Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meditation of the day

As we face a world filled with temptation, Peter’s words can be an important reminder: No matter how difficult it may seem to live the Christian life, we don’t walk alone. God has carved us on the palms of his hands. Jesus has redeemed us and called us each by name. We are his, and absolutely nothing in this world can take us from his love. These aren’t just comforting thoughts—they are as real as the blood Jesus shed for us!

When you go to pray today, take these truths with you. You may feel a million miles from God right now. Maybe you’ve said something you regretted, and you can’t stop blaming yourself for it. Maybe you’ve fallen into the same bad habit, and the devil is beating you down with guilt. Don’t listen to him—or to any condemning voice! God knows you are sorry. Just spend some time thanking him for his mercy and reflecting on the depth of his love for you. Let your mind be renewed. You really are a new creation in Christ!

From The Word Among Us

Quote of the day

"There is a big difference between happiness and joy. Joy comes when we walk in the will of God, no matter whether it makes us immediately happy or not."

From Summertime Lessons by Elizabeth Foss on catholicexchange.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday morning humor


Click on the image to get a larger, more readable version... then have a laugh. Oh, come on, you know at least some of it is funny. Go ahead and laugh!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Natural Family Planning... and why.

Journey to the Truth
Posted By Anna Pier Day
catholicexchange.com

I argued with the priest — the strong-willed one — who sat opposite me in the confessional. For every argument I presented, though, his response was the same: a calm, understanding, but firm, “There are no exceptions to the Church’s teaching against contraception.”

Truth be told, if the Church had been less wise and had made exceptions, our family situation might have qualified as one. A few months earlier, after the birth of our youngest son, I had suffered from an acute depression with accompanying suicidal thoughts and a brief psychotic episode that had landed me in two different mental hospitals. I had been torn away from my life as the stay-home mother of a toddler and a still-nursing infant for the two weeks of hospitalization my treatment required, and the whole experience had been devastating — not only for me, but also for my family and everyone who cared about us. As a result, my husband and I were very afraid of the possible ramifications of another bout of post-partum hormone fluctuations. And, having recently returned to the Church after a 20-year absence, I was finding her teaching against contraception very difficult to accept.

But there was something about the way this priest calmly stood his ground (even when I told him for the twenty-third time why my family should be exempt from this particular teaching) that made me believe he was giving me the Truth. So, after a few more weeks, my husband and I discussed natural family planning, and we (somewhat fearfully) agreed to try it.

Our priest helped us again by putting me in touch with a nearby couple who taught the Creighton method of NFP. Soon after I began NFP classes, my husband and I did away with the contraceptives we had been using. As soon as we did, an amazing thing happened. It was as if God lifted the scales from my eyes, and instantly, I understood. I suddenly saw the pain a “contraceptive mindset” must cause our Loving Father, who cares for us and would never let anything happen to us that was not for our good. I saw what a great privilege He gives us by letting us share with Him in creating His greatest miracle — a new baby’s life. And I saw contraception for what it is — something we do to thwart God’s loving plan for our families.

Since then, our family has experienced God’s love more fully. He has blessed us with our first daughter, who was conceived when our Creighton chart said conception was possible. Our daughter brings great joy and love to our family, and the happiness she brings us far outweighs the pain of the (relatively minor) symptoms I experienced during pregnancy and shortly after her birth. I shudder now to think that we might have missed out on the privilege of raising her — and a lifetime of joy with her — just because of the weakness of our faith that God would take care of us. And I pray every day for a world full of priests who will stand firm on Church teaching, just like the one who first told us the Truth.

God Our Father, please send us holy priests…all for the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus…all for the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary…in union with Saint Joseph. Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The oh-so-forgotten present moment!



Reading the following article during my break time made me grab the camera we have at work and step outside for a few minutes to take pictures of some of the beautiful trees in bloom around our block on a gorgeous spring morning. It helped me to remember to look around and appreciate the gifts I have been given right here, right now.


Seasons of the Present Moment
Posted By Sarah Reinhard
catholicexchange.com


Ecclesiastes tells us that there are seasons for everything:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace (Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, NAB).


I’ve heard this passage many times, mostly at funerals, but the other night, during one of the harder-than-usual interruptions in the middle of the night, I realized just how hard it is for me to accept the current season of my life.

I’m always looking forward at what can, could, and should be done. My gaze seeks the possibilities, the likelihoods, the opportunities — often at the expense of the present moment.

Outside, the world is in bloom. The spring flowers have made their appearance and I know from experience how quickly they will fade. Spring won’t last long, so I have to appreciate it while it’s here. Sometimes that means sacrificing inside chores for outdoor play. It means diving for my camera and getting my sandaled toes wet in the morning grass as I try to capture the colors. It is a brief respite from winter cold and a pause before summer heat.

Spring is a time of frenetic activity, whether or not you have a ball schedule to keep. There’s hustle and bustle enough to make anyone weary, and I need to remember to look around me — to pause — lest the season slip away while I’m busy.

Inside, my world celebrates a different sort of spring: my two young children blossom anew everyday, opening their eyes wide at the wonder around them as they discover something new — again and again — with enthusiasm I’d do well to embrace. They keep me busy and they make me better, if only I slow down long enough from my looking forward to enjoy the gift of “now” they give me.

I’m in the spring of my motherhood, where the blooms are fresh and new, the days long and the nights short, the weather a bit unpredictable despite reassuring forecasts. This springtime won’t last long, for the children will grow fast and I’ll soon be one of the women advising “Enjoy them while they’re little” before I know it.

Spring is beautiful, but it’s not always easy. It’s enjoyable, but it’s often fraught with thunderstorms. It’s busy, but it’s full of reminders of grace and moments of joy.

Even as I plan my summer, let me not forget to enjoy the spring. While I wonder about winter, let me look heavenward NOW to find the strength to stop and savor the spring. As I anticipate autumn adventures, let me remember the gentle moments, so quickly passing, of spring.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don’t Be a Helpless Pawn to Your Demons

May 19th, 2008
by Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.
catholicexchange.com

For those of us who think ourselves ever so modern as we stand here in the new millennium, it’s easy to scoff at stories about demons and to conjure up pictures of little red men with horns and pointed tails. But to do that is foolhardy, for the reality of evil in the world is not to be sniffed at, and our struggle with it is undeniable and lifelong.

Each of us has our own “demons,” our own disabling soul-wounds and compulsions which seek to rob us of our freedom and to drive us in directions that do not lead to life. To fail to recognize them and to acknowledge the full extent of their power over us is to make ourselves their willing victims and their helpless pawns.

But that need not happen. Our alternative is to ask the Spirit who dwells within us to help us see those inner “demons” clearly and to see where they are leading us, indeed, driving us. And that is away from life, love, and communion. The next step is to give ourselves into the hands of the Spirit, just as the boy’s father did in the gospel. “I do believe,” he said. “Help my lack of trust!”

That kind of prayer the Spirit always answers. And step by step He will lead us out of slavery’s darkness and into freedom’s light.

When we give it free rein, the Spirit’s power always prevails.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Purposeful Parenthood

I really like this article and, though I'm not a parent (yet?), I have had many of the thoughts and ideas that this writer presented so I thought I would post it.



May 14th, 2008
Doreen Truesdell
catholicexchange.com


It’s in the trenches of everyday parenthood that I most clearly hear God speak to me. No, I don’t have visions or mystic revelations, and I don’t hear voices. To tell the truth, I hear only one voice — my own.

“How many times are you going to make that mistake?” “When are you going to learn to trust me?” “Why do I have to beg you to do the right thing?” “You know, sometimes it seems that we’re not getting anywhere.”

There I go again, correcting, disciplining, cajoling, insisting and otherwise forming our children, often against their wills. These little “brains full of mush” are depending upon my husband and me to get them through the arduous journey of growing up to become the souls God intends them to be.

But as my words find their target, they ricochet back and hit me full in the face. It’s as if I can hear my heavenly Father in each word I speak. It inevitably leads to self examination: How many times will I confess the same sins? When will I learn to trust in God? Why do I find it hard to obey? Am I getting anywhere?

In the years B.C. (Before Children), I didn’t hear God much. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. When I prayed, I did most of the talking, not listening. The conversations went along the lines of “This is what I need, this is what I want, and by the way, thanks for everything.”

But in the years A.D. (After Dependents), with four little lives going in full gear, my prayers changed. Most of them went along the lines of “HELP!”

Is this why God created the family? To hush us up and make us listen instead? I think it is. We know that He Himself is a family, a Trinity of love, three entities yet one God. The essence of God is love and He chooses to express Triune love as a family, setting an example for us to imitate. When His Son became man He did so within a family, depending upon and treasuring the intimacy uniquely shared among parents and children.

There are many ways to experience God’s love and to fulfill a vocation, and I don’t intend to ignore or disparage chaste single life or married couples unable to have children. My husband and I longed for children for more than eight years before adoption opened the door to becoming parents. Certainly, religious vocations speak for themselves as examples of God’s love. But this article is concerned with family life because that is what I experience.

God created the family because He knew we needed an urgent and unceasing call to come out of ourselves in sacrificial service to others. We respond to our children in a way we would never dream of responding to friends, neighbors, business associates or anyone else we come into contact with. Like monks answering an abbey bell, parents answer the call of their children no matter the day or hour, in good health and exhausted health, most often the latter. Always interrupting what we’re tempted to define as “more important things,” God shows us that answering the call of our family is the most important work we can do.

When I look at my children, I see God’s infinite love for me. But it is in raising my children I hear the clear voice of God as my parent, correcting me, disciplining me, cajoling me, insisting and otherwise forming me as His child, with my own little brain full of mush to work with.

Jesus said “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and it sounds like an impossibility. Indeed, left to our own ways, it would be impossible. Through God’s creation of the family He gives us a blueprint for realizing perfection, which in His language means to grow more like Him in the virtue of love. In order to love, we must become selfless, and in order to be selfless we must learn to sacrifice. Most of us can not — or will not — do this willingly. We need constant urging. If children are anything, they are a constant challenge to our behavior, our intellect, our patience, our understanding, and the limits of our love. With grace, these challenges can hammer our weaknesses into virtues. Family members, parents and children together, have the capacity to propel each other towards heaven in ways we would not otherwise contemplate or pursue.

Often I have thought how beneficial it would be for my soul to have more quiet time with God, to sit in a church alone, to go often to the Blessed Sacrament or, dare I hope it, daily Mass. But it really is true that God meets us where we are, particularly if our location is pleasing to Him. Family life that struggles to imitate the Holy Family of Nazareth, even though it most often falls short, is pleasing to Him. God takes my prayer crumbs, bides His time, and speaks to me in the midst of the daily chaos, even using my own words to form the soul of His creature.

Doreen M. Truesdell, a former newspaper journalist, is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband, Stephen, live in upstate New York with their four homeschooled children, aged 4 to 13.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mother’s Day — Don’t Take Her for Granted


I thought this was a great article and since Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday I wanted to recognize all of those beautiful, wonderful, hardworking and loving moms out there... especially mine.



By Tom Purcell
May 8, 2008
catholicexchange.com


I used to take her for granted.

When my five sisters and I were babies in her womb, she never took so much as an aspirin for a headache. She never put anything in her body but the nutrients we needed to grow, and I took that for granted.

As a child, my world was rock solid because of her. She put our needs so far before her own that we didn’t know that she had needs. She loved us without condition. I was so unaware of the fear and pain less fortunate children suffer that I didn’t know such concepts existed. She worked hard to create that world, and I took that for granted.

As a teen, I gave her grief. I told her how wrong she was about religion, child rearing, everything. She was just a housewife, I said. What could she possibly know. I challenged her because she was strong, and I took her strength for granted.

She was extraordinarily moral. I still can’t tell a lie, thanks to her, and I even blush when I’m innocent and people think I’m lying. The only thing she hated more than dishonesty was phoniness. She made sure we were, above all, genuine. I took her extraordinary honesty and genuineness for granted.

She prized graciousness and friendliness. She treated everyone the way she wanted to be treated. She was always full of compassion and understanding. The phone still rings constantly at her home, people calling for consolation, reassurance or to be cheered up on a down day. I took her graciousness and friendliness for granted.

She enjoyed simple things. The smell of a flower could send her into fits. The silliness of a child could make her laugh for days. She still sits outside on the deck every morning, enjoying the smell of spring, the taste of fresh, hot coffee, the conversation of her husband of 52 years. But I took her simple nature for granted.

As other parents nudged their children toward careers in accounting or engineering, she nurtured our creativity. While accountants and engineers are important, she believed, even more important are wit, imagination and beauty. I took her love of beauty and creativity for granted.

She sent me off into the world full of enthusiasm, hope and na├»vete. My early expectations were unrealistic, I soon found. I took risks — tried my hand at my own business — and, early on, I failed. The work world proved to be much more competitive and challenging than I expected. I was frustrated and angry. I took my anger out on her.

She absorbed my anger, as she always did. She absorbed it for a good long while, even as it grew in intensity. As I let it turn me bitter — as I lost my sense of humor and became hopefully lost myself — she revealed her great strength yet again.

She let me have it good that day — overwhelmed me with a clarity of thought that forced me to face what I’d let myself become. That day, she freed me from myself, an awful place to be.

That happened a long time ago. And though I have stumbled and fallen many times since, her spirit is strong within me. I often see beauty where others see nothing. I love coffee in the morning. I love how simple things can make me laugh for hours. I am a writer because of her endless encouragement.

I’ve been blessed to know her a long time. For 46 years she has toiled, struggled, suffered and sacrificed on my behalf. She’s given everything she has without asking anything in return.

If you’re as lucky as I, you have had such a person in your life — someone who has loved you unconditionally no matter how foolish or thoughtless you may have been. Someone whose presence is so profound it propels you toward beauty and goodness.

She is my mother. I know now how blessed I am to still have her in my life.

I don’t take her for granted anymore.