Worth Revisiting: That Beautiful Well

 Both figuratively and literally, the notion of a well figures prominently in scripture, literature and indeed in life. The “water” it holds has the potential to be all cleansing, life giving, and life affirming for the one who seeks and believes.  Experienced as endless or empty, pure or tainted, cherished or wasted it holds the capacity to sooth the soul and reinvigorate one for the steps ahead. Without it, we cannot last long in this world or the next.

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Today, many of us have become so accustomed to the modern convenience of running water we are unfamiliar with the experience of drawing from a well at all. The tall deep stone outer walls and inner hollowness invoke a both a mystery and a knowing that within something special is waiting to be unearthed. Yet, in order to plunge into this discovery, we must first make the journey to the well and then in faith lower our bucket.

The beautiful story in John of the Samaritan woman at the well enables us to glimpse a bit of this faith journey. Here, what would have been a very social fellowship of women gathered, was not so for her. Now having been married six times and a Samaritan at that, she was considered an outcast, and unwelcome guest. With full awareness of this, she had chosen the hottest part of the day to acquire water when she expected no one else to be around. However, to her surprise not only was Jesus there but he, with little regard for societal rules, was speaking directly to her.

What did Christ see in her that would prompt such amazement in her return home? First he recognized that this woman had lived her life simply seeking the satisfaction of her everyday physical needs.  While her intention was to satisfy a temporary physical thirst, Jesus revealed her deeper continual spiritual thirst. For, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”  Christ calls her to a different intimacy, one which was not dependent on her value in the world but bespoke of her inherent worth to God. His desire was to fulfill her deepest need and invite her to move from a mere existence to a life everlasting.

What then was required of her?

Well, in order to be healed she needed to be aware of her thirst, confess her transgressions and then… lower her bucket.

Reflect:

Do I recognize my own incomparable value to God? Am I seeking only temporary satisfaction of my daily needs? If not, what can I do to lead others to the well? 

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: The Sinful Woman & The Good Samaritan


These stories which are unique to Luke give us a beautiful portrait of a prophet, teacher, and savior who knows our hearts, minds and whose love is universal. Here we see Jesus as one that focused on the introspection of the individual, sought out the outcast and the lost, was inclusive of women, brought peace in forgiveness, and who valued love over law, wealth and position. Although Jesus speaks to all, it is the outcasts, tax collectors, widows, and lepers who truly listen while the lawyers, Pharisees, and leaders are deaf to his words. While the intentions of the Pharisees in observing the laws and living a life of sacrifice had value, they sought a life of total perfection. In doing so, they were unable to see past the imperfections not only in others but in themselves and the full extent of God’s love. Therefore, the meaning within these stories is so crucial for our own faith lives today.   For if we have all the faith in the world yet lack love, mercy and compassion we have nothing.

In the story of the Sinful Woman, Luke paints two contrasting character portraits of lives of faith. What began as a dinner invitation at the home of Simon the Pharisee, is both a moment of healing for the sinful woman, and of disconnection and judgment by Simon. The reason behind Simon’s invitation to Jesus could have been one of curiosity, or perhaps simply the honor in hosting the prophet. Whatever the reason, it is clear that Simon hasn’t invested his time or energy in providing Jesus with the full extent of his hospitality. When the woman appears, we learn that she takes the place behind Jesus, yet brings the very best that she has to offer- that of her desire to serve, heartfelt repentance and love.

This woman would not have been intentionally invited, yet she made the difficult decision to come regardless. Knowing that she would suffer the comments and stares of those present to begin her life of faith and service. We are drawn in by this intimate scene with the woman weeping, kissing and wiping his feet with her hair and pouring perfumed oil on the feet of Jesus. While Simon, sits and inwardly judges both the woman and Jesus questioning why Jesus would ever allow this sinner to even touch him if he were truly a prophet. What Simon questions, the sinful woman has accepted on faith. Still, Jesus challenges Simon to see this woman and her situation properly, and learn from her desire for forgiveness and faithful example. Finally, there is a peace that comes with the forgiveness and salvation found by the sinful woman that Simon is unable to know.

With the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke presents a challenge from a man of the law who is seeking to justify his own actions rather than truly wanting the answer on love and neighbor. First, we see how the fulfilling the demands of purity and ritual keep both the priest and Levite from fulfilling the greater command of love. Make no mistake, however, they each had a choice in their decision as Jesus clearly points out. With the Samaritan we find that the one who had the most to lose, and least to gain took the greatest risk in showing compassion beyond that which could have been expected. This time, Jesus challenges the questioner to see the mercy shown by the Samaritan, not as an encapsulated story but within the infinite mercy shown towards us by God. The Samaritan exemplified the point for Jesus that God’s love goes beyond the letter of the law, race, religion or position in society, for his love is without limits and universally extended to all.

Today, in many of our churches we still have “faithful” that seek to limit God’s love, mercy and promise of salvation. This is expressed with judgmental glances, third party conversations,  and an obvious misunderstanding of the sacrament of reconciliation. Witnessed also in the shallow perspective that compassionate action towards others  remains charity instead of inherent calls to justice. For, we who have been given much, much more is expected. God’s love is not reduced  because there are more at the table, but rather his Kingdom grows with every soul who takes seriously the greatest commandment.

Peace,

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Living in the Moment

One of the greatest gifts of ministry is gaining the opportunity to see though the eyes of those who we encounter. If we are able to be unencumbered by our own concerns, schedules and preconceptions, then we are able to truly receive that gift. Not an easy task, given the demands of our day and the increasing expectations of family and work.  Yet, so incredibly rewarding in broadening our perspective and fostering gratitude when invited to walk in the experience of others.

Small and petite “Ruth”, now 94 and suffering from dementia, is currently living with her daughter and her family.  Unlike so many who are hit by this mental deterioration she is able to remain in a home setting cared for by those who know and love her best. This being my second time, I am prepared for what is in store. Greeted warmly first by her grandson,  Ruth meets me with the most beautiful smile. “Oh you came, so very good to see you!”  “Yes, I am here to bring you communion today”, I said. “Really?! That is so wonderful and so very kind of you! What is your name?” “Elizabeth, I am from Resurrection and St. Paul parishes.” “Thank you…this (pointing to her head) doesn’t always remember everything very well.”

Sitting down, we talk briefly as she tells me how she is doing. “Had a good night’s sleep, and they feed me well here. And, the sun is shining!” Ruth who doesn’t remember even long term names and relationships is content merely to know that she is surrounded by family. Due to short and long term memory loss, Ruth is pressed to live in the moment. As she asks me my name again, I place my card in her hand.
“This is yours to keep, my name is here. I will be coming every week with communion.” “Wow, I didn’t know that anyone did that. You know, I haven’t been able to go to church for some time. I can’t remember when..” , she said pausing and looking off. “Can I give you anything in return?”
“That’s ok, that is why I am here. When you can no longer get to church..church comes to you! And no, my gift is being here with you!”, I exclaimed.
“This is the best! What do I need to do?”, her joy and excitement now showing.
“Let’s pray together, and then you can receive Christ.”

With the sign of the cross, all of a sudden I lay witness as her memory comes flooding back. Each word flows from her lips and she is fully present aware of the sacredness of this time and space. Her humble act of contrition spoken, we pray the Our Father together. Placing the Eucharist in her mouth, she closes her eyes and bows her head, her body remembering the motions of a lifetime of faith. In parting, she followed me to the door asking if I was to come back again.
“Of course! I am looking forward to it, you are the best part of my day”, I said.
“You too!”, she said with a smile and a wave.

Reflect:

Is my life so scheduled that I can forget to savor the moment? Could there be an opportunity to share or receive Christ today with someone I meet?

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: The Pauline Church

The difficulties that each Pauline church faced, in the early Christianity, remind us of the challenges that our churches face even today. In these two communities, we see both struggles over authority and teaching from within and social pressures for conformity from without. Upon Paul’s return to the region of Galatia, one of the most apparent sources of conflict stemmed from the considerable differences in the teaching of the gospel that has arisen from the teachings of other missionaries to the area. These men, thought to have been from the church in Jerusalem, sought to encourage adherence to traditional Jewish customs to a population of pagan converts to Christianity.

Map showing the places associated with PaulMore specifically, these people of Galatia had not grown up with Jewish law, but came to Christianity through the word of the Gospel. In being told that they now also had to follow Jewish law, they might begin to question both the teaching of Paul as well as their own salvation. Even though Paul quickly affirms that he speaks the truth of the gospel through revelation (Gal 1:12), he also finds it imperative to assert that his mission had received the approval of the “pillars” of the church. This was indeed a concern for Paul, for if the people questioned his teaching authority then his desire to spread the gospel might also become ineffective.

Why then was there inconsistency in the message now being heard in the gospel spread by the new missionaries to the area?

In Galatians 2:11 we learn of an open disagreement by Paul with Peter’s decision to withdraw from eating with Gentiles because they are uncircumcised. One explanation offered by Galatians is seen in a group from James, who may have persuaded Peter to stop the practice, perhaps out of fear from the circumcised Jews in the area. Likewise, if Peter was eating with Gentiles, then perhaps there was a concern that the gospel message would not be listened to as readily by the Jewish population. However, Peter’s model of separation from the gentiles is being followed by other Jewish Christians, and missionaries. In spreading the gospel, the question becomes whether to preach only to a Jewish population, and if so, is there also a true need to adhere to traditional laws and customs of Jewish law.

Likewise within our church today, do we preach only to those who are like minded like us, or do we understand the broad intention for the gospel?

Paul seems quick to remind Peter that the gospel was not intended strictly for a Jewish audience but for everyone. For Paul, it isn’t a matter of whether or not laws have been needed in the past, but if they interfere with the true message of the gospel in the present then they should be done away with. Paul reminds the Galatians, that their salvation came through faith, having been born of the Spirit through Christ, and not through adherence to Jewish law. To do otherwise, is risking the premise of their salvation through Jesus.

In Thessalonica, in an area of Greece whereby there were a plurality of religions, Paul through Timothy learns of the church facing opposition primarily from their fellow citizens (1Thess 2:14). While he feels it necessary to remind them of their conversion, he also strengthens them with words of comfort, prayers, and praise. Obviously, Paul understands their struggle having faced it not only from the gentiles but also from the Jews . However, in calling them to remain steadfast he also emphasizes the need to be “gentle in their approach, as he was, in growing the church. Paul also realizes the difficulty in establishing and maintaining a church that is distant and encircled by those that live amorally.

Therefore, Paul calls the Thessalonians to holiness, to resist the “tempter”, and continue to follow the Christian moral path. Even if they had followed the guideline for Christian living, they were to “do so even more”. Furthermore, he encourages them to come together as a Church to help one another in charity and thereby avoiding potential business entanglements which might compromise their commitment to Christ. Likewise, Paul recognizes that many within the early church are anxious and expectant for Christ’s return and are concerned for those who have died before the second coming. Paul offers consolation that they too will be raised, but to be alert and ready, keeping true to the way of Christ for the day of parousia. He understood that living in a state of expectation is difficult, and it’s all too easy to let standards down when the day doesn’t come in a timely manner. Moreover, Paul wanted the Thessalonians to see that they had strength in each other, despite his absence, and the world around them.

Within the church of Galatia, Paul understood that the message of the Gospel was what needed to be emphasized, encouraged and affirmed. In the renewed spirit of evangelization occurring presently, we like Paul, are calling those Catholics home that have felt estranged or left the faith. In doing so, we are pressed to live true to the heart of the gospel to be that persuasive “gentle” call, rather than promoting division. In Paul’s message to the Thessalonians, he encourages the Church to find support in one another in enduring the trials that life and the communities around them present. With an ever growing homeless problem, drugs, alcohol, and terse home situations and we can quickly understand Paul’s message to the Thessalonians in the world around us. We need a to be a community of faith that is able to be both present and responsive to a continually changing economic, racial and socially diverse people.

Peace,

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Still a Catholic: Living Gluten Free

The following is a guest post by an incredibly bright, articulate, young Catholic girl named Emily Pruyn. What a privilege it has been to come to know and spend time with her this past year! 

To be a Catholic means to be a part of a community and a universal body of believers, united in Christ Jesus. Partaking of Holy Communion is essential to us as followers of Christ and doesn’t only remind us of His suffering but also shows us the amount of love Jesus has for us. Here, Jesus comes to us in a beautiful way in the Eucharist! This is a unique, personal, and intimate part of our lives and it should not be taken lightly. And for 19 years, I have been blessed to continue discovering a beautiful faith, and to be a part of a welcoming family of Catholics.

One of the biggest changes in my own life, however, affected my daily life in college and impacted how I practice my faith started in 2018.  Around February, I started having symptoms of what seemed to be acid reflux. My family has had a history of acid reflux so, I started taking medicine at night before bed which seemed to work for a while.  The sensation of “choking” continued to get worse and worse as the months passed till I could barely get through a meal without horrible coughing fits and terrible stomach pains.  So too after receiving the Eucharist at church every Sunday.

Through Children’s Hospital, they discovered that in addition to my earlier diagnosed asthma, I had Celiac Disease as well as a soy allergy. As they explained, even a crumb of gluten will severely damage my intestines and lead to serious health complications without adherence to a non-cross contamination gluten-free diet.  Yet, after diagnosis, little did I know how much my daily life would change and how it would interfere with the practice of my faith.  Because of the degree of my disease, I cannot tolerate gluten sensitive communion. Hearing this news hit me hard, because in one day that all of my earlier years just disappeared.  I struggled with wondering if God would be upset with me because I can’t orally receive communion.  My mother supported me and explained that God doesn’t want me to get hurt or sick when I receive either.  He knows this isn’t my fault or that I’m choosing not to receive communion to rebel or be ignorant.

As I continued to pray, I felt God encourage me to inquire about spiritual communion.  I conducted some research and learned that spiritual communion is “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him” (St. Thomas Aquinas).  So, on that following Sunday I attended Mass at Curry and received spiritual communion for the first time.  I allowed the Word of God to reach deep in my spirit and I suddenly felt at peace and comforted!  After mass, my boyfriend Peter said to me, “Emmy, the one thing I adore about you is that during such hard times you keep that beautiful smile on your face.  Remember how special you are and how much God loves you!  God wants to include you, his child, in receiving Him – you just have to do it in a different way than others!”.

At Curry, I felt comfortable receiving spiritual communion because I wasn’t judged and no one asked me why I didn’t receive Eucharist in the traditional way. Yet, I was apprehensive about asking for spiritual communion and receiving it differently at home, especially where I have known my parish priest and deacon for a few years now.  Unfortunately, my concerns were valid as I received negative reactions both from my priest and parishioners. My pastor questioned if my faith had changed or if something happened during my first semester of college, instead of respecting me.  I had to explain my situation to him and then he went on to try and convince me to take the gluten sensitive Eucharist.  When I explained to my priest that I can’t receive the gluten sensitive Eucharist either he seemed only more frustrated with me.  I felt alone and rejected by my own church.  To make matters worse, I had some well- meaning parishioners say, “Welcome to St. Mary’s, are you thinking about joining the Catholic church?” or “Are you not a Catholic anymore?…I noticed you didn’t receive the Eucharist like you used to. Are you okay?”.  Hearing these statements made me feel badly and even slightly embarrassed about my situation.

Just recently, I attended church at home and asking for spiritual communion from a lay Eucharistic Minister was questioned once again. Explaining my situation to her she retorted, “Well what do you want me to do?” then blessing me, she walked away laughing in disbelief!  Both surprised and sad, I chose to pray for her instead that God may bless her with understanding and training.  I can understand why someone may ask me these questions because physically I appear to be a healthy, normal, young adult woman.  However, what people do not realize is that my ailments are inside my body not on the outside.  As they say, never judge a book by its cover!

The same goes for when someone requests spiritual communion. No matter how old or young someone is, if they politely ask to receive a blessing no one should be asked for the reason why.  Since Catholics are called to create a community of love as brothers and sisters and belong to a Christ-centered faith, shouldn’t gluten-free parishioners also be included, loved, and respected?  I am still, and forever will remain, a Catholic too.

Emily Pruyn
Curry College, School of Nursing, Class of 2022

 

Worth Revisiting: Praying Kataphatic or Apophatic?

How do you pray? Do you find your prayer overflowing with images, thoughts and conversations or instead find yourself wrapped in silence surrounded by God’s awe inspiring presence? While at various times we may find ourselves practicing both of these, understanding the shape your prayer takes helps us to simply understand how we personally connect with God.

The first form of prayer, kataphatic, is my own prevailing mode of prayer. At times our prayer begins in seeking God, in a desire to feel the immanence and closeness of God when our mind seems busied with the affairs of this world. In these moments, as I reflect on the presence, ministry and Passion of Jesus, as Word revealed, I recognize that I am being beckoned closer. In an instant, behind closed eyes, I am enveloped by the sights, sounds and scripture intended to speak to my heart. Aware of my own transgressions and surrendering, I find myself humbled by the love and grace so undeservedly but gratuitously given. A beautiful intimate conversation ensues, an exchange of wills- that of mine for His and a resolve to change.

While other times our prayer can be an exercise of self emptying and centering (apophatic), as Christ in the desert, in a desire to rest solely in God’s presence. Using a simple centering prayer, perhaps one word only, we can become immediately aware that there is no need to seek God for he is already here beside, within, and all around. Here, in this moment, we feel that images are incomplete for the magnificence of God simply transcends everything that we have ever known! Not an end but a beginning, in our seeking to understand God further, we realize that whatever our perceptions of God are that the Divine Other is so much more! Here we find a quiet contemplative aspect of our prayer whereby we are drawn into indescribable amazement at the mystery of God. When words are few, “How great Thou art!” sums it up pretty well.

On a very personal note, growing up without an earthly father figure in my life, I have often visualized Jesus welcoming me as a child to come and just “be” near to him. Amidst fields of tall grass, on a warm summer day and a light stirring breeze there is peace and joy. More than anything I could have ever asked for, this relationship has taken away the painful loss that I believe otherwise would’ve felt incapacitating. As an adult, I still experience this joyful purely childlike prayer, most often in those moments when God understands that I am most in need of a Father. And yet I find that as I have grown older so too have my conversations with Christ. In the desire for greater understanding, and the fullness of the gift that God has given through Christ, our responsibilities as a disciple continue to grow.

In a beautiful affective way, our experience of God’s love from both modes of prayer can be felt so strongly, that it seemingly overflows out from our prayer to praise for God and others. For through our daily activities, we are continuously invited to recognize God’s creative handiwork in the world around us, and celebrate its discovery in those we encounter. It’s a visible joy that sparks others to notice and ask, “So, what made you so smiley today?” It’s a deep sense of compassion that calls us to extend that love and mercy to those most in need. Be careful though, you’ll find its authenticity contagious and truly the best witness of faith that you can ever hope to give!

 Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Worn and Weathered

Physically and mentally exhausted, and having just navigated through a harried drive home I slumped through the door. Admittedly this extroverted people loving person was not in the mood to be in community for the rest of the evening. Yet, since being a wife and a mother total isolation is never a true viable option, I needed a plan b. Unfortunately I had determined, this master plan would have to wait as dinner would not make itself.

As I worked, however, I began to reflect on the days prior and just how I had found myself in this unpleasant state. I had allowed project deadlines, emails and unexpected conversations to wear my customarily sweet disposition down its foundation. Truthfully, I was beginning to feel much like the weathered statue of Mary that sat in my backyard looked. Though clearly resembling the beautiful image of Mary, time and environment had chipped her exterior paint and weathered parts of her revealing a rough texture underneath. Well loved and remaining a figure of grace, humility and faithfulness she had endured many a New England winter. Accordingly, she needed a new coat of paint and a grotto again and I could not help but see that I too needed the same.

“For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock” Psalm 27:5

This is when I remembered my spiritual director’s advice.

It’s ok, in fact necessary, for each one of us to take time away to get away and be with God. Scripturally, time and time again we see Jesus seek this respite to pray, connect and renew with his Father. (Mark 1:35, Mark 14:39Luke 5:16 , Matthew 14:23 , Luke 6:12) And while I am certain he considered the apostles good friends, perhaps he also needed this time to discern how best to lead them given their unique personalities, gifts and limitations.  Whether it be a desert, mountain top, or seaside the demands of the world around us compel us to find this space in the midst of our daily life.

We, like Jesus, need this time to care for our soul so that we can begin to love others as God loves us.  While the conversation might entail a good deal of self righteous complaining, without a doubt I usually discover moments where I have missed the mark that day. Things said or thought out of frustration instead of prayerfully considering. Instances where I lacked compassion or allowed the circumstances to steal my joy and peace.

Yet, God does not seek us to remain in a state of desolation over these misgivings but in prayer is there to guide us to learn and discern. Here God speaks, a burning flame reminding us how very much we are loved and his promise to always be with us. Lovingly leading us from a darkened state of exhaustion and frustration, to an openness to assent to the life he has planned.

“Today Father I seek to rest in your embrace. I offer up all of my concerns, irritations, sorrows, hopes and fears. I know that you can handle all of these and oh so much more. A brokenness made beautiful and whole. You love me as I am, yet call me to an incredible life in You. Thank you Father, for this time to be recreated anew. Lead me now to serve you with a renewed purpose and a spirit of joy!”

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Saying Yes When You Should Be Saying No?

Today, perhaps you find that you had  much rather be saying yes to the many things that come your way than even contemplating the word no. Maybe, you do so out of a well intended desire to please others, or the thrill  from successfully multitasking a multitude of tasks. And still, though your yes may result in a benefit for yourself, your family, friends, or community does not mean that it is still the answer that God may have intended for you to give.

This is not an easy message for us as Christians, who are trained to offer our time and talents to the service of those placed within our care. We take the scripture from Romans 12 urging us all to present our bodies as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” and neglect to heed the verses to follow:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Discernment isn’t an add on when we find ourselves confused as to what path to take but it is essential in every choice we make. Even those opportunities which are in themselves good and promise to be fruitful. Take a moment to consider, if you will, whether you are inviting God into each of your decision making moments or just some of them. If not, why not?

Pride

Ah, yes..that clever and insidious sin of pride. It creeps into even the smallest of places leaving us thinking foolishly that we are the only the only ones that can complete a task or the best one to do so.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Thus, inevitably we must prayerfully discern why we feel that our yes is needed and be careful not to take on a project out of pride. But wait..you mean someone else might be called to take on a challenge, or be given gifts to fit the purpose?

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another..” Romans 12: 1-21

We are not being asked to do it all ourselves but in fact, are to call forth the gifts in our brothers and sisters to build up the body of Christ. Those around us do not always see their own gifts and releasing our own prideful motivation allows God to move others into action. It also permits each one of us to glimpse God actively at work as the best human resource manager and project manager for this world in which we live in.

People Pleasing

So, maybe we do not feel we are the best qualified, are already over committed or not really inclined to take on a task but do so because we would like to say yes to the person who has asked. This is not a good motivation either yet admittedly is an easy trap for the kind hearted Christian. In parish ministry we often find the same people being called upon time and time again. They want to be helpful and usually are, but offer a yes when honestly it should be a no. Then later, burned out and tasked beyond reason they leave serving because there simply is no more to give. Recognizing your own need to renew and refill is a valid and essential reason to say no. While initially difficult to do, as well as an adjustment for the one asking it may be the right answer. In making space for quality  prayer time and detachment from the reaction or approval of others we can begin to see that  God’s approval is the only one that matters.

Reflect:

Is there a decision in my day today that I might not be needed to say yes to? Have I invited God into the task? Would others be better served by my no?  

Peace,Signature

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Motherhood: This Miracle of Love

“Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born, I loved you. Before you were an hour, I would die for you. This is the miracle of love.”
― Maureen Hawkins

When you truly think about it, motherhood never promises praise or perfection either in our children or in ourselves. So why do we answer this call, why do we choose this as a vocation in a world that encourages self-fulfillment over self-denial, and control over surrender? Though we may begin will idealistic stirrings, we soon realize that the sacred trust from God that we have been given, in each tiny creation, will both challenge and surprise us at every turn.

I remember so clearly the awe I had at watching each of my children discover and embrace the world around them. Eyes wide, and undaunted they crawled, walked and sprinted headfirst. All the while, I would busy myself trying to remove the obstacles or better still to caution them to be mindful themselves of what might lie ahead. In truth, here was this unbelievable glimpse of myself captured in a diminutive frame and operating under a completely different guidance system! And the more I sought control, the more I realized how little I actually had.

“The future is not in our hands. We have no power over it. We can act only today— for  yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to come. We have only today. If we help our children to be what they should be today, they will have the necessary courage to face life with greater love.” St. Teresa of Calcutta

This is where God stepped in on my own journey both as a mother and a child of God. Suddenly, I realized both the infinite love my heavenly Father had and how he sought to guide me as well. Mistaken for self-sufficiency and decisiveness, the desire for control had me operating much like my bruised knee toddler when things went wrong. Likewise, what I longed for was the joy of knowing that when I ran, whose arms I was indeed running towards.

As a small child I remember my own detailed oriented mom, in frequent prayer. In small moments of silence, the front seat of our car would be suddenly transformed into a chapel, and her spirit restored.   “What are you doing Mom?” , I asked one day. In failing to answer me immediately, I became even more curious. “Wait.”, she said, holding up her hand. Opening her eyes and turning towards me she smiled, “Just needed to pause and talk to God a bit.” And in that instant whatever she had been worrying about was gone. She knew that her motherhood and sanity depended on these talks.

In my own vocation of motherhood, I too have taken to quiet, enduring interludes of prayer to ferry away concerns, and renew me in my day. What I can’t change or handle Christ can, and like the very best of friends is happy when I call on him. Rain or shine, I know that I am neither alone or without hope. Today,  I have let go of being the perfect mom and in exchange have invited perfection itself to work in the beautiful mess of life.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Where We Are Meant To Be

Lately, I have found myself marveling once again at the way God can lead us in our ordinary day if we are receptive and listening. Whether it be an unplanned event, conversation, or the bedside of a friend- unimaginable grace and surprises await when we simply say yes to God’s movement in our day. Sometimes even God will give our souls an extra nudge to encourage our lazy spiritual dispositions when it is particularly important. Perhaps most amazing is when your examen leads you to realize that, because you had in fact listened, you had been truly blessed.

Before I lay down to sleep one night last week, I heard so clearly in prayer how God had intended the following day to go. Admittedly, I had wanted to sleep in the next day but God was asking me to listen. So, having hurried to make it to Mass I slid in a pew near the back with communion pyx in hand. From that moment on, there was such peace, and intentionality found with everything that I was encounter that day. To no surprise, I ran into someone who I hadn’t seen in a year who had unexpectedly thought of me that morning and decided to go to Mass. Then was the hospital visit for a very dear priest friend of mine, who despite the circumstances remains a fountain of peace and inner joy. As we spoke and prayed the Our Father together I could not help but wonder who was receiving the greater blessing, him or I.

Throughout my day, that God had planned, there were many more sacred moments that had I been recalcitrant I indeed would have missed. Whatever you do, you cannot go wrong by turning over your day and giving God the lead. Below is a prayer that echoes this idea of receptivity and discernment and can be especially fruitful first thing in the morning.

Prayer for Choosing a State of Life

From all eternity, O Lord, you planned my very existence and my destiny. You wrapped me in your love in baptism and gave me the faith to lead me to an eternal life of happiness with you. You have showered me with your graces and you have been always ready with your mercy and forgiveness when I have fallen. Now I beg you for the light I so earnestly need that I may find the way of life in which lies the best fulfillment of your will. Whatever state this may be, give me the grace necessary to embrace it with love of your holy will, as devotedly as your Mother did your will. I offer myself to you now, trusting in your wisdom and love to direct me in working out my salvation and in helping others to know and come close to you, so that I may find my reward in union with you for ever and ever. Amen.

From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press.

Peace,

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