Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Touching the Hand of God

It is not often that I am literally stopped in my tracks by the turn of a phrase. But I was reading Pope Benedict's closing remarks to the Vatican Lenten spiritual exercises and there was one sentence whose truth and beauty brought tears to my eyes:

Believing is nothing other than touching the hand of God in the darkness of the world and thus, in silence, to hear the Word, to see Love.

Please read my reflection on this poignant imagery here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baptism and Lent: together again

I was perusing some of my past Lenten post. I ran across this one. It brought tears to my eyes. I thought I would share it again since it seems very relevant as we prepare to travel to Missouri for the baptism of my grandson. I hope you enjoy reading or rereading it as well.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Intentional fasting

Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting are the three pillars of Lenten observances. After the first full week of Lent, I feel the fruits of each of these. Fasting, especially, has been significant for me. I abstain from meat every Friday all year long, so the Friday fasts of Lent are routine for me. Therefore, I had to find another offering. I spend a great deal of time on the computer as part of my work. Blogging and social network sites are part of my job as a writer. But sometimes, they can be time sinks that squander away time I don't have to waste. One link leads to another which leads to another and so on.  I am limiting myself to checking my Facebook newsfeed once daily. I am also not clicking on links unless I think they are pertinent to my job (exceptions made for videos of my grandkids!). No random cat videos. No flash mobs.

In addition, I am using my devotional aids to come up with daily and weekly fasts and sacrifices. For example, avoid advertising for a day to detach from materialism. No flipping through the catalogs that arrived in the mail. No browsing the online shopping sites. No television with commercials. No radio in the car. It was actually quite refreshing to escape the pull on my pocketbook.

This Lent, I am also trying to offer each sacrifice for a specific intention. Certainly, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, the upcoming conclave, and Pope Benedict's successor are worthy intentions. The health and well-being of my husband, children, and grandchildren also merit some of my Lenten sacrifices. There are many friends whom I love and gladly fast for their benefit. But it is also very humbling to fast and sacrifice for various people who are difficult to love or even like. They will never know of my efforts and I may never know of any fruits of my offerings. Skipping a meal for the benefit of someone with whom I find it difficult to carry on a civil conversation challenges my capacity for charity. But to do so also allows me to see this person from a new perspective. It is nearly impossible to dismiss or disregard someone for whom I have prayed so intently.

The words  "offer it up" have long been part of the Catholic lexicon. This Lent I am finding it valuable to offer up my sacrifices and penance for the benefit of others. It is a good exercise in humility to make my Lenten exercises focus away from myself. I am sure many have figured this out long ago. I am grateful to have finally found this insight this Lent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Lenten Journey

I really didn't mean to take such a hiatus from blogging. I have not given up blogging for Lent. I guess it just hasn't risen to the top of my priority list until now. I hope to keep it up there on a more regular basis.

My days have been busy but joyful. Of course, the most joyful news I can share is the arrival of my grandson, John David. I have seen him through a video chat but I won't get to actually hold him for a few weeks. Such blessings!

Then like the rest of the Catholic world, I was stunned by the news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28. I have been offering a novena for Pope Benedict, the conclave, and his successor. When Blessed John Paul II died, I remember feeling anxious. He was the only pope I had really been aware of. Those before him had been less visible and I was unaware of their influences on my life. But Blessed John Paul II boldly stood before the faithful and led us to a renewed orthodoxy. Who could replace him? Silly me. The Church has been electing new popes for quite a while and the Holy Spirit always seems to find the right man for the job. And so we were blessed with Pope Benedict XVI. I won't say I am anxiety free over the selection of the new pope, but I am confident that the Church will be given exactly what she needs.

And now there is Lent. I am loving this Lent. In spite of a frenetic pace with a new grandbaby, planning a wedding (Did I mention my daughter is getting married in August?), writing deadlines,  and teaching I am feeling more calm than I have in ages. Less than two weeks into this Lent and I feel more spiritual growth than I have felt in the full forty days of past Lents. There are multiple reasons for this and I will try to unpack them in future blog posts. For right now, let me say that every year a common topic develops during my Lent. Normally, it takes a while for me to recognize it. This year I am blessed with a duo and they popped out at me on Day 1. Humility and Simplicity are winding their way through my Lenten journey like ribbons through a braid.

Daily Mass is always a help in focusing my spiritual efforts on the liturgical season and I have several devotional aids. One in particular has been perfect this year. I am following along with Paula Huston in her book Simplifying the Soul, Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit. I love this book because it offers very practical, real world Lenten exercises. For example, detach yourself from a possession that you are holding on to but don't really need. Think about it. I bet you can think of something that is pushed to the back of a shelf. You keep it because it might be useful someday, but you haven't touched it in years or maybe even in decades. You have an outfit that you are hanging on to in case you get back to your skinny self. Let it go. Give it away.  The book is a series of exercises that help you unclutter your life and make the way clear for God.

I hope your Lent is going well. It is not too late to get it on track. How you start is not as important as how you finish.