Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Friday, April 15th, 2011

In the previous post I talked about why Mary was beautiful and how it was because she gave herself totally over to Christ with her consistent, lifelong “yes” to Him. I would like you to consider for a moment Mary’s role as a mother, raising the child Jesus during the hidden part of His life. How do you suppose Mary handled her day-to-day duties caring for Jesus, Joseph, other extended family members and her home?

Undoubtedly Mary, because of her knowledge that her child was the Son of God, went about her daily duties with a deepened sense of importance. I imagine that each task, no matter how mundane, took on a profound spiritual significance.

We don’t have the advantage of caring for Jesus incarnate, but Jesus IS present in all of us. If we remind ourselves of that, performing mundane tasks to care for others can take on a sacramental dimension, adding great worth.

In The Authentic Catholic Woman Genevieve Kineke suggests that Holy Mother Church is the best template for realizing our potential as authentic Catholic women (page 8, The Authentic Catholic Woman). It’s an image that applies to all women providing tangible means (the Sacraments) to help us. Born from the cross of Christ and containing over 2000 years of wisdom, the Church offers a unique opportunity to discern and use our God-given gifts.

In theory, I believe what Kineke is saying. The ideal model of the Church is a great model but the reality of the Church in our world is not so pretty. We are, after all, corrupted by our sinfulness and this corruption seeps into the Church as evidenced by the constant barrage of news stories. While some of what is reported could be regarded as slanted, some of it is sadly true. Ultimately, all of it contributes to one’s perception, and perception is what often wins out in the end.

We therefore need to divorce ourselves from those perceptions and remember the Ideal Church to understand why Kineke believes this is the best image for women to model themselves after.

The Church is called the bride of Christ since it brings Christ into the world, just as a mother bears a child. Again Mary is the perfect example. She received Christ through the Holy Spirit (becoming His bride), bore Him (becoming His mother), took care of Him and nurtured Him into manhood where He could then go out and complete His mission.

We are fortunate in having the Church as a model because of the concrete examples  it provides for our  lives – the Sacraments.

In my next post I will get into specifics on how mirroring the Sacraments can give us the life that Mary experienced as she cared for Jesus.

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Links to all posts in this 11 part series

Part 1: Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God – a multi-part series

Part 2: The beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Part 3: What makes a beautiful Godly woman – Holiness.

Part 4: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? The way of beauty

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Part 6: Beautiful Godly woman – living sacramentally

Part 7: Beautiful Godly woman – hospitality

Part 8: Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – how meal times can become a beautiful sacramental expression

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

 

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.

Daring to dream – inspired by today’s Office of Readings (Oct. 20)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

There were so many great lines of scripture today in the Office of Readings that it was hard to choose (Divineoffice.org for Oct. 20). Here’s one from Psalm 18, verses 28 and 29:

You, O Lord, are my lamp,
my God who lightens my darkness.
With you I can break through any barrier,
with my God I can scale any wall.

I don’t have any great barriers that I need broken down at the moment nor do I have a large wall to scale. But, an idea came into my head this morning, an idea that has entered my mind before, and an idea I have resisted.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a writer. I used to create books to continue the stories of favorite classics (Black Beauty especially) or write about my trolls (remember those? :-) ). I would illustrate and bind them, and I was very proud of them (in fact, I still have them!). When I was in middle school, I was discouraged in my writing by my teachers and gave up on the idea.

I then took up songwriting and did that for several years. I enjoyed especially writing the lyrics, as you can imagine, inspired by my heroine in music and lyrics, Joni Mitchell. That lady could sure write a line!

I moved into writing music about my faith and enjoying sharing about it through the lyrics, and praising God through the music.

And when email came along, I would write long, newsy letters that got a good response from friends. And when I ran GrapeVine Magazine for several years (a magazine about Catholic musicians), I wrote articles about artists and many CD reviews. (After ten years, I turned over GrapeVine to a new editor, Jim Logue).

So the writing never really stopped.

Entering the ‘empty nester’ phase of life, I’ve found more time for reading and I’m discovering that for the first time since my childhood, I am really enjoying the escape that is reading. Reading is the one thing I can do where I am not multitasking (which is why I refuse to read anything but an old fashioned printed book!), and that is immensely relaxing.

And now, the idea that was planted in me as a child is coming back, the idea to write a real book. It’s a book that taps into my endless interest in Louisa May Alcott and her writings. It’s come back several times and each time my response is, “What an absurd idea! I’m no writer. I don’t have the discipline. I don’t have the background, the education. I haven’t read nearly enough books, it’s been done before,  I have no idea how to do it!”

But the idea that presented itself today for a possible book spoke back to me: “You are reading now. You are writing two blogs (this one and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion). Your other blog is full of over 100 great, thoughtful comments from learned women who are writers, historians, English teachers and students. You have a whole community there to support you in your effort. A close friend of yours is a published author. Any other excuses?”

And then I listen to the Divine Office this morning and hear these verses:

You, O Lord, are my lamp,
my God who lightens my darkness.
With you I can break through any barrier,
with my God I can scale any wall.

It also says in the scriptures, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

This is what I will need to discern over the next several days in prayer – does God want me to pursue writing? How can I use it  for His glory? Do I dare dream about what could be if I do write a book? I’ve never dared to really dream before.

But maybe it’s time I put myself out there and dare to dream. I only know that the best way to find out if God wants this is to try it and see if the interest lasts and if the doors open. Perhaps I have a gift that God wants me to use that I am not fully using. Stranger things have been known to happen.

God’s wisdom is deemed foolishness in the world. Perhaps my “absurd” idea isn’t so foolish, if it’s inspired by the Lord. Only time will tell.

Appreciating the true beauty – reflections on readings for Sept. 16

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,28; Luke 7:36-50

I was touched by the beauty of today’s Gospel reading about the sinful woman washing the feet of Jesus, and the purity of her love despite her sins. In The Word Among Us, the writer speaks of this love as being the vehicle by which Jesus offers His forgiveness. Her love was so pure that she wasn’t put off by dirty feet! She gave totally of herself, asking nothing in return. Here was  a true repentant heart!

What also struck me was how the Pharisee, Simon (who was hosting Jesus) missed the entire point of the exchange. He was so busy judging the woman and sticking to a legalistic observance of his faith, that he was blind to what was really going on. He couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the woman’s love, or of Jesus’ tender recognition of that love simply by accepting what she gave.

What touched me also was how Jesus dealt with Simon. Rather than call him out for being judgmental, he used a parable to gently but firmly teach him about what he was missing. Jesus had such finesse!

What it says to me is twofold:

1. Don’t let preconceived notions and assumptions blind to you to what is really going on.
2. Pray for wisdom whenever you to confront or correct someone – the direct approach is not always the best way!

There is so much to be learned from the Word of God!

Junk Food vs. Good Food – Reflections on prayers and readings for Sept. 11

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Psalm 116:12-13,17-18; Luke 6:43-49
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart[a] brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
(Luke 6:45, New King James version)

There are so many things I can fill up my life with: books to read, TV shows to watch, places to go. Our world offers so many choices that it’s easy to become full and cluttered. There’s a lot of “junk food” out there to feast upon.

We all know the temptations of junk food – it tastes so good! It satisfies. It brings me comfort when I feel blue or stressed. But we also know the consequences (especially if we’re older!) – indigestion, weight gain, health issues. Junk food can tempt me to eat too much, and thus suffer the consequences. Junk food does not bring forth good things that last.

The “junk food” of the world can do the same, cluttering my mind with thoughts and feelings that can ultimately harm my soul.  And being full of such junk food, it will inevitably pour out of me and perhaps, harm someone else.

In today’s Divine Office, morning prayer, I read about Wisdom:

Now with you is Wisdom who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
who understands what is pleasing in your eyes
and what is conformable with your commands.

Send her forth from your holy heavens
and from your glorious throne dispatch her
that she may be with me and work with me,
that I may know what is your pleasure.

For she knows and understands all things,
and will guide me discreetly in my affairs
and safeguard me by her glory.
Wisdom 9:9-11

Today (and every day) I need to seek out the wisdom of God in helping me to decide whether the things I take part in constitute junk food that would bring forth bad fruit that could harm,  or good food, that will bring forth good fruit, fulfilling the Will of God. For surely good fruit serves others in love and leads them closer to Him. Filling my head and heart full of that wisdom will lead me there through such activities as praying the rosary, reading scripture, or simply taking a walk with Jesus as my companion.

Staying away from junk food takes real willpower, but once I am immersed in God’s grace, it gets a lot easier!

Running the Race to Win – reflection on readings for Sept. 10

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Today’s readings can be found here.
1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-27; Psalm 84:3-6,12; Luke 6:39-42

From today’s Divine Office, morning prayer:

2 Corinthians 12:9b-10
I willingly boast of my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ; for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.

St. Paul tells us to run the race to win.A cup of coffee so I can wake up, a longer commute than usual because of heavy traffic . . . I think you know where this is leading. It’s painful like no other. I struggle mightily with this pain even though it is so small in the scheme of things. In the midst of it I tried hard to remember that it would resolve itself in due time, but in the middle of it, I was desperate. I could not figure out how to maintain my peace .

This happened a couple of days ago and I am still reflecting on it. Then I read the above reading from the Divine Office and wonder how Paul did it. Did he lose his peace when he was in pain? Or did he maintain it? I suppose the best way to find out is to ask him through intercessory prayer, and to study his life.

In today’s first reading, Paul talks about running the race to win. Since I am not an athlete, I never could relate to the analogy of running a race. But now that I have begun working out at the YMCA 3 times a week, I am beginning to understand. It’s about total commitment, and total belief in that commitment. You can’t run a race to win if you don’t believe you can win.

I have to believe that I can win in my spiritual life as well. How can I lose with the Lord’s Holy Spirit inside of me? I can lose only if I don’t believe.

I think I would almost welcome the challenge of my “pain” after coffee again and see if this time, I can run that race to win!


Reflections on the Sunday readings, September 5

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

It was almost like God was chattering in my head as I read, so many things came to mind today!

Before my reflections, here are the readings:

Wisdom 9:13-18, Psalm 90:3-6,12-17, Philemon 9-10,12-17, Luke 14:25-33

The reading from Wisdom seemed to fit nicely with the Psalm. Wisdom speaks of how hard it is even to figure out what’s going on here on earth, never mind heaven! It speaks of our souls, burdened by the corruption of our bodies, and our minds are filled with worldly concerns. How can we ever hope to perceive the thoughts of God who is so far above all of this because of His perfection? Are we just to mire in earth’s chaos?

But then the refrain to the psalm brings that hope:  In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

While I am no student of history, I do love it and see more and more how important it is to remember our history so as to give perspective to the present and the future. The world today seems out of control and on the brink of disaster, but this is hardly the only time this has been the case! If we just go back less than 100 years to the Great Depression and then WWII, certainly the chaos in the world was every bit as bad as it is now. But in that age, just as in this age, God is our refuge.

I used to really stress out over money because we always seemed to come up short. I’d wake up in the pre-dawn hours and worry myself sick before getting out of bed, and I faced each day with dread. My husband used to keep reminding me that “God always takes care of us.” I used to sweep that notion away, saying that he was burying his head in the sand, but he was right! When I finally took stock of my life and reviewed my own life history, I saw that yes, in every age of our lives, God had been our refuge.

I could never figure out what to do nor could I easily discern God’s will. But when I finally surrendered my anxieties to Him and let Him be my refuge, then I was healed totally of all my money fears. Praise be to God! He is indeed, our refuge.