Small Success Thursday : God is in the Details

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Today in celebration of St. Ignatius’s Feast Day (#FindIggy @.loyolapress.com) and in collaboration with other amazing Catholic moms www.catholicmom.com, I have decided to share my own “Small Successes” for this week!

1. Summer course at Boston College- completed, grade in and transcript sent to Loyola Chicago

                                BC arrow Loyola

Ok, so I have taken quite a few classes for my Master’s degree, but as a mom of three in the summertime, my attention span is at times like that of a gnat! It seems that I just get started on a paper, blog, or project only to feel the tapping on my shoulder followed by a little face in my own. Headphones are not an obstacle to them at all! Don’t get me wrong, I want to play as much as they do. (Which may be a wee part of the problem) So, I find that I barter and promise to have a little uninterrupted time so as to truly enjoy the time spent at play. Having said that, my kids are really supportive of what mom is doing, even praying for me at finals! While the two weeks were intense, the commute incredibly long..the course was amazing. Now with all the paperwork in to Loyola, I am already thinking about this Fall.

to do 2. Caught up on many of the items on my “to do” list that I had neglected while taking the above course.

This is not limited to but includes giving haircuts for 1 of the 3 boys, laundry, vacuuming, and back to school textbook ordering.   Did I mention that one of my boys is an almost 15 year old that despises haircuts, noting that he isn’t truly himself with “short” hair? Parochial school is another new thing for our family this year and with school textbooks, and uniform ordering let’s just say that I am still sane, family pocketbook lighter, but sane. Yet, it is a wonderful feeling to sit in a neatened house, albeit short lived, and feel somewhat caught up on my 1st career duties!

 3. Start of my pastoral field education placement with…my ministry colleague Allison Gingras! 

http://www.reconciledtoyou.com/

Some of you might already be familiar with Allison from her reconciliation ministry at Reconciled to You, “Blink” spots on Catholic TV, Catholic 24/7 radio, or contributing posts on Catholicmom.com. I met Allison a couple of years ago, and right away I felt a friendship and a strong inclination that God had put us in each other’s paths for a reason.

 “Father, you are the most gifted human resources manager that I know! You know what we need before we can even ask and still it pleases you so that we do. Moreover you know what this big beautiful world needs and how we can best serve. Please Lord give me your eyes to see as you see, ears to be attentive to your voice in prayer and through others, and the understanding to discern your will always.”

Invited to: Work 6 & and Rest One..It’s a Family thing!

eucharist-2“The Eucharist is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, in a spirit of joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need”. Pope Francis

This morning, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about how incredibly busy, but restful and fulfilling my Sunday had been. While it seems odd perhaps to hold these adjectives together I believe that they highlight what it really means, to me, to “work six and rest one” in keeping the Sabbath holy. As so often the case, in anticipation of Sunday, there was an extra spring in my step as I reflected and then prepared for the day ahead. You see, my joy is not solely in going to mass with my immediate family, but is found in joining my larger family in Christ, in sharing communion together. Here, I am graced with brothers and sisters from varied backgrounds, of all ages, and nationalities each praying to the same Father. Each resting the work of their own hands, to bring all that they are- to be blessed and broken and enjoined as one in the beautiful sacrifice of Christ.

As a Eucharistic minister, I witness this so profoundly as each person steps forward to receive Christ. Some hands are soft, others rugged and worn, nonetheless within their eyes, I see God…and what a beautiful sight that is to behold!  At times I sense their sadness, others times their joy and still others their deep appreciation for this moment to pause to recognize Christ present with us.

Yet, what of those in our community, who because of age, illness or injury cannot be with us on Sunday? While many of us were able to experience the beautiful mystery of Christ’s presence this Sunday in the Eucharist, imagine if you could not. So often we might take for granted the ability to come and partake in communion together, yet for so many of our “family” this not an option.So in reading this,  I am asking you to please consider offering your gift of faith, love and service  to bring Christ, made truly present in the Eucharist and in our community, into their lives as well.

I promise, the joy and love that God provides in this ministry is one that can forever change your own life and serve as a continual source of blessing. This has been the experience of my husband and I, who have been serving for the past five years. We feel graced to have been witnesses to the sacred, these moments of profound gratitude, and light of Christ’s love into their lives.

So, what does this gift require? Our time spent in total at a facility is about an hour, although admittedly quite often we choose to spend longer! Perhaps you may be able to go once a week, yet if you can only go every other week, or visit someone home bound, you will be providing an immeasurable gift that might make their reception of the Eucharist possible.

In faith and prayer, I ask that you consider this beautiful ministry. God Bless-

EXAMEN-ing My Day

http://paperdali.blogspot.com/2010/07/saint-ignatius-of-loyola-san-ignacio-de.html
http://paperdali.blogspot.com/2010/07/saint-ignatius-of-loyola-san-ignacio-de.html

“Receive, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.” St. Ignatius

In just one week (July 31st), we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius, a former Spanish soldier, who experiencing a profound conversion to the centrality of Christ, much like St. Paul, answered the call to follow. St. Ignatius recognized that putting Christ first, means also discovering anew God’s presence and the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of our daily lives. It is a seeking and then an awareness to God within and without- in all that we see, hear, feel and do. So, in a simple, modified form of the Examen I wish to share with you my day.

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

This morning, before I opened my eyes, I felt You there God. Not ready yet to leave my restful state, I said “thank you” for the day to come, and “yes” to what gifts I might be shown to see and do. I saw your beauty in the sunrise, in the dew on the flowers, and in the little white butterfly family that returns each Summer. I heard your joy in the laughter, albeit giggles, of my children. And I felt your peace as joined in the “Our Father” and prepared my heart to receive such blessed communion at mass.  You are here with me now as I enter into this time of contemplation, Spirit lead me. 

2. Review the day with gratitude. 

My heavenly Father, I thank you for both the ups and downs of this day, for you were present in every moment. How I praise you for the gift of friendship with you, for those you have placed in my path, and those opportunities for others to see and know you through me. I give praise also for those who you have given to guide me, who listen, support and advise, who reflect your indescribable love. For those moments that were difficult-oh, the strength you have given me, you never let go. You are amazing God!

3. Pay attention to your emotions. 

Initially, I felt reluctance at starting my day so early, for it is the summer and as I had rationalized I had been so busy the last few weeks.  Yet, I realize that I was in fact procrastinating my pressing “to do” lists, and seeing them as tasks rather than invitations to see You at your best. I was also hesitant to answer the phone from  someone who I have felt continually attempts to  confront peace with frustration and aggravation. However, while I still have much to learn, you gave me courage to stand firm in your grace. 

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 

Please Lord, be persistent with me and help me to always be loving and forgiving, even when I feel tempted to be less than what you have shown to me.  You see me as I truly am, you know my thoughts and my heart…and you love and forgive. Lord, please strengthen my steps, embolden my spirit, and help me approach each new day with faith, love, peace, and joy. 

5. Look toward tomorrow. 

See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/#sthash.DJi24cCQ.dpuf 

Unpacking The Treasures of Our Faith

Theology in Context

         As my BC classmate Olga has so beautifully spoken, now is the time that we realize the joy in “unpacking the treasures of our faith”. In devoting long hours of reading, writing, and contemplating the lived experience of the US Latino/a, we have discovered more of our own journeys as well. With each incredibly diverse faith experience we are given insight into our God who desires to be meaningfully encountered in our daily lives. It is, in a very real sense, a rediscovery of who we are, and who God is calling us to be in the world around us. Yet, it is not a discarding of the past but rather embracing these gifts of faith experienced sacramentally and through prayer, song, and devotion, while reaffirming their significance today. As I gaze at this picture,  I glimpse the divinely created men and women who are an embodiment of a lived theology, whose presence give voice to joy, struggle, and hope. Who are, as well, part of the community of faith of the past, present and future hearing the call to respond to challenges, walk in accompaniment, and live out their faith expressively in the world. Muchas gracias y abrazos a todos!

How do you experience God most meaningfully in your life? Is  there a treasure of your faith that draws you nearer? Is there perhaps one yet to be unpacked, its richness yet undiscovered? 

 

Sowing seeds: How is your soil prepared?

Preparing our soil
Essential Nutrients

Today as I prepared for leading Children’s Liturgy, I wanted the children to consider some of the ways that we too nourish the soil in our hearts to allow God’s Word to grow in our lives. It isn’t simply that God’s Word is spoken, and we can choose to accept it or not. There is much that we can do to prepare our hearts to hear the Word each week, and continually to nourish it. Just like a tender young plant, it needs our awareness (found in prayer), attentive removing of weeds and rocks (through confession and reconciliation), our participation (experienced in community at mass), and above all- love.  While so simple, do we arrive at mass, and leave without noticing any change at all in our lives? Do we even remember the Gospel reading or the homily?

To this, I sometimes challenge my family to tell me what they heard at mass. At times it is a joke from the homily, perhaps a song, a particular prayer, and quite beautifully the Word itself. It’s is so interesting to hear how each one of us is touched differently, and yet carries the potential to bear fruit not only in our lives but in the world around us. This is the second important take away that this parable contains. We are not only the soil but when we live fruitful lives, we then can be sowers of God’s love in the lives of others. Carrying God’s Word within, we become sharers and sowers in the darkest places of hate, division, and despair.

This evening is the wake for the father of one of our youngest faithful. Today, we lifted her and her family up in prayer together in community. Lord, may this seed of love bear much fruit in the hearts of your faithful, and may you grant this family peace as they gather to remember this loving father, husband and friend to many.

Peace,

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A Great Cloud of Witnesses

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us* and persevere in running the race that lies before us” Heb 12:1

Today as I began my class at BC, all I could think about as we went round the circle introducing ourselves is this passage from Hebrews. How blessed I feel to be surrounded by such an amazing “cloud of witnesses”! Hailing from all over the United States, many are originally natives of Columbia, Peru, Mexico, and Costa Rica, and all are witnesses to an incredible passion for the faith. These men and women have served as leaders in the church, and within their communities, quite often through grassroots programs as part of the Catholic Extension Program. “Building faith, inspiring hope, and igniting change”, these projects to build churches and homes, support faith and educational ministries, and social outreach are led in some of the poorest areas of the nation. So as classes commence, I assume my place alongside these marathoners who have not taken the easy road but chosen the path and the mission to love. Needless to say, I have much to learn!

Peace,

Elizabeth

For more about the Catholic extension program, or how to help visit: http://www.catholicextension.org/

 

Made to Love

While theology may be a verb, my initial inclination to begin this blog…let’s just say has been less than active.  🙂 With that being said, I awoke early this morning with my heart burning to embark on this journey with you-to share my thoughts, prayers and hopes as a Catholic woman of faith. Today, I am a student of theology, hopeful saint, follower of Christ, faithful mother, wife, friend, woman … and child of God. This last identification is something that while seemingly basic is essential to recognize in ourselves as well as within each other. Created with a beautiful divine spark, we have been graced with love, each given unique gifts and a desire to grow in that love towards our Beloved. If we accept this premise then we can no longer look at others as less than made in the very image of God. This carries both a sense of awe and wonder, and a responsibility to recognize the great worth and the needs of each of God’s creations. Often quoted as Catholic’s most hidden principles, our social teachings guided by scripture beckon us to embrace our discipleship not as a solitary walk but in solidarity as a community of faith. Going beyond ourselves, our families, our parishes, we have been invited to step out in faith to accept the mission that draws us forth to reach those most in need.

Yet, before we set this as a lofty unachievable goal, this begins quite simply in answering the call to love. Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege to teach summer CCD to an awesome lively group of 4th graders. Covering the Ten Commandments, and the Be-attitudes, they took hold that it all comes down to the Greatest Commandment: to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Therefore when given a service project to collect personal care items for needy families in our area, our students responded by collecting over 120 items in one week! This brought tears to the eyes of our director of St. Vincent de Paul who further encouraged them to continue in this life of service. It reminds me also as Mother Teresa once said that “What I can do you cannot. What you can do I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God”. Today, how will we answer this call to love one another with great love?