my life. But when someone new comes along, and spots it in my words just.like.that. and then reaches out with a loving and concerned email, it becomes an extraordinary sign of God’s love. Praise God for Mary P. who responded to my comment on YIM Catholic this week.

3.Daily Mass is an ordinary part of my family’s life, but every once in a while, something extraordinary happens there. This week God showed His sense of humor through my daughter who was full of spirit and life. I praise God for Mary’s bathroom rendition of “I Am Woman-W-O-M-A-N” that brought an extraordinary smile to my face this week!

4.In this week when the world watches the small island of Haiti with broken hearts and whispered prayers, I praise God for all of the extraordinary heroes who are able to lend a hand and come to the aid of all of those who are distraught and suffering. The words of Archbishop Dolan resound in my ears..."Haiti is the broken, bloody body of Christ."

5.And finally, I praise God for this extraordinary song, Beauty Will Rise whose lyrics touched my heart in an extraordinary way and made me think of all of the suffering souls in that poor country. This song was written by Steven Curtis Chapman after the tragic death of his daughter, but the lyrics really apply to the situation in Haiti...

It was the day the world went wrong
I screamed til my voice was gone
And watched through the tears as everything
came crashing down
Slowly panic turns to pain
As we awake to what remains
and sift through the ashes that are left
behind

But buried deep beneath
All our broken dreams
we have this hope:

Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning, beauty will rise

So take another breath for now,
and let the tears come washing down,
and if you can't believe I will believe
for you.


Please God, quickly bring us to the day when beauty will rise from the ashes of Haiti. Until then, we continue to praise You, for without You, we could not take another breath. Amen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fearless

I brought all of my shame to you
I withheld nothing
It was the bravest and the most foolish
Thing I had ever done

Others had spurned me
Turned their backs
As if the very sight of me
Was a disgrace

But you were fearless

You watched my tears
Fall upon my trembling hands
You reached out and lifted my chin
Forcing me to look into your eyes

You drew me closer
And held me gently
Your quiet love and kind words
Gave me strength

And now, because of you, I too, am fearless

"Do Not Be Afraid"John 14:27

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Angel Sings

I love my daughter, my only daughter after four sons. When she was born, the horror stories about daughters seemed to come out of the woodwork everywhere I turned. "You're so lucky you have all those boys." "Daughters are so hard to raise." "Get ready for lots of whining!" "I'd take boys any day!" People with the best of intentions seemed to take great joy in warning me that I was really headed for difficulty and heartache with my daughter.

Mary has been in my life for 8 and 1/2 years now. It is true she does whine. She can be very loud. She's bossy to her brothers. Laziness shows in her messy bedroom and she requires many reminders to make her bed each day. But to be honest, I whine a lot too, I can be very loud at times(I'm sure my neighbors can attest to that!), I am quite bossy, always preferring to get my own way and although I always promptly make my bed upon arising, I am plenty lazy about other things, more important things. I can relate to Mary because after all, I am also somebody's daughter. I understand all those girl things. So far, although she really is a mix of good and bad behavior, I think those horror stories have been unwarranted.

Yet there are days when she makes me see red and those warning voices about daughters start to echo around my head. Just a few days ago, in fact, she was complaining about a stomach ache in a ploy to stay home from school. I didn't buy it. Sure enough, the phone call came mid-day. "I threw up. Can you come get me?" I should have asked to talk to the teacher or the school secretary for verification. I didn't. Off I went to my boss to tell her that Mary was sick and I had to go. I left my coworkers in a lurch and brought Mary home. She wasn't sick. Not at all. She just felt like playing hooky. Mary is now on dish duty this week and despite her heartfelt apologies, the punishment stands.

But, in spite of her occasional naughtiness, and honestly, boys can be quite naughty too, she makes me smile far more than she makes me angry. Yesterday, for example,
while at daily Mass, Mary asked to use the bathroom after the Prayer of the Faithful. In our church, the bathrooms are in the back of the church, not in some separate hallway or gathering area. The entire church was silent as the gifts were brought up and the altar was prepared. Then, a quiet voice could be heard, singing. The volume rose. Everyone in church could hear that sweet voice singing, but couldn't quite make out the words. Jack, who was sitting next to me, nudged me and we both struggled to control our giggles. When Mary walked out of the bathroom, Jack and I turned to her and we couldn't contain our smiles. She whispered "I'm so glad that you are smiling at me Mom! But why are you so happy!" I put a finger to my lips and pointed to the front of church to direct her attention to the Mass.

After Mass, as she and Jack walked to school, one of the elderly parishioners who was sitting near the bathroom stopped me. "Your daughter has a beautiful singing voice. What was that she was singing, The Our Father?" I told him that I wasn't quite sure because I couldn't make out the words but apparently, his mind was made up that The Our Father was the song he heard. "Well," he said, "you are blessed to have a holy angelic daughter who sings The Our Father in the bathroom."

That night at supper, I asked Mary what it was she was singing. "Oh," Mary replied, "It was 'Cause I'm a Woman, W-O-M-A-N." Angelic indeed!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter Rainbow

"I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of my covenant between me and the earth." Genesis 9:13


















My heart was growing cold like the winter weather. I saw heartache and pain all around me and there was no comfort to be found, not even in the House of God. The tears spilling down my frozen face were the only warmth I could feel.

Then, the weather took a strange turn. The sky was brilliant blue and clear behind me, but in front of me, snow showered from above. The sun was working to burn the snow away; I could see a faint glimmer of it shining behind the clouds. Then, right in front of my eyes, a miracle occurred! There before me, a bright-colored rainbow appeared in the snowy sky!

Every rainbow is a sign from God. It is his beautiful way of telling us that He loves us, all of us, and He will always love us. His covenant with the earth from the beginning of time has always been a covenant of love. What greater comfort could I have been looking for? God's sign of love for me in His beautiful winter rainbow has warmed my heart, and I pray that it will keep my heart warm forever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is It Child Abuse?

As my family enters another season of basketball and the calendar is covered with barely legible scribbles of practices, games and concession stand duty, and as we come down from a weekend of 8 games between my four sons, my husband stopped me in my tracks with a thought-provoking question..."Could it be considered a form of child abuse to put your kids through sports and academic competitions? Are we parents guilty of pushing our kids too hard to excel without allowing them the freedoms of childhood?" This was a question that he heard on a morning radio talk show and it intrigued him. It intrigues me.

When I was a child, I loved spelling bees and I always did very well in them, advancing to the state level when I was in the 6th grade. I missed "ptomaine". I had never heard of this type of poisoning before and didn't know it had a silent "p" in the beginning. My sister Cindy used to quiz me from the dictionary every night in preparation for the bee. I'm sure I groaned and complained plenty then, but looking back now I realize that it was a wonderful opportunity for bonding with my sister.

I love watching the Scripps Spelling Bee competition each spring and am blown away by the extreme intelligence that those kids possess. Do you think those brilliant children want to be in that competition, or do their parents push and force them? Or, is it a combination of the two. In either case, I am sure that the participants will go far academically, and lives of success are certainly in the cards for their futures.

When I was in the 5th grade, I participated in a speaking contest for the local Optimist Club. The topic was “Together We Will…” My teacher had invited me to speak and my mom decided that I would give a pro-life speech, in fact, she really wrote the whole thing for me. Competing against high school students, my “Together We Will Fight Abortion” speech took first place in the citywide competition and I went to the zone competition where I placed third. I was very proud and happy to participate in the contest. Following my win, I was asked by several local Catholic women’s groups to give my speech at their meetings.

I remember sitting in the garage with my mom as she was refinishing a dresser. Whenever I needed to discuss an important issue with her, the garage was the place it happened because she always had her hands in furniture stripper or varnish as she lovingly restored antiques. I know I broke her heart when I told her that I did not want to give the speech to the women’s groups. She was so incredibly proud of me, but I was tired of giving the speech. She convinced me to finish out my obligations and then she didn’t schedule me to speak at any future events. Did I feel abused in this whole process? I would definitely say no, what I felt was loved. My mom taught me the value of finishing what you start and honoring your obligations, but she did not push or force me to continue beyond what was already promised.

As far as my sons are concerned, they ask to play basketball and they love it. When the season is over, the four of them are forever scrapping up games in the alley to continue their enjoyment of the sport. If you ask me, I wouldn't call it child abuse, but rather parental abuse, to allow our children to play the sport. After all, we're the ones who have to run everybody back and forth to the practices, sometimes as late as eleven o'clock at night! We're the ones who have to purchase special basketball shoes and pay the fees for them to play and the admission price to watch their games. We're the ones who have to work in the dreaded concession stand risking hot oil burns from the popcorn popper and patiently offering candy to children who can't decide which kind of taffy they want. It is our schedule that must forever be realigned as the coach decides to schedule a last minute tournament 50 miles from home.

I know that my sons will not be offered any sports scholarships to college, and certainly are not headed for professional sports glory, but playing on a team sport with their friends certainly seems to make them happy. And I can't complain when I think about the benefits that all of that physical exercise provides to their growing bodies.

So what do you think? Is it child abuse, parental abuse, neither, both? Do you have a budding athletic or academic star in your household? Do you push them to excellence or simply stand back and enjoy the gifts that God has bestowed upon your children?

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Priesthood and a Stranger

This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard about the power of prayer. I found it on Spiritual Motherhood for Priests blog. I dare you not to get goosebumps!

This is one of the most inspiring stories from the booklet, Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests. A miraculous story of spiritual motherhood:

We all have the prayers and sacrifices of others to thank for what we are and for our vocations. In the case of the famous Bishop Ketteler, one of the leading figures of the German episcopate in the 19th century and one of the prominent founders of Catholic sociology, he owed his gratitude to a simple nun, the lowest and poorest lay sister in the convent.

The year was 1869 and a German diocesan bishop was sitting together with his guest, Bishop Ketteler from Mainz. In the course of their conversation, the diocesan bishop came to the topic of his guest’s extremely blessed apostolate. Yet, Bishop Ketteler explained to his host,

"I owe thanks for everything that I have accomplished with God’s help, to the prayer and sacrifice of someone I do not even know. I can only say that I know somebody has offered his or her whole life to our loving God for me, and I have this sacrifice to thank that I even became a priest."


Keep reading...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Seventh Station

The Seventh Station-Jesus Falls the Second Time

"My most gentle Jesus, how many times You have forgiven me; and how many times I have fallen again and begun again to offend You! By the merits of this second fall, give me the grace to persevere in Your love until death. Grant, that in all my temptations, I may always have recourse to You. I love You, Jesus, my Love, with all my heart; I am sorry that I have offended You. Never let me offend You again. Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will." The Way of the Cross, composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori






















(The Seventh Station of the Cross
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee)


I have been greatly blessed with a fabulous spiritual director and friend, Fr. Don Hying who is the Rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. He never fails to look inside my heart and get right to the crux of my struggles. Then he lifts me up with his profound words of wisdom and I am encouraged to continue to follow the narrow path of the Lord. Recently, I complained to him about my lack of fervor in prayer, in fact, it has truly been a lack of desire for prayer, and he shared his very insightful thoughts with me about his favorite station of the cross, the Seventh Station.

As Jesus made that tragic journey along the Via Dolorosa to his crucifixion, whatever energy he might have had at the beginning was surely depleted by the time he suffered his second fall under the weight of the wood that transversed his back. There he lay, face in the dirt, dripping sweat and blood, scraped knees embedded with gravel, shoulders aching, in fact, everything aching! Our sin did that to him. The weight of our many sins crushed Him to the ground. And the excruciating pain that he endured wasn't simply physical, but it was also a mental, emotional and spiritual trauma. What he wouldn't have done to just end it right there! Yet the Seventh Station was only the halfway point to the end. He still had so far to go. Somehow, he had to pick himself back up and continue all the way to the end, to the brutal crucifixion.

Our lives can be like that as well. We come to mid-life and we're halfway done with our time on earth. We've experienced so much of the joys and sorrows of life. There are times when those sorrows weigh us down so heavily that we become tempted to give up right then and there. Prayer becomes dry. Chores become meaningless. Joy seems non-existent. We wake in the morning and long to pull those covers back over our heads and stay right where we are. But God is not done with us yet. Somehow, we have to pick ourselves up, swing our feet out of bed and onto the floor and rise to face another day. Somehow, we have to continue with our prayers, our chores and our lives. We have to move past the Seventh Station.

We can't possibly know how long it will take us to reach the end of our journey. We don't know what pains may still be waiting for us as we carry our own crosses through life. All we can do is continue on in faith and trust, day after day, holding on to our hope in Christ Jesus and his great love for us.

How fortunate we are that we can look to Jesus and his experience of the Seventh Station. We are not alone in our failures and struggles. Jesus lived it as well. He found the strength to get up again after he fell and to carry on, to continue his torturous journey to the end. He will help us if we but ask for His assistance. When we fall, we only need to lift a hand to the Lord, and He will be reaching down to lift us up. He will lift our cross onto His shoulder and help us to carry it. He will walk every step of our own way of the cross with us and when we reach the end, He will be there to guide us into heaven.

-as seen on Catholicmom.com

Friday, January 8, 2010

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 2

Joining in Jennifer's Conversion Diary Seven Quick Takes with some of my favorite things that I experienced this week in no particular order...












1. Bishop Callahan, an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee, presided at an Epiphany Mass at our parish. My sons, John and Justin served as acolytes and the rest of my family brought up the gifts. After Mass, Bishop Callahan held both of my hands within his and thanked me for all that I do. Is it possible to ever grow weary of hearing those two words-thank you?

2. An elderly man complimented me on my smile. He said he felt as if he had known me for 100 years. (Is that a compliment, or an insult?)

3. I became a camera magnet and was videotaped for two news broadcasts and "Living our Faith" an Archdiocesan television program while I was at the Solemn Vespers for Archbishop Listecki. One of the news segments made it to you-tube. Crazy!

4. Knife pierces tomato and withdraws juice. I love the sound of the knife as it scrapes against the cutting board. Preparing dinner for my family is so very satisfying.

5. My boss sent me an email wishing me a Happy Anniversary. She and I began our jobs together 13 years ago on January 6th. Not many people are fortunate enough to say that they love their jobs. I am one of those fortunate people.

6. I received a Christmas card in the mail from Archbishop Dolan! It blows me away that a man as busy as the Archbishop of New York would take the time to send a Christmas Card to a piddly person from his former diocese. Even if it was a mass sending by his secretary, it still feels good to be remembered. Keep 'em coming Archbishop, you sure know how to make a girl happy!

7. I had the opportunity to peruse my spiritual director's bookshelf, something I've long wanted to do. Fr. Don graciously loaned me a book called "Saints are not Sad" with the life stories of forty saints. It was compiled in 1949 and is very well written. So far, my favorite saint in the book is St. Malachy. This man had a sister who lived a sinful life and the good saint cut off all contact with her. After she died, he continued to pray for her soul. He had several dreams about her, first she was standing in a courtyard, complaining that she hadn't eaten in 30 days. Then he saw her at the threshold of a church, dressed in black. In the next dream she was wearing grey, within the church but not allowed to come near the altar. Finally, she was among the white robed and she shone with glory. What a hopeful image for the afterlife!

Tucked inside the pages of this book was a beautiful vintage bookmark with a picture of Jesus and the words "Good Book Good Friend". It reminded me of the lovely Holy Cards found at Micki's blog. And the words were a good description for the experience of finding a good book from my good friend, Fr. Don!

It was a blessed week, and when I am tempted to complain about the difficulties of life, I hope I will remember these seven wonderful quick takes and turn my complaints to praise!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Frozen Lake


lake frozen over by ice
steam rising in a mist
like the breath of God
wanting to melt the cold
longing to soften the hard

how often my heart resembles
that frozen lake
solid, unmoving, cold
failing to reach out to others

breath Your steamy mist
into my heart, Oh God
make it tender, supple, and warm
so love can grow
and blossom within

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Out of Hibernation

I need God
I call to Him with my sobs and I wait for a response
silence falls heavy on my ears
heavy on my heart
so heavy, I can't rise to the day


I am a turtle, head tucked inside my shell
hiding under the covers of my bed
wishing the world would go on without me
and leave me behind in my slow-moving despair

then I hear it...
the creak of the bed springs upstairs
children's footsteps walking the floor above
and I must get up, must come out of my shell

could it be that the sound of family waking
is the sound of God?
could it be that the sweet arms around me
and the voices that whisper "don't be sad"
are coming from Him?

God draws me out of the hardness
of winter hibernation
with the sweet sounds of children
offering words of love and encouragement


it feels like Spring
their words are sweet-scented hyacinth
and warm, gentle breezes

I soften and move ever so slowly
I take the hand of the child of God
and enter the life of a new day

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rosary for Bishops

I received the following press release today and think this is a wonderful idea! Won't you please join in prayer for your Bishop? Check out the link to learn more-and sign up to pray!


Rosary for the Bishop Goes National December 30, 2009
Madison, Wisconsin - Rosary for the Bishop, an online prayer campaign for Roman Catholic bishops, is launching a new website sporting an updated look and many new features. The service allows people to sign up to pray for their bishop online, then sends reminders so participants don't forget to pray. The website, www.rosaryforthebishop.org, is scheduled to go live on January 1, the
Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Rosary for the Bishop was started at Christmas of 2005 as a gift for Madison's Bishop Robert Morlino. Morlino had had a difficult year, facing many challenges, including the destruction of St. Raphael Cathedral by arson early in the year. "We thought the good Bishop could use some prayers and encouragement," said Syte Reitz, a Madison-area Catholic. At an October meeting of the Madison Catholic Woman's club, Reitz collected about 30 prayer pledges from friends, presenting them to Bishop Morlino in a Christmas card thanking him for his work. Reitz's son Tom, a computer science student, liked the idea and offered to make a website where people could sign up online. "I was just starting to make websites for friends and acquaintances, and I was learning about the power and reach of the Internet as an evangelization tool," says Tom.

By Christmas 2005, the website had attracted over 150 participants, including priests, seminarians, and other prominent Madison Catholics. In 2006, Syte and Tom extended Rosary for the Bishop for another year, then another, and another. All the while the project was growing: "by Christmas of 2008 we had over 300 participants from about 50 parishes throughout the Diocese," Tom said.

"This year, we wanted to make another Rosary for the Bishop campaign for Bishop Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa. We quickly realized that with only a bit of additional work, we could make Rosary for the Bishop available for all US bishops," said Tom Reitz, whose web development company now oversees the website. The site will optionally send a reminder message by email or Twitter so participants don't forget to pray.

Rosary for the Bishop was inspired by a passage from Exodus (17:11), which refers to Aaron and Hur holding up Moses' hands during battle. "We need to support our Bishops' hands so that they do not weary in the battle for the faith. Many Catholics pray the Rosary every day. Why not pray one for our bishops? They are our shepherds, and their job is not easy. They need and deserve our prayers," said Syte Reitz.

The new website will allow users to sign up to pray for multiple bishops. "If you want to pray for Bishop Morlino on Mondays, and Archbishop Dolan of New York on the first Friday of every month, you can do that. And the neat part is that you can see statistics about how many other people are praying too," explained Tom.

To sign up for Rosary for the Bishop, visit www.rosaryforthebishop.org/join. News and updates will be available via Facebook (search "Rosary for the Bishop") and Twitter (@RftBp).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome Archbishop Listecki

"In a mysterious way you have become the gift of the Magi for us." Bishop Richard Sklba, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee to Archbishop Elect Jerome Listecki



It's an historic day in Milwaukee! The 11th Archbishop of Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki, will be installed on January 4th. My family and I had the great privilege of attending the Solemn Vespers Service welcoming him to Milwaukee. My son John had the honor of singing for the service with the Cathedral Choir. The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist was packed with faithful people welcoming and praying for the new Archbishop. The installation Mass is by invitation only and yours truly was not invited. Like the rest of the regular people, I will hope to catch some of the installation on television.

So far, I am impressed with Archbishop Listecki and I am sure that he will do a wonderful job drawing the good and the not so good people of this Archdiocese closer to God while upholding the orthodoxy of the Church. It's so easy for me to write that out now, but you should have seen me when the television news crew shoved a bright light in my face and drilled me about my thoughts about our new Archbishop. I stuttered and stammered and looked like the absolute fool that I am.

My favorite part of the whole evening occurred after the Vesper service. My children and I went to the Cathedral Treasury to wait for John to change from his choir vestments. I stepped away to visit with a friend for a moment and when I came back, John was standing there wearing a black hat. "Nice hat", I said, "where did you get it?" "I don't know" John said, "some priest put it on my head and then went into the bathroom. He thought I was a seminarian and then Fr. Carl, the Cathedral Rector, came over and told him that I should be a seminarian since my name is John Paul." When the priest came back from the bathroom, he told John that he would have let him keep the hat, but since it was so cold outside, he needed it when he returned to his hotel. Then he introduced himself as Bishop Morlino, the Bishop of Madison, WI.

Enter the fool once again. I have heard wonderful things about Bishop Morlino and here he was being so kind and friendly to my children. In my most excited voice I said "You're Bishop Morlino? It's so wonderful to meet you!" Do you think I would have been so excited about any ordinary priest? OK, I probably would have been just as excited to meet any ordinary priest, after all, our ordinary priests represent Christ on earth and so how could I not be excited when I have the chance to welcome someone who represents my beloved Lord!

So here I am going on and on about myself when this day really isn't about me at all, is it? It's about a man who is probably very nervous and excited to begin his new position. I praise God for Archbishop Listecki and I offer my prayers for him as he begins his new leadership role in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Won't you join me in prayer?

Eternal God, source of every gift and talent, through your Son, Jesus Christ, you grant to us your blessings that the Church might be nourished and strengthened. Bless your servant, Jerome, and confer upon him the gifts of your Spirit that he may remain humble in heart and generous in love as he serves your household the Church. Bring us all into the peace of your kingdom, where all honor and glory are yours, Lord our God, forever and ever. Amen. (adapted from the book of blessings)

Epiphany


distant lands
call to unrelenting dreams
wander the way
to answer the call

weary and worn travelers
fall beneath the star
baby in His mother's arms
could this really be all?

leaving gifts of treasures rare
work their way back home
hearts now gladdened by the King
it's love that they have found!

plans have changed
hopes refreshed
mysteries revealed
three very blessed pilgrims' joyful hearts resound!

Praise for Family Celebrations

"It might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most." Russell from the movie "Up"

In this Christmas season when families draw close to share the joy of the Incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us, my family has been blessed with many joyful occasions to celebrate with each other. For those occasions, I praise God...





1. Last Sunday 18 teens from our parish youth group gathered to Christmas Carol at Candy Cane Lane, a neighborhood of about 12 blocks where neighbors all decorate for the entire month of December to raise money for childhood cancer victims. Although it was bitterly cold, every teen had a smile on their face and joy in their hearts as they sang for this cause. The snow gently fell during "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and our finale of "Silent Night". It was a blessed evening, a gift from the Lord for the carolers, the chaperones (Paul and I), and the families who came to enjoy the Christmas lights and were treated to the bonus of Christmas carols. A special praise for my friends Steve and Kathy who organized the whole outing. Praise God!

2. I hadn't been to Midnight Mass since I was in high school, and my children have never gone. This year, my son John sang with the choir and I was scheduled to lector for Lessons and Carols and the Mass. It was beautiful and I didn't fall asleep! Praise God!

3. Paul and I took our three oldest sons to see the movie "Blind Side". It was an amazingly uplifting movie that left us all feeling good. I love a good story and enjoying it with my family makes it even sweeter. Praise God!

4. We took the time to enjoy the winter weather with a family sledding outing. Praise God!

5. On New Year's Eve we watched the movie "Up", from which the above quote comes. This was a movie with a beautiful message that the entire family could enjoy together. This particular quote stood out to me as being quite poignant. It's the simple joys, like watching a movie with the family, brushing my daughter's hair, sharing a joke with my son, or holding my husband's hand that I most treasure and will remember. Praise God!

6. Sometimes family celebrations can include non-traditional family members. My friend Karinann at Blessings for the Day has awarded me with a special "Sisters in Faith" award which I am to share with other bloggers who encourage and help me in my faith. Thank you Karinann, I feel the same way about you, as well as the other wonderful women upon whom you have bestowed this award-Judy at Benmakesten, Colleen at Thoughts on Grace and Mary at The Beautiful Gate! I would like to share this award with so many others, some who are also "brothers in faith". There are wonderful bloggers who have been with me from the beginning, some who comment frequently and others who rarely or never comment, but just knowing that you are reading my words and sharing my faith lifts me up and inspires me tremendously. I pray that I, in turn, lift you up, dear reader, and inspire you as well. I would like to pass this award on to some blog writers whose blogs are fairly new to me and yet, they feel like sisters that I have known for a long time. For these women, and for all of the blogging community, I praise God!

Kindred Spirit at A Trail of Flowers

Emily at Back Bay View

Meredith at Holy Clutter

Booklady at Okiebooklady

Ruth at Dealings with Shadows

Maria at That They May Have Life

To my spiritual sisters named above, please pass this award on to others with whom you share your faith like a sister!

I praise God for my family and the many and varied ways in which we celebrate our love for each other and our faith in God!

(Thanks to Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart for this weekly MEME)