Apr 26, 2017

A Case for Patience and Praise

When my husband and I were first married, we attended RCIA classes.  I had been poorly catechized growing up and he was Southern Baptist and wondered WHY we had to go to my church every Sunday.  I didn’t know the answers, and thus…we took the classes.  For me it was GREAT!!  It opened my eyes to why I was claiming to be Catholic and reaffirmed my belief that I needed to be in “my” church every Sunday, not every OTHER Sunday.  At the end of the classes, he had not been swayed to convert, but appreciated the fact that I felt more convicted than ever to practice my Catholic faith.

One image I’ve always taken from that class was a married couple in their 70’s.  He was finally converting after all those years.  She didn’t seem exceptionally excited, but sat there quiet and calm.  I recognize it now as divine trust.  She just KNEW he would end up coming to the Faith one day, you could just tell.

Fast-forward a few years for us…babies coming and the journey of parenthood has begun.  We were in a town where the local Catholic church was not a good one.  My husband, used to the preacher feeding you spiritually with his words, was starving.  In desperation, I reluctantly agreed to attend church services twice on Sundays, one at the Catholic church and one at the Baptist church (which happened to be across the street from each other).  It wasn’t easy.  Church in general isn't easy when you have two little boys and you’re a new mother.  You have expectations of church behavior that just isn’t possible for a toddler and a baby.  The Baptist church had a nursery, but I hated leaving my baby with someone I didn’t know.  You couldn’t bring them into the main sanctuary because as soon as they made one little peep, the “why isn't that baby in the nursery” stares started boring through you.

That set-up didn’t last long.

Suffice it to say that we’ve been through a rocky spiritual journey in our almost-18 years of marriage.  I’ve been pushy with the Catholic faith in the past, but I learned better.  He’s never been one to be public and forthcoming with his spiritual journey, and that’s been difficult for me. (I LOVE talking religion!). I’ve fought resentment as I believed the father is *supposed* to be the spiritual head of the household.  He’s endured spiritual deserts as he accompanied me and the children week after week and year after year to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

He didn’t have the Eucharist to fall back on, you see.  For my husband, it was more about the man giving the homily, and most of the Catholic priests were NOOOO Baptist preacher!

As the years went by, we moved to a town and finally found a Catholic parish where there was reverence for the Holy Mass and Eucharist, the priest is a wonderful homilist, and the people automatically feel like family.  This past year, my husband’s job changed, and he worked a “normal” 8-5 M-F schedule.  We had never had this luxury for most of our marriage, and it allowed him to commit to attending Mass with us every Sunday.  I suggested that he just go to the RCIA classes while we were in Sunday school.  No pressure.  Promise.  

All through the year, I hadn’t asked him more than “How was your class?”  Sometimes he would open up and talk about the people in his class, the questions they had and even some questions he had.  I didn’t prod too much.  It wasn’t until the week before the Rite of Election that I asked him, “What’s the deal??  Are you going to do this or not?  Because it’s next weekend when you stand up before the Bishop and ask him to accept you, and you haven't told me anything yet.  And I have things on the calendar already for Saturday that I’ll need to change if you’re going to do it, so are you going to do it?”  (All that came out in about 3.2 seconds.)

“I am.  I am going to do it.”

**Cue tears and hugs from wife.**

Years ago I gave his conversion over to the Holy Spirit.  I knew that it would never be able to come from me or anything I said or pushed.  It was going to come more from how I lived my faith than anything else. (No pressure!)

If you are struggling with a similar issue, I beg you to be patient, trust in God, and leave it up to His time.

Because He is all-wise and all-good.

Please welcome Bryan Anderson…Home.  And all Glory be to God!

Apr 23, 2017

Scripture Reflection: Peace be with YOU.

photo credit goes to...http://debbiedesigns.typepad.com

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 
"Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."
John 20:19-23

Come with me back to the Holy Land, just after Jesus was crucified...His apostles were holed up in a little room, with doors barred, and they were afraid. Their whole world was turned upside down.  They had watched from the edges as their master, their friend and rabbi, their hope, their everything, was savagely beaten and nailed to a cross. He was stripped of clothes and crowned with thorns. He was bruised and bloody. All but one apostle had fled in fear. These men were afraid of the Jews. They were afraid to suffer as Jesus had suffered. Every second that went by, they were afraid someone was going to discover them, drag them out, and kill them. In addition, they were afraid that everything they had known for the last three years was a lie. They were afraid that Jesus was not really who they thought He was. They thought Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, their salvation and their King. Now they were not sure.

Then, Jesus came.  The doors were still locked. He just appeared among them. Jesus said, "Peace be with you." And with those four little words, He took on all their fear. He proved He was really and truly risen. He offered His hands and side for their inspection. With His four little words, the apostles knew Him. They knew they could trust Him and all they had believed to be true.

With the breath of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, their courage started to return.

Jesus wants us to have peace...a true and abiding peace that comes from a place free of fear and worldly attachments and demons. He wants us to have that peace so we can focus on Him, follow Him, and be with Him forever in heaven.

He can say, "Peace be with you." But how do we do it? How do we have that peace? It takes faith and trust to open the door to our hearts wide for Him to fill us with His love and mercy and peace. We pray in the quiet..."Jesus, I trust in You," and He comes to us. He takes on our demons. He shines the light that casts out the darkness. He takes on our fears and replaces it with His peace.

Trust Jesus to give you peace on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

Apr 20, 2017

We are an Easter people (even when we don't feel like it)

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! Such happy words! Such joy! It is Easter week and we rejoice in our Savior.

But what if our alleluia feels a bit half-hearted, what if we can't muster that true deep joy that we know we are supposed to feel?

Mamas, Lent is a beautiful time that takes us into the desert. It interrupts Ordinary Time and calls us to focus, to look within, to sacrifice, and to lay ourselves bare, pruning ourselves for the glorious feast of Easter when we celebrate the Victory our Savior has won for us. But aren't there times in this vocation where Lent doesn't start with Ash Wednesday and end with Easter? Aren't there whole seasons of life that feel like Lent?

I want to write an Alleluia post. I want to share the joy that is overflowing from my soul! But this year, Lent came early and it doesn't feel over. I am deeply grateful to my Savior. I can ponder the Passion and give thanks for the Resurrection. My voice got choked up singing all those Alleluias on Easter Sunday, but still I felt like I was in the desert while surrounded by flowers. Past Easters have been glorious. I truly felt that passing from death into new life. Not this one.

Are you there? Been there before? If you know what I'm saying you probably felt some guilt, some thought that you were doing something wrong. Why isn't God pouring those graces you need into your soul? Surely, you are missing something. But, mama, it's not your fault. And you aren't alone.

We are a tired, striving lot, mothers and women. My crosses in this season might look nothing like yours, but they are real, yours and mine. Maybe this Easter is boundless joy for you, but it comes after a season of dryness you thought would never end. Or maybe you are in that place where consolation is rare and barely discernible. You just can't fix what you desperately want to fix and you can't figure out why it's so hard. And it is hard. I know it's hard.

When confessing the state of my soul, my temper, my discouragement, my worry, and really near despair at times, right before Easter, Father said that God must really love me a lot to allow this suffering, this lack of consolation in my life. He said that my perseverance, even if that looks like just going through the motions, is so beautiful to God. He sees us, mamas! He hears those aspirations and pleas you send up because you don't know what else to do. He knows our hearts. Our striving and even our worry are beautiful to Him because it shows the depth of our love. But we must remember that worry is not from Him, and striving, whether it is striving to serve our family or fix their problems, or striving just to keep it all together, often ends up us taking on crosses and burdens that He has not asked us to take up.

I was begging for prayers, again, from a dear group of friends, and a sweet, beautiful mama told me this, " I don't think there can be anything more beautiful to God than you, a mother struggling on without consolation in the darkness of this fallen world, her arms full of her children's needs and every moment filled with an ache to heal and help them. Do you know how beautiful you are? Even Mary didn't solve everything for her Son. There is nothing on earth wrong with things going well and enjoying life, but it is because the sword is piercing your heart that you are so close to Mary. She feels you next to her, even if you can't feel her. Rest in her motherhood; Mary didn't carry the cross for Jesus, she just loved Him through it and was there."

My friend wrote this to me, but it is true for every one of you mothers who carry on in darkness. To be a mother is to ache for your children, whether it's colic, or growing pains, or broken hearts, or a battle for their souls. To be a mother is to strive for more, always. But today, stop striving and worrying. Go to Mary. Stay close. Rest.

Easter will dawn in our hearts when we finally surrender. We don't have to feel it today to hold fast to the knowledge that the Victory is Won! Consolation will come. There will be rejoicing and a feast overflowing with graces that will erase the darkness and bathe us in Light!

Tired mama still waiting in the desert, trust in this. He sees you and you are loved. You can do this.

We are an Easter People. Alleluia!

Apr 19, 2017

How my Faith Helps me Worry Less

My husband and I have been trying to find a way to shorten his very long commute. He commutes over two hours each way to Chicago from our exurban, bucolic neighborhood. We’ve prayed and prayed, been close to some promising jobs over the last few years, and finally found a job with a shorter commute in a suburb of St Louis. Commute times are significantly shorter in St Louis, and our prayer has been answered in an amazing way.

Together, we prayed the 30 day prayer to St Joseph, and asked his help to move our family, and to find us a home where my husband can have a normal commute. He answered the prayer swiftly and definitively. We had outside confirmation from one of my husband’s coworkers that she understood through prayer that this was God’s will for our lives.

So why, now, when our prayer has been answered, am I filled with worry at the details of the relocation?

I think the answer lies in my prayer life. When I get too busy to pray, I forget to keep handing things over to God. I start spinning my wheels. I start worrying about the “what ifs?” God didn’t intend it to be this way. He knows us so well. He knows we need the intercession of the Saints, and a reminder that we are not in charge, and life is better when we keep turning our struggles and worries over to him, large and small.

“Deliver us from all Anxiety,” – words placed near the very heart of the Mass  - point to the reality that worry is a universal part of the human condition.  This frequent reminder that I am not alone in my worry, or my struggle, or my reclamation of the problems I should have turned over to God gives me hope that others have struggled with their anxieties and, through God’s unfailing and ever present help, have been delivered and set free.


Linking today's post up with the Catholic Women Bloggers Network April Blog Hop!!  Click on the image below to see what others are sharing on their faith and worrying....


Apr 14, 2017

Friday Feasting: Lenten Recipe Book

graphic came from http://mikeraynersermons.blogspot.com/

Many years ago I created the recipe book 
(linked above) for a group of Catholic women. 

You are welcome to click and print the booklet. 

Enjoy a fresh infusion of meatless recipes to carry you through Good Friday and into the Easter season, if you wish to continue the meatless Friday sacrifice.