Category Archives: Prayer

Running on Empty is Never a Good Thing

Running on empty is never a good thing. I remember a recent road trip where had a van full of nieces and nephews who I was bringing back home with me. We were enjoying ourselves tremendously as we drove across the state. About two hours into the drive, I suddenly remembered that I never filled up with gas before leaving. I did a quick check of my gas gauge and realized that I was running on fumes in a section of the state that has no gas stations. In fact, that area is simply miles and miles and miles of country land. My prayers began in earnest. I called upon my Guardian Angel, St. Christopher and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I knew how few miles I had left before I ran out of gas. I also knew the next gas station was further than the gas in my tank could take me. This was a moment of desperation, and my prayers rose to a high pitch. May I add that it was a very hot day and we had little or no water in the car. I was envisioning myself and the children sitting on the side of the road sweating and dehydrated.

By this time, my prayer was sweating out of my pores! I tried to hide the tears streaming down my face. Suddenly, an exit with a gas station appeared. I quickly made my way to the gas station and filled up my tank. I know exactly how much gas my minivan’s tank can hold. However, when I filled my tank, the meter read .1 gallons more than my tank could hold. How was that possible? I have no idea but I surely know now that full is so much better than empty!

I share this story to say that I spent the weekend with my oldest children at an amazing conference put on by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. I have to tell you that spiritually I had been running on empty. I was not taking the time I needed to fill myself up with God’s grace. This weekend was like standing under a fire hose of the Holy Spirit! To say I am “full of grace” does not seem like an understatement. I recognize now that I need to stop running so hard and take time to fill up throughout my day. Enough of the running on empty. Too scary. Too tiring. Too worrisome. Instead I will pray, I will make time to read scripture, and I will spend time with our Lord in the Eucharist. I pray that my grace will overflow on those around me and fill them up! (and so on, and so on, and so on!)

Advertisements

A little old soul

He was an old soul that I had never seen before. His hair was as dark as coal, and his eyes drew you in. He walked slowly but with purpose. His deep red vestments made him look like a king. When I first saw him, I thought, “Now, that’s how you wear red!” My mother-in-law commented on the gorgeous roses that covered the altar. They were beautiful, but my focus was elsewhere.

Today is the Feast of Pentecost. The day our Church was founded. The day when the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, the Advocate, the Unifier, came into the lives of the Apostles like a roaring wind and flames of fire. This huddled group of fear-filled men and the Blessed Mother received the very Love of God the Father and God the Son in the form of the Holy Spirit. It changed them forever.

As the incense rose from the altar, my thoughts rose to Heaven. The swirls of incense were very visible today, and seemed to move wherever they wished. This reminded me that God’s tremendous gift of the Holy Spirit with His many gifts and graces was washing over the entire Earth today. My heart was open and ready to receive. I prayed deeply for my entire family, for my friends, for my community and for our world.

That’s when this old soul, the priest I had never seen before, began to sing in Latin the Veni Sancti Spiritu or Come Holy Spirit. He humbly sat, pulled the microphone down to his level, and began to sing. His voice is a pure gift from God. It was so awe-inspiring that you could hear a pin drop once he started. When I heard this beauty, I closed my eyes and thought, “Now, that’s how you sing!”

His homily was an amazing story about Blessed John Henry Newman. About 150 years ago, he had traveled to Rome and was heading back to England by ship. His heart was heavy because he had come to believe that the Catholic Church was the one true church, but accepting this truth meant many losses for him. He felt stuck, and then the ship got stuck. The wind just stopped altogether. For an entire week, his ship was stuck on the sea outside the port of Rome, yet not on its way to England either. He realized that God was perhaps allowing this to show him the state of his soul. Newman could do nothing to change his heart or his physical situation. It was up to the “wind” or the Holy Spirit to come into his life and help him move towards the truth. And the wind did arrive, pushing Newman towards a major change for his entire life.

We all must pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the same courage and love that He gave Blessed John Henry Newman and the Apostles. May our hearts burn with this love and give it freely just as we have received it freely.  We will see that God does make all things new.  Won’t you pray with me?

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue Teach Us How to Pray

May is Mary’s month. Today, my children and I held a May Procession to honor the Blessed Virgin. My eldest daughter was voted “May Queen” and carried the crown of roses. We sang our favorite hymns, processing to our statue of Mary in the front yard. My daughter crowned her as we sang, “Immaculate Mary.” We honored Our Blessed Mother as best we could out of love.

My devotion to Mary is a deep part of my faith life. I completely understand why St. Pope John Paul II chose the motto, “Totus Tuus” for his pontificate. He, too, had a very deep devotion to Our Lady. You see, Mary is the reason I found my way back to Jesus and God. Just like a good mom, she waded down into my mess and helped me rise up through it. She didn’t yank my arm or scold me. She just gently nudged me then offered her hand. Actually, it started one Christmas.

My husband and I had gone to university and become “brilliant.” We both walked away from our faith, although we both now acknowledge we really didn’t even know our faith. We went to a state university and got liberal arts degrees. We listened to the “enlightened” and questioned everything we had been taught, including our faith. Thankfully, neither one of us chose to go agnostic or atheist. We were Christians, but had no clue how to put that into practice outside of the Catholic Church.

We started visiting all different denominations to “church shop.” Sometimes, we would stay for a month or a year. We would always get involved, help serve, join Bible studies and try to get to know the Truth. But, when we asked the hard questions, the minister would either dodge or give a non-answer. The congregation was no help either. Half of them didn’t even understand why we wanted to know these answers. Honestly, we didn’t realize that the questions we were asking were theology questions. That’s how ignorant we were. Most of these denominiations’ theology was illogical or fundamentally flawed. Somehow, we both saw through this pretty quickly. That’s why we never stayed at a church long. To be sure, we were lost, but at least we were seeking the Truth.

Then, one Christmas, we were shopping at Barnes & Noble for Christmas gifts. I have mentioned before that books are my weakness. But after a few hours, even I was “booked” out. My husband suggested we stop at the in store Cafe for a refreshment. The store was absolutely packed. We decided to cut through a row of book shelves to beat the crowd. As we are speedily walking through, I abruptly halt, turn my head and pull a book off of the middle of a shelf. I say to my husband, “I am supposed to get this book.” He says, “What are you talking about? What book is it?” I didn’t know. I read the title, “Medjugorje: The Message” by Wayne Weible. My husband asked, “What is it about?” I said I didn’t know but Mary was on the front cover. He thought I was crazy but said, “Get it if you want.”

As I read this book , it changed my heart. After reading it, I wept in the shower for days. I turned to Mary for guidance and direction. I converted and handed my life over to her in a big way. I didn’t say a word of this to my husband. It was the beginning of a long journey back to our Catholic faith.

A few years later, I met the author Wayne Weible at a Catholic seminar. I introduced myself and shared my conversion story. He smiled and said that Mary has used him as an instrument for conversion. His book is not his own. It belongs to Mary. He shared enough stories with me that I realized that many, many people are finding their way home because the Blessed Mother is gathering them under her mantle. She is so gentle and loving. She shows us the surest path to her Son and like a good mother, makes sure her little ones are cared for along the way.

In all my brokenness, I had turned away from God. The sins of my past life weighed me down like an anchor. Seeking the Truth felt like running in circles because we could not find answers to our deepest questions. Enter Mary. Mary taught me how to pray. She opened the doors of my heart and allowed me a graceful return to my faith. When I was ready, she began to walk me through the life of her Son and explain what He has done for me. I haven’t always been the most disciplined or humble daughter, but she has never given up hope in me. Now, I see just how precious our Blessed Mother is for all of us. Jesus’ gift from the cross of His Mother is indeed one of the greatest gifts we could receive from Him. It is with deep gratitude and humility I pray, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”

 

Worry or Pray

I occasionally struggle with worry, especially when it comes to my dear ones facing problems that are out of our control. Today, a friend of mine shared this story:

A long time ago, a wise judge was faced with a room full of upset people. They all had many worries and wanted his advice. He asked them all to write down the one most important worry that they had in their life and place it in a large earthen jar. After everyone had placed their worry in the jar, he asked them to now draw one worry out of the jar. As probability would have it, each drew a different worry than their own. After reading their selected “new” worry, they all decided they would like to have back their own original worry!

As a Christian, I know that I am called to either worry or trust. It is that simple. But as a human, I find myself with my stomach in knots and my mind racing about how I can help. I get so caught up in the emotional side of the event, that I totally neglect the spiritual side.

This week, my family received heart-breaking news. It was so out of our control that we all felt helpless. Being physically far away forces me to simply pray because it’s all I can do. I realize now that it is what we should do first anyway! While my family scrambled to take action, I took to prayer. In my many sighs and tears to God, He revealed to me that the family member needed healing–spiritual healing. That’s when I took action. I made phone calls and helped arrange for a priest in another city to visit this family member. At first, I met with lots of barriers. But I have a not-so-secret weapon called “The Divine Mercy Chaplet.” At the hour of mercy (3:00 p.m.), I begged God to send me a holy priest. I was getting nowhere by myself and needed His help. Within 30 seconds of finishing my prayer, the phone was ringing and a priest was on the line. The ending of this Chaplet prayer is: “Jesus, I trust in you.” Such a simple prayer, yet so easy to forget, and even harder to do!

And the next Judas is….

Today is the Feast Day of St. Matthias. If you are not familiar with him, he is the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot the betrayer of Jesus Christ. In fact, the apostles had to choose between Matthias and another witness of the resurrection, Barsabbas also known as Justus. Wow, how do you make that choice? Well, the apostles give us a great lesson in decision-making:

1) Identify the real problem. St. Peter does this well in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1: 15-17. Judas was “allotted a share in this ministry.” And now Judas is gone. Who will take up that allotted share?

2) Turn to God’s Word (the Bible) for solutions. Of course, at this time, it would be from the Old Testament, as the New Testament wasn’t yet written. St. Peter quotes the Book of Psalms, “Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it. and: May another take his office.” God is telling them that they must find another person to take up Judas’ office of ministry.

3) Consider friends or family who have walked the walk. St. Peter explains that whoever they choose to replace Judas should be someone “who accompanied us in the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Although there may have been quite a number of disciples, St. Peter understood how critical it was for their community to have leaders who actually saw and believed from the very beginning.

4) Pray for guidance. Even after selecting two candidates, St. Peter and the apostles called down the Holy Spirit to guide them in this decision.

5) Trust in God to provide the answer. Using lots, they discovered it was Matthias who should serve in Judas’ place.

I have always wondered how it felt to be St. Matthias. He was there since the beginning, hanging around the twelve apostles and Jesus. He actually witnessed the Resurrection. And now, God bestows on him the ministry that Judas turned away from. Did St. Matthias ever imagine this plan of God’s? He most likely had no idea that he would be called to fill in for such an important role in history. He was probably simple and humble and faithful (having been there since the beginning). He most likely thought that Barsabbas would be a better choice, but prayed that God’s will be done. What a surprise God had in store for him!

 

Are You Building Up or Breaking Down?

Have you have ever watched a home or a building being constructed? It can seem to take forever to complete. Digging the foundation is a big job. Weather conditions have to be just right for many parts of the construction. There is an order that must be followed or you will end up with an unreliable structure. All of this to say that building or unifying is hard work. It is God’s work and it is often beyond what we are capable of doing on our own.

On the other hand, destroying is quick and easy. A couple of well-placed explosives and some front-loaders and dump trucks can clear a building or bridge rather quickly as we witnessed recently in our neighborhood. It is relatively easy to take down a building or a family. Divisiveness or destruction is the Devil’s work. He is completely thrilled when he sees us giving into this temptation. There is no need for help when it comes to sin. We are perfectly capable of doing this all on our own. The real lie we often believe is that our personal sin affects no one but ourselves. Ha, ha, ha. That is a really great “whopper” of a lie. Because when we sin, we separate ourselves even further from God. We separate ourselves from each other. Our sin can divide our friendships, our church, and ultimately our family.

Keeping a family together demands God’s help. We must practice forgiveness daily. We must serve each other, not use each other. We must practice charity when we would really like to “give them a piece of my mind.” We must keep God at the center of our family— not soccer, not television, not money. Unifying your family is a real challenge in today’s world. When the media is screaming that we should want more, do less, and live a life of vice, you wonder where the truth has gone. I say we must fight this good fight and not allow Satan to have his way with ourselves or our family. And it starts with visiting the church of two-knees!

 

Winning the Lottery and Knowing You are Dying

“I know what I’d do if I won the Lottery,” my sister said to me.  I thought to myself, “Really? She knows what she would do? Hmmm…I’m not quite sure I know what I would do.” She continued, “I would pay for our entire family to go on a Disney Cruise.” Right now, that’s about 70 people at least. “Yeah, that would cost some money,” I replied.

I’m not sure how we got started talking about winning the Lottery, but our conversation right before that is what we would change if we knew we were dying. That was a much easier question for me to answer. I said right away, “I wouldn’t change one thing.” That sounded crazy to my ears at first, but I followed it with, “I have fought long and hard to get my life ordered on the right things. I have put God first, my spouse second, my children third, my family next, followed by my neighbors and community and church. I don’t think I would change a thing.”

But the more I thought about it today, the more I realized I would change some things. I would go to daily Mass. I would wake up much earlier and pray. I have done both of these things on and off for the past few years, but I cannot seem to be consistent. It’s like my selfishness and my love for God are battling it out. Sometimes, I feel as if I am on the sidelines watching. Sometimes, my vocation as wife and mother makes me wonder if this is even possible. So, I think I would change this, but everything else, I wouldn’t change.

As for the Lottery, I have given it some thought. Although I never play the Lottery, if I did, I know what I would like to do with that money. I would like to buy a large property with woods, a lake, and cabins all around. I would build a Retreat Center for Families. This would be a place where families could come and spend time to relax and grow in their faith. I would ask the Sacred Heart Sisters to teach and plan the retreats because this is their charism–to serve the Married Church–and they are awesome at it. I would make it so that money was never a barrier for experiencing a weekend full of grace and spiritual growth. On the days when the Retreat Center was empty, I would have a 24-hour Adoration Chapel and I would pray.

As I type this blog, I am thinking the whole time: “You will never win the Lottery. Why are you even writing this?” Just now, it hit me. In all truth, I have won the Lottery already, and it is because God’s plans are so much bigger than mine. See, Jesus Christ died on the Cross for each single person. He made sure each of us “won the Lottery” in the most incredible way possible. He gave us Eternal life and invites us to be adopted sons and daughters of God! This changes the whole way we look at living and dying, too. If I knew I was dying, I would know I was that much closer to being with God face-to-face. I imagine I would be experiencing a “quickening” of sorts that would prepare me for this. Although those around me would grieve, I would only more strongly have to share my belief and faith in God’s plan. I would want everyone to know that we all have won the lottery, and death has been conquered! I pray that all people will come to understand that they have won the lottery in this way when they know they are dying.

Prayer Warrior of the Dying

One of my dear family members is dying. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness many months ago. We were given a general timeframe (1 to 3 years) but also were told by the professionals that it may be only months. This is a cruel illness that slowly takes away everything, even his ability to breath. To add to the painful process, he also suffers from dementia. In case you think he is very elderly, he is not.

Last night, things seem to have turned for the worst. His whole family which is quite large was already planning to gather for Easter. Now, they may be spending time at the hospital. Many of them are wondering if they should be heading home today instead of tomorrow. I think Good Friday is going to have a whole new meaning for them.

I have been praying for complete and total healing for this dear one if it be God’s will. I have pleaded with Fr. Emil Kapaun whose cause for sainthood is underway. I have simultaneously begged that if it is not possible for complete healing, then for his eternal salvation. I have come to the point in my life where I want that for every person and am willing to sacrifice for it.

God knows this about me. He actually wakes me during the night and asks for prayer. I am a busy Mom who doesn’t get enough rest. I really don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night. I know that most people with my vocation as wife and mother are not asked to do this. However, I cannot ignore such a request at such critical times. I am not perfect. Sometimes, I fall asleep praying. Often, my prayer is disjointed because of my drowsiness. But I offer this up to our Blessed Mother who can take all things and make them perfect.

As for my family member who is dying, I pray that he feels relief from the pain. I pray that he knows he is supported in prayer for both his healing and his salvation. I pray that my family who is caring for him can be sustained. I pray.