Monday, March 28, 2011

Psalm 46:10a

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I AM.

Be still and know

Be still.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Mrs. Obvious Question of the Week: Why is Lent so Hard?

I have had four friends say in the past week that this Lent has been very hard for them.  I have resisted the urge to say; "Well, duh!"

If fasting, and sacrifice were easy would it bring us closer to God?  If we didn't struggle with our devotion and stumble in our attempts to maintain our goals for Lent would we be as likely to see how much we need the Supreme Sacrifice that Christ makes for us on Good Friday?

In a way, the more we struggle during Lent, the happier we should be.  Each time we stumble, each time another of our human failings is uncovered for us in the light of Truth we are drawn closer and closer to the source of our strength.  In our weakness God makes us strong.   Unless we know where our weak points are how can we ever gain the strength we need to grow stronger from them.

How blessed we are that the Church gives us this time to work through our failings.  As we meditate on the way of the Cross we should think about the fact that among the fourteen moments memorialized are three times that Jesus fell, carrying His cross.  If Jesus fell, and had the strength to get back up and continue to carry His cross, then we can pick ourselves up after we fall and get a stronger hold on our chosen cross and begin to move forward too.  We are blessed that we know the end of the story.  We know that our journey will not end on the Cross, but with the Resurrection of Easter and new life won for us by Christ.

So, Lent is hard,  and that should make us happy rather than grumpy, because if it is hard then we are doing it right.

Happy Lent People,


Friday, March 25, 2011

How Much Does a Teacher Make?

This teacher reminds me of all the reasons my father was such a good educator.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stopping By Lent on a Pensive Evening

(With my deepest and most sincere apologies to Robert Frost)

Whose Lent this is I think I know.
His house is in the Heaven's though;
He will not mind me stopping here
To watch this Lent begin to grow.

My little brain must think it queer
To stop without a purpose near
setting aside chores I must partake
His presence coming ever near.

I give my weary head a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of restless thoughts and deep heartache.

This Lent is calling, dark and deep.
But I am afraid of the steep,
pathway upward that I seek,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, March 21, 2011

God is so Good

I was sitting at the Dr.'s office this morning awaiting a visit from my Dr. and reading my daily devotional that I had chosen (see post below) for Lent.  It was very interesting because the message in the post was about the problem of pain and over the weekend I got a really painful cut on the ball of my foot .

I wasn't even going to mention it to the Dr. because I was actually there for something else and the cut itself is healing nicely, although it still hurts when I walk on it too much.  But then I came across a sentence in the reading about  how sometimes pain is God's way of getting our attention.  So I decided to simply mentioned that I had cut my foot over the weekend and the Dr. checked my chart and it turns out that I am way overdue for a tetanus booster.  

If I hadn't been reading the devotional in the Dr.'s office I probably wouldn't have mentioned the cut and who knows what the consequence of my ignoring the pain might have been.

God is good, all the time.


Monday, March 14, 2011

With Open Hands

To pray means to stop expecting from God the same small-mindedness which you discover in yourself. To pray is to walk in the full light of God and to say simply, without holding back, "I am human and you are God."
A human being is not someone who once in a while makes a mistake, and God is not someone who now and then forgives. No! Human beings are sinners and God is love.
Source: Henri Nouwen


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

When I Feel as Though I Should Be Doing Something . . .

why is it that prayer never seems to be enough?

I am sitting here just having heard some very devastating news about one of my dear friends; someone as close to me as one of my brothers, who is clinging to life and may not last the night.  I was told that no action is expected of me at this point, I needn't rush to his bedside in another state because he is surrounded by family.  Someone else is taking the responsibility of calling our little circle of friends, so I have no one to call.

I have nothing for my hands and mind to do that will help my friend in his time of great need.  I know that he is not fearing this last journey but I regret that I didn't find the time to see him one last time before the end.  We were supposed to all get together next weekend for our semi-annual weekend gathering.

So, I am sitting here, with nothing to do but pray, which in truth is so much that I can do for my friend, but somehow in the darkness of this night it seems like my words are so small.

God, be with my dear friend tonight as he comes to you.  Help him to let go of this mortal world and enter into his final rest.  Be with his family as they deal with his loss and absence in their lives.



B 16's Ash Wednesday Holiday

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Today we begin the liturgical season of Lent with the impressive ritual of the imposition of ashes, through which we undertake to convert our hearts to the horizons of Grace. In general, the common opinion is this time is likely to be characterized by sadness, the greyness of life. Instead it is a precious gift of God, it is a time of strength and full of significance in the journey of the Church, it is the road to the Lord's Passover. The Biblical Readings of the day offer an indication of how to live this spiritual experience. 

"Come back to me with your whole heart" (Joel 2:12). In the first reading from the book of the prophet Joel, we heard these words with which God invites the Jewish people to a sincere and not an empty repentance. This is not a superficial and transient conversion, but a spiritual journey that covers in depth the attitudes of conscience and presupposes a sincere act of repentance. 

The prophet is inspired by the plight of the invasion of locusts that had befallen the people by destroying their crops, to invite an interior penance, to tear the heart and not garments (cf. 2.13). That is, to implement an attitude of genuine conversion to God - to return to Him - by recognizing His holiness, His power, His majesty. And this conversion is possible because God is rich in mercy and love. His mercy is all-renewing, which creates in us a clean heart, bringing new life to our spirit, giving us the joy of Salvation. God does not want the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live (cf. Ez 33:11). 

Thus the prophet Joel orders on behalf of the Lord, the creation of a proper penitential environment – which is like a trumpet awakening consciences. The Lenten season offers us that liturgical and penitential environment: a journey of forty days in which to experience the merciful love of God. Today we hear again the call "Come back to me with your whole heart", and today we are being called to convert our hearts to God, always conscious of not being able to complete our conversion ourselves, by our own power, because it is God who converts. 

He still offers us His forgiveness, inviting us to return to Him, giving us a new heart, purified from the evil that oppresses it, for us to share in His joy. Our world needs to be converted by God, it needs His forgiveness, His love, it needs a new heart. 

"Be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). In the second reading St. Paul gives us another element in the path of conversion. The Apostle calls us to lift our gaze from him and pay attention instead to who has sent him and the content of his message: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God"(ibid.). An ambassador repeats what he has heard spoken by the Lord and speaks with the authority and within the limits that he has received. Those who have held the position of ambassador does not attract attention to himself, but is at the service of the message that has been sent and He who sends him. So this how St. Paul behaves in carrying out his ministry as a preacher of the Word of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. He does not flinch in the face of the task given him, but goes about it with complete dedication. He invites all to be open to grace, to let God convert us.

"Working together then, - he writes - we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain"(2 Cor 6:1). "Christ's call to conversion - says the Catechism of the Catholic Church - continues to resonate in the lives of Christians. [...] It is the continued commitment to the whole Church, which "includes sinners in its bosom ", and that is "at once holy and always in need of purification, to follow constantly the path of penance and renewal." This endeavour of conversion is not just a human task. It is the movement of a "contrite heart" (Ps 51.19), attracted and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first "(No. 1428). St. Paul speaks to the Christians of Corinth, but through them he speaks to all people. For all have need of God's grace, to enlighten their minds and hearts. 

And the Apostle insisted: "Now is the time, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). All are open to the action of God, his love. With our Christian witness, we Christians must be a living message, indeed, in many cases we are the only Gospel that people today still read. 

Here is our responsibility in the footsteps of St. Paul, here's one more reason to live this Lent well: to offer a living witness of faith in a troubled world that needs to return to God, a world which needs conversion. 

" Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; " (Matt. 6:1). Jesus, in today's Gospel, reinvigorates the three major works of mercy under the law of Moses. Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are the three foundational works of piety under Jewish law. Over time, these provisions had been eroded by a rigid external formalism, or even mutated into a sign of superiority. Jesus highlights in these three works of mercy a common temptation. When you do something good, almost instinctively comes the desire to be respected and admired for the good deed, to have that satisfaction. 

On the one hand this makes you close in on yourself, and at the same time, removes you from yourself, because it is completely directed towards what others think of us and admire in us. In proposing these requirements, the Lord Jesus did not require a formal compliance with a law alien to man, imposed by a severe legislature as a heavy burden, but invites us to rediscover these three works of piety, living them in a deeper way, not for our own love, but for the love of God, as a means on our the path of conversion towards Him. Alms, fasting and prayer: this is the path of divine pedagogy that accompanies us, and not only in Lent, to our encounter with the Risen Lord, a path to be followed without ostentation, in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows how to read and see the inner depths of our hearts. 

Dear brothers and sisters, we begin our Lenten journey with trust and joy. Forty days separate us from Easter, this is a powerful time in the liturgical year, and it is a special time that is given to us to look, with greater commitment, to our conversion, to listen more attentively to the Word of God, a time for prayer and penance – of opening our hearts to the workings of Divine will, for a more generous practice of mortification, thanks to which we can be more attentive to neighbours in need: it is a spiritual journey that prepares us to relive the Paschal Mystery. 

May Mary, our guide in our Lenten journey, lead us to an ever deeper knowledge of Christ dead and risen, help us in our spiritual battle against sin and support us in calling out with all our strength: “Converte nos, Deus salutaris noster” converted unto thee, O God, our Salvation. " Amen!

If you would like to hear Pope Benedict give this homily, go here.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Another Book I am Reading This Lent

So I had chosen two books for Lent; enough reading for most "normal" people.

Then last night I made the mistake (or God chose the moment)  to pick up a copy of Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution and a Rational Faith by Cristoph Cardinal Schonborn.  By the first sentence I was hooked.

So I guess I am now reading three books this Lent,  because there is no way I can ingest this amazing work on Fat Tuesday or leave it on my shelf till Easter Monday.

I may just post a few gems I find in it from time to time because you all deserve to be  awed by this amazing work as well.

For instance (the first paragraph no less):

On the first page of the Bible we find "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen.1:1)  Believing in God the creator, believing that he created heaven and earth, is the beginning of belief.  That is how the Creed begins.  That is the foundation on which everything else that Christians believe is based.  Believing in God, and not believing that he is the Creator, would mean -- as Thomas Aquinas once said -- "not believing that God exists at all"  Belief in God as Creator is the foundation for all the other things we believe: that Jesus Christ is Savior, that there is a Holy Spirit, that there is a Church, and an eternal life.

Wow;   just wow.  Trust me, it gets better from there.

So,  I will be reading The good Austrian Cardinal along with my other two books for Lent.

God is so good.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Mother Dolores does it again . . .

Just yesterday, my daughters and I watched the wonderful old movie Where the Boys Are, staring among the young cast the radiant Dolores Hart.

It gave me a chance to tell my daughters the story of how in 1963 at the height of her career in Hollywood, Miss Hart left it all behind to join a cloistered Benedictine Monastery in Connecticut.  She chose a higher calling.  The code of the Catholic mother is to never let a vocations lesson slip by.

Today I read another story about Mother Dolores.  Again she is using her life experience to teach us all a valuable lesson;  this time about finding God through pain and disability.  One of my favorite quotes from the article is:

 You have to become dependent on the gift of human beings, and you discover that God is an incarnate reality. In the beginning, God was always a pie-in-the-sky reality. Now I had to realize that Jesus was there through the people who were assisting me, caring for me and doing the things that were bringing me through. That metanoia had to take place in me to submit to the gift of others.”

We must learn to find God in other people.  This is the gift Mother Dolores got from her illness.  Maybe through her some of us won't have to be ill to receive this gift. 


My Lenten Journey: What I Will be Reading Along the Way

                       Our Parish Spiritual LIfe Committee offered each of us a chance to journey with a saint this Lent, and I chose my Patron, St Margaret Mary Alacoque (until I was 10 I thought the church had named a saint after me, then I read about her in A Child's Book of The Saints.  

I had never read her autobiography though so this Lent I will be reading that to journey with her throughout  these upcoming 40 days.

The other book Small Surrenders is one I have read before. It was recommended to us by Fr. Bill our Pastor who just left us for a new job at the Chancery.  I thought that I might not miss him as much if I re-read this wonderful book of wisdom on how important learning to let go of the small things every day really is to the spiritual life.

So,  that is what I will be reading.  What are you planning for this lent?