Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wooed by His Sacred Heart

You woo me...


















with birdsong in the morning
daffodils in the garden
gentle waves on the shore
gifts of glass from the sea
a warm breeze in the evening
a playful, loving family
friends who listen and share
the kiss of Eucharist on my tongue
daily, intimate, hour-long conversations in a silent church




















drawing me ever more deeply into the fire burning
within Your Sacred Heart, allowing me to feel the pain of sin
that consumes you, letting me experience
Your intense suffering for love of me and all of Your children,
sharing Your sorrow
with the one You love,
this little nobody
that You woo
so expertly,
so divinely,
so sweetly


I can't resist Your desire for me

I am wooed into Your eternal embrace
so tender and loving....

Never let go
I am Yours forever...


Vision

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."  ~Mark 1:35


He goes off alone, back turned to all of those who love Him.  He retreats in prayer, needing space and privacy to strengthen His relationship with God so he'll have more to give to all of those who need Him.  But He doesn't see me watching from a distance, hiding from the embarrassment of following Him when He clearly wants to be alone.  I can't find the courage or strength to stay away and give Him rest or peace from my constant demands for attention.  I wipe away the silent, hidden tears that fall from the loneliness of being left behind without Him, even if it's only for a short time.  I want to be with Him always, giving Him some little comfort from His many burdens and receiving assurance of His love in return.  I want Him to be the constant King of my heart and can't bear to be separated from Him.

O Jesus, You are my King, even when You are far away and I can't feel You looking upon me with love.  Let my eyes forever gaze upon Your loveliness, your beauty, your strength.  Even when I behold you from a guilty distance, never permit me to take my eyes off of You.  Remain forever within the vision of my heart.  Amen.

"Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy and your face will not blush with shame."  ~Psalm 34:5

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sea Glass Life



I woke to a Sunday morning surprise-my husband suggested a walk on the beach following Mass and breakfast, a rarity.  Scanning the shoreline for fragments of color in softened shards of varied hues revealed a surprise-a clear heart with the word "life" in the middle. "Probably from a bottle of Miller High Life Beer," states the ever-practical Paul.  But me, I prefer to ponder upon it romantically, after all, the word "life" was perfectly centered within a heart.

On April 27th, Paul and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary.  Those twenty-two years have held lots of shards; pieces of broken dreams, broken hearts and shattered emotions, mixed in with colorful memories of joy, tranquility and contentment.  As we ride the waves of the years together, all of those fragments formed, like sea glass polished by the rocks, sand and waves, a strong and unbreakable bond.  Our marriage is solid like a strong piece of sea glass.  The edges of past moments of difficulty, trials, burdens and pain have become smooth to the touch and have created beautiful memories of constancy and dependability and forever love.

I love the sea glass life that God has created for Paul and I.  My prayer is that as we tumble through anniversary after anniversary into old age together, we will embrace whatever God sends our way, whether it be an abundance of clear and peaceful waters, or some stormy seas that cause us to crash about in disorientation, because all of those moments make this sea glass life of ours so gloriously rich and colorful!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom-A Book Review


 


I've long admired local Milwaukee author, Marge Fenelon.  Ever since I read her book "When's God Gonna Show Up", I recognized that her writing style, which flows as if she were sharing a story with her closest friend, and her spirituality and deep faith, were something I should strive to emulate.  Through Marge's words I actually feel as though I can someday attain to holiness, that it's truly possible, because her writing focus is on ordinary life events that could happen to anyone.

With her new book, Marge has once again made holiness seem to be something that is attainable for anyone.  In Imitating Mary:  Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom, she has made a connection between the holiness of the Blessed Mother and the lives of modern mothers everywhere so that we, too, can feel hope that by following the example of the Blessed Mother, we can live a virtuous life right here and now.

Marge chose ten virtues-yes, patience, trust, obedience, endurance, courage, strength, hope, faith and joy-and laid them out for us with a scriptural background that makes the story of the Blessed Mother come alive, anecdotes from the author's own life, and some examples of how we, too, can imitate Mary.  Then, she leaves us with some thoughts to ponder from the annals of the Church, some reflection questions and finally some suggestions of how we can follow in our Lady's footsteps.

Through sharing her personal examples of how she has encountered the Ten Marian Virtues in her own life, the author inspires women everywhere to consider how they are already living a life of virtue in their mothering.  While reading this book, I frequently had to stop and wipe away tears as I recalled my own experiences, both painful and joyful, that resonated with the stories in Imitating Mary.  In addition, the author offers prayerful and practical suggestions for improving the holiness of your family members.  In particular, I like her suggestion that we consecrate our children to Mary, as well as this suggestion on making a habit of praying the Magnificat Prayer:

"Mary's Magnificat is an important image for me, especially when I feel that either my family or I have been treated unjustly.  I will pray the Magnificat over and over again until the pain and anger subside, and then I remind myself of all the great things God has done in and through my family and myself, in spite of our lowliness.  Perhaps this helps you, too, during those times when you feel as though someone's trampled all over you or your family.  It's a valuable lesson to teach your children.  Whenever things seem unfair or dismal, pray the Magnificat with them and remind them that God knows all, sees all, and is in control of all.  He knows what's in every person's heart, and he will shame the haughty, diffuse the corrupt, and reward and uplift the righteous.  We only must obey his will and allow him to work in his own time and in his own way." 

I highly recommend Imitating Mary:  Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom.  You will be inspired, uplifted, and encouraged, and hopefully, will be drawn ever more deeply into a desire to practice these virtues within your own life.

From  the publisher, Ave Maria Press: 

Do you know a mother who exemplifies Mary's love and devotion? Nominate an extraordinary mother you know and/or yourself to be entered to win a FREE copy of Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom by Marge Fenelon. Visit this link to enter.  

Visit the following blog tour participants to read what others are saying about Marge Fenelon's Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom published by Ave Maria Press.

Marge Fenelon, award-winning Catholic journalist and Catholic Herald columnist, will be embarking on a blog tour as part of her book launch celebration. Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom delves into ten moments of Mary's life that reveal her as the timeless companion for mothers. Fenelon introduces readers to a Mary who faced challenges familiar to every mother—impatience, frustration, sacrifice, and grief—and demonstrates how, in the face of these ordinary obstacles, Mary’s response was an extraordinary example through the virtues of patience, joy, trust, and faith.

Beginning April 22, follow along as bloggers feature posts about Imitating Mary. Each stop on the tour will include information, impressions, insights, and interviews with Fenelon. Stops on the blog tour schedule currently include:

April 22: Lisa Hendey at Catholic Mom
April 23: Kathy Schiffer at Seasons of Grace
April 24: Anne Bender at Imprisoned in my Bones
April 25: Mary DeTurris Poust at Not Strictly Spiritual
April 26: Roxane Salonen at Peace Garden Mama
April 27: Sarah Reinhard at Snoring Scholar
April 28: Karen Edmisten at Karen Edmisten
April 29: Karen Mahoney at Write 2 The Point
April 30: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle at Embracing Motherhood


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Christed



Joe (holding the Bishop's staff), Bishop Sklba and John (Joe's sponsor)

"To be anointed is to be Christed, since the name Christ means "anointed."  ~Bishop Richard Sklba

My son Joe received the Sacrament of Confirmation on April 13th, conferred upon him by Bishop Richard Sklba.  Bishop Sklba is known to use a lot of Chrism when he Confirms teenagers.  When he Confirmed Joe, he rubbed it in his hair as if he were washing Joe's hair with the Chrism.  Then he rubbed some onto John's hand that was resting on Joe's right shoulder.  You can easily see the Chrism in Joe's hair in this picture, and even after he washed his hair the next morning, the heavenly fragrance of balsam continued to fill the air around Joe.

In his homily, Bishop Sklba offered an explanation as to why he has a reputation for being generous with the Chrism.  He said, "To be anointed is to be Christed, since the name Christ means "anointed."  The oil makes you beautiful because it causes you to shine.  I say "be sealed with the Holy Spirit", and the "seal" makes it official like a seal on a diploma.  You are anointed and sealed to become witnesses to how God works in the world."

"In your letters to me, some of you wrote that you wanted the Sacrament of Confirmation because you wanted to become adults in the faith.  But today's Gospel reading contradicts that.  We heard:  "And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." ~Matthew 18:2-4  Children are very honest and open.  You, too, are called to be honest and open about witnessing to Christ and to your Catholic faith."

He went on:  "When you are Confirmed in the faith, I use enough Chrism so that it gets in your hair and when you sleep it gets in your pillow so you can dream about what God can do with you and for you.  I use it on the sponsor's hand as a sign of the impulse of the Spirit.  The fragrance is to remind you of God's very real presence in your life."

Then, as Bishop Sklba stood right in front of Joe, he stressed the fact that no two people are alike, that everyone is unique, and he used Joe as an example, telling him that there is nobody in this world who is exactly like him.  And he said, "Now this Sacrament of Confirmation is not just for you alone; it's for everybody.  The Sacrament is for mission, it's to send forth.  On Monday you will all go back to your respective high schools and your schools will now be better places because of what we do today. The gift of the Spirit sends us forth to improve the world around us."

Peter's Love: A Guest Post by Dawn Meyer

Enjoy this uplifting reflection on today's Gospel written by my friend, Dawn Meyer. 

This Sunday's Gospel gives us Peter, at the Sea of Tiberius, after Jesus' death and Resurrection.  (For the whole Gospel, read John 21:1-19. )


Peter's back in his boat, letting his net fall into the water.  He realizes that he "wasn't in his boat because he wanted to go fish, but because he wanted Jesus.  One day he had encountered the Master while casting his nets, he had encountered him in this same boat, doing the things he was doing now.  He now realized that he could do nothing, experience nothing without desiring that Jesus be present with him, in his midst..."  (Dom Maura Giuseppe Lepori, abbot general of the Cistercian Order, excerpt taken from Magnificat)


Where do we, like Peter, search for Jesus?  Knowing that we can do nothing without Him, where do we go to find Him, while we're here on earth?  Do you seek Him in the sacraments, where He fills us with His grace and love?  Do you seek Him in Adoration, in the silence of your heart, in front of the Blessed Sacrament?  Or do you seek Him in the warm embrace you share with a loved one or a friend?  Do you seek Him in the smile you give to the stranger passing by?  Do you seek Him in your daily life, at the grocery store, while you're pumping gas into the car, or when you're taking out the garbage?  He's in our midst, in the mundane and in the sublime.  He's there.  Just like He was there for Peter, when Peter desired to be with Jesus so much that he got into his boat to fish, hoping to find the Lord. 

After Peter sat in his boat all night, catching zip, not even one fish, who does he see standing on the shore when daylight breaks? Jesus!  The Lord tells the Apostles to cast their nets over the right side of the boat and after they obediently do so, the net is so full of fish they can't even pull it back up! 

Jesus knew they needed Him.  He knew Peter missed Him.  He knew that they needed to be nourished, not just physically with the fish, but they needed His presence, His Divine Love, to nourish and strengthen their souls so that they could carry out the mission He gave them... go out and proclaim the Gospel!  And so it is with us.  WE need to be nourished by Jesus' Divine presence, by His Body and Blood, by His grace freely given in the sacraments.  WE need all the Love that He gives us through the sacraments, but especially through the Eucharist, so that we, like the Apostles, can share that Love with those around us and transform the world! 

One more thing.  After the Apostles finish eating breakfast with Jesus, after He nourishes them with His Divine Presence, He longs to hear what Peter holds in his heart.  He asks Peter: "Simon, Son of John, do you love me?"

"Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." (Was he thinking, "Lord, I love you so much, I went out in my boat in the middle of the night, not to fish, but just to feel close to you!"?) 
We know what happens next.  Jesus asks Peter the same question twice more and Peter answers the same way..."Yes, Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you."  Jesus thirsts for Peter's love!  
And doesn't He also thirst for your love?
After He gives Himself to you in Holy Communion, He longs to hear you proclaim your love for Him, just as He longed to hear Peter express his love for Him.  When we kneel after receiving Jesus, we can silently proclaim our love for Him who now dwells in us:  "I love you, Lord.  Thank you for staying with me, thank you for imprisoning Yourself in the Eucharist for me and nourishing me with Your infinite Love!"  He wants us to lavish our love, the love that He gives us first, on Him! 
Peter's story is our story.  Aren't we just like Peter, waiting in the boat, searching for Jesus?  We long to be with Jesus.  We long to feel His love.  And in His goodness, Jesus is waiting for us on the shores of our lives.  He comes to us and nourishes us with His Divine Presence, with His love, each and every time we receive Him in Holy Communion.  And just like Peter, we realize that once Jesus is present in our lives, united in love with us....we can do anything.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Three Reasons I Love Catholicism

I discovered a link-up where bloggers are invited to write about their three favorite aspects of Catholicism and I just love that idea!  The hardest part is limiting it to only three reasons because I could probably come up with thousands of them.  The host of the link-up is Micaela at California to Korea.  Thanks for the great idea, Micaela!  Here's my attempt to limit my love for this amazing, beautiful, fabulous, awesome, marvelous (I could go on and on) Catholic faith of ours.  Visit Micaela for more thoughts from other bloggers and feel free to join in with your own list of three reasons why you love being Catholic.


1)  Most likely number one on every Catholic's list is the EUCHARIST.  My source, substance and greatest desire is to dine daily on the Bread of Heaven, His most Sacred Heart in the form of food, full of love and freely given to me,  from which all graces flow.  It is the one thing about Catholicism that I love the most and for which I am most grateful.  I just can't live without the Precious Body and Blood of my Lord.  On the night of the Last Supper when He instituted this gift, Jesus was well aware that this soul-sustaining food was the only necessary thing that can carry us through each and every day of life straight to the gates of heaven.  So with gratitude I receive the Body and the Blood of my Lord each morning and then, well nourished, I carry Him out into the world in which I live to share Him with others through the words and actions of my day.  This prayer of thanksgiving from the Handmaids of the Precious Blood prayer book sums my feelings up so nicely:

Offering of Holy Communion as Viaticum

O my God, if I am to die today or suddenly at any time, I wish to receive this Communion as my Viaticum.  I desire that my last food may be the Body and Blood of my Savior and Redeemer; my last words, Jesus, Mary and Joseph; my last affection, an act of pure love of God and of perfect contrition for my sins; my last consolation, to die in Your holy grace and in Your holy love.  Amen.



2)  In my life I have been greatly blessed to have the love and friendship of so many holy priests who selflessly share their lives for the good of others.  So the HOLY PRIESTHOOD is definitely at the top of my list of favorite things about the Catholic Church.  It is only the priest who can take the simple elements of bread and wine and have them transformed into the living Body and Blood of my Lord within their very hands.  It is only the priest who can patiently listen to my monotonous litany of sins and then absolve me, freeing me to enjoy the state of grace within my soul until, in my weakness, I stumble into sin once again.  It is only the priest who serves not only as my earthly father, but as my mother, my brother, my teacher and my most treasured friend as well.  It is to him that I can take all of my joys and sorrows knowing that he will keep them in confidence and then will pray both with and for me, always having the sanctity of my soul as his highest priority.  It is my greatest honor and joy to love and to pray for the priests who have touched my life and who care for my soul.  Pray with me?

Prayer for Priests by Fr. William Doyle, SJ


O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.

The words they say every day at the altar, "This is my Body, this is my Blood," grant them to apply to themselves: "I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another."

O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.

Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

3)  There is no one on earth who understands us like our earthly mother and so there is no one in heaven who understands us better than our heavenly mother, either.  My  BLESSED MOTHER MARY is crucial to my peace of mind and soul, so she is definitely one of my top three favorite parts about being Catholic.  She said "yes" to God, she allowed the Holy Spirit to penetrate her soul and she carried my Lord within her very womb.  She loves me, she understands me, she prays for me.  She asks, "I am not here; I who am your mother?  Are you not under the shadow of my protection?" She takes my concerns to her Son and begs Him to have mercy and clemency upon my soul.  She asks Him to give me all that I need to be joyful and holy.  She models the perfection of holiness for me so that I can follow her beautiful example.  How blessed we are as Catholics to have a Holy Mother who loves each and every one of us so much!  So we honor her with this prayer:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter in Our Midst


From Fr. Dave Cooper's April 7th bulletin column-so good I have to share:


"Seventeen-year-old Eli loved her grandfather Yosef very much and wanted to do something very special for him. So she got a tattoo. When Yosef saw the tattoo, he was overcome. With tears in his eyes, he bent his head and kissed the new tattoo on his granddaughter’s left forearm. Yosef has the same tattoo: the number 1-5-7-6-2-2. The number was permanently inked on his own arm by the Nazis at the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Nearly 70 years later, his granddaughter got hers after a high school trip to Auschwitz. The following week, her mother and brother and later, her uncle followed suit. Yosef’s children and grandchildren are among a small but growing number of descendants of Auschwitz survivors in Israel who have taken this step of memorializing the darkest days of their people’s history. As more and more Holocaust survivors pass on, Israel’s religious and educational institutions are grappling with how to best remember the Holocaust—so integral to Israel’s founding and identity. Eli, who has had her grandfather’s tattoo for four years now, says: “All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust. You talk with people and they think it’s like the Exodus from Egypt, ancient history…I want to tell them my grandfather’s story and the Holocaust story.” Some people have reacted very negatively to the tattoo. A woman in Jerusalem said to Eli, “God creates the forgetfulness so we can forget.” But Eli responded, “Because of people like you who want to forget this, we will have it again.” For her own children and grandchildren, Eli’s tattoo will be the story of their family and people’s triumph in the face of devastation. [The New York Times, September 30, 2012]


In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples and shows them his hands and his side; later he invites the doubting Thomas to touch the marks made by the nails and the gash from the soldier’s lance. Easter does not deny the effects of Good Friday nor erase the wounds of crucifixion—Easter is God’s compassion moving us beyond the scars of crucifixion to healing and wholeness. We all have “nail marks” from our own Good Fridays that remain despite our experiences of resurrection. We learn from our scars. Our “nail marks’ remind us that all pain and grief, all ridicule and suffering, are transformed into healing and peace in the love of God we experience from others and that we extend to them. Compassion, forgiveness, justice—no matter how painful and dear the cost—can heal and mend, can transform and restore. In the light of unwavering hope, with the assurance of God’s unlimited grace, even the simplest act of kindness and understanding is the realization of Easter in our midst."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sea Glass Retreat


 "But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray."  ~Luke 5:16

It's been an awfully long winter, hasn't it?  I've been so desperate to get back to my favorite sea glass beach on Lake Michigan for a little solitude and prayer, so after the days work and errands were completed, my husband and I gathered some of our children and made a trek down to the beach for a sea glass search.  Soon we had each scattered in separate directions all the while keeping our eyes peeled for the colorful gems.  I always think of a sea glass search as a form of prayer because with the exception of holy hours in church, scouring the shoreline for baubles from the lake is the only time I have any significant time to silently ponder the Lord and His wonders in my heart.  With the backdrop of an overcast sky, gentle waves brushing up against the shore and the distant squawk of sea gulls, I repeatedly bent over in a posture of awe and gratitude as I gathered the coveted pieces of softened glass that bring me a bit of material joy.  And soon my bag was filled with the vivid specks of discarded bottles and my heart was filled with thankfulness to God for the much needed retreat.  O spring, how welcome you are and how I thank God for the changing of seasons and His beauteous gifts of family and nature!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sometimes Tears

"Sometimes tears are the glasses we need to see Jesus."  ~Pope Francis



My all-time favorite bible scene is that of Mary Magdalene sobbing at Christ's feet and drying her tears and the ointment with her hair. I love to think about Jesus gently reaching down to hold her and bless her with His forgiveness. It must have been an amazing scene, especially since from that day forward, she never sinned again. I don't know about you, but no matter how many times I am forgiven, I always seem to fall back into those same old patterns that sent me seeking forgiveness in the first place. Maybe the next time I go to confession, I should bring an alabaster jar of aromatic nard with me!

Think of that alabaster jar, smashed and broken open, releasing not only fragrance, but extravagant love and sorrow for sin.  Once that jar which represented her life was broken, it was impossible for Mary Magdalene to put back the pieces of her former way of living; she had to change!  And as she peered through her tears, her liquid prayer freely spilling from her soul-windows, how clearly she could see the beauty of Jesus and how deeply she longed to make amends for all of the sorrow she had caused Him.  The joy she felt at his loving response surely must have caused those tears of repentance to turn to tears of joy.  And from that day on, she remained close to Him,  hanging onto His every word, watching His every movement, loving Him with all her heart and wanting nothing more than to model her life after His example.  Perhaps for the short time that she was with Him during His ministry she was so joyful that she cried no more. 


And then she endured Good Friday.  And of course she cried.

But outside the empty tomb what should have been an occasion for joy was instead confusing and tearful.  Where was He, the One she loved?  And when she finally saw Him through those tear-filled eyes, He said "touch me not."  Touch me not.  Those three words make me cry every time I think of them.  But did she continue to cry as He spoke those words?  Or did she understand that her touch was now meant to be lovingly shared with others; that He intended to work through her instead of simply for her?  Did she revel in His resurrection as a joy beyond comprehension and no longer needed to have the ability to physically touch Him?

Sweet Mary Magdalene,

Did it break your heart when you heard "touch me not"?  Did you continue to shed sometimes tears after His resurrection?  As you faithfully served Him by spreading the fragrance of your deep love to others, were the only tears you sometimes shed those of joy?  Or did your sometimes tears fall out of love for all of humanity who suffer through sin as you did?  Teach me to be like you and not to be afraid to shed sometimes tears  for those who suffer.   Help me to understand that those drops of liquid prayer can reveal the loving and tender Heart of Jesus to myself and to the world around me, and through them the sweet fragrance of love will perfume the air like aromatic nard released from my often hard and sinful heart, making it soft and holy like His and like yours.

Amen.


Mary Magdalene from Rogier van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross