Archive for February, 2011

Prayer leads to insight, even on the little things

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Readings for February 25, 2011
Sirach 6:5-17; Psalm 119:12,16,18,27,34-35, Mark 10:1-12

Couples who have been married for a long time will relate to this. My husband and I were quarreling over an issue that has dogged us throughout our entire relationship. We’ve known each other since we were 16 and have been married 32 years. That’s a long time to be habitually quarreling over one issue!

Because of the long history, we were  tired of talking about it. We had both long ago hit brick walls trying to understand each other. What used to be hot and noisy fights has now turned into silence and getting the cold shoulder. And then stewing and steaming . . . It wasn’t a quarrel that would cause a split, but it did cause misery.

One tactic that my husband and I have adopted when we need to have one of those “difficult discussions” is to use email. Email has a way of creating some emotional distance thus creating a more objective view; it also allows each of us to express ourselves fully and thoughtfully without interruption. We used this tactic today.

At first it didn’t go well. I started out feeling very conflicted and despaired of an honest discussion – that grew into open anger. Praying was extremely difficult with that wall of anger separating me from my husband, and ultimately from God.

At noontime, my iTouch alerted me that it was time to pray the Angelus. I sighed and prayed it, admitting to God that my heart was not in it, and asking for direction, insight and guidance. Within the hour, He answered my prayer.

Through our discussion, my husband revealed the true nature of the problem. He had actually told me many times before what the nature of the problem was, but I never could see it. I started a prayer journal a few weeks ago (on my iTouch using the Pauline Media app called Healing Prayers) and added that intention on my list, asking for understanding and insight. Today, because of those prayers and by praying the Angelus, I received the insight I was looking for.

After a frank discussion with my husband, I was able to offer a solution that made him very happy. The language softened right up and we started discussing happier things, such as going to Boston tomorrow night to see the Beatles tribute band, Rain (a last minute decision :-) ).

Not that I needed direct proof, but I received it anyway that prayer leads to insight, even on the smallest issues, and even on those stubborn ones that occur again and again. Truly, nothing is impossible withe God!

So what does this have to do with today’s readings? At first I didn’t think there was a link, but my deacon friend pointed it out while we chatted online by quoting today’s responsorial psalm – Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

How true! It also affirmed something. I recently took up the habit of listening to the Invitatory Psalm of the Divine Office on DivineOffice.org, the daily readings from the iMissal app, and the podcast of the day from the Pray As You Go podcast. I’m half asleep when I listen to these things and wondered if they were having any impact at all. This morning I was convinced it was a useless exercise. The things that happened today tell me otherwise. It’s possible that subconsciously I did absorb the readings. After all, I did ask the Lord to guide me in the way of His commands.

It really goes to show in the end that faithfulness to the smallest things is the key to the spiritual life. Right now as I write this, I have a growing and profound sense of gratitude.

Thank you, Lord.

Contemporary Example of True Shepherds

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Reflections on the readings for February, 22, 2011
1 Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 16:13-19

Yesterday I saw the most wonderful article in the Boston Globe about the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. He was sent to Ireland to represent the  Church and offer sincere apologies with regards to the sex abuse scandal there. The Church in Ireland has been deeply wounded by this scandal, even as we have felt it here in America and especially in the Boston area where the story broke and was extensively covered by the Boston Globe.

Therefore it was especially welcome to see coverage of this story in said Boston Globe, and on the front cover too, above the fold. It is the perfect reflection of what a true shepherd in Church ought to be as pointed out in today’s first reading from 1Peter:

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

The article by Lisa Wangness begins as such:

DUBLIN — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin lay prostrate before a bare altar as the packed cathedral watched in silence.

They listened as lectors read long sections of government reports detailing horrific abuse of children in Dublin parishes and church-run industrial schools.

Then O’Malley and Martin washed the feet of eight abuse victims. Several wept as Martin poured water from a large pitcher and O’Malley knelt and dried them with a white terry cloth towel.

Anyone familiar with the story of the Washing of the Feet, read on Holy Thursday liturgy, knows that Jesus was teaching his disciples true service and humility. He was putting the disciples in positions of authority and wanted to make sure they understood that being in authority meant to serve. Washing someone’s dirty feet (and in ancient times, they were especially dirty!), normally a slave’s job, was the perfect example of true service and humility.

Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Martin understood that. They knew that if the Church in Ireland, and around the world, was to begin to heal, that they would need to show the ultimate sign of humility towards the sex abuse victims. Thanks be to God that they were open to the Holy Spirit enough to show this sign.

This is what St. Peter meant in his writing to the Church; he knew firsthand because the Lord had shown him, even though he initially resisted.

May more shepherds be like these two men – not just clergy, but all shepherds, for we all tend our little flocks.

Here is a link to the entire story.

Update on baby Joseph – keep the prayers coming!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Thank the Lord and our Lady for interceding for baby Joseph – there has been a temporary stay on pulling the plug:

Baby Joseph saved from life support removal –
transfer to Michigan hospital likely

Today’s gospel reading from Mk 9:14-29 is the perfect reading to reflect upon for this miracle – the father of the boy possessed by the demon cries out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that this type of demon can only be driven out by prayer.

It appears this demon responds to prayer as well. Let us keep up the fight, and I will keep you informed.

Pray for baby Joseph and his family

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Baby Joseph cannot breathe on his own and the hospital plans on pulling the plug at 10am on Monday. The parents only want a tracheotomy done to remove the ventilator so they can take him home and have him die with them. This is such a sad story, but a frightening one too. Please visit this link on Facebook, “Like” it, and offer your prayers for this poor family.

Here is an article about what is happening.

If you don’t have Facebook, please offer prayers for this family. The time when the plug is the be pulled is rapidly approaching.

Only prayer can turn this around. Thanks.

Learning true humility (part two)

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Catholic Spiritual Direction blog had an outstanding post today on the Gospel from last Sunday (Matthew 5:38-48). It fits right in with my journey of discovery about true humility. The words of this Gospel are hard but throughout this stretch of Ordinary Time, it seems that Jesus has been constantly challenging the people of His time (and of all time) to dig deeper, finding the real meaning.  For the first time, I am beginning to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.” Check out this excerpt from today’s Catholic Spiritual Direction blog:

Christ the Lord When Jesus says, “You have learnt how it was said,” he is referring to the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. That Law gave the Jewish people their unique standing among all the nations of the world, because God himself had given it to them. For 1500 years Israel’s prophets and rabbis had interpreted it, applied it to changing circumstances, and exhorted the people to live it out, but never had a faithful Israelite ever claimed authority over it. Therefore, when Jesus says, “… but I say to you…” – implying an addition to the Law – his listeners are faced with something entirely new: someone who claims authority over the Law of Moses. Jesus is requiring of them a new allegiance and making way for a New Covenant. The Sermon on the Mount was revolutionary not only in its ideas, but in the claims of the Lord who gave it.

Want to read more? Click here . . .

I’ve been turning this post over and over in my mind all day long. It is true meat to chew on!

This post is out a book I am getting tempted to buy called The Better Part by Father John Bartunek, LC. Click on the book title to purchase.

Learning true humility (part one)

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I am extremely blessed to have 2 wonderful people in my life who act as friends and spiritual advisers – Deacon Dave from Delaware and my spiritual mother. The other day, they both gave me a powerful affirmation on the need and meaning of true humility.

It had occurred to me at the last confirmation retreat that I assisted on that I was very rigid in my routines. As God is prone to do on occasion, He shone a bright spotlight on this issue, but this was not what He was trying to show me as this was just a symptom. What became clear to me as I observed others on the retreat who lived their faith so openly and radically (and who loved so well), I was containing the Holy Spirit through micro management. I knew I was into control but I had no idea how much!

I began to deeply desire letting go of this tendency to micro manage but had no idea how to do it. This past Tuesday, God showed me how and it was a very obvious answer – prayer.

Prayer. Duh. But as my deacon friend pointed out, it could not be prayer that I dictated (which was one of my rituals). God had to direct the prayer. This meant I had to face up to a fear I had of being alone with God and quiet.

I have felt the pull to do this for quite a while. I am very dependent on technology as a tool for prayer and scripture reflection, using my iTouch extensively for everything from listening to podcasts and music, to using the new Confession app (an excellent app by the way, I highly recommend it) and various rosary and prayer apps I had downloaded. These tools work well but I was using them to avoid letting God direct my prayer.

This pull from God began to reveal a more root problem – fear of failure and a relationship based on trying to please God rather than just learning how to BE with God. This was tough stuff!

Because of all the times I have tried to be quiet with God and failed (either the mind races or I fall asleep – happens every time I go to adoration), I was afraid to try again.

Deacon Dave exhorted me to try and laid out a basic formula for it. I avoided it. My spiritual mother described how she did it which so affirmed Deacon Dave’s exhortation, and that helped. And she gave me a very wise piece of counsel – you can’t fail if you are with God. You simply do the best you can – He accepts you exactly as you are.

Yesterday was the first time I tried it but it was certainly not in a place I would expect it to work! I had spent much of yesterday putting together a PowerPoint presentation for the Sung Rosary using the Sorrowful Mysteries. Over the course of many hours I poured over images of my dear Jesus, tortured and crucified for all of us, for me. It was work at the time and I wondered why I was not moved more by the images. Later on in the day, that would all come flooding back.

I went to the gym to work out on the elliptical and proceeded to read as I always do. I was very distracted by the noise around me and realized that would not work. I plugged in my iTouch and began listening to one of my favorite classical pieces, Bach’s Cantata 140. The power of the music immediately triggered an intense period of prayer like I have never experienced before. All the images I had poured over earlier in the day flooded my mind and 2 in particular haunted me. I found myself attracted to a very physical and human Jesus as well as a powerful and divine Christ and I longed to be with Him, to touch Him. I kissed His feet and re-enacted Mary’s public devotion of washing His feet with precious perfume and drying them with her hair. I begged for Him to lift the veil and let me see His face, all while working the elliptical harder than I ever had before. There was something about the physical sensation of the running, the grunting, the panting, the sweating . . . I imagined myself like St. Paul, running the race with Jesus right beside me, just as Deacon Dave and my spiritual mother had said. For true humility is having Jesus right beside you, not behind or in front of you. Beside you, as He was with the disciples at Emmaus, opening their hearts to the scriptures and the truth.

There is more I want to write about this discovery of humility that I will share in future posts. But needless to say, this first true experience of prayer that was controlled by God left haunting memories and a deep desire to go there again. My spiritual mother was right – you can’t fail, and especially if you let God lead the way.

Sung Rosary named as #1 Rosary Product

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I am pleased and excited to announce that the Mary, Queen of Peace Meditation Guide & Sung Rosary has been named the #1 Rosary Product by Cheryl Dickow of Bezalel Books, posted on Catholic.net, the Catholic Exchange and Integrated Catholic Life. It is also being posted the Catholic News Agency.

Here is a direct link to the article:

http://catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca&id=6121&grupo=InfoResources&canal=BookClub

Thanks be to God for this extra exposure!

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Reflections on the readings for Feb. 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Today’s readings
Malachi 3:1-4, Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

The title of this post is a quote from Louis Pasteur. I read it today in a biography about Louisa May Alcott entitled Louisa May Alcott A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever. Cheever maintained that many of the great works of writing, such as Little Women , and important discoveries, such as that of the telephone, came about by accident, but that the accident had been prepared for for years.

Curious that today’s Gospel reading bears this out exactly. We read about the prophetess Anna, who bore witness Jesus being presented in the temple Luke 2:36-38):

There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem

While it appeared to be an “accident” that Anna just “happened” to be there when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus, it was indeed an “accident” many years in the planning.

Notice how Anna never left the temple, spending night and day worshiping through fasting and prayer. Her heart was more than ready to perceive that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. She had cleared away everything in her life that would interfere with that insight. It was her singleness of mind, coupled with complete trust in the Lord, that allowed her to see this sight. Imagine her joy in knowing that she had seen the Messiah.

Now don’t get me wrong. Anna did not earn the right to see Jesus. She simply was ready. Isn’t this what our Lord says over and over again in the scriptures that we hear during Advent: “Stay awake.” Remember the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom – 5 had their lamps prepared, the other 5 did not and they were shut out the wedding feast.

All this confirms what I’ve felt for a long time about the spiritual life, that being a disciple of Jesus means to put aside all planning, all control, and just be prepared to ride the wave. The surfer watches for the perfect wave to ride and when he sees it, he jumps on board without hesitation. He can’t “make” a perfect wave happen, it just happens. And it will pass him by if he is not awake to see it.

Therefore, in my life, I want to continue to watch for and ride the waves that Jesus sends, and to catch them without hesitation. Some waves will be easy to ride and others will be far more difficult, even dangerous. But that constant reminder from Mary to just say “yes” is the key.

I just started reading about St. Ignatius and I have a feeling he and I will become good friends. I love his take that we must appreciate God’s creation but also be indifferent to it so that nothing will get in the way of that “yes.” Anna followed that advice and her reward was to see the Lord.

p.s. if you’re a fan of Louisa May Alcott and Little Women, I invite you to visit  my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion.


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