An Engaging Faith: 2/1-2/5

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Breaking into your ordinary
with the extraordinary …

We start off our week with The Legacy of Phyllis Tickle with Jon Sweeney , then Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle joins us to discuss the Bringing Lent Home with Pope Francis, …Encores of Carl McColman and Vinita Hampton Wright

And  Margaret Felice with our Catholic roundtable

Image result for phyllis tickle ParacleteMonday: The Legacy of Phyllis Tickle with Jon Sweeney,  Phyllis will be long considered an authority on religion in America and an active force within religious  publishing for many years in the 1990s. As a contributing editor in Religion for Publishers Weekly and sought after speaker she appeared in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, and The Hallmark Channel. She has also authored over 40 books, mostly in the areas of spirituality and religion.Considered a mentor and friend to so many, her legacy is a lifetime of encounter. Phyllis died on Sept. 22 2015 at age 81 from Stage IV lung cancer.
    

Tuesday: Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, is an award-winning Catholic writer, speaker, retreat leader, and host of Catholic Mom’s Café and Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms on EWTN. A wife and mother of five, Cooper O’Boyle was recognized as one of the Top Ten Most Fascinating Catholics in 2009 by Faith & Family Live. She enjoyed a decade-long friendship with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and became a Lay Missionary of Charity. For many years her spiritual director was Servant of God John A. Hardon, S.J., who also served as one of Mother Teresa’sBringing Lent Home with Pope Francis spiritual directors. Donna  is the author of several books on faith and family, including the Bringing Lent Home series, Rooted in LoveMother Teresa and Me, and The Kiss of Jesus. She has been featured in a number of religious publications and on Catholic radio, and is a frequent guest on EWTN’s Bookmark, Sunday Night Prime, and EWTN Live. She lives in Connecticut with her family. Here to talk to us about her Lenten book, Bringing Lent Home with Pope Francis.

Wednesday: Vinita Hampton Wright is a Loyola Press editor and writer of many books, including Days of Deepening Friendship and Simple Acts of Moving Forward, and she blogs for DeepeningFriendship.com. She has been practicing Ignatian spirituality for a decade and writing about it for nearly as long. She leads workshops around the country on the creative-spiritual process–The Soul Tells a Story grew out of this work. Of her full-length novels, Velma Still Cooks in Leeway won a Logos Book-of-the-Year award, and Dwelling Places was selected by Christianity Today as Best Fiction of 2007. She lives in Chicago, IL, with her husband, two dogs, and two cats. Vinita will be sharing her latest book The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book.

Thursday: Carl McColman, is the author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Answering the Contemplative Call, and his latest Befriending Silence:Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality.Carl also writes for Patheos, Huffington Post, and Contemplative Journal. He also has his own popular website and blog devoted to Christian and world mysticism. McColman is a member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, a contemplative community under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks. A Catholic in full-time ministry as a retreat leader and speaker, McColman frequently leads workshops and retreats on contemplative spirituality at churches, seminaries, monasteries and retreat centers. He was trained in the practice of Christian contemplation through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC. He received training in spiritual direction from the Institute for Pastoral Studies in Atlanta. He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!

Margaret Felice has been praised for her dynamic stage presence, artistic versatility, and “drop-dead gorgeous voice” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Her repertoire ranges from classical opera to modern musical theater, from early music to the Great American Songbook, but all of her performances have one thing in common: a commitment to entertaining her audience with musical integrity and creative presentation.

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Worth Revisiting:Joy Stealer or Faith Grower?

Perspective they say is everything, and when we choose to look at situations with new eyes, better yet God’s eyes, we are given a real invitation to grow in faith..

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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Leading With the Humility of Love

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In our society today, these concepts of leadership and humility might seem to contradict one another, and yet they are essential to what it means to follow Christ.

“…and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Take a moment, and think of whom you might consider a good leader. Odds are they possess not only charisma and determination, but genuinely express care and concern for those whom they lead, placing these needs above their own. Going a step further, they might just realize that they are not the protagonists in the story at all. Conversely, think of the most humble people that you know of… do they not lead and inspire others by their sheer ability to authentically witness love?

So what does it mean to lead with humility?

First, it is to see ourselves as God sees us- blessed, broken and infinitely loved. It is to know that our weaknesses and failures are but reminders that we cannot, nor are we intended to, go it solely on our own.  It is to put God in the driver’s seat and to allow him to work through us in best utilizing the gifts he has given us for the task. Even, gifts we may not recognize that we even possess.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:14-16

St. Ignatius extends this discussion further to consider the different degrees of humility or ways we show our love for God and one another. The 1st degree is an adherence or commitment to the commandments or laws of God seeing these as both necessary for our salvation but also a governing spirit in our life. Having accepted this, and discovering that the love of God is calling forth “more” from us, we are surprisingly more content with what we have and less attached to the pursuit of riches, power or glory.  In this, the 2nd degree, we still are not completely free from its attraction but understand that it is less satisfying.  Finally we come to the 3rd degree of humility where the choice of suffering, experiencing poverty or being foolish for Christ is no longer a real struggle but a continual choice.

Quite honestly, it would be wonderful to feel that I have successfully attained my 3rd degree belt in humility..but alas I know that I am not yet there! Am I willing daily to endure persecution, face contempt or ridicule for Christ?  While sometimes a “yes”, and other times a “no” , I am learning gradually that God is asking me to bring my whole self to every situation.  Through my weakness, and vulnerability he is able to show the magnitude of what he can truly do. In seeking to persevere, there is also such immense gratitude for those glimpses given to this selfless authentic love in our lives.

Lord, help me to let go of every spiritually unhealthy desire for acceptance, financial comfort, or worldly success. If considered a fool, then let me be a fool in love with you Lord. Let the world come to know this as a testament to the daily transformation that you work in my life. May this convincingly inspire others to discover the meaning and joy found in striving to embrace the humility of love.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-34

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: 1/25- 1/29

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Experiencing grace through prayer, reflection and action!

Repeat co-host Tony Agnesi , Jane Knuth with Thrift Store Graces, Dan Pierson and Susan Stark with Reflections of Pope Francis: An Invitation to Journaling, Prayer, & Action ,  Susan Windley Daoust with Theology of the Body Extended  and Danielle Shroyer with Where Jesus Prayed.

 

Monday: Tony Agnesi Catholic Storyteller, author and blogger Tony Agnesi is on fire with his Catholic faith. His Sunday blog, Finding God’s Grace and Wednesday snackable podcast have an International audience in several languages. In 2015, Tony was a finalist in the Religion/Spirituality category for the 15th Annual Weblog Awards, the Bloggy’s. He is a member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame.
He is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and is a frequent contributor to Shalom Tidings magazine and is a monthly guest on An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media.Tony and Diane, his wife, of 43 years, live in Wadsworth, Ohio. They have two adult sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and grandson, Nico, the love of their lives.You can read and subscribe to his blog and podcast at http://tonyagnesi.com.

Tuesday: Jane Knuth will be joining us to discuss Thrift Store Saints and Thrift Store GracesJane has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 15 years. She is also an eighth-grade math teacher. Jane and her husband, Dean, live in Portage, Michigan.  Settled (for now) in Clinton Twp, MI, she travels extensively, writes occasionally, and sings constantly.

Wednesday: Dan Pierson Susan Stark Dan has served as a catechist, teacher, parish director of religious education and diocesan director of religious education for Grand Rapids for seventeen years. In addition to Reflections from Pope Francis: An Invitation to Journaling, Prayer and Action, he is co-author of What Do I Do Now? A Guide for the Reluctant Catechist.  Dan is also founder of http://www.eCatechist.com and http://www.faithAlivebooks.com. Reflections from Pope Francis by Susan Stark and Daniel J. Pierson

Susan Stark has spent over 30 years working in various ministry settings at the parish, diocesan, and national levels. She has authored resources for children, youth, young adults, parents, and families.  Most recently, as an independent contractor, she has been involved in the creative development writing and editing of print and web based educational curriculum and marketing resources for major Catholic religious- education publishing companies.

Thursday: Susan Windley-Daoust  Ph.D., is an enthusiastic lay Catholic theologian: married, mother to five, a spiritual director, and assistant professor of Theology at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has been teaching undergraduates, graduate students, and lay ministers for over 15 years. She also has been very involved in the life of her parishes and the local Catholic Worker community. She has beenLectio Publishing cover published in America ,Sojourners, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. She has also worked with the local Catholic Worker community for many years.  Susan joins us to discuss Theology of the Body, Extended:The Spiritual Signs of Birth, Impairment, and Dying

Friday: Danielle Shroyer,  Danielle Shroyer is an author, speaker, and blogger. She served as the Pastor of Journey Church,  for over eight years. Danielle is the author of The Boundary Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise(Jossey-Bass, 2009). A graduate of Baylor University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Danielle speaks often across the Where Jesus Prayed: Illuminating the Lord's Prayer in the Holy Landcountry on issues of theology, faith, church leadership, culture, and story. She has written for Patheos, The Hardest Question, and Immerse magazine, and she blogs often at http://www.danielleshroyer.com. She lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas.Texas.

Worth Revisiting: Decision Making

If you find yourself today considering where you are in life and where God might be leading you..there is guidance found in the scriptures. What follows is a decision making tree, that doesn’t leave the outcome in your hands alone but is an invitation to walk with God, to align your heart with his will.I encourage you to spend some time with each, especially if you feel a pause in answering any one of these resolutely.

Keeping it short and sweet today, but I thought I’d share my own adaptation of a spiritual decision making tree. The first three are quite essential in that they ask of us to go to the source..

God’s word, God’s voice, and the Holy Spirits guidance in all. The other five invite us to consider our intentions, and the effects of our decisions on others. I enjoy reflecting on these particular scripture verses too, giving each a bit of time to bear fruit.

When making a significant decision,  I have also found it important to discuss the situation with my husband, a close friend and when possible with my spiritual director.

Sometimes, inviting another perspective and experience can provide both distance and clarity. Notwithstanding, in taking the time to pray together, we begin to appreciate the necessity of community and the strength found through these faithful bonds of fellowship . None of us are ever intended to embark on this journey alone, but invited to reach out, uplift, lean on, and carry one another when the way seems difficult.

Thank you Father for all those you have placed in my life- my family and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. For the truly prayerful counsel of Fr. Jim who continues to fill this time of discernment for me with great joy and faith-filled wisdom.  May every decision be less of me and more of You, for you know the way ahead so much better than I. 

Peace,

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Grace and Circumstance

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We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.

— from Pope Francis and our Call to Joy

It’s a balmy 40 degrees outside today, yet even this isn’t meant to stay for very long. Temps will be dropping along with continual rain for the next few days. With a supply of hand and feet warmers and aluminum blanket in hand I prayed “Dear Lord help me to find who these warm essentials are meant for. Help them to know that they are thought of and loved.”

Walking up I recognize one woman who I know to be apprehensive of human connection, keeping to herself even among her fellow homeless. This is as close as she gets and thus I nod her way but continue walking towards the group huddled in the bus terminal hub. “John” smiles as I approach and his eyes widen as he notices I come bearing gifts. His full but weathered face reveals the harshness of the life he has led but his kind demeanor bursts forth immediately. While he is one who is able to stay in the local winter shelter for the nights, he joyfully accepts these to pass on to a friend who sleeps outside. As I have yet to meet “Bose”, having only seen his blankets and limited belongings resting under the awning of our parish center, I am thankful to finally find a way to help. Placing these on the bench beside him, John chooses to then generously share with me that he has found a job, the first one in awhile. What a blessing it is to know that not only will it give him a source of income, but will keep him out of the elements during the days.

In finishing up our conversation, we are joined by two other regulars “Chris” and “Nicole”. Despite her substantially layered frame, you can tell Nicole’s thin body is not able to tolerate the cold as many of the others. She is visibly cold, and her lips even are somewhat frozen as she struggles to say hello and reach for the hand warmers. Looking in her eyes I see what it is to suffer. Aware of a bit of her journey, Nicole is a victim of abuse leading to a life of alcoholism and subsequent life on the streets.  Her addiction has, on several occasions, even brought her inside the sacristy in her desire to numb her pain. Today, I am here to simply reach out to that part of her that she can offer.

What sets any one of us apart from anyone else? What is our common thread despite our condition in life? Grace and circumstance. Our choices do factor into the situations we find ourselves in, and the shape our lives take. Yet, I cannot help but recognize how easily an unexpected tragedy, circumstance or mental illness could make its demands on each one of us as well. This is love. This is what it is to walk briefly beside those who so often are our greatest teachers of mercy.

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: 1/18-1/22

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Journey of Our Love The Letters of St. Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla by Elio Guerriero (Pauline Books & Media)

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Breaking into your ordinary
with the extraordinary …

We start off our week with The Enduring Truths of Fulton Sheen , then Peggy Frezon joins us to discuss the Faithfully Yours, Cathy Knipper with Journey of Our Love by Elio Guerriero…

And  Margaret Felice with our Catholic roundtable

 

Monday: Encore-The Enduring Truths of Fulton Sheen– Dr. Mark J. Zia Author, Associate Professor of Theology and Director for Academic Enrichment Programs at Benedictine College, shares his wisdom on the teachings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his latest book, The Enduring and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen. Zia has a doctorate in dogmatic theology
from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and an undergraduate degree from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Married and the father of seven children, he still finds time to travel around the country instructing candidates for ordination to the permanent diaconate.

Tuesday: Encore-When Francis Saved the ChurchJon M. Sweeney, author and editorial director at Franciscan Media,whose 11 books have sold more than 150,000 copies. The Pope Who Quit, sold more than 35,000 copies in the trade edition, was a selection of History Book Club, received a starred review in Booklist, and was excerpted by Reader’s Digest for its iPad subscribers. His books have become History Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, Crossings Book Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club selections. Sweeney has been interviewed on CBS Saturday Morning, Fox News, CBS-TV Chicago, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and on the popular nightly program Chicago Tonight. He is married, the father of three, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today we will be talking about his book, by Ave Maria Press, entitled When Francis Saved the Church: How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages.

Wednesday: Peggy Frezonis the award-winning author of Pawprints on my Heart, the popular Guideposts magazine blog about the human-animal bond. She is a regular contributor to Guideposts and author of Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw, and The Dieting faithfully yours cover 1with My Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance. Her stories also appear in dozens of Chicken Soup for the
Soul™ books.
Peggy and her husband live in New York and enjoy a laid-back lifestyle with the senior dogs they rescue. Peggy joins us to discuss 
Faithfully Yours:The amazing bond between us and the animals we love.

Thursday: Cathy Knipperpublicist at Pauline Books and Media joins us to share her thoughts and passion for  Journey of Our Love: The Letters of St. Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla  by Elio Guerriero. As a publicist at Pauline Books & Media, she finds The Journey of Our Loveherself, “surrounded by books…blessed to work with many talented authors. Sometimes, however, God reaches out with his grace and touches me with the words of an author I will never have the opportunity to meet”. This book on Gianna and Pietro Molla is such an instance.

Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic! 

Margaret Felice has been praised for her dynamic stage presence, artistic versatility, and “drop-dead gorgeous voice” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Her repertoire ranges from classical opera to modern musical theater, from early music to the Great American Songbook, but all of her performances have one thing in common: a commitment to entertaining her audience with musical integrity and creative presentation.

Worth Revisiting: Whose Calls Are You Taking?

Prayer is essential dialogue with God. Whether it be silent and contemplative in the stillness of your heart, or more verbal and conversational-God desires this time with you. As a child my mom described her prayer as an amazing telephone conversation and that image has remained with me to this day!

Some time ago I was approached by a friend’s mother who was going through an extremely difficult family situation.  As is often the case, I had not planned to be there at that moment, but had felt an inner pull to change my plans for the day.

Seeking advice, comfort and direction she began relaying the details as well as the inability to find any peace. Listening, I wondered initially if we should perhaps relocate to a different setting. Then quite suddenly,  I became keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  As she spoke I could feel her anxiety and fearfulness and knew that this was the time and place that each of us was meant to be.

Father, help me to let her know how much you love her. Let your Spirit guide my words and her to find you once again.

“Have you prayed recently?”, I asked.

“I still go to mass on occasion, but I can’t say that I feel close to God. I know the prayers that I was taught as a child, but I really don’t know how to pray any other way.”

“Can I ask you another question? Whose calls do you answer each day?”

“You mean on the phone? Well, that would be from my family or my close friends.”

“Those moments are meaningful because conversation is so essential in our relationships. There is a give and a take, a time to listen and a time to speak. And when you do so, you each share in one another’s lives.”

“Yes, that is so true! Though lately, I want to help but question whether I am being listened to.”

“God feels the same way . He is there waiting for us to talk to him and yet we so often let his call go unanswered.  He wants so desperately to be in relationship with us, to be invited into our day and our problems. Sometimes, we simply need to start small.”  “Ever notice a particularly beautiful sunset or a gift of a new day or grandchild and feel compelled to say Thank you?”

“Oh, I have! I had forgotten about that!”

“Gratitude is a indelible part of becoming aware that God is near, noticing all the little ways that God is there for us in our everyday. Today, I can say with certainty that God is here with us. If it’s fine with you, could we pray together and ask for His help in this situation?”

“Yes, but how do we begin?..”

 Father..thank you for the gift of bringing us together today. You love us so dearly and want to be ever close to us.  This is our desire too today. Lord, please let “Mary” know that you have never left her-that you are there to listen, guide, and bring her peace. That though we do not know where the road leads that you are always walking beside us.  Please also help remove the fear and anxiety that are troubling her, and replace it with your loving embrace. We love and praise you –in Your name we pray Amen.

Today, the readings from 1 Samuel  (3:3-10; 19) and John (1:35-42), really hit home. I was reminded of this conversation and of the importance of listening in my faith life. For in this busy demanding world that we find ourselves in, hearing God’s voice requires a desire to tune out the noise and tune into the Father. Moreover, it is being ready to pick up the “phone” when he calls rather than letting it go to voicemail.  Only then can we “Come and see” what He has planned for us, where we are to go and lead others to Christ.

Reflection: Did I seek to listen to God today? Did I invite him prayerfully into my life-sharing my joys, concerns and difficulties with him? If not, why wait..He’s standing by!

Peace,Signature

When God Talks

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What is it to say that God talks? How do we know that God is really speaking and guiding us as we seek to follow?

I would venture to say that nearly every believer has at some point in their walk of faith has questioned and sought certainty of God’s constant dialogue with them. Silence might seem deafening at times and the fear of abandonment or trial just too great. Hang in there, you are in good company…what you are describing has been felt by countless saints and even uttered by our Lord himself on the cross.

Not that long ago, my teenage son who had experienced a very difficult day with a friendship, and dealing with academic pressures found himself unable to sleep. Pausing by his room to say goodnight, I became suddenly aware that he needed to talk.

“Mom, why is it that when I pray I cannot hear God speaking to me? I pray every night, even apart from our family prayer…and I never hear anything back.”

“What is it that you are expecting to hear”, I ask, “an audible voice?”

“I’m not sure, he responds, but right now it’s just silence.”

“What is it that you feel…can you feel God present even if it may seem he isn’t that close?”

“Yes, but I really wish he would answer me, and help me figure out how to handle all that I am dealing with”

Smiling, “Were you just praying earlier? Have you ever considered that is why I am here now?”

Thinking of this moment today, I am reminded that perhaps we sometimes set expectations on just how God is to respond to our prayer and miss him working in the events and lives of all those around us.

Setting time aside for scripture is another way that we, if open, can “hear” God speaking to us. This past week was a beautiful testament of this! With a number of prayerful concerns on my mind last

 Monday,

I picked up my coffee and sat down with a few scriptural reflections for some Father-daughter time. Asking God for guidance, I opened my eyes and to my delight was a reflection on Luke 11:8-9..

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

God was asking me not to carry these matters alone but to ask, seek and depend on him. Though I was pleased with this consolation, God was not satisfied. He underscored it with the 2nd completely distinctive reflection on James 1:5-6…

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.

It wasn’t enough for me to simply ask, God was telling me I needed to trust that he had it all in control. Without faith and trust, my prayers and conversation were shallow and superficial, not at all the deep friendship that God longs to have with each and every one of us.

Wednesday:

I had hit the ground running from the moment my feet first met the floor. Scrambling to get put into place things that should’ve been done earlier I had skipped my morning reflection time. God had not given up on me though. My chosen post for Worth Revisiting was a reflection on Matthew 13:1-9, and focused on the essentials of prayer, mass, love and scripture. Quickly I had uploaded it and opened the linkup for the week without giving the post itself the needed read. That is until the Holy Spirit got my attention. Unbeknownst to me initially, my colleague Allison Gingras had also chosen that very same scripture passage to revisit. As she and I both sat in amazement, I knew that there was something God wanted me to notice in that passage and post. Then there it was, in my writing by my own hand. I had woken up without tending to my own weeds and preparing my soil adequately. “Father, thank you for your patience, persistence and humor in seeking me- when I am otherwise occupied and not always seeking you!”

Thursday:

Having come to the realization that all of my notes for my radio interview that day no longer existed, I was feeling quite dismayed. That is, until I turned to this reflection,

“We must always be starting again. These continual recoveries, this endless beginning again, tires and disheartens us far more than the actual fighting. We would much prefer a real battle, fierce and decisive. But God, as a rule, thinks otherwise.” — Dom Augustin Guillerand

Once again I found strength and determination to take up the task at hand, knowing that God had a purpose in the re-do, in my beginning again. Humble but reassured, I saw purpose in the work ahead.

So, how do we know when God is talking to us?

This tangible experience of his presence, which is at times overwhelming and also more subtle, is both anticipated and yet surprising. It lifts us up, reassures, comforts and guides, giving us hope when we have none. Even when we are not aware of it, God is ever present and faithful.. waiting for us to make space in our day. When we do– the more attentive and attune to the sound of His voice we are, no matter what the world throws at us. When was the last time you heard God talk?

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith:1/11-1/15

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Stripped by Heather King  (Loyola Press), Already There: Letting God Find You by  Fr. Mark Mossa (Franciscan Press),   and Tackling Tough Topics with Faith and Fiction by Diana Jenkins (Pauline Books & Media)

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Getting ready for the New Year and counting our blessings!

Jana Reiss joins us with  Flunking Sainthood Everyday,  Heather King  with Stripped,  Fr. Mark Mossa with Already There: Letting God Find YouDiana Jenkins Tackling Tough Topics with Faith and Fiction 

And  Encore Marge Fenlon  with Our Lady Undoer of Knots


Monday: Jana Reiss, 
an editor in the publishing industry since 2008, she has primarily worked in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics, and biblical studies. Jana holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She speaks often to media about issues pertaining to religion in America, and has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, People, the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, among other print publications, as well as “Voice of America,” the “Today” show, MSNBC, and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Tell Me More,” and “Talk of the Nation.” She joins us to discuss Flunking Sainthood Every Day: A Daily Devotional for the Rest of Us.

Tuesday: Heather Kingis a Catholic convert ,former barfly,  with several books, among them Parched, Redeemed, Shirt of Flame, Poor Baby,and Stumble: Virtue, Vice and the Space Between. She writes a weekly column on arts and culture for The Tidings, a weekly column in Aleteia, and a monthly column in Magnificat magazine.  Heather also speaks nationwide, lead retreats, provides editing services and blogs at www.Heather-King.com.

 

Wednesday: Fr. Mark Mossa SJ, is a Jesuit priest, teacher, retreat leader and author, currently teaches American Catholicism at Fordham University in New York. He is the author ofSaint Ignatius Loyola–The Spiritual Writings: Annotated & Explained, and Already There: Letting God Find You. Fr. Mark has a particular passion for ministry to young adults in their 20s and 30s, and a fascination with the intersection of faith and culture, especially popular culture. He is also co-author and co-editor of Just War, Lasting Peace: What Christian Traditions Can Teach Us. Fr. Mark’s  writing has  appeared in various publications such as America and Company magazine, as well as on BustedHalo.com.

Diana R. JenkinsThursday: Diana Jenkins, is the author of more than four hundred stories, articles, plays, books, and comic strips for children and teens. After twenty-plus years as a special education teacher, she became a freelance writer. Her books of plays include Just Deal With It! Funny Readers Theatre for Life’s Not-So-Funny Moments, All Year Long! Funny Readers Theatre for Life’s Special Times, and Spotlight on Saints! A Year of Funny Readers Theater for Today’s Catholic Kids. She’s also written two comic collections: The Stepping Stones Comic Collection and The Saints of Note Comic Collection. Her other books include The Stepping Stones Journals, a middle grade novel, and Goodness Graces! Ten Short Stories About the Sacraments, a collection of short stories. She joins us to discuss Tackling Tough Topics: With Faith and Fiction.

Friday: Marge Fenelon is a Catholic author, blogger, speaker, and longtime contributor to a variety of Catholic and secular publications and websites, including Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Register, Catholic Digest, and Catholic News Service. Her column, The Whirl, appears in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, and her blog, Catholic to the Core, is on Patheos.  Fenelon is the author of a number of books related to Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Imitating Mary. Fenelon is a regular guest on Catholic radio, including Relevant Radio’s Morning Air and EWTN’s Son Rise Morning Show. Marge will be joining us to discuss her latest book Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena .