Monthly Archives: October 2009
I LOVE this song. The video is a bit creepy, especially if you don’t like clowns. But it’s a super-sweet love song. For my super-sweet love.
I am currently taking an ENDOW class at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The class is on Salvifici Doloris, or “On the Meaning of Christian Suffering”.
** Pause here to plug ENDOW in a big way. Every parish, or at least diocese, should have it — http://www.endowonline.com***
Last Tuesday was our first class, and the second is tonight. It’s such a wonderful experience, to be with other Catholic women pouring over Scripture and Church teaching to help understand and illuminate our experiences and sufferings. As women, we experience suffering in ways that men do not and can’t understand. I think it’s truly important to come together with other women to think and talk about this.
In the first class we began reading the document Salvifici Doloris written by Pope John Paul II. In paragraph 4 of the document, the Holy Father says:
“Human suffering evokes compassion, it also evokes respect, and in its own way, it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of a specific mystery.”
This phrase has stuck in my brain all week; “the intimidation of suffering”. What does that mean? The more I’ve asked God about this, and thought about it this week, I think it means a few things.
1. Suffering intimidates those who suffer. Well…how astute, you might say. Of course suffering intimidates those who suffer. But how? It intimidates you by making you believe that you cannot handle or deal with it. Suffering is like a gas that, once released, fills you up and immobilizes you. When a person is in the midst of great suffering, they often speak of feeling paralyzed by their feelings of anger, fear, sadness, that are associated with the suffering.
What causes the suffering is, for the most part, irrelevant. Each person is different. For one person, it may be an incurable or debilitating illness. For another, it may be the death or alienation of a loved one. For still others, it can be feelings of social isolation or rejection. What might seem like “no big deal” to some, can often be the very thing that leaves a person feeling full to the brim of suffering.
I learned this lesson firsthand when I miscarried. While others, who meant well, told me it was not a big deal, or that I should cheer up because “you can always have another baby” or “you can try again soon”, I often felt so overwhelmed by inadequacy and suffering that I could barely summon the strength to get out of bed.
Suffering intimidates us by feeding us the lie that we cannot overcome it.
2. Suffering intimidates the people who witness it in others. This is why, as my mother used to say, “You learn who your friends really are when you’re lying in a hospital ward.” Though I was too young to remember, my grandmother has told me many stories about so-called “friends” of my mother’s who dropped off the face of the earth once she became ill and was hospitalized. Only a handful of her friends remained faithful to her in the midst of her suffering.Even my father was unable to bear the sight of her suffering, and for the most part, stayed away.
And her story is not unique in this regard. When my grandmother’s sister moved in with us after a stroke paralyzed her, many of her friends no longer called or came to visit her. This once vibrant woman who had many friends and connections in the community, spent most of the remaining years of her life feeling isolated and alone.
This is the legacy of fallen humanity. Suffering entered the world through sin and death (please understand, I am not saying that all suffering is caused by an individual’s sin, but rather that understanding the presence of suffering as being caused in part from the collective sins of humanity). Those who suffer feel paralyzed by it and unable to get past it, for the most part. Those who witness the suffering of people around them, also feel paralyzed and intimidated into believing that there is “nothing they can do”.
We have fallen prey to the belief that unless you are capable of ending a person’s suffering, then you are useless to them. We’ve dismissed the power of community and individual gift of self in spending time with someone who is suffering. Often times, more than a cure or a new drug, the suffering person wants someone to be with them, to make them feel that they are still human, and still worthy of a dignified life.
When I was a small child, we drove to the hospital (about 200 miles away) every weekend so that we could be with my mother, who was living there. Of course, I was six, so I did not totally understand what was going on, only that every Saturday, I got to hold my Mommy’s hand.
Many people, myself included, cease to offer companionship or assistance to families or individuals who are suffering. On one level, we feel powerless. We are intimidated by their suffering, and our intimidation tells us to keep our distance. On another level, being around those who suffer or who are dying reminds us of the fragility of life and of our own mortality. So we avoid being exposed to it at all costs, including the rejection of those who are suffering.
I firmly believe that the only way to overcome suffering is with love. Authentic love, which seeks only the good of the other, and which is willing to make itself uncomfortable or inconvienenced for the sake of the other. Authentic love propels us from a stance of paralyzed intimidation in the face of suffering into the position of going forward with joy, convinced of the ability of our love, which is a gift from God, to overcome all suffering and fear.
I think this is why, despite all of the suffering that Pope John Paul II lived through, including the death of his entire family by the time he was 20, World War II, Nazi Occupation of Poland, Holocaust, Stalin, etc., he was able to say:
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are Easter people and hallalujah is our song!”
Elizabeth from that married couple!!
The quote posted earlier:
“In my opinion, it is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth–control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.”
is by Ghandi, the famous Indian peace activist and revolutionary. Being against contraception isn’t just a Catholic thing. It isn’t just a Christian thing. It isn’t just a Jew or Muslim thing. It’s not even just a Monotheistic thing.
Thanks to everyone who guessed — Elizabeth, you have my genuine esteem!!
I’m going to post a quote regarding contraception from a very well-known source. However, I’m not going to tell you who it is…yet.
Feel free to make your guess until Saturday at Midnight — the winner gets…my genuine esteem!
“In my opinion, it is an insult to the fair sex to put up her case in support of birth–control by artificial methods. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded her for his lust, and artificial methods, no matter how well-meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.”
PS. Don’t cheat by looking the quote up on the internet before you guess; that ruins the fun!
The whole month of October is dedicated to the Rosary; and today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.
October 7 was declared the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in the 17th century. The rosary is one of the oldest forms of prayer in the Church.
There are four sets of mysteries which one meditates upon while praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, at various times. These mysteries are scenes from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Our Lady has said in nearly every apparition she has made that praying the rosary WILL bring souls closer to Christ. Since Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but also the first Christian, I like to err on the side of not ignoring her words.
I could spend a lot of pages waxing poetic about the mother of God, and pointing out all the ways that honoring her is an integral part of the Christian life, but I’d rather tell a personal story. After all, this is a personal blog, and I am not a theologian (as much as I might pretend to be!)
I’m going to tell you a story about how the rosary has touched my life and why I pray it often.
My mother was a convert to the faith. She became Catholic when she was 19 years old, in a hospital suffering from kidney disease. She was waiting to receive a transplant, and a kind priest who was hospital chaplain befriended her. She asked him many questions about God, and about why God allows suffering to happen. She must have liked his answers, because she decided to become Catholic.
She entered the Church as a young woman, several years before meeting my father, who was a cradle Catholic.
I believe my mother gathered great strength from her faith in God and His Church. She often prayed the rosary and encouraged me to have faith in God’s plan, even amidst suffering that we cannot understand.
She did many things that should not have been possible; things that doctors tried to talk her out of doing, like having a baby (me!) for instance. If it were not for my mother’s deep faith in God’s goodness and her own generosity, I would not have been born, but would have been aborted in order to protect my mother’s “health”. However, she did not let anything distract her from the joy of new life growing inside her, and did not let fear keep her from doing God’s will.
She loved me with true mother’s love, even before she met me. She never let her illness or fear keep her from God, and her last wish was that I be raised in the Church. She died from complications of her illness when she was 33 and I was 7.
She left me a legacy of faith in God, strength in adversity, and of the redemptive power of her own suffering. She offered her suffering for me, that I might continue to grow in love for God.
And though I have allowed suffering and anger about suffering to keep me from God at many times in my life, I have always been aware that God was nearby. At many times I did not want Him near me, I did not want me near Him. Yet, in moments of quiet sadness, I would hear God speaking to me, often through the voice of Mary.
I have had a few “conversions” in my life (I think most people do!), and one of which happened in college, I owe entirely to the rosary. I attended a Kairos retreat, during which I shared the story of my mother’s death. The retreat facilitator, a wonderful sister, said to me very plainly;
“You are like St. Therese and John Paul II (both of whom lost their mothers at young ages), you must ask Mary to be your mother.”
I wasn’t too sure about that, but it got me thinking. I was raised in the Church; I liked Mary, I knew the hail mary. I thought she was the beautiful lady of Christmas cards and stained-glass windows. But she was not alive to me, and certainly she couldn’t be concerned about me and my lack of a mother.
I decided to do an experiment. I would ask Mary to act as my mother, and try praying a hail mary once a day for a week, just to see what would happen. You know, because one has to be scientific when trying to decide if the Mother of God is intervening in your life!
At the end of that week, I felt a little kinder, a little less angry at the world. I decided to increase my prayer to saying one decade of the rosary a day for another week …and then another…and then another. I’m sure you, dear reader, are snickering to yourself as you read this, knowing exactly where it ends up. I, on the other hand, had no idea what to expect. I only knew I felt more like God cared about me, and that my life had some kind of meaning I hadn’t felt before.
I wanted to pray more; I felt more engaged at Mass. Moreover, I felt a motherly presence around me, and without dragging to much past out into the light, there were a few situations when it seemed that a cosmic mothering presence intervened for me, preventing me from making some pretty disastrous choices.
Within about six months of praying a partial rosary daily, my life had begun to change in a noticeable way. I was nicer in general, less cynical in particular. I began to feel some of the deep wounds of my life being cleansed and starting to heal. All that remains of these wounds today are some battle scars; reminders or what I have survived with God’s grace.
I have been, since that time, a firm believer in the deep love of Mary for all of humanity. She is our Mother; she longs for nothing else but for all of her children to be united to Christ in love.
I can now say that, in addition to the earthly women who have mothered me in many ways (thank you!), I have two mothers in heaven. The woman who gave me my life and my faith, and the woman “clothed with the stars” by whose intercession I was brought back to God and discovered myself.
So go ahead, find that dusty old rosary your grandmother gave you, and give it a shot. You never know what can happen when you call on your Mother in heaven.
Later this month, Atticus will be doing a guest post, telling his story of how the rosary played a role in bringing him to the Church.
As some of you may know, I have been trying to discern what God is calling my next steps to be in life.
Atticus and I are trying to conceive, and with many prayers and God’s grace, we will soon.
Recently I have felt drawn to the idea of social work. It’s something I considered in college briefly, but abandoned because of the horror stories I heard of burnout, low pay and other trials that come with traditional social work atmosphere.
However, there is a lot more to social work than administering food stamps and taking people’s children away. Most counseling is done by social workers. This appeals to me. I had a taste of counseling working at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, helping women discuss their options and helping them set goals for how to keep their pregnancies.
It was such a wonderful experience to have. As a counselor, most of what you do is listening to other people, and offering suggestions for setting goals to improve situations and treat things like depression and family problems.
All of this is by way of saying that IUPUI has an excellently ranked school of social work, which I am contemplating entering for an MSW. I wouldn’t be able to enter the program until fall 2010, so I have a lot of time to discern if this is what God is calling me to.
I have also noticed that there is a lack of faithful Catholics who have been trained with the clinical skills to be good marriage and family counselors. What I mean, is that there seem to be few marriage and family counselors who are faithful to the Magisterium, and would not advise their clients to violate the moral law as it regards marriage and sexuality.
There is one such institute I am acquainted with, Pastoral Solutions Institute, which offers several books on improving marriage, raising strong families, and dealing with life’s hardships. One of these is Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind Blowing, Infallible Loving by Dr. Gregory Popcak, director of the institute. Eric and I received this book as a wedding gift, and it has been so wonderful in explaining the intragal role of true, life-giving sexuality in marriage. I highly recommend it for all Catholic couples.
All of the books written are intended for Catholics who want to improve their marriages and families while remaining faithful to the truth of the human person and it’s dignity.
I see the lack of other such counselors as a real deficit, as the majority of marriage counselors will advocate the use of things which violate the dignity of marriage and of the marriage partners (such as mastrubation, pornography, fantasies about people other than the spouse, etc.), all in the name of supposedly making the marriage stronger.
The dignity of marriage is being attacked on many fronts in our culture, and it would appear even those who are seeking help to save their marriages are trying to be persuaded to engage in behaviors that, along with indulging our sinful impulses, degrades both spouses and create an atmosphere of exploitation and use for personal pleasure, rather than the self-giving love that gives rise to authentic freedom.
And Satan loves all of this — for what else does evil ever tell us other than that all of our desires are good and should be acted upon. That everything we want is acceptable and the dignity and feelings of others are expendable in the pursuit of our own pleasure.
I realize I’ve gone on a bit of a tirade here; but all of this is by way of saying that we need more faithful Catholic counselors, and that God may just be calling me to become one.
Prayers for discernment and clarity of God’s will are of course appreciated!
all my sisters who have either thrown away the Pill, or always knew they were better off without it! Here’s to the real pioneers of “natural lifestyle”.
It’s the first Saturday of October — which means, in addition to Notre Dame football, it’s the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by the lovely Elizabeth Esther.
This is how it works; you pick your favorite post for the previous month. The post which you think defines the essence of your blog and introduces new readers to you.
If you’re stopping by for the first time from EE’s — Welcome! Thanks for stopping by and getting to know me a little bit. Leave a comment introducing yourself and I can get to know you too!
And of course, if you’re here not via EE’s, go check out all the other lovely ladies who have posted there!
My post for this month is “The Day I Met God”, describing the first time I encountered God’s love, and knew that’s what it was.
Enjoy and Happy Weekend!
** 1 **
Last night Atticus and I went to see Yo-Yo Ma at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to hear Dvorak’s Cello concerto. That’s him. He is a wonderful performer. I was never really into classical music until I met Eric. He is a cellist, and much more versed in classical music than I am. I have really enjoyed getting to learn more about classical pieces, especially for cello. I think it’s one of the most beautiful and versatile instruments. You can often hear cello with an orchestra or chamber music, but you can also hear it with guitar and drums in popular music too.
Of course, for cello at it’s best, it doesn’t get any better than Bach’s suites for cello. And Mr. Ma played one of them for his encore. Great concert!
** 2 **
Books galore! I am collecting a series of books for my “spiritual book of the month club”. Right now I am the only member of my book club, but I’m looking for others who’d like to participate. They don’t have to live in Indy, but of course that would make it easier. A virtual book club is a possibility too. Of course, if no one’s interested, I’m going to read them and probably post on them anyway.
Here they are, in no particular order:
– The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke
– Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano — Divine answers to life’s most difficult problems.
– Love As A Way of Life by Gary Chapman (the author of the love languages books) — Seven keys to transforming every aspect of your life.
-Having a Mary Heart In A Martha World by Joanna Weaver — Finding intimacy with God in the busyness of life.
– Confession by Adrienne Von Speyr — This book looks to be a very detailed treatment of why confession, the spiritual importance of it, and how we grow closer to God by doing it.
I don’t know which one to start with. Let me know if you’d like to be part of the “club”.
** 3 **
Last week I blogged about the Spirit and Truth adoration group that Atticus and I attend. We are going to host an All Hallows Eve dinner party at our house! I am so excited because (1) I love Halloween, (2) I really want to host a dinner party and (3) Parties are fun!
We are going to pray the litany of the saints, and we are going to have:
Butternut squash bisque
bread with pumpkin butter
and maybe a pie of some kind…
I’m so excited! I’ve decided I’m going to dress up as St. Gianna. I’ll post pictures once I figure out the outfit.
** 4 **
Everyone PLEASE check out this link — the following is a clip from the film Maafa 21. It is about the eugenic nature of planned parenthood’s inception and mission, and how the black community has been impacted by abortion.
We are going to plan a young adult rally for the spring and show this film for discussion with high school and college students.
Watch this clip, especially if you are pro-life or curious about how PP got it’s start.
Just watch it — it will blow your mind open.
** 5 **
And, to change gears slightly — I love CSI: NY. I watch reruns of it. A lot. I probably watch too much tv. BUT, if I ever am stuck on an airplane with a murder victim, I will know how to begin processing the crime scene.
I consider this a personal victory.
Also, I love him:
Thanks Liutenant Dan!
** 6 **
Tomorrow Atticus and I are going to the pumpkin patch/apple picking!! YAY!
One of the best things about fall is going to pick apples and pumpkins. We are going to a farm that has both — so excited!
I’m going to get lots of pumpkins for decorating with, and lots of apples for making apple butter, applesauce, and …. other apple stuff.
I will post pictures from the fall extravaganza!
** 7 **
And of course, Friday in October means, Notre Dame football on Saturday.
Hi, my name is Golden Tate, and I actually have wings under my jersey.
Or, Happy feast day St. Therese!
Therese of Lisieux lived a life of obscurity. She became much more popular in death than she ever was in life. Yet she lived what we are all called to — a little way of holiness, that entails giving up one’s self and doing small, unknown, acts of love and service for others. She sought to do this with her whole life.
The following taken from the Society of St. Therese:
Therese spent the last nine years of her life at the Lisieux Carmel. Her fellow Sisters recognized her as a good nun, nothing more. She was conscientious and capable. Sister Therese worked in the sacristy, cleaned the dining room, painted pictures, composed short pious plays for the Sisters, wrote poems, and lived the intense community prayer life of the cloister. Superiors appointed her to instruct the novices of the community. Externally, there was nothing remarkable about this Carmelite nun.
Another nun made strange, clacking noises in chapel. Therese did not say, but the good lady was probably either toying with her rosary or was afflicted by ill-fitting dentures. The clacking sound really got to Therese. It ground into her brain. Terrible-tempered Therese was pouring sweat in frustration. She tried to shut her ears, but was unsuccessful. Then, as an example of her ‘little ways’, she made a concert out of the clacking and offered it as a prayer to Jesus. “I assure you,” she dryly remarked, “that was no prayer of Quiet.”
Therese, the great mystic, fell asleep frequently at prayer. She was embarrassed by her inability to remain awake during her hours in chapel with the religious community. Finally, in perhaps her most charming and accurate characterization of the “little way,” she noted that, just as parents love their children as much while asleep as awake, so God loved her even though she often slept during the time for prayers.
Therese wasn’t perfect. She had flaws and was a sinner. But she always sought to do God’s will, and to live the “little way” that Jesus called her to. She died at age 24, without fanfare or much ado.
Because of her writing, and her spiritual insights, Therese was named a doctor of the Church. John Paul II had the following to say about this achivement:
Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the “Doctors of the Church”, but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters.
She is one of only three female doctors of the Church — the other two being St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena. Her autobiography, The Story of A Soul, is world renowned and one of the most moving spiritual memoirs of all time.
The following words of St. Therese are taken from the Society of the Little Flower website: http://www.littleflower.org
In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might seem extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle.
XVI letter to her sister Celine
I know of one means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else. Sometimes I seek another word to express Love, but in this land of exile the word which begins and ends (St. Augustine) is quite incapable of rendering the vibrations of the soul; we must then adhere to this simple and only word: TO LOVE.
But on whom shall our poor heart lavish its love? Who shall be found that is great enough to be the recipient of its treasures? Will a human being know how to comprehend them, and above all will he be able to repay? There exists but one Being capable of comprehending love; it is Jesus; He alone can give us back infinitely more than we shall ever give to him.
Letter to her cousin, Marie Guerin
On the day of my conversion Charity entered into my heart and with it a yearning to forget self always; thenceforward I was happy.
Story of A Soul, Chapter V
And lastly, this prayer, written by St. Therese herself.
ACT OF OBLATION OF ST. THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS
OF THE HOLY FACE TO THE MERCIFUL LOVE OF GOD
Offering of myself as a Victim of Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love. 9th June 1895
O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire to Love You and make You Loved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! To be Yourself my Sanctity!
Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning with Love.
I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts of Love, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You, O Blessed Trinity! The love and merits of the Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother. It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, my Beloved Spouse, told us in the days of His mortal life: “Whatsoever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you!” I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! That the more You want to give, the more You make us desire. I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You not all-powerful? Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.
I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may Your Divine Glance cleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.
I thank You, O my God! For all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the scepter of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.
After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for Your Love alone with the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally.
In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in Your own Justice and to receive from Your Love the eternal possession of Yourself. I want no other Throne, no other Crown but You, my Beloved! Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years. You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.
In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I Offer Myself as a Victim of Holocaust to Your Merciful Love, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God!
May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.
I want O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!
Marie, Francoise, Thérèse of the Child Jesus
and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.
This 9th day of June,
Feast of the Most Holy Trinity,
in the year of grace, 1895.
I love all the October saints!