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

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


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.

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."

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.

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
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.

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 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

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


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

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

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

Sunday, January 3, 2010


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!