Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Her Husband Stopped Practicing The Faith - the wife's pain

About a year ago, I stopped by my parish during the middle of the week and had a conversation with one of the cantors. She told me how blessed she was by my husband's conversion to the Catholic Church - and she said how much she wished her own husband would come back and be reconciled to Mother Church.

She told me that I was very blessed - and explained how difficult and painful it is to love the Lord and His Church, but to have a husband who has no time for any of it.


I thought for a minute before responding. "My husband's conversion is an answer to prayer - a miracle. But you know what? When you are in that season of time when your spouse does not see the Church as you do, it is very hard. Even if it lasts only a year or two, even if he eventually enters the Church - or in your case, even if he comes back to the Church - it is still very hard when you are stuck in that agonizing waiting period that comes before the miracle. That season when you are not together in what you believe is painful. And I think it is most painful because we do not know if the miracle will ever happen. How easy it would be if we knew it was only a year or two away. We could be so strong. We would be so faithful in praying and anticipating our answer. It's the fact that we do not know that tests our faith. Imagine what it would be like if you knew he would come back to the Church in just a year. Keep praying. You just never know."


On Sunday, Debbie told me that her husband has come back Home. He is engaged once again in this journey of faith.


Debbie waited for years. I only waited two years. But when you are in that season of waiting, it is hard to hope. It is difficult to imagine that things will ever change. You don't know how long it will take - or if it will ever happen at all. And that's the hardest part.


But imagine, what would it be like if you knew it was only one more year!


That's what I said to Debbie - just 12 months ago. Neither of us knew that it would be exactly one more year. God is so good.
If you are in this situation, pray like it is only one more year! Hope like it will be just 12 more months! Do not despair. God is so good.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Therese - Day Eight

Day Eight: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

O glorious St. Therese, who, burning with the desire of increasing the glory of God, invariably attended to the sanctification of your own soul by the constant practice of prayer and charity. In doing this, you became a model of holiness for the Church. And now, in Heaven, you are the protector of all those who have recourse to you in faith. Look down upon me as I invoke your powerful patronage and join your petition to mine that I be granted the favor I seek in this novena...

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.


*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yes, I Believe In Guardian Angels

(Article originally published in 2006 in diocesan papers)

In May of 2004 I underwent tests to determine if there was a medical reason why I had choked on a piece of food a few weeks earlier and nearly died in a restaurant full of staring people. On this day in May, I was sitting alone in a waiting room in the radiology department of Barnes Jewish Hospital, reading a book I’d brought along on the Contemplatives. I had just closed my book, propped my elbow up on the armrest to my left and rested my head in my hand. I was praying that the Lord would calm me down, that if there was something wrong, the doctors would figure it out, and that I would be able to accept whatever diagnosis the tests revealed.

My eyes were shut, and I probably looked like I was resting or even sleeping. Something made me open my eyes. I looked up to see a young man standing in the hallway. There was nothing special about him, nothing definitive that I can even remember. Late twenties, maybe. Thin. Plainly dressed in a nondescript shirt and pants.

He looked down the length of the intersecting hallways and then crossed the threshold into the waiting room. He took the empty seat at my right and promptly reached for my right hand. He did it with such purpose that I was shocked into silent acceptance.

We were alone in the waiting room, and the hallways remained vacant. I don’t even remember hearing any distant voices. He sat quietly for a moment and just held my hand. Initially, I considered pulling my hand away, wondering if this guy was a pervert. Something made me hesitate, though, and I looked at him. Really looked at him. There was such an innocence in him that I realized he definitely hadn’t approached me with evil intent. So, now I thought, maybe he’s mentally disabled.

All this happened in the space of a second or so. Before I could pull away, he started speaking, saying something that ended with, “not to be afraid.” I was still wondering about the mental state of this guy when he repeated the words don’t be afraid.

I thought, okay, Lord, I won’t pull my hand away - on the outside chance this is your handiwork.

We sat there together, in silence for a few seconds while my mind raced to figure him out. He seemed completely at ease, so I asked him a question. “Are you afraid?” It was a lame response on my part, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I simply wanted to know who this guy was and if he was here for testing himself or on some divine mission. Of course I should have just asked him that question, but all I could get out were those three little words. Are you afraid?

His face broke into a smile that spread across his face, and with the emotion of one who had seen the Rocky Mountains and just been asked if the view was in any way boring, he said, “No! Oh, no!” His words were spoken softly, but full of awe and assurance and peace.

Now, I couldn’t help staring at him with countless unspoken questions. We sat in silence a moment or two longer as I racked my brain for something to say.

Still holding my hand in his, he said the name of a town. Of all the towns that make up the Greater St. Louis Area, he named the town I had been in when I choked on March 21. He nodded his head and said, “Fairview Heights—O’Fallon area.”

At that point, a nurse came to the doorway of the waiting room and said my name. Now, I slipped my hand from his and gathered together my purse and book. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to know more about this man.

When I walked to the doorway, just before turning the corner and leaving him behind, I looked back. He was still sitting there, head bowed reverently, hands clasped together tightly in front of his face, and he was praying.

I never really believed in guardian angels before that. I guess I was burned out on the angel mania of the 1990s, with all its secularization of the heavenly hosts. But now, having experienced something so strange as this, I must say that I do believe in guardian angels – and I even talk to mine now and then.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Blessed Feast of the Archangels

The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith.(CCC #328)

"There are many accounts of saints who’ve been assisted by angels, their help arriving in various forms: there are stories of the sudden appearance of a large and ferocious dog who wards off enemies intent on inflicting grave harm; we hear of criminals who admit they refrained from assailing a women due to a large, powerful looking man seen walking at her side, when, actually, the woman was journeying alone; we often hear stories of a young, unknown man who displays actions of complete devotion and love, filling in for an absent parishioner during Eucharistic Adoration; et cetera. "

To read more from F.K. Bartels' article entiteld "Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels and Powerful Allies" Click here: (Catholic.org).

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Therese - Day Seven


Day Seven: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

Therese of the Child Jesus, most loving Saint, in union with you I adore the divine Majesty. My heart is filled with joy at the remembrance of the marvellous favors with which God blessed your life on earth and of the great glory that came to you after death. In union with you, I praise God, and offer him my humble tribute of thanksgiving. I implore you to obtain for me, through your powerful intercession, the greatest of all blessings -- that of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beg of you to secure for me the special favour I seek in this novena...

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.


*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, September 28, 2009

Novena to St. Therese - Day Six


Day Six: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

O Little Flower of Jesus, you have shown yourself so powerful in your intercession, so tender and compassionate toward those who honor you and invoke you in suffering and distress, that I kneel at your feet with perfect confidence and beseech you most humbly and earnestly to take me under your protection in my present necessity and obtain for me the favor I ask in this novena...Vouchsafe to recommend my request to Mary, the merciful Queen of Heaven, that she may plead my cause with you before the throne of Jesus, her divine Son.. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.

*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Novena to St. Therese - Day Five


Day Five: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

O Little Flower of Carmel, Almighty God endowed you, consumed by love for him, with wondrous spiritual strength to follow the way of perfection during the days of your short life. Sickness touched you early but you remained firm in faith and prayer was your life. O pray for me that I may benefit by your intercession and be granted the favor I ask in this novena...

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.

*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Keeping Our Brothers and Sisters in the Philippines in our Prayers

Tonight, as sunset falls on a gentle September evening west of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, I am thinking of our readers in the Philippines.

You are in our prayers. . .

MANILA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Nearly 60 people were killed, Manila was blacked out and airline flights were suspended as a powerful typhoon battered the main Philippines island of Luzon on Saturday, disaster officials said.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Mending Wall - For Catholics

(This is one of the first diocesan Catholic by Grace articles published - 2005)


Thoughts on Robert Frost's Mending Wall:

Among my favorite memories of childhood is the memory of sitting at the dinner table and hearing my dad recite poetry. It was usually some dramatic monologue he’d memorized decades earlier while attending his beloved Burr Ridge country school near Hillsboro, Wisconsin. This command performance on the part of my father didn’t happen very often, but when it did, my sister and I would listen with total fascination as the words to “The Highwayman” or “Charge of the Light Brigade” tumbled from our father’s lips.

One of the last conversations I had with my dad was about a poem, only Dad wasn’t trying to entertain me that November afternoon. That day, the poem served as an object lesson. “Do you remember ‘Mending Wall’?” he asked. I said that I did.

As I sat beside his hospital bed, he quoted a few lines, Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun, And makes gaps even two can pass abreast . . . After a long pause, he told me to be the kind of person who tears down walls. It was a strange thing for him to say, considering we had been discussing something totally unrelated in the preceding minutes. I suppose everyone reflects on peculiar conversations like that after a loved one dies. I did, anyway.

Tear down walls. That’s a tough one. Our world is founded on dividing lines. They separate everything from countries to counties. They define what’s mine from what’s yours.

One of the things that delighted me when I became Catholic was that the Church has one deposit of faith, one common ground that is terra firma. I like that because I don’t like conflict, and I’m terrible at diplomacy. Basically, I want everybody to get along, but I’m not very gifted in helping it happen.

I was never a zealous Protestant (even though I was the daughter of a minister). Something has changed now. I believe the fullness of faith is found in the Catholic Church. Suddenly, I’m having a terrible time keeping quiet – even when I’m around my Protestant family and friends. I’ve been over-zealous with many of them, often doing a better job of building walls when I promised to be about the business of tearing them down.

After my father’s death, I took some time to think seriously about Frost’s poem. I thought about how the speaker disagreed with his neighbor who thought fences were a good idea. The speaker casually asks his neighbor why good fences make good neighbors. Shouldn’t we just let the wall fall down? It seems inclined to do it anyway. Just look at all the rocks on the ground. Even nature seems to say fences don’t make good neighbors. But the neighbor just keeps on stacking the rocks on the dividing wall.

I decided that Jesus would probably have to agree with the speaker. Father make them one. That was the Master’s prayer the night He was betrayed (John 17).

I read a portion on ecumenism from Vatican Council II documents the other day, and I had this feeling that, if I could just master what the authors of those documents had to say on this subject, I would have the key to this whole thing. I would know how to defend my faith and simultaneously tear down the wall that divides the Christian world. It sounds like a paradox, and maybe it is. Much of theology sounds paradoxical, too. Death into life. Son of God; Son of Man. The King of Kings born in a stable. A young virgin becomes the Mother of God.

The lesson I need to learn is really a lesson of the heart. Like all theological paradoxes, the key has everything to do with love and very little to do with persuasive argument.

Like the speaker in Robert Frost’s poem, I’m learning I probably shouldn’t challenge my neighbor’s pre-conceived ideas until I figure out how to maintain a loving spirit and keep control of my tongue and my emotions. If I offend my neighbor, it’s worse than picking up rocks and reconstructing the wall. It’s more like adding mortar to the stones and fortifying the wall I wanted to see torn down in the first place. That wall will need more than ground-swell to knock it down. I suspect the Lord will have to send an earthquake to make it budge. I think we’d all prefer the gentle groundswell that comes with love.


*In the years following the publication of this artice, my husband and one daughter have entered the Catholic Church. I'm still learning what it really means to share our precious Church with those I love.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Therese - Day Four


Day Four: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

O Little Flower of Jesus, who at an early age had your heart set on Carmel and in your brief earthly life did become the mirror of angelic purity, of courageous love and of whole hearted surrender to Almighty God, turn your eyes of mercy upon me who trusts in you. Obtain for me the favour I seek in this novena...and the grace to keep my heart and mind pure and clean. O dear saint, grant me to feel in every need the power of your intercession; help to comfort me in all the bitterness of this life and especially at its end, that I may be worthy to share eternal happiness with you in heaven. Amen.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.


*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flu Shots and Waiting Rooms

This morning, my daughter received her flu shot.

We arrived early for the appointment (we were asked to make an appointment - to be sure she could get in). We waited almost an hour past the scheduled appointment time.


Two mothers, one with an infant and one with a toddler, walked to the front desk and voiced their irritation at having to wait. One of the mothers returned to her seat and pulled out her cell phone (ignoring the sign on the wall that said turn OFF cell phones) and proceeded to tell someone on the other end of the phone that she was still waiting and was ticked off (she had a few other choice words that I won't write here). Everyone in the small waiting room could hear (whether they wanted to or not) that she was calling so-and-so when she got home and she was going to try to get into another office.


It was hard to blame the mothers for their frustration. The mother of the infant didn't have formula along, and the lengthy wait was sure to become a crisis at some point. "They're just going to have to give me some formula if they don't get us in soon," she said before ending her phone call.


About that time, another mother picked up her toddler and began singing softly. "I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. . . "


It made me smile.


I realized that I had been given a choice. To rant. Or to rejoice. While I didn't feel like being joyful (since we had been there an hour already), joy was still an option. I was still free to choose. Would I bless or curse? I watched as other patients' names were called, those who had arrived after me, and I felt irritated too. Would I speak my mind or wait awhile longer?


But the choice between blessing and cursing went beyond that, even. I could choose to judge the frustrated mother or feel compassion. I didn't have a hungry baby. My daughter was old enough to "get" that the room was full, lots of people were waiting, and eventually, she would have her turn.

I decided not to say anything to the already stressed secretary. But I also decided not to judge the mother who had vented in front of the entire waiting room.


So many choices.


I watched the little girl as her mother sang. She smiled and joined in. "I have the joy, joy, joy, joy . . . down in my heart."


In Deuteronomy 30:19 we read that God sets before us the option of curses or blessings - we are given the great gift of choosing which it will be.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Therese - Day Three


Day Three: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

O Therese of the Child Jesus, lily of purity, ornament and glory of Carmel, I greet you, great saint, seraph of divine love. I rejoice in the favours our Lord so liberally bestowed on you. In humility and confidence I ask you to help me, for I know God has given you love and pity as well as power. Tell Him, now, I beseech you, of the favour I seek in this novena... Your request will crown my petition with success and bring joy to my heart. Remember your promise to do good here on earth. “I shall spend my heaven doing good on the Earth After death I shall let fall a shower of roses.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.


*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thought You Might Like To Know


You can join thousands of pro-life faithful in 40 Days for Life. Check it out: http://40daysforlife.com/about.cfm

Share/Save/Bookmark

What They Are Missing

Father Gabriel is St. Pio's kind of priest. When I taught in a Catholic high school, the students returning from the Sacrament of Confession would complain sometimes. "Father Gabriel listens to our confession and then he asks us questions about sins we didn't even name. I don't think that's right. He asks us about sins against purity even! Puts us on the spot. Do you have any sins against purity that you need to confess today? Oh, that's so not right!" And they would slump into their seat and pout a little at that point.

I wasn't Catholic then - just a Spanish teacher in a Catholic high school. But I had a memory from my own high school days that gave me wisdom and helped me to have the right words.

When I was in high school, I remember sitting in Algebra class. We'd finished our homework assignment, and we were talking quietly. I guess the Catholic kids were getting ready for Confession at their parish, because they were talking about it. They asked each other what do you say at Confession - do you really say what you did? No, I just say I hit my sister or got mad at Mom. Stuff like that. I remember thinking about their Sacrament - as an outsider looking in. And I remember saying to myself, "That can't be the way it's supposed to go. That can't be right."

When I became a teacher at Beckman High School, I made sure that I underscored the importance of a good confession and the squandered opportunity of a bad confession. And when they complained about Father Gabriel's confessional, I didn't let it stand. I made sure they knew that it was for their own good - for the good of their souls. And they needed to get over their little tantrum right then and there.

We know that adults can cause scandal, when they do not practice the faith in a rightly-ordered way, yet they flaunt their version of faith in public, in high-profile positions, in places of power.

But even young people can cause scandal, when they do not practice the faith in a rightly-ordered way, yet they flaunt their version of the faith in public. Perhaps in a public school, even. Perhaps in the presence of a Protestant preacher's kid.

Even our young ones need to know that this Catholic faith is the most important thing to us. That it is worth practicing. That it is worth practicing correctly. That it is worth sharing. And that it is worth sharing correctly.

When I speak about the Sacrament of Confession - now that I'm Catholic - my eyes fill with tears, and I tell my dear ones, oh, you don't know what you are missing. Those words of absolution, that chance to bring out all that I have done and all that I haven't done - and to just lay it down. To hear words from the mouth of the priest - and to have my spirit recognize the words of My Lord. My soul recognizes My Lord and My God! I don't know how that is possible. I just know that it is. I try to explain all of this to my non-Catholic friends, and I sigh finally and just end with, you don't know what you are missing! But, oh, how I wish you did!
Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Therese - Day Two


Day Two: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.

Almighty God, giver of all good gifts, who did will that Blessed Therese, being watered by the heavenly dew of your guiding grace, should bloom in Carmel with the beauty of virginity and patience in suffering. Grant that I your servant may go forward in the order of her sweetness and may be found worthy to become a devoted and loyal follower of Christ. Amen.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.


*Original Novena found at: http://www.carmeldundee.co.uk/carmel_novena_St_Therese.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Novena to St. Therese - Day One


Day One: Novena to St. Therese

O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who during your short life on earth became a mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God, now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues, cast a glance of pity on me as I leave all things in your hands. Make my troubles your own, speak a word for me to Our Lady Immaculate, whose flower of special love you were -- to that Queen of Heaven “who smiled on you at the dawn of life” Beg her powerful intercession the grace I yearn for so ardently at this moment...and that she join with it a blessing that may strengthen me during life, defend me at the hour of death, and lead me straight on to a happy eternity. Amen.

O God, who did inflame with the Spirit of Love, the soul of your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, grant that we also may love you and make you much loved. Amen.


O Therese of the Child Jesus, well beloved and full of charity, in union with you, I reverently adore the majesty of God, and since I rejoice with exceeding joy in the singular gifts of grace bestowed upon you during your life, and your gifts of glory after death, I give Him deepest thanks for them; I beseech you with all my heart’s devotion to be pleased to obtain for me (...mention request here). But if what I ask of you so earnestly does not tend to the glory of God and the greater good of my soul, do you, I pray, obtain for me that which is more profitable to both these ends. Amen.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.





Share/Save/Bookmark

Are You Looking For An Online Prayer Group? It's St. Pio's Feast Day - great day to join his prayer group

Are you looking for an online Prayer Group? It's St. Pio's Feast Day, which makes it a great day to join his prayer group. For more information click here.

The website was created by Frank Rega, author of Padre Pio and America. Mr. Rega leads the group of over four hundred members and has written articles on St. Pio, including:

"Padre Pio: A Patron Saint for the Unborn" - Christian Order

"Padre Pio's Secret: His Shoulder Wound" - The Voice of Padre Pio

"Padre Pio and the Tale of the Empty Tomb"

"The Pope, Padre Pio, and a Miracle" - Catholic Digest

Share/Save/Bookmark

Answered Prayer

Do you ever pray for the Holy Father's prayer intentions? Each month, we post them here - though I must admit, I've only been following them for about seven months. I ran across an article today that caught my attention:

The last Burundian refugees in Tanzania are preparing to return home ending a humanitarian crisis that began more than 30 years ago.


This subheading made me want to go back and take a second look at August's prayer. When we see things like this - answers to prayers we have raised, as one, with one voice, - we need to rejoice. We need to delight in Our God who listens to our prayers. At the very least, we need to pause and say thank you. Thank Lord, for hearing our prayers. Amen


This was the Holy Father's August prayer intention:

General: That public opinion may be more aware of the problem of millions of displaced persons and refugees and that concrete solutions may be found for their often tragic situation.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wisdom From the Holy Father

I ran across this beautiful quote by Pope Benedict XVI.

"Wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love."

I need to remember this when God puts me in a position to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Church. As a PK (preacher's kid) and former wife of a minister and a die-hard Protestant for 40 years, I am faced with opportunities to witness for Our Lord and His Church - almost daily. It can be a heavy burden - to think that I might be the only one my friend or family member will encounter who will stand up for Mother Church rather than tear Her down. How can I, in those fleeting moments, share in a winsome way all that I have come to love about being Catholic? Is it even possible for little ol' me to do anything - say anything - that will make a difference in their hearts?

There is divine peace available to me . . . if I would remember the Holy Father's words . . . there is no need to become frustrated or agitated when sharing the Truth with others. Truth and Love are all that is required.

The simplicity of evangelism rests in the "invincible vigor of truth and love".

Share/Save/Bookmark

A Little Flower


We invite you to join us here at Catholic by Grace for a Novena to St. Therese. Her Feast Day is October 1st. We will begin preparing for this blessed day - tomorrow evening. Join us then for our first of nine days of prayer . . .


“Until the end of the world, I will spend my heaven doing good upon the earth.”
St. Therese of the Child Jesus



*artwork by Jennifer Bossert

Share/Save/Bookmark

Preparing for the Feast of St. Pio

Dear Friends,

If you have been journeying with us through the Novena to St. Pio, I want to encourage you to continue to pray for your special petition - especially throughout the day tomorrow, the Feast Day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

Those of us at Catholic by Grace would love to hear about your stories of answered prayer and received graces.

If you prayed the Novena and received great graces, share your joy with others and encourage them to turn to the Communion of Saints for efficacious intercession before the Throne.

-CBG friends

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Nine

Day Nine Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Humble St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you who loved the Roman Catholic Church, pray for us. May the Master send workers to the harvest and give them the strength and knowledge needed to be children of God. Pray that Our Holy Lady will unite Christian people everywhere, comforting all of them in one great house of the Lord, the lighthouse of our salvation in the storm of life... just as a lighthouse is a beacon for safe return when there is a storm at sea.

“You must always keep yourself on the straight and narrow path in the Holy Catholic Church because She is the only Bride of Christ and can bring you peace. She alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, who is the true Prince of Peace.” -Padre Pio

O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Encouraged by Your infallible words, I now ask for the grace of (name your request).

Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.

***********************


O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Say the Hail, Holy Queen - and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, September 21, 2009

What I Learned Today from St. Matthew - learning to love as Christ loves

You must extend welcoming arms to your own dear children, because anyone who extends a welcome to a little child is welcoming Christ Himself.
(I can begin to learn how to do this with my own child, but I must extend my love to a world full of children who are not born of my flesh . . . for even the pagans love their own children.)


You must love your family and friends, perhaps even to the point of dying for them, because anyone who extends selfless love to one of these has extended love to Christ.
(I can begin to learn this kind of selfless love in my own home and within my own family, but I must extend this love to my enemies as well. . . for even the pagans know how to love those who love them back.)


You must put your needs behind those of your children: feeding them, visiting them, nursing them, helping them to untangle themselves from their self-made prisons.
(I can begin to learn how to feed, nurse, visit, and clothe my children, putting aside my own desires and putting my family's needs ahead of my own, but I must learn to do this for a world of strangers . . . for even the pagans know how to care for their own children.)


Matthew 5:44-48


But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Share/Save/Bookmark

A Priest After God's Heart

When I was young, we used to sing a song that went like this:

He left the splendor of heaven, knowing His destiny was the lonely Hill called Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me. . . If that isn't love . . . (Dottie Rambo)

We are told in Sacred Scripture that there is no greater love than to lay one's life down for another. We know that Our Lord did that for us. We are told to forgive 70 times 7. We know Our Lord has done that for us. Here's the tough part. We are called to love others - even our enemies - with that kind of love. Before you say this kind of love might be possible for God, but it is impossible for the rest of us to attain. . . read this story:

Stabbed 20 times by disturbed parishioner, Texas priest forgives by Jaime Powell (Scripps News)

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/46978
Share/Save/Bookmark

Deacon Fournier on Social Justice (so much to learn from Matthew 25)

More on today's topic of social justice . . . and society . . . and motherhood. Article at Catholic.org

‘Social Justice’ and ‘Peace and Justice' Catholics
By Deacon Keith A. Fournier9/19/2009


http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=34461
Share/Save/Bookmark

Meditation on Matthew 25 (for Mothers)

One reader sent another meditation on Matthew 25 (thanks Jennifer!). The meditation can be found at:


I’ve been thinking about the Works of Mercy lately. I’ve been thinking about how the Corporal (and Spiritual) Works are a Mother’s works. Years and years ago I read something about this. I wish I could remember where I read it and could give credit to the one who inspired this long-term meditation for me. Because I cannot remember and cannot find what I read so long ago, I am recreating this based on how I have meditated on it from time to time over the years. In another installment, I will ponder the spiritual works as Mothers’ Works.


Feed the hungry


How obvious is this? As mothers, we typically have the responsibility of feeding our families. It starts at the moment of conception. We feed our growing child from our very selves. We take care to eat as well as we can while we are pregnant to ensure our babes have everything they need to grow and develop over the next 40 (or more) weeks. Once, born, we put our child to the breast again and again. We set aside our own will and our own plans to scoop up that precious baby and put him to the breast. Day or night, night or day, we continue to provide his nourishment for his body from our very own bodies, In doing this we also provide comfort, love and security.


Consider the countless batches of cookies and peanut butter sandwiches and meatloaf we put together. Too often we mindlessly engage in these duties (and privileges) without giving a thought to the great work we are doing. Because we do it out of love for our children and our husbands, we hardly consider it work at all.


Many individuals will go out into the world and feed the many hungry there. Many will volunteer at a soup kitchen or give of their resources to assist them. If we have the means and hear the call, we should help them. But we may never have the opportunity to do those things. And still, we do feed the hungry.


Through these mundane actions of motherhood, performed with love year after year, we too will hear the Lord Jesus say to us one day, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was hungry, you gave me to eat.”


We may ask, “When did we see you hungry and give you to eat?” The Lord will answer, “I came to you as a little baby and you held me, fed me and comforted me. When I was a toddler you gave me good snacks while I played to keep me feeling well. When I was a child you made me eat my vegetables. When I was a teen you doubled and tripled these efforts in order to keep me satisfied. When I was a man coming home from a hard day of work you had prepared for me a feast of love to soothe the wounds of my day, even when it was only hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.”


Give drink to the thirsty


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.”


Again we ask, “Lord, when did I see you thirsty and give you to drink?” And He will answer, “As a baby, as a toddler, as a child, a teen and man, you came to my aid and brought me a drink.

With the countless nursings and refilling my sippy cup, in making the juice and bringing me water while I labored to cut the lawn or paint the house. When you did it for these in your care, you did it for Me.”


Clothe the naked


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was naked, you gave me your cloak.”


“Lord, when did I see you naked?”


And He will answer, “In every diaper you changed. In the mountains of laundry over the years. In the time well spent looking for affordable clothing that fit well. Every time you put off buying that new dress so that your children could have new shoes you saw and cared for me. When you waited on that haircut so that the youngest could get a winter coat that fit, it was me you sacrificed for. When you decided that the old maternity clothes would do for one more pregnancy so that your husband could look his best for work you served me. When you did it for your family, you did it for Me.”


Shelter the Homeless


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was homeless, you gave me shelter.”


“Lord, when did I see you homeless?” And he will answer, “Every time you washed the dishes, swept the floor, dusted the shelves, you made a home for me. Every time you welcomed someone into your home and showed them love and made them feel welcome, you welcomed and loved me. When you let the children from the neighborhood join your family for dinner or playtime, you included me. All of the acts of hospitality that you performed within your home, you gave to me.”


Visit the sick


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was sick, you cared for me.”


“Lord, when did I care for you when you were sick?” And he will answer, “Do you remember the countless nights of rocking your sick baby? Do you remember when she threw up in her bed 3 times in a night and you generously cleaned it up and put her back to bed? Do you remember the trips to the store for special foods and medicine to bring comfort and healing to your children? Do you remember the hours spent in the waiting room to see the doctor? Do you remember bringing that meal to your friends when their mother was dying? When you did all of these things, you did it to me.”


Visit those in prison


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. When I was imprisoned, you visited me.”


“Lord, when did I visit you when you were imprisoned?” And he will answer, “Prisons are not only made of bars. When your babies were “imprisoned” by the limitations of their size and their inability to walk, you carried them to and fro. When your children were “imprisoned” by the limits you set for them, by being unable to do what other children were doing, you provided them with good alternatives. When your teens were “imprisoned” by peer pressure, you came to them to encourage and strengthen them. When your children were imprisoned by fear of failure, addiction or sin, you spent countless hours and sleepless nights on your knees, bringing them to me, entrusting them to My Heart for healing and freedom. When your husband was “imprisoned” by the labor of his work for your family, you provided a home that was a haven for him. When you did these things, you did it to me.”


The vocation of wife and mother is such a beautiful way of service to the Lord. It is such a beautiful path to holiness. Let us pray for the grace to be faithful to our vocation so that at our own judgment we will hear,


“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, you who spent a hidden life of service to me through the family I gave to you.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Who Gets Into Heaven? Words from St. Matthew on his feast day.

The Gospel of Matthew took me by surprise. I thought I knew what was in it. I thought I was heavenbound for sure.

Perhaps I overlooked the passages in Matthew because I didn't think our works had any merit. I didn't think they could get us to heaven. We were saved by faith alone. Sola Fide. That one teaching from the Protestant Reformation became a pair of spiritual glasses for me. I wore them, and when I read passages like the one in Matthew, I didn't see anything important. I simply kept on reading, until I came to passages about faith and belief and mercy and the free gift of grace.

I didn't realize that it all matters. The Book of James matters - where we read that faith without works is dead - that one is justified by works.

I didn't realize that the deeds of the Saints follow them into heavenly places, as it says in the Book of Revelations.

I didn't realize that we are saved by grace. Not sola fide.

By Grace.

And Grace leads us to have faith and to do good works in Christ Jesus. And our salvation depends on both.

I spent my first 40 years oblivious (for the most part) to the plight of others. I was totally oblivious to the poor and needy in other countries. But I was also somewhat oblivious to the needs of those in this country.

Social justice was not a big part of my faith heritage. I didn't even know what those two words meant.

What is social justice? How can I know what Jesus requires of me?

The answer is found in the Gospel of Matthew. And the great irony is that Matthew was the one to tell us this teaching - Matthew, the one who was a great offender against social justice. A tax collector. A sinner against his own people. All for love of money. Until Jesus said, "Come."

Matthew 25:31-46

The Final Judgment

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."



Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Eight

Day Eight Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Pure St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you experienced great love for your spiritual children and have helped them by purchasing them for Christ. You did this by offering yourself, all your suffering, and even the Wounds of Christ made visible on your own body for your spiritual children. Please grant us, who have not met you personally, the opportunity to be considered your spiritual children. In this way, with your protection, guidance and strength, you will obtain for us a special blessing from God, so that we may meet Him on the day of our death at the gates of Heaven.


“It would be most fulfilling, if God would grant me just one wish (if it were possible); that He would say, ‘Enter Heaven!’ This is my one true wish; That God would take me to Heaven at the same time that the last of my children and the last of the people who submitted to my priestly care have entered.” Padre Pio


O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of my Father and through My Name, the Heavenly Father will give it to you." Behold, in Your Name, I ask the Father for the grace of (name your request).


Pray: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father


Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.

Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm
Share/Save/Bookmark

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Worth Reading. . .

I just read Sonja Corbitt's "The Answer is Always Fish" at Catholic Exchange -- http://catholicexchange.com/2009/09/18/121814/

It's worth reading.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Prayer Journals

In 2003, I had a prayer journal. I started it about six months before I began my daily journal. The difference between a prayer journal and a daily journal is this: a writer captures his thoughts and fears and joys and experiences and dreams and disappointments in a daily journal while a believer documents his prayers and petitions in a prayer journal.

I found my prayer journal from 2003 awhile back. I was surprised to discover that every request had been answered, but one.


I had asked God for a very special thing - that He would restore my father's health. My father passed away on December 28, 2003. Not only had Our Lord not restored my father's health, He had called him into eternity.


That one unanswered prayer was not God's will. While there are probably many reasons why it was not God's will, one reason was that his death was the catalyst for my eventual conversion and journey to the Catholic Church.


Quite simply, if dad hadn't died, I wouldn't have become a seeker. And Jeremiah is right when he speaks for the Lord, saying: Seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart.


Before that moment, I didn't truly seek God. Why? Because I thought I already had it all put together. Strange how the death of a loved one changes all that.


But back to the topic of prayer. Prayer has been a part of my life for many years. I know that God answers prayer. I know that He does not answer prayers in the way we hope He would answer them - sometimes anyway. When that happens, it is because God has something far greater for us than our limited minds can conceive.


Like conversion.


Like eternity.


This blog is a reflection of my journey, a window into that precious daily journal that holds the full story of how I became Catholic by grace.


It has also become something of a prayer journal because prayer is essential in this faith journey. I read recently that St. Teresa of Avila said, "I am certain of it that Our Lord will eventually bring to the harbor of salvation, the one who gives himself to prayer."


There are many reasons why we should pray. This may be the most important one of all.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Seven

Day Seven Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Blessed St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you have worked in “God’s Plan for Salvation,” by offering your sufferings to free sinners from the chains of the Devil and the enslavement of sin. We beg you to pray for us, so that unbelievers will be converted to the faith, that all sinners will repent in their hearts and that those with lukewarm hearts will find renewed enthusiasm for a Christian life of deep devotion. Finally, pray for all those who are faithful, so that they will persevere on their way to salvation.

“If the people of the World could only see the beauty of one’s soul when it is in the grace of God, all sinners and unbelievers of this world would be instantly converted.” -Padre Pio

O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek, and I ask for the grace of (name your request).

Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.

Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm
Share/Save/Bookmark

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How God Changed My Mind (about Communion)

The Gospel of John 6 is a difficult teaching. It is the Source and Summit of the Catholic Faith. It is a dividing line between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Each convert from Protestantism must wrestle with this passage. Should it be taken literally? Or should it be considered merely a metaphor?

My epiphany - my moment of Truth - came in the summer of 2004, when I compared John 6 to Our Lord's parables. In Luke 8, we read . . .

"A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell on the edge of the path and was trampled on; and the birds of the air ate it up. Some seed fell on rock, and when it came up it withered away, having no moisture. Some seed fell amongst thorns and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell into rich soil and grew and produced its crop a hundredfold." Saying this he cried, "Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!"
His disciples asked him what this parable might mean, and he said, "The mysteries of the kingdom of God are revealed to you; for the rest there are only parables, so that
they may see but not perceive,
listen but not understand." -
and Our Lord went on to clearly explain to His disciples what the parable means -- who is the sower, who is the seed, what circumstances are like the rock, the bird, the trampled path. Everything is made clear to the disciples. The crowds, however, are left with only metaphors.

Clearly, Jesus loved to tell stories and to use metaphorical language. But I found it interesting that he tells His disciples, for you, I make myself clear. The stories are for the crowds. You are different. "The mysteries of the Kingdom of God are revealed to you." That is what He says, exactly.

In John 6, Our Lord is speaking to His disciples - not the crowds. We know from Luke 8, when He speaks to the disciples, He says what He means and means what He says. The disciples question Him, wanting Him to say, oh I'm back to telling stories. It's just a parable. A metaphor. But when challenged, Jesus holds firm. No, my food is real food. My blood is real drink. Unless you eat of my Flesh and drink of my Blood, there can be no life in you. On that day, many of His disciples left Him. In fact, only 12 remained.


From John 6--
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

John 6 remains the Source and Summit of the faith. It also continues to be a dividing line. Each convert must wrestle with this teaching. Only the one who can say, as Peter did - I'm not sure I quite know how it happens, but I take your word for it . . . you have the words of eternal life . . . and though this is a hard teaching, I have come to believe and I am even convinced that you are the Holy One of God. If You say that I must eat Your Flesh and drink Your Blood or I will not have eternal life, then I say, "Amen." I bow. And I receive Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ.

Skeptics will say that the disciples often misunderstood Jesus, that after He arose and ascended, they understood and even documented in Sacred Scripture what Jesus really meant by certain words and phrases. So much became clear. So that's what He meant by . . .


Skeptics will say that this teaching falls into that category. But here's the thing. Here's the thing I realized after hunting and hunting for the passage that says the disciples realized that He didn't really mean they had to eat His Flesh and He didn't really mean they had to drink His Blood -- On the contrary, they never do that with this Teaching! They never have an aha-moment. They never smile and say, oh, gotcha, you didn't really mean we had to eat and drink. Oh, No! They continue to believe in and teach that the Eucharist really is Jesus. It really is His Body and His Blood.
And the writings by the men who came after them also held to the teaching on the Real Presence.

And they remain firm in this teaching to this day.


For this reason, St. Paul writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Six

Day Six Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Obedient St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you have loved the sick more than yourself, because you were able to see Jesus in them. You have performed many miracles by healing patients in the name of Jesus and thereby giving them peace of mind. We beg you to pray for us, so that sick patients, through the intercession of Mary, can be healed and their bodies restored so that they may benefit from the Holy Spirit and, therefore, thank and praise God forever.


“If I knew that a person was afflicted in his mind, body or soul, I would beg God to set him free of his affliction. I would gladly accept the transfer of his affliction to myself, so that he may be saved, and I would ask that he benefit from the fruits of these sufferings... if the Lord would allow me to do it”. Padre Pio


O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away." Encouraged by Your infallible words, I now ask for the grace of (name your request)


Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father


Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.


Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Catholics Know

I spent my entire childhood in rural Iowa. For that matter, I lived a great deal of my adult life there as well. Both of my grandfathers were farmers, as were their fathers, and so on.

I probably heard the term work ethic many times before I actually knew what it meant. In my family, you worked hard, you worked together as a family unit, and you were proud of what you accomplished.

As Catholic Christians, we have a strong work ethic. We know how important it is to give our yes to God. To accept the work the Lord has given to us. To work in tandem with grace.

We also know how to pick up our crosses. Cradle Catholics know how to do this. They have journeyed through many Lenten seasons. Their mothers would nurse them through illness and mend them after injury, always reminding them to offer it up. Offer to God all that you must endure, offer it for another, offer it as reparation, offer it in love.

It is only speculation, but I suspect that Catholics weather tough times better than most. I would bet that they have a resiliency that is stronger than almost any other group.

I remember hearing a sad story when I was Baptist. One Sunday, a family in the church went for a Sunday afternoon outing. That evening, they drove back to St. Louis, to attend Sunday evening services. They were involved in a terrible accident. The wife and all the children were killed. Only the husband survived.

Immediately, I wondered about that husband. How could he go on? How would he have the strength to bear such a terrible burden? Some time later, that father took his own life. He simply didn't see how he could carry on.

After I became Catholic, I started to notice a particular strength in Catholics. They seemed to have a better handle on suffering. They had a plan. An approach. They seemed to know what they must do when trials come - they seemed able to draw from a deep well of divine strength.

In short, they knew what to do when they encountered the cross. They got on their knees and prayed for sufficient grace. And then they picked up that cross and started moving forward. Even when they faced tragedy as terrible as the Baptist father in the story above.

I cannot say that I am there yet. I am very much like an elementary student in this school of suffering. But I trust. . .

Jesus, I trust in You.

Help me to remember what I have seen. Give me the wisdom to get on my knees and pray. And give me the strength to pick up my cross and start moving forward - no matter how heavy the cross may be.
Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Five

Day Five Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Prudent St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you have had a great devotion for the Souls in Purgatory for whom you have offered yourself as a victim to remit their punishments. Please pray for us and ask God to send us the same compassion and love that you have for these souls. In this way, we will also contribute to reducing their suffering and, with our sacrifices and prayers, win for them their necessary Indulgences.

“My God, I beg you; let me bear the punishments that have been prepared for sinners and the souls in Purgatory. Multiply these punishments for me, so that you may forgive and save the sinners and free their souls from purgatory.” Padre Pio

O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of my Father and through My Name, the Heavenly Father will give it to you." Behold, in Your Name, I ask the Father for the grace of (name your request).

Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.

Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm
Share/Save/Bookmark

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Four

Day Four Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Chaste St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you loved your Guardian Angel, who served you well as your guide and as a defender and messenger. The Angels brought the prayers of your spiritual children to you. We beg you to pray for us, so that we may learn to call on our Guardian Angel who is always ready to guide us to what is good and to help us to avoid falling into sinful actions.


“Invoke your Guardian Angel, who will enlighten you and guide you. God has given him to you for your protection, therefore, you should use him accordingly.” Padre Pio


O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you". Behold I knock , I seek and I ask for the grace of (name your request)


Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father


Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.


Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm
Share/Save/Bookmark

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Three


Day Three Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Virtuous St. Pio of Pietrelcina, you love the Blessed Mother very much and you received daily graces and consolations from her. Please, we beg you to pray to the Holy Mother for us. Place in her hands the sorrow for our sins and our prayers of reparation. May her Son say “yes” to His Mother, as He did at Cana of Galilee, and may our names be written in the Book of Eternal Life.


“Mary has to be the star that illuminates your path and she will show you the secure way to go to the Celestial Father. She will be an anchor to which you must cling in the hour of temptation”. Padre Pio


O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away." Encouraged by Your infallible words, I now ask for the grace of (name your request)


Say the: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father


Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.


Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm

Share/Save/Bookmark

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What It's Like To Get It Right

In 2007, I took a long-term substitute teaching position at a Catholic school. One day, while talking to the 8th grade class, the subject of knowing (and following) God's will came up.

How do you know what you're supposed to do?


I admitted to the class that, sometimes, you don't know. You have to pray - a lot. Get help from people who know you well, who love you deeply - but make sure they love God even more. Make sure they want God's will for themselves every bit as much as they want it for you.


And then, think about a gorgeous plot of grass. The plushiest grass you've ever seen. Imagine that you are standing on the edge of this perfect yard. You're staring at the green lawn in front of you. And as you look ahead, you see a footprint begin to form about eighteen inches in front of you. Don't rush to lift up your feet and step into the footprint. Wait for it to form a little more clearly. There it is, a perfect imprint of your own foot, even though you haven't put your foot into the grass yet. Now - pick up your foot now - and place it in that print. Once you have done that, you will notice that another imprint is forming just ahead. And you begin to see where you are supposed to go. What you are supposed to do . . . one footstep at a time.


That is what it's like to get it right. To have a sense of what God wants from you. You won't always see all the way to the journey's end. But you will see what you are to do right now.


The imprint you see is the exact shape of your foot, but you didn't make the impression in the grass. God did. He did it so you would know where to step. And He rarely gives you more than a step or two at a time. Because of this, you will remain vigilant and malleable and submissive and detached from your own ideas.


It keeps you waiting on Him.


I will wait upon the Lord, I'll not move 'til he calls. I'll not run lest I fall. I will wait on the one I adore. (From "I Will Wait Upon The Lord" lyrics written byAllen Asbury, inspired by Sacred Scripture.)

Share/Save/Bookmark

The Mother's Heart - sorrow and joy

(Diocesan article, reprinted here)

The path to Marian devotion has been a long and confusing one for me. Finally, I can sincerely say I love Mary with the degree of devotion that is characteristic of the Catholic faithful. This is not something that comes easily or naturally for most Protestants, and that has certainly been the case for this Protestant preacher’s kid. I’ve gone through the motions and prayed that my love for Mary would grow in sincerity and degree. And it has.

A few years ago, my daughter Jennifer and I went on a vacation to Prince Edward Island in Canada. Even though I did not expect to gain lessons about Mary’s maternal instinct while gallivanting across North America, Our Mother had other plans for me.

Brackley Beach should have been fabulous. I imagined stretching out on a blanket. My mother and I bonding under the warmth of the sun. My daughter and her two cousins wading in the cool water of Brackley Bay.

In reality, my mom and I argued while the older two granddaughters scooped up jelly fish and my daughter frantically tried to avoid the strange oceanic creatures. Every few minutes I would glance toward the water to see how the girls were doing.

Suddenly, I had a feeling that something was wrong. I looked in the direction of the water and couldn’t see my daughter. My mom was in the middle of refuting my last point when I just stood up and started walking to the water. I tried to keep my fear in check, telling myself that my daughter was there, probably on the other side of her older cousin or blocked from my view because of the overly crowded beach.

The closer I came to the water’s edge, the more obvious it became that Jennifer wasn’t with her cousins. I began running through the sand to the area where the girls were catching jelly fish and yelled over the strong wind, “where’s Jennifer?” My twelve-year-old niece turned in my direction and shouted back that she didn’t know. I scanned the water, and it seemed to change from beautiful blue to dark, forbidding waters. For the first time since my daughter’s birth, I felt cut off from her – totally separated from her by that terrible water. I frantically scanned the sea as a hellish fear held me in its grip. Then I turned my eyes to the beach and scanned the people. My last hope was that she was among the sunbathing crowd. I began screaming out her name, the terrible truth rushing over me as every second passed. My daughter, my beautiful little girl, was gone.

That’s when a young man called to me and said, “I think that your daughter is right there.” He pointed to a spot up the beach about twenty yards. I looked in the direction he had indicated, and there she was, in her little yellow swimsuit, walking through the crowd, obviously searching for me. I ran toward her and fell to my knees in front of her. When she saw me, she started crying, explaining through her tears how she had become frightened by the jellyfish and tried to find me. I took her in my arms, and we cried together.

I spent the next seven days at my daughter’s side. I’d lost all taste for sightseeing and souvenirs. I had just one thought: I must get this child safely home to her father. In the course of the drive from Prince Edward Island to St. Louis, I realized that God had granted my request to be filled with a profound love for His Mother.

There was a time when I was the girl on the beach. I searched through the crowd for my Mother’s face. I cried as my feet trudged through the hot sand.

Once, I had a Mother who scanned the horizon and feared that I was lost to a wicked sea. I had a Mother who relied on another to bring us together. I had a Mother whose arms ached to hold me once again.

Protestants do not understand this maternal bond. They do not comprehend Mary’s maternal instinct. They do not realize that she is looking for them, scanning the water, waiting for someone to point out every son or daughter that is wandering along the crowded beach. They think that such devotion usurps the place of Jesus Christ in our hearts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mary is my Mother, leading me to the Father through the Son.

Like that man on the beach, when you see the Mother searching and you see the child wandering, realize that you may be the only one who can bring them together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The man who gave me back my daughter could have asked me for anything – anything – and if it was mine to give, I would have gladly given it to him. If that describes my imperfect maternal love, how much more does that describe the perfect love of Our Blessed Mother who has every grace at her disposal and wants with all of her heart to lavish upon you the treasures of the kingdom?

Share your faith. Introduce someone to Our Mother’s love.

Share/Save/Bookmark

Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina - Day Two

Day Two Novena to St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, together with Our Lord Jesus Christ, you were able to withstand the temptations of the Devil. You suffered the beatings and the oppression of Satan, the Enemy, who wanted to have you abandon your journey of holiness. We beg you to pray for us so that, with your help and the help of all of the Heavenly Kingdom, we will be able to find the strength to set sin aside and to persevere in our faith until the day of our death.


“Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will.” Padre Pio


O my Jesus, You have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of my Father and through My Name, the Heavenly Father will give it to you." Behold, in Your Name, I Asked the Father for the grace of (name your request).


Pray: Our Father - Hail Mary - Glory be to the Father


Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust You.

Amen.


Original Novena found at: http://www.padrepio.catholicwebservices.com/ENGLISH/Novena.htm
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 15 - Our Lady of Sorrows

Be glad, sorrowing Mother, because after such agonies you will sit by your Son and be crowned Queen of all things. (Universalis)


Share/Save/Bookmark

Monday, September 14, 2009

An Empty Cross or A Crucifix? Thoughts from a Catholic preacher's kid.

Some Protestants think Catholics prefer the crucifix over the empty cross because they (Catholics)
want to “keep Christ on the cross.” Of course, it’s not an observation Protestants usually share with Catholics; so Catholics never have the opportunity to respond to such gross misrepresentation.

Looking at the flipside of the accusation, I realize that I’ve never heard a Catholic suggest that Protestants prefer the empty cross because Protestants want to think only of victory and blessing, to the exclusion of Our Lord’s death on a cross.

I wonder why some Protestants jump to their conclusions, but Catholics don’t conversely think that Protestants refuse to “pick up their cross.”

The message of the cross is a three-note chord. Christ lived, died, and rose again. The question is how do we best proclaim this three-note chord? Should we wear the crucifix and remember the death? Should we wear a cross and remember Christ’s victory over the cross? Which note do we emphasize?

I am drawn to the crucifix because of the message it gives me: to follow Christ is to empty myself, even to the point of death, if that is required of me. I am not part of the church triumphant, as much as I’d like to think I am. I am part of the church militant. I am in the trenches. This is the part of my journey where I die to self. That’s just the way it is. So the crucifix reminds me that Christ actually died for me and that I am now called to die as well.

Catholics believe the empty cross is beautiful, too, contrary to what some Protestants suspect; so it really shouldn’t be a Protestant-Catholic debate.

Even so, I think there is a real danger in forgetting the cost of redemption and the cost of discipleship. An empty cross all too easily becomes a piece of jewelry, a pop-culture icon. An empty cross doesn’t demand that our minds reflect on the sobering reality of Christ’s death. The empty cross conveniently allows us to gloss over Good Friday and Holy Saturday and go straight to Easter morning. We can lift our hands for blessings and name-and-claim our victory, and barely give a thought to the message of the cross.

The empty cross fits all too neatly in American culture. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I claim that. He paid the price. I claim that. He wants to bless me. I claim that too. Here’s my list of wants, Lord. Ready, Go! Americanized pseudo-Christianity in a nutshell.

Christ has died. I must die, figuratively and literally. Christ has risen. If I die with Christ, I will be raised with Christ. Christ will come again. If I die with Christ and am raised with Christ, then I will rise to meet Him when He comes in glory.

Our Lord didn’t make the mistake of focusing on the victory before Calvary. He knew the victory was His, but death on a cross would come first.

Daily, we must die to self. We must be willing to go to the cross as long as there is breath. Our three-note-chord isn’t complete. We hear faint hints of victory now and then. But we must avoid the childlike desire to pound out the victory note like it is the only note on the piano.

Why do I prefer the crucifix? It humbly reminds me of the price Jesus Christ paid for my sin, and it soberly reminds me that I must empty myself for Him and carry my cross daily, until I see Him face-to-face.

For now, there is a reminder. The cross of Christ. Not an empty cross, but a rugged old cross where a body is pierced and bleeding for my sin and the sin of the whole world. The crucifix. It contains the message that will lead me to my eternal home. I must be willing to die. For it is in dying that we are raised to new life.
Share/Save/Bookmark