Tag Archives: prayer

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.

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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!

A Poem for B

A bird fell from the sky today,

Its broken wing, so hard to see.

The rain like tears washed its body,

As we gathered round deciding what to do.

 

It chirped and pecked to keep us out.

We stood confused not knowing what to do.

Too long, too long and our worry grows

Our prayers and sighs slowly rise.

 

Please heal, restore and mend, we pray.

Keep this sweet bird within Your hand.

So many tangled webs around it,

and only You can set it free.

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!

 

Should I stay or should I go?

The lyrics from on old song came roaring through my head this morning: Should I stay or should I go now?/ Should I stay or should I go now?/If I go there will be trouble/ An’ if I stay it will be double/ So come on and let me know/ Should I stay or should I go?

We are remodeling our kitchen and clearing many things out of our home. Through this process, we are trying to determine if we should stay in this home or move. There are a whole host of reasons for choosing to stay or choosing to go. I used to be the kind of person who would list out all the pros and cons and decide from there. Boy, have I changed!

Nowadays, I am learning and practicing the 4-step:

Step 1 = STOP
I stop when faced with a big decision like this. This takes a tremendous amount of will power for me because I am by nature a decision-maker. So I force myself to completely halt everything to do with the decision.

Step 2 = PRAYER
I step up my prayer life and go directly to God. My weekly Adoration hour has been focused on listening. What does God want us to do? Is there a reason we should stay? Is there a reason we should go?

Step 3 = WISE COUNSEL
I turn to someone who knows our Lord better than anyone else, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I started a Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel which has turned into what feels like an eternal novena! I am way past 9 days of praying, but I keep asking for guidance. However, it has been revealed to me that the Blessed Virgin’s guidance is guaranteed when it concerns your eternal salvation. This made me realize that staying or going may not affect my eternal salvation, so I may not need or receive much guidance here.

I usually find myself scheduling a meeting with my Spiritual Director, who always has practical yet difficult-to-hear-and-do advice. Honestly, I haven’t done that just yet….

Step 4 = CLARITY
I wait for clarity through this discernment process. This is the hardest part of the 4-Step. Hanging around when you are living in no-man’s land is a test of patience, fortitude, perseverance and faith. Especially when everyone around you–your spouse, your remodeling help, your family, your friends, your neighbors–is really badly wanting an answer. Waiting is difficult, but waiting while being pestered can be intolerable. Ask any mom who has toddlers in the grocery store check-out line.

This 4-Step has taught me to be more patient. I used to pray things like, “God, I need to know by next week if you want me to sell my house. If I don’t  hear from you, I’m going to assume you want me to stay.” Wow, what pride I had/have to demand things of God. His ways are not our ways, and his time is not our time. I am feeling this truth tremendously right now.

Please do not think that I am “perfect” in this regard. At the beginning of this process, I jump-started into action, then realized I had broken the rules of 4-Stepping. I had to backtrack, apologize to some folks, and undo some things. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I once again overlooked God in a big decision in my life. So, my hope is that by sharing this with others, I will feel even more compelled to follow it in my own life.

Today, I still am under tremendous pressure to answer this question: Should we stay or should we go? And just like the song states,”if I go there could be trouble, and if I stay it will be double.” But I am not asking a person to answer this for me. I am asking an all-knowing, all-powerful, merciful, awesome God and His handmaid, Mary the Untier of Knots, to help me. I am sure I will know with much clarity what I am supposed to do soon enough.

 

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.

 

Honesty is such a lonely word

“Honesty is such a lonely word/ Everyone is so untrue/ Honesty is hardly ever heard/
And mostly what I need from you” – Billy Joel

This morning I am pondering honesty and deceit. I’m struggling with this because both myself and people I know and love are dealing with people who strongly feel a lie is true and the truth is a lie. I have many questions about this:

1) How did they come to believe the lie so thoroughly? I think because it conveniently allows them to do whatever they want to do without consideration for anyone else but themselves. By believing the lie, they can continue to get what they want at all costs. Or they can continue to ignore a huge problem in their lives by blaming others around them.

2) How can they continue to believe the lie when all reality tells them otherwise? I guess that they are blind to all reality. Just like a horse in the races, their blinders are keeping them free and clear from facing the truth that may hurt or cause them to change course.

I think it’s like what Father Abraham said to the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31, where the Rich Man said: ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house,28for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’29But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’30 He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’31Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

There was nothing which would open their eyes to the truth, even someone rising from the dead!

3) How will they ever see the truth if they really like the lie? This is where I turn them over in prayer to the Holy Trinity. I ask for unilateral forgiveness for them every day. I ask the Holy Trinity to surround them with love. I pray for clarity in my own life to see where I am blind to the truth in my life. I know that I do not have the power by myself to remove the blinders because I have tried to no avail. I have been humbled and must let our good God find a way into their hearts.

The Worst News Ever?!

Here’s a roundup of the news I have received from this past week: Stroke. Car accident. Death. Terminal illness. Back strain. Divorce. Alcoholism.

Now, before you think all of these things happened to me, well, they did and they did not. What I mean to say is that I would argue all of this does in some way happen to you when you have a large family full of love and brokenness. Yes, some of the suffering is self-inflicted, but some of the suffering comes on in its own.

Our response to suffering shows a really clear picture of where we stand emotionally, morally and spiritually. It’s why one of my friends who is a Protestant minister likes to perform funerals. She says that it is when the suffering is at its peak, so the people are most open to hearing God’s Word. Their hard hearts have been cracked, just a little, by the loss. They become real again, facing things that they have ignored for a long time.

My prayer has always been to let God help me see through the light of Christ, so that when the suffering comes, whether of my own making or on its own, I am strengthened and can give God glory even in those moments.

I was deeply impacted when I watched a news report about 10 years ago when a man lost his entire family in a freak flash flood which washed his minivan off the highway into flash river in a location where this had never occurred before. During his interview, he explained that he and his wife had adopted many children with disabilities. They were all in the car. When the water came over their car, he could not get to his family because he was sucked out through the front windshield. He watched his wife and all of his adopted children get pushed down into the river in their minivan.

His response was, of course, sorrow. But, he said he could not be mad at God. This happened in his life and he trusted God had a plan for him. He quoted the Bible verse that speaks to trusting in God with all your heart. I had never witnessed what that meant until I saw this man on television. He was that Bible verse.

I pray that God will show me how to trust him in those dark moments. I pray that my prayers for my family bring healing and love. I pray that suffering can be offered up for the whole world and make our world a place of deep, abiding peace. I know suffering will come. I hope that I am ready.