Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gossip and standing by....

One thing that weighs on my mind at times:

I sometimes am hanging out with a group of friends and acquaintances.  "B" came up to the people I was sitting with and started saying things about "A" who just left.  Now, the topic of conversation seems to be well liked, successful and popular. Did anyone near me stick up for "A"? Nope. Everyone sat there and listened to it.

I won't sit by and listen to that.  I'm not perfect. I've gossiped in the past, and I've talked about others. But thankfully, I like to think I've changed and grown.  If I do have something to say, I TRY to think about how I'd like it if that person was saying the same about me.  I also try not to say anything behind someone's 'back' so to speak, that I wouldn't say to her or his face.

It saddens me that people don't stick up for their friends, let alone their acquaintances.  The gossiper and the others will then be all nice to a person's face while running someone down when that person is not around.

What person "B" was saying about person "A", told me more about "B" than it did "A", which I'm sure wasn't her intention.

Just rambling, I guess......

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm still here...

Just got home from being out of town, and I didn't have any posts scheduled to appear while I was gone. I'll have more up shortly, because God just keeps showing up everywhere I turn, in the most unexpected places and times!

God bless you! Please pray for me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner

I’m in my 40s. That’s over 16,000 days on Earth. At 2 sins a day from the time I was old enough to know better,  that’s no less than 20,000 sins.  I’m sure the average of 2/day is pretty generously low, as we've probably all had days that we committed more than 2 sins, and other days, maybe less. They may be sins of action or inaction, maybe minor, maybe major.  With that many, they were surely repeated over and over.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find people skeptical of my conversion (reversion, perhaps?) to the Catholic Faith.  After all, look at me! I could name off all my weaknesses and sins more rapidly than anyone else could, other than our Lord.  He alone knows the true depth of my sin, but His Love is deeper than that depth of sin. I pray often to seek that Love, to know that depth of His Love for me and for us. Infinitely.  My life is far from perfect, but His Love for us is Perfect.  I think it’s very important for us sinners to share His Word and Love.

I can hear the accusation: Chris, you’re a SINNER. Who do you think you ARE to deserve, let alone share, God’s Love, Joy, Mercy?  You are not worthy.  That’s quite true. I could never be worthy.  A lot in me has changed since February 6th. I’ve truly repented and been forgiven. But what better way for God to show us that each of us has the opportunity to know Him, to love Him, to be close to Him than to redeem publicly a well known sinner?  If God can love, forgive even the most hardened of sinners if they come to Him, He will accept any of us!  If He works through someone who has sinned greatly and publicly, like a murderer (which I’m not), or a disgraced politician (also which I’m not!), I believe it’s to show us the extent of His Mercy and Love. Is it hypocritical to sing praises to the Lord when we are sinners? Each of us has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3). If I fail and sin, does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t think so. If we are trying, even when we make a mistake, if we ask for forgiveness with the intent not to sin again, that is moving forward.  Should we be beholden to our past? I daresay each of us have done things or thought things or said things that we wouldn't want to be plastered on the front page of the newspaper or internet. Should I hold that against you if you have repented? If the Lord has forgiven someone, what right do I have to withhold my forgiveness? I may still choose not to like or be around that person. But I do have to love them, forgive them. That’s so hard!

It’s easy to see a Priest, Pastor, Nun, Deacon or someone else that we may place on a pedestal, how they are ‘holy’ men or women of God.  But Jesus Christ did not come to earth to preach to the ‘choir’. Take the sinful woman HERE.
42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
She had sinned greatly but realized the Greatness of Jesus, and sought His forgiveness.  He gave it to her. Take Saul...Paul. He persecuted the Disciples of Christ. He wanted to kill them! Yet our Savior came to him and led him to the right path.  He had no faith! He had no love for the Lord! But he accepted the Lord when God appeared to him.  He knew.  Is there a greater sin than to persecute the Lord?

 There was Matthew, a tax collector; many of us feel persecuted by tax collectors, even today.  Perhaps even those Jesus raised from the dead did not believe before they died. But through Him, He saved their lives, both physically and spiritually.  If we have to choose between being saved physically or spiritually, which is better? Spiritually, of course! Jesus physically suffered to save us spiritually.  He suffers spiritually now when we sin. Yet His Forgiveness and Love reign forever, if only we seek it.  The Bible is full of both sinners and saints. But who were those saints? They were also sinners. You can’t open the Bible without reading about sinners. Yet Jesus loves us all. Accept that Love with all your heart.

Listen closely to the sinners who have come to our Lord.  They are well aware of their unworthiness. But what better way to share the news than to say, “God loves me, a sinner! God forgave me, a sinner!  Here are my sins, yet He still wants ME, of all people! Share in this joy I have found!” Now THAT should be front page news.

Being loved, being forgiven, being Christian doesn't mean I’ll never sin again. It does mean that I’m human.

Luke 7:36-50
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Parable of Two Debtors
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he [d]replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred [e]denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say [f]to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More lessons in Humility and Love

Yet another lesson in Humility this weekend, and I loved it!  I can be stubborn, and it’s very hard for me to ask for forgiveness, whether I’m right or wrong in my stance, and admit it when I am truly wrong.  But it doesn't matter who was right and who was wrong, or by how much each of us bears responsibility.  I was willing to take it on, to bear the burden, in order to have peace in the family.  If only I had known that by doing so, God instead took it on Himself for me.  I think going to Reconciliation many times over the past few months prepared me; I have sinned greatly against the Lord during my life, and He has forgiven me and loved me. If the One I've hurt most by my mistakes can accept, love and forgive me, asking others who are human like I am isn't quite as difficult, but only with His Grace.

Things have been awkward with my in-laws for some time.  I won’t get into the reasons why, but there has been friction.  I accept my responsibility in that, and am blessed enough to have a supportive husband.  I know it’s been hard for him.  He had offered many times to talk to his family, but I didn’t want to create further tension, especially between him and them.

The tension has bothered me for a long time, and it hasn’t always been that way, but it has been that way for too long.  I didn’t ever know how to fix it, even though I wanted to.  I just avoided the situations, so as not to get hurt, or hurt my husband, or cause more tension.  That was my solution for too long, but it was all I could manage at the time.

As you might see from a previous post, I had been praying for humility.  I finally had the grace and opportunity this weekend to use it again. I was so nervous and scared.  What do I say? What do I do?  I talked to my husband about it, and he said he supported me in whatever I decided, even if it wasn’t to make up with his family.  I visited the local Catholic bookstore, and found some St. Elizabeth Ann Seton medals, as well as prayer cards for her.  I had googled while I was at the store, and she came up as the patron saint of in-law troubles.  We also had some rosaries that had belonged to my mother-in-law, and I wanted to make sure that they also had some, and if they didn’t, offer the rosaries to them as well.

On the way to the family gathering, I prayed the Rosary, with the Joyful Mysteries.  The recording on the Laudate app included scriptures and intentions for humility, love, peace.  I finished the prayer right as I pulled into the parking lot. Deep breath!  I felt the tension when I arrived; fortunately, there were many other family members there so it wasn’t so obvious.  I waited until I thought I had the right moment. I asked to talk to his sisters alone. I had no idea what I was going to say, so I started out first by giving them the cards and medals.  After that, I looked at them, and asked their forgiveness.  I’m sure that they didn’t expect this at all.  I didn’t want to rehash anything or point fingers; I was more than willing to take the blame, so long as we could move forward.

I was received with such love from my sisters-in-law, and forgiveness. I didn’t expect it, but they also offered their apologies to me, which of course I accepted.  We had a great conversation for quite awhile, amidst tears and hugs.  I don’t remember what I said, but He gave me the words I needed. Thank you Holy Spirit! God is so great!  They also shared with me, which was amazing and unexpected.  I’m happy to say that we have started to heal and move forward, which is good for all of us.

I still had some challenges left.  My brother-in-law’s wife was more difficult for me to approach.  She is an amazing person, but we might be too much alike in some ways, and too different in other ways, and friction results.  Well, the Catholics in our family went onto Mass, and I prayed about how to talk to her.  During Mass, He provided me with the answer: both me and my husband could talk to her and her husband (my husband’s brother).  But when?  Well, opportunity didn’t take long to present itself.  They were taking things back to their hotel room, and I had the opportunity to help carry something. My husband came along, and I just dived right in at the first moment that was appropriate.  I think I caught her 100% off guard.  Even though she isn’t Catholic, she was thankful for the medal and card.  We actually all hugged; again, I was shocked by how well it went.   Again, I didn’t need or want an apology from her, but during her shock, she still managed to give it. It was only through the Grace of God all of this happened.  I couldn’t have done this without Him.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Him.  I’ve been a person who was without Him for too long, and this truly feels miraculous.

I still have one sister-in-law to go, and I don’t know when I’ll see her again.  I’m figuring that one out, and I”ll let you know how it goes.  Please keep us in your prayers. I will pray for you!

Thank you, Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, our Father, for the Graces You gave me so that I could accomplish this with Your Help.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Truly humbled....

I'm taking a wonderful class at our parish that covers the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church (our leader is amazing!).  This is invaluable to me as a fallen-away/returned Catholic.

It was after one of these classes this spring, that I had an amazing experience.

I was headed to my car, and was debating with myself if I should stop in the Adoration Chapel for awhile.  I had only been a couple of times, usually before or after Mass.  I had my Bible and Rosary with me (I rarely go anywhere without my Rosary). I sat in the car for a moment, and hadn't yet decided. I was parked in front of the Chapel.  I decided to open my Bible and see if something inspired me.

I had recently been praying for Humility. (Decrease me so that You Lord may increase in me.) I hadn't had it in the forefront of my mind, though. My Bible was new, and I hadn't read it enough to have it fall open to certain pages, and definitely not to Sirach, which I hadn't read before. So I just placed my fingers on the outside of the Bible, and opened it. I looked down and the first thing I saw was this (with the header and everything):

Sirach 3


17 My child, perform your tasks with humility;[a]
    then you will be loved by those whom God accepts.
18 The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
    so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord.[b]
20 For great is the might of the Lord;
    but by the humble he is glorified.
21 Neither seek what is too difficult for you,
    nor investigate what is beyond your power.
22 Reflect upon what you have been commanded,
    for what is hidden is not your concern.
23 Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you,
    for more than you can understand has been shown you.
24 For their conceit has led many astray,
    and wrong opinion has impaired their judgment.


  1. Sirach 3:17 Heb: Gk meekness
  2. Sirach 3:18 Other ancient authorities add as verse 19, Many are lofty and renowned, but to the humble he reveals his secrets.
WOW!  That quite literally took my breath away! After I finished reading those verses and those around them, I was most certainly going inside to pray and worship our Lord and Savior.  I don't remember what I prayed that evening, although I'm sure I said a Rosary, as well as Praise and Thanksgiving. 

This has happened a few other times to me since then, and it's just as amazing.  Since I had been praying specifically for Humility, and then the HEADLINE of the chapter and verse I opened to had that exact header.....truly it was a sign from God.  I so love how the Holy Spirit works His wondrous ways in and around us.

Luke 14:10-12
10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.

Please pray for me and my Faith Journey, and that I may learn Humility.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Offer it up

Over recent weeks, I've pondered the phrase, “offer it up to God!”.  It didn't make sense to me. What did that mean? When I have a headache, does offer it up mean ask God to ease it? If we are to offer it up, should we not take medicine to relieve our pain? I have been at a loss for awhile on this, and had planned to talk to my pastor this week about it.

One day, as I rested to take a short nap, I was having trouble calming my mind, and as the minutes grew, the longer my nap-insomnia (napsomnia?) was cutting into sleep time.  I began to whisper and pray on each breath, “Praise you, God. I love you, God. Thank you, God.” I focused on the words, and if a thought came to my head, I just kept breathing.  I have never been good at focusing (ADD!) or meditation, or even inducing relaxation!  Suddenly, like a lightning bolt, it came to me! 

“Offer it up” means to take on suffering so that another’s pain might be eased.  I went through some very trying times in my 20s when my birthmother’s response was not anywhere in the realm that I expected.  Did I think I might be rejected? Maybe. Denial, and rejection, in the manner it was handled? I didn't expect that at all, and it sent me into a tailspin.  The pain was great, and we weren't going to Church, so I didn't have my Faith to fall back on, although I know God was there with me, and I cried out to Him often.  At the time, I told my husband that maybe my deep pain and agony were to save another from going through it.  I thought of a few people I knew that wouldn't have been able to handle it had they been in my shoes.  What if there was a finite amount of pain in the world on any one day?  Would I take on that pain so that another, weaker person who couldn't have lived through it, could be happy?

That’s what Jesus did for us. He took on our sins, our pain, and suffered for us, so that we could live life with Him everlasting, without pain.  We were not even born, and He died for us.   The cross was so heavy and burdensome; I imagine each splinter as the weight of thousands of our sins.  Each and every nail, thorn for the wars in the world.  He offered His life for us. Whether we choose to offer up our physical or emotional suffering so that another may be eased is our choice.  My human mind has a difficult time wrapping around this concept. It doesn't make ‘sense’.  Thankfully, when I let go and let God, as the saying goes, He told me.

Earlier this week, during a weekday Mass, the Monsignor talked about prayer is not about yanking God’s chain. In my words, you don’t pull on the chain, or ring the bell, and tell Him what to bring you in the parlor like a servant. We are the servants!  We do not pray to change God; we pray so that we change ourselves!  When we pray, we should not tell God what His solution should be; we tell Him our problems.  He is our Father.  As a mother, if my children came to me and gave me a problem that they couldn't fix themselves, I would take care of it if I could, and in the best interest of them.  Now, of course, God can take care of anything.  However, it might not be in our best interest. He knows His plan for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Next time you have a headache, or are hungry, or a sprained ankle, offer it up to Him.  “Father, I’m in pain right now; I pray that my suffering will ease another’s suffering, even for a short time.”  Of course, I could take a Motrin, or eat a sandwich.  I definitely would go to the doctor if it was required.  I believe that God gives us modern medicine and expects us to use it.  

True suffering is not sitting in traffic on your way to work. You have a car; you have a job. If you want to offer that up to Him as suffering, that is your choice. Instead, though, thank Him.  You can even thank Him for your suffering.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Imperfection in prayer

As I might mention off and on, I have OCD tendencies. Some things must be perfect, or not at all. This doesn't apply to others, only to myself. It doesn't affect everything, but enough.  What is one of the things we wish to be perfect in? Prayer.  We are talking to our Master, our Father. Only He is perfect. I sometimes struggle in prayer, especially in the past. I thought I had to pray a certain way, or with certain words. When I couldn't meet that standard I placed upon myself, I would give up and move on.  This didn't just impact my prayer life, it impacted  many areas of my life: parenting, friendships, relationships, health, work. I have to learn to accept in some areas, imperfect is still good enough. But in prayer, I sincerely wish to pray the perfect prayer; while it may be impossible, I never want to quit striving for perfection, but accept that it's a process, and that no matter how hard I try, I will always be imperfect.

For many years, I prayed rarely, unless I needed something. Even then, I thought since it was less than perfect prayer, it wasn't good enough. I would quit.

My mistake? Praying with my human mind, instead of my heart and soul.  Close your eyes and talk to Him. If you want to use a prayer such as the Our Father, that is wonderful.  Maybe that’s all you can do.  I encourage everyone however to speak freely with the Lord, without being irreverent.  

A talk I heard recently on the radio talked about prayer, and it made me think of how I can pray better.  
  • First, praise Him. 
  • Next, thank Him. 
  • Third, ask forgiveness. 
  • Fourth, give Him your problems. 
  • Then, listen. 

If your mind is scattering thoughts like dandelion seeds inside your head, try this: “God, I love you. God, I praise you. God, I thank you. God, forgive me.”  Say each phrase with each breath; one word breathing in, two, three, four words breathing out.  It’s my prayer circle. I could say, “I love you, God.” I actually did, the first time, but it turned around in that circle, putting God first. God is first, not me. It has no beginning and no end (does that sound familiar?). As it loops around, it cleanses those dandelion seeds, and leaves behind what is important: God.  

The first time I did this, I wasn't asking God for a thing, not even an answer for my questions. A lightning bolt struck! I suddenly understood what something meant! I hadn't even pondered the question that day; I knew I would get the answer, but thought it would be when I met with my pastor. So I had put it aside. But He didn't. He chose that moment when I was doing nothing more than loving Him.  I did this while resting. (I used to watch the TV before falling asleep; prayer is so much more fulfilling!) I was exploding with Joy! I called out to my husband, and told him of the answer God had given me.  I had tears in my eyes; I’m still so excited when He touches me; I hope that I always will be.  I was no longer tired at that moment. I was sure I wouldn't be able to nap, but I continued to rest and pray my circle. I fell asleep quickly, especially considering the energy inside my soul. I also had a wonderful 30 minute nap.

Sometimes, you don’t even need words.  Recently, I shared on a message board a wonderful experience with a stranger and the Holy Spirit. One of the replies blew me away; through the essay I wrote, God answered one of her prayers, and quite directly! It was a miracle that of the millions of Catholics in the world, and a lesser amount on the internet, let alone on this particular site and message board, she chose that day to read that story.  I couldn't speak. I couldn't think. I couldn't put a word together.  I closed my eyes, and my heart prayed. My soul prayed. That was as close to perfection as I think I can get. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Is your forgiveness bigger than His?

A few months ago, I made my first Reconciliation in over 10 years.  That’s a long time!  I was nervous, I was scared.  I visited, and Googled various phrases that I thought would help me.  Most of the information said to get the ‘big stuff’ out of the way first and then move on to the smaller things.  I also used the Laudate application for my smartphone, which really helped as well, even though it seemed like I checked off most of the sins listed (it was 10 years, and this app delved deeper into the Ten Commandments, and showed how it related in modern times).

The experience was amazing, and ever since, I love going to Confession.  I’ll write about that another time.  One of my ‘things’ is that I’m harder on myself than I should be.  I also have a problem with perfection in my every day life. If I can’t make the house PERFECTLY clean, why clean at all?  I’m working on that.  But as those things apply to my spiritual life, I’m still learning.

Even though I left the Confession booth happier than when I entered, I was still mad at myself for my sins.  What we need to remember is this: when we don’t forgive ourselves, or don’t forgive others, we are saying we are bigger and more important than God!  No matter how much our sin hurts us or another person, it hurts Him greatest of all, for no one loves us more than He does. If the One we have truly sinned against has forgiven us and loves us, should I hold myself and my forgiveness to a higher standard? Withholding forgiveness from others and even yourself is deeply wrong.  Forgiveness for us can be hard; we are, after all, imperfect. God has given us His love and forgiveness. We should share that with others. It’s easier said than done for most of us.  

Forgiveness is an act, not a feeling.  I am still working on the 'feeling' of forgiving someone, but I forgive those have hurt me, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  Perhaps for some of us, making a list of those we need to forgive, and truly searching our hearts while asking God to help us forgive as He has forgiven us, is one way that we can work towards feeling forgiveness.

The priest gave me a penance of praying a Rosary. I had to ask him if I could do it when I got home. I didn't have a Rosary with me, and had probably said 10 rosaries in my 43 years of life. Most of those were as a child, and quite reluctantly, before Mass while visiting Grandma.  My penance, instead of making me suffer, has changed my life.  From that day forward, I chose to pray the Rosary nearly every day, sometimes twice a day.

I am asking forgiveness from those I have hurt or sinned against.  I pray that those people know that I am truly contrite for the pains I have caused, the distress that I put people through. I sinned against others, but I sinned highest against God.  I believe He has forgiven me, and pray that others will as well.

Thank you Jesus for Your forgiveness and love.

I pray that each of us can find the Joy that He has given us in so many wonderful ways, and enjoy the opportunity to grow in our Faith and Love for God.  God bless you, and have a safe 4th of July.