Jun 26, 2011

Carmel by Surprise

As I strolled the gardens of Trinity Heights I took out my rosary to pray.  This rosary was the first rosary I purchased when I returned to the church and I've had it for about 8 years.  Until today I never noticed that the centerpiece is the scapular medal of Mt. Carmel.  As I think about all the saints I've pursued, the books that I've purchased, the practices that I've acquired all center around Carmel.  God was leading me by the hand to Carmel without my even knowing it.  Well I'm glad he did because I've never felt so at home.

Jun 25, 2011

Shopping Therapy

After last nights vote to legalize same-sex marriage I needed something to refocus my mind and energy.  So I did some shopping therapy.  I headed to my favorite Catholic bookstore and found a couple of new books to immerse myself in.  This trip served multiple purposes.  First, it redirected my thoughts back to God rather than to the sinful ways of others (which sometimes I focus way too much on).  Second, it allowed me to support a good faithful Catholic institution.  And since this bookstore is connected to a church and pilgrimage site I am helping to keep them open and spreading the truth.  Last, it gave me the opportunity to spend time in prayer in a beautiful outdoor setting before Our Lady of Carmel.  Peace flooded through my soul as I listened to the sounds of God's creation and let out all of my frustrations in prayer.  

The books that I picked up today are Edith Stein by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda and Prayer Primer by Thomas Dubay, S.M.  I don't know anything about Edith Stein other than that she is a Carmelite saint, so this should be an interesting read.  The second book is a companion book to The Fire Within which I have previously read.  It seems to have some practical guidance for fitting prayer into a busy life.  Anything to help me get in more prayer and keep up with my normal practice of the Liturgy of the Hours is always appreciated.

Father in Heaven, 
You made me Your child 
and called me to walk in the Light of Christ. 
Free me from darkness 
and keep me in the Light of Your Truth. 
The Light of Jesus has scattered 
the darkness of hatred and sin.
Called to that Light, 
I ask for Your guidance. 
Form my life in Your Truth,
my heart in Your Love. 
Through the Holy Eucharist,
give me the power of Your Grace 
that I may walk in the Light of Jesus 
and serve Him faithfully. 


Jun 19, 2011

Good Intentions

That saying, "The path to Hell is paved with good intentions" is what comes to mind when St. Theresa talks about the worst temptation.  Satan is an excellent deceiver.  When you think you are doing something for the good of God, you really are doing evil instead.  Unfortunately you don't know this until it's too late.  Those who support euthanasia, abortion and same-sex marriage believe they are doing good.

Euthanasia takes away a persons suffering, but it also takes away any chance for good either towards that person or from that person.  Suffering is a reminder not to waste what little life that we each have.  As St. Theresa said, "black is that much blacker against white and white is so much whiter against black."  Without the contrast everything would just look gray.

Abortion is another grave sin for which supporters believe they are helping.  I read a bumper sticker recently that said, "Abortion doesn't make you unpregnant, it makes you the mother of a dead baby".  Although rather harsh sounding it is so true and heart breaking.  It may not sink in right away, but one day it will and those women will have to live with the fact that they murdered their own child.  The intentional killing of children by their mother doesn't destroy just one life.  It destroys two lives.

Same-sex marriage seems harmless enough.  Supporters just want homosexual couples to have the same happiness that other couples have.  If only it was that innocent.  Marriage is a unique bond between a man and woman.  It's not just for love or producing children, but a covenant created by God that binds two people together in love and as the basic support system for the raising of children.  Homosexual couples may love each other, but they weren't designed by God to fulfill the marital covenant or to be the basic support system for raising of children.  They as a couple can never have children.  While there are couples that are infertile or choose not to have children, they still fulfill that covenant and make up the basic structure to support children.

I pray that the people led astray by their good intentions will have time to realize their mistake and repent.  It would be very sad indeed to discover too late that they have paved their path to Hell with these good intentions.

Lord Jesus, you have endured me all these years with my sins, but nonetheless You pitied me;
I was led astray in every way, but now I will sin no more; 
I have wronged You and I have been unjust; 
I will be so, no more; 
I renounce sin, 
I renounce the Devil, 
I renounce iniquity that stains my soul; 
free my soul from all that is against Your holiness;
I entreat You, Lord Jesus, to rescue me from all evil; Come Jesus now, come now and abide in my heart;
Forgive me, Lord Jesus, and allow me to rest in You, For You are my Shield, my Redeemer and my Light and in You do I trust;
From today I will bless You Lord at all times;
I repudiate evil and all other gods and idols, for You are the Most High over the world, far transcending all other gods;
By Your mighty arm, rescue me from ill health, rescue me from being a captive, rescue me from trouble and defeat my enemy the Devil; come quickly to my help O Saviour!


Jun 14, 2011

Patron Saint for those with ADHD?

In formation we are finishing up The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila and on my own I am reading Interior Castle.  St. Theresa's writing is rambling and by her own admission her mind frequently wanders.  For those who like very ordered writing I wonder how they ever get through her writings.  Even with her frequent off topic musings, she expresses a humility and love of God that I can only aspire to.  And sets a wonderful example for those who struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  She shows that even with all ones faults a person can attain great things through God.

As my Bishop likes to say, "Catholics aren't good listeners."  And he's right.  Our minds wander while in prayer, at Mass, and especially during the homily.  Theresa advises that one close their eyes to worldly things and distractions so they can better focus on God.  She also talks about having the image of Jesus in your mind as if you were two normal people having a conversation.  Now I don't know about her, but to me Jesus is anything but a "normal person".

These two simple acts have greatly helped my sense of focus during prayer and while in church.  My understanding of the rituals and words have opened up greater depths of appreciation and love during Mass. It makes it seem less like a chore and more like a piece of art that unfolds in new and unique ways to express our love for God.  In prayer I have grown closer to Jesus as he sits patiently listening to me pour out my soul to him.  At times I curl in his lap like a young daughter who needs comfort and other times I look upon him from afar in awe of his greatness.  I am grateful for St. Theresa's beautiful testament and instruction.


Give me focus 
in my thoughts 
and in my actions

Curb my tongue
from impulsive words

Stay my hand
from impulsive deeds

Fill my heart
with patience

Let all that I do 
be a glory to your name


Jun 6, 2011

Long Road Up Hill

I am never going to be a Saint, that I am for sure.  The best that I will be able to say when I get to those pearly gates is "I tried, Lord".

God's mission for me is prayer.  I struggle with this mission.  Especially on days I'd rather stay in bed than go to Mass or pray the hours or go to Eucharistic Adoration.  But when I think about whether staying in bed is better than spending time with God my answer is a definitive No.  So I pull myself out of bed and start my journey on that long road up hill praying that each day will be a testament that "I tried, Lord."

Last week was tougher than most.  School has ended so my usual schedule of getting up, going to daily mass, come back home, tell my son to get out of bed for the first time, take the dog out, mention it's time to get up again, pray the morning hours, yell at my son to get out of bed so he's not late for school, wait for him to get a shower and get dressed, drop him off at school.  Then at night there was a normal routine that is ruined because it's just too darn hot to go to bed at my normal time.  Let's just say that getting out of bed at 6 am after going to bed at midnight or later just doesn't make me a pleasant person and sleeping in and missing morning hours makes me just as cheerful.  So I have broke down and turned on my air conditioning so that I can get back to a somewhat normal routine.  How religious kept their schedule prior to A/C I think is miraculous.

But I thank the Lord each morning for the beautiful day and try to spend as much of it outside admiring his wonderful creation.  I find it so much easier to meditate on Our Lord when I can feel his presents in the blowing of the wind, the orchestra of bird songs, and swaying of the trees.  His presence is so strong it's impossible not to marvel at how complex a system he created.  I get a tiny glimpse at what it must feel like to be in heaven.  And this long road up hill that I'm on just seems a little bit easier.

Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor

And all blessing.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

 All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair.    

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
so useful, lowly, precious, and pure. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.

How beautiful he is, how joyful!  Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Happy those She finds doing your will!

The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.

  ~ St. Francis of Assisi