Starting a Family Mission this Lent

While we often give much thought to how we can individually allow others to see Christ in us, it occurred to me that as a family we hadn’t really given this much thought.  So, this Lent I  wanted to focus on 5 qualities that we as a family considered important. Not only those that we felt we did well at, but those that we have to consistently strive towards. 

Pray Constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “Pray without ceasing”//To this my youngest, Thomas age 9 said, “Oh I do that one all of the time! I pray in the morning before school that I will have a wonderful day, or if I have a problem. Then at night, I pray as a family and say and Our Father and Hail Mary’s as I fall asleep.” What a neat insight into my son’s spiritual life that this exercise had given me!

Speak Truthfully  (Proverbs 12:22) “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,but those who are truthful, his delight”// Surprisingly here, Thomas added, “That one can be tough because sometimes I say yes or no to questions before I really think about whether I have done what is being asked” “So, I pressed, do you do this on purpose?” “No, I don’t really mean to- just answer because I am used to giving that answer..but sometimes I haven’t done what I am supposed to have done. ” Do, you try to fix that? To make your answer truthful by then doing it?” “No, and that is what I am working on”

Serve Faithfully (1 Samuel 12:24) “Serve him faithfully with all your heart, for you have seen the great things the LORD has done among you” // Our family places great importance on serving others both within the parish setting and in those we encounter. Over the past 12 years, though my service in various ministries has increasingly grown I find that I actually have more time. Or perhaps the time that I have apart from serving is simply more enjoyable because of the joy that it has given me. As a Eucharistic minister to the nursing homes, My husband has also stepped in to lead Why Catholic when needed and to serve at mass through the collection and communion. 15 year old Peter has been an altar server since 3rd grade and now serves additionally at mass in his school. Thomas helps me prepare for Children’s Liturgy and is fervent in supporting the missionary Childhood association and the needy in our area.  I say this not to praise these works but to speak to the call to serve that we feel so profoundly.

Love Patiently (1 Cor 13:4) “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated”// Perhaps one of the most beloved wedding readings, it is so incredibly important to keep in mind in our families. Hand in hand with

Forgiving Generously, (Col 3:13) in “Bearing with one another and forgiving one another”// it requires being accepting of one another’s faults, failings and misgivings and meeting these with Love. This is a daily challenge for me as a mom, in my desire to lead with love while also helping to form them in their chosen paths in life. For my 15 year old it means committedly resolving this Lent to be kinder in his responses to his little brother, as he seeks to annoy. Without a doubt,  I am sure that each of us can find ways to be more loving and forgiving to one another not only during this season of Lent but all year long!

In Peace and Love,

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Worth Revisiting: Moments of Clarity

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


7 Quick Takes-Moments  of Clarity

(Originally posted November 7, 2014)

1// This week has been a reminder of the glimpses God gives us of his mercy, love and forgiveness.

Those moments whereby we are challenged to move, grow and reach out to one another in love. The ready invitation to leave our comfort zone to listen, hold and  share our hearts and journeys with others.

2// My 7 Quick Takes week began..

by assisting with a women’s retreat on Forgiveness hosted by co-blogger and supervisor Allison Gingras. This easily prompted the first of these reflective moments!  “I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive and to be forgiven, one teaches me mercy, the other humility”. (A. Gingras)  What a grace it is to embrace this in our lives! While our hearts must be led by mercy, we need to resist the temptation to see ourselves as blameless without need of forgiveness. How many times have I caused injury, or has someone needed to forgive me recently? I may never know the fullness of this answer, but for those times, Father forgive me.

3// “Forgiveness requires letting go of being right, of justice, evening scores and of an apology.” (Fr. Scott Hurd)

Oh, the thorny brambles we find ourselves in when led by righteousness and the need for validation! Instantly, we begin seeking those conversations and relationships whereby we are the hero and someone else made the villain. In doing so, we cling to the pain and our pride takes hold. Increasingly we find ourselves entangled in its grip. Lord help me to cling to you, the vine rather than the bramble.

4//“Forgiveness is not reconciling, as it takes one person not two”. 

Seeking forgiveness, is about finding peace and while we might wish for reconciliation- that is not guaranteed. Sometimes all that we can offer and hope for is forgiveness. Letting go of the outcome frees us to then move forward in our faith lives to grow in acceptance and give the controls to God. Lord I relinquish all authority to you, may my desire for peace be enough. Lead me because I can’t do this alone.”

5// And my own special sound bite from the retreat, “The Holy Spirit rocks!”

(If ever there was any doubt.) This retreat had an incredible turnout and the feedback extremely positive. The telling moment for me came in tending to the reconciliation line which was continuous and lasted over 2 hours! Within this there were prayerful conversations and moments of conversion of heart. So beautiful! Thank you Father for the gift of your Spirit which seeks to guide, transform and heal our hearts. I just want to praise you!

6// On a more personal note,

however, I received word a few days ago that someone that I am quite close to was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. As he comes to terms with the diagnosis and the given chances for survival, he is seeking greater reconciliation and connection in his life. He has been through so many trials in his life, including a stroke and several bouts of double pneumonia. Yet, I can feel that this is quite different, and he is preparing to die. In speaking with him today, he asked if I would call him to chat for a little bit each week. “Yes, of course!”. What a gift you have given me Father in this time with him.  Please, I pray for your voice and heart to guide me. If I can be of any help, I humbly offer my all.

7// So while clarity at times reveals deep hurt, difficulties, or challenges, I have found that God is there also- reaching out with open arms to embrace.

Why wait for a doctor’s call, or a life crisis to seek forgiveness and peace in our lives? Why hold on to pain when we could take hold of Christ’s hand? Jesus you are the voice of truth. You see us, know us, forgive us and love us in spite of all that we do and fail to do. While I can never repay this gift, I will spend a lifetime trying.

Peace in Christ,

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30 More Days Till Consecration

Contemporary Version featuring JP II, Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe

This Lent, I have decided to grow in my own understanding of Christ through St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Having taken February 20th as my start date, I have entered a “retreat” of sorts with the culmination on March 25th The Annunciation of Mary.

 

By Daderot on Tiffany glass

The feast of the Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary  with the announcement that the Blessed Virgin had been chosen to be the Mother of Our Lord, and Mary’s “Yes!”  (fiat) to God’s holy plan.(Luke 1:26-38)

For me, this Marian feast day has special significance, in that it is a very real glimpse into the answer that God asks of each of us. Quite simply, and humbly, we give our “yes!” to what God has planned and willed in each of our lives. Far greater and vastly different from anything we could ever imagine, it requires we surrender ourselves fully.

With that, I look forward to speaking  these words of Consecration (Day 34),

“I, Elizabeth, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before…

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.” ¹Signature

¹Louis De Montfort, “True Devotion” p.198.

Worth Revisiting {Ash} Wednesday

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


Ash Wednesday Edition!

Today as we begin the season of Lent I thought that this beloved Catholic funny was definitely worth revisiting!  Beyond the obvious, when many of us have left with just a smear across our forehead, I see myself. (As a bit of perspective, I have actually corrected the cross of ashes on my forehead more than once in my life!) For so many years, I have let my own desire of perfectionism determine the outcome of success. It is a fruitless game of never fully being pleased. and where often the reason why we even tried gets lost in our own sense of pride.

True, this time of Lent is intended to work on those things in our life that distance us from God. However, we cannot do this solely on our own, nor were we ever meant to. Rather than seeking control, by forcing a square peg in a round hole, we are to allow God to chip away at our sins and challenges. To shape us in the true image we were always intended to be.

This is why I encourage you this Lent to let go of who you think you once were, or who others have defined you to be to allow God to accomplish His work and what he wills within you. These next 40 days are a gift- an invitation to carve out space and time for both quiet reflection and dialogue. If you decide to pick up a devotion this Lent, whether it be the rosary, adoration time, daily mass, Bible study, Liturgy of the Hours, or the Examen..agree to make it meaningful. Rather than passively going about this time be purposeful in seeking direction and unhurried in reaching a destination. Keeping in mind that our faith is a journey- one in which Our Father not only meets us but leads and indeed carries us home.

Love is Worth Waiting For

Those who know my husband and I closely, know that before we ever dated we were best friends. John was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts and I a freshman at Mount Holyoke College in 1990. In looking back, every detail of our meeting and courtship was just as it was intended to be. Neither of us was initially looking for a long term relationship but honestly seeking someone that reflected the values that we held dear.

That first evening, John was in fact to be meeting someone else, who was the roommate of a friend of mine. Yet, with nothing in common and little desired conversation both had decided it was a bad idea. At dinner, he spotted me across the room and inquired from my friend who I was.  I had noticed him too, but was unsure if he was with one of the other girls. Called over to their table before leaving, I suggested that we meet in the common room for coffee.  As the conversation flowed, the more we discovered that there was indeed something very special in the other. I could not explain it, but I recognized what had been so missing in my life at the time.

Instantly, John will tell you, that he knew that I was the one- who held his heart, mind and attention from that day forward. Yet, I was not so ready to “jump”. Knowing that he was special and desperately needing a true male friend, I was fearful that a relationship would ruin this.  Reluctantly, he accepted that I was not ready to date but longed for his friendship. Through months of listening to one another tell of the faults of those we dated, and giving advice we grew closer. He was waiting for me and loving me all the while.

So it happened. Having invited him to a party that I was certain would be uneventful, I eagerly anticipated spending time with my best friend. I did not worry that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, or that we would face that awkwardness at the end. I knew that we would enjoy the time no matter how lame the event was. What I wasn’t aware of, however, was the surprise that God had in store for me..now that I was ready for it.

We kissed. (Oh, no..I’ve done it, I lost my friend), I thought. Yet, in those moments of recognition I prayed. Father, lead me, lead us. So, upon my suggestion we decided to go take a walk and sit beside one of my favorite reflective spots beside the waterfall. Though quite picturesque, I was feeling a bit chilled in the cool New England spring air. As he put his arms around me, and we sat in relative silence..I finally understood.

The following is a poem that I later wrote that summer. I waited to give this to him after we were engaged for Valentines Day 1992.

The Waterfall   (1991)                 by Elizabeth Reardon 

The waterfall cascaded down onto the lake below,
I marveled at its beauty and watched as moonbeams shone.
I hadn’t known the lake to look as lovely as that night,
For within his arms and loving heart I was now held tight.

In friendship had I known this loving heart before,
I never thought that ever I could ask for any more.
But suddenly I realized that this was but a start,
That every second of my life he would be a part.

To hold me, love me, and share the vast wonders of the day-
To walk along a mile with me down steep and narrow ways.
And when we are no longer young to our grandchildren I will tell,
Of the sparkling waterfall, and the painted lake-
when their grandfather kissed his southern belle!

This Valentine’s Day as we stop to express our love for those that continually bless our lives let’s remember how God never ceases to surprise us!

Love,

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Worth Revisiting: A New Perspective

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


Currently, Vol.3: A New Perspective

(Originally posted September 22, 2014)

Currently,A New PerspectiveCurrently, I have been thinking about the people that enter into our lives, albeit sometimes unexpectedly,  who enable us to glimpse a new perspective.  We are reminded that the beauty of our journey as Christians  is that as questions arise, our faith tradition is filled with deep convictions, “emerging” methods,  and new beginnings!  How thankful I am for those times that as God has sought to move me, and has opened my eyes to see  a different perspective or the need for a more pastoral approach. What a vision God has of the whole picture!

It reminds me of an art class where everyone is painting the object in the center. The object isn’t the same all the way around, even the light from the windows casts the colors and shadows differently. Yet, the artists paint what is before them in the truest way possible, faithful to the teacher, and the methods that they have learned.

Listening// This week I listened to an elderly friend, who I bring communion to, describe the sightless, hard of hearing world that he lives in. Not in a complaint, but in a matter of fact way-inviting me into “seeing” his perspective.  Though the light behind his eyes has made sleep extremely difficult, he asks to be awakened for communion because this is so essential to him. As we part, he tells my husband and I how he wishes he could see us but how much he loves and is thankful for our time spent in community.

Watching// with excitement at the new appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago!  Just a few days before the announcement, twitter was all abuzz. Eagerly, I studied his pastoral journey to gain a better understanding of the perspective he would bring to the position.  He appears to be moderate in his approach on most religious issues, and in touch with both the teachings and the people.  How heartwarming it was to hear him personally address the 44% Hispanic population of Chicago in Spanish!  In everything that I have seen and heard so far,  I have to say what an exciting time  it is for the people of  Chicago. 

Reading// Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization by Scott Hahn.  Another essential book I have placed on my learning syllabus for my Field Education work! This book  provides a necessary perspective on the mission calling us forth in “creating intentional disciples” and in deepening our own faith life. For it questions whether we can be convincing witnesses of the faith if, instead of embracing and living our faith, we tread only in the shallow end. It is a beautiful reminder to probe the deeper meaning of the sacraments in a life lived, rather than seeing these as an end in and of themselves.

bookRemembering// The love of learning that my mother and her family passed down to me.  As the daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of educators, I recognize that this is something I could not escape (Those genes are strong) even if I had wanted to!  Not knowing where God will lead me when this degree is completed, I know that in my heart that this desire to learn, grow and share will always be a part of whatever I do.

Wisdom” , Rustic Verses by (my Grandpa) Carl Wyatt Ferrell

 It seems the older that we grow,

The more we don’t know-

At least I’ve found it true.

My wisdom I begin to doubt,

For there are things I’ve just found out,

That once I thought I knew.

 

For Knowledge is a growing thing;

Each day, more wisdom it will bring

if we take care to see.

A grain of learning should each day,

Like precious gold be stored away,

If we would wiser be.

A loving granddaughter,

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This Lent: Can I hear my Father’s Voice?

Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

With the approach of Lent, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could see beyond himself to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously he then answered God’s call to make a transformation not only within himself but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

Even so, Lent gives us a period of time to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Do you feel a spiritual dryness in prayer? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy and time in short supply? Like Jesus, we need this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space this Lent to do just that. It needn’t be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!

Worth Revisiting: Currently, Vol. 1

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


 

Currently, Vol.1: All Things

(Originally posted August 25, 2014)

Currently, I am a mom of a senior, a freshman, and a 4th grader, and a wife of 20 years. Likewise, I am passionate about cooperating with God’s will in the impromptu petitions of lay ministry work, saying yes more often than not, to what is being asked . And if that wasn’t madcap enough, I am finishing up my last two semesters of my Master’s Degree at Loyola, with my field education this fall and my thesis in the spring. So, I guess that it would appear  (only wish I could properly convey the irony) that I thrive on chaos!

All Things

Thinking about, more and more the necessity for dynamic women’s ministry. Often placing ourselves last on the family totem pole, there is such an overwhelming need for us as women of faith to practice self care spiritually, as well as, physically. It is something that we need to seek to provide in our parish, and what we need to seek for ourselves. Whether it be a retreat, daily mass, adoration, mom-and-me mornings, or outings/pilgrimages as a group it is essential to nourish ourselves within.

Reading, The Church and the New Media by Brandon Vogt.  Can I simply say how very thankful that I placed this as a part of my learning syllabus?! Clear, concise, and truly entertaining it is a must read as Catholics in this age of social media. We have been given new tools in our tool belt to equip us to help draw our communities together, while also reaching out to those new to the faith.  It’s as easy as a Spirit led tweet, retweet, or Facebook message, picture or song. Will you join me?

Working on, a new compilation of contemporary Christian music that can be used for sacramental retreats, in addition to the standards that we used in the past. Yet, another resource available to us now, contemporary music has the ability to speak to countless new generations of believers. Currently taking suggestions, so if you know of particular song that would fit well with a sacrament, (baptism, reconciliation, communion, confirmation, or marriage) please leave a comment below.

Praying For:  persecuted Christians in Iraq, and throughout our world. That God moves the hearts of all to feel compassion, to pray for justice, and to work for peace. In our own nation, I pray also for the essential right, respect, and support for our children to express their faith appropriately.

IMG_0619Thankful for this summer, for the cool mornings, bright sunnydays, and the evening ocean breeze that floats through my house. Thankful also for the down time that God has given, to stop and enjoy some much needed time together as a family. Just this past Thursday, my family and I went to the Marshfield fair, complete with carnival rides, bloomin’ onions, fried dough, and farm animals. It is a tradition that, looking back at the pictures, reminds us how incredibly special this time is together.

Enjoying, the gifts of in season produce from Haymarket famers in Boston. Oh, how I will miss the freshness of the zucchini, summer squash, Portobello mushrooms, and eggplant!


Excitedly looking forward to: the start of this new school year, and where God will lead our Church in another blessed year with Pope Francis! 

Peace and Blessings,

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Joy Stealer or Faith Grower?

Currently, in our society where individualism and our own happiness has been regarded as utmost priority there is great emphasis placed on that which makes us momentarily feel good.  We are quick  to avoid the situations that disturb our inner peace, upset out schedule and call us out of our comfort zone. Even in our relationships we grumble, resist and distance ourselves from those that are most difficult to deal with.

I pause here for an honest confession… I have chosen the path of feeling annoyed and complaining lately. Faced with a seemingly unchanging resistance from others to my own desire to be joyful,  I had decided it best to create some distance. A mini retreat of sorts, I recognized that I needed a break in order to get a bit of perspective. In taking this opportunity to go out into the “wilderness”  to spend some alone time in prayer, to reflect on what  is being asked of me I now have a better understanding of what Christ desires.

First, I realize that I cannot remain on permanent retreat from all that I feel attempts to steal my joy. Obvious exemptions would be situations that are physically or mentally abusive. Yet, what I am talking about are difficult people, or particularly trying situations that continually test my patience and call for regular forgiveness.

Case in point:

1.The “one way or no way” attitude: The phone rings and I notice the caller id. As the conversation ensues I am struck by the familiarity of the questions and topics of discussion.  Can we ever go deeper? No, not if it remains a one sided barrage of questions where there is only one answer desired. No, not if there isn’t active listening, appreciation of the other person, and a desire to have true dialogue. So, I listen and leave the discussion wondering why I spent my time in this way.

2. The “blinking red light”: Here is the person that is constantly in hot water. If the issue doesn’t involve them directly they feel it necessary to stir the waters that potentially create a tempest situation. Oh, did you have plans today? Well, this is far more important and if you weren’t concerned before..you should be by now.  So, I listen, offer advice, help where I can, and spend the day praying that they find peace.

Selfishly at times I have asked God, “Why have you placed these rocks in my path, why am I being asked to deal with stubbornness and anxiety?”

His answer, “Elizabeth because you have yet to learn the incredible lessons of love and forgiveness that I have been so desperately seeking to instill in you! Do you honestly think that you are without fault, malleable, secure in my loving plan and accepting of all that I am calling you to be?”

“No, Father… I have much to learn. Yet, I am desperately trying to understand though. Isn’t that good?”

Yes, but you cannot get comfortable with where you are- because I am asking so much more of you. Each of my children has a purpose and a journey. Sometimes this journey leads others to learn from you and other times their purpose is to challenge you to grow.

I have choices in how I encounter others. If my life isn’t rooted in love, patience, and forgiveness, how are others to truly  know Christ through me?  Moreover, our lives are meant to be proof of God’s deep call to a new life, faith that though times get difficult there is hope that our loving Father is working all for good.  This inbreaking of the Kingdom of God isn’t merely an inner journey or a futuristic promise of heaven…but it begins with me today.

Peace,

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