Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day Coming Soon!

February 11

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

From this grotto I issue a special call to women. Appearing here, Mary entrusted her message to a young girl, as if to emphasize the special mission of women in our own time, tempted as it is by materialism and secularism: to be in today's society a witness of those essential values which are seen only with the eyes of the heart. To you, women, falls the task of being sentinels of the Invisible! Pope John Paul II

ow fortunate we are to have so many ways and so many days to honor Mother Mary. Through her fiat—the yes, let it be done—that she answered to God, the omnipotent Lord of the universe took on human flesh to redeem us. Countless great saints and learned theologians, from St. Bernard of Clairvaux to St. Albert the Great to Pope John Paul II in our own time have felt and expressed their powerful and heartfelt devotions to Mary.

When Jesus said to his beloved disciple John, “Behold, your mother!” he was speaking to every one of us. On February 11, 1858, Mary appeared for the first time to a poor, humble, and not particularly devout young girl, Bernadette Soubirous (Feb. 18). On March 25, the beautiful lady announced herself with the words, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Little Bernadette had no idea Pope Pius IX (Feb. 7) had officially proclaimed—four years prior—the dogma of the Mary’s Immaculate Conception. The Feast of our Lady of Lourdes was declared by the Church in 1907. Countless pilgrims have journeyed to the healing waters of Lourdes, France in the century since. 

Exercise: Our Lady of Lourdes appeared with a rosary draped over her right arm. What better day for a rosary workout? If you have not explored the ways in which The RosaryWorkout combines the spiritual with the physical, we invite you today to do just that! Visit to see how caring for yourself spiritually and physically will energize you and will allow you to fulfill your vocation more joyfully!

(this excerpt is reprinted with permission from the Catholic daily devotional Tending the Temple)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Life Lessons from a 1,000 Piece Puzzle

I’m not sure if they are still around, but do you remember the “Love Is…” cartoons?

They had simple little drawings and a completion to the “Love Is…” sentence starter that almost always made you say “Aww! How sweet!”

You know:

Love is…sharing your last cookie.

Love is…going skating when you’d rather be at the movies.

Love is…holding hands under a starry night sky.

Lately (okay I say “lately” but what I mean is in the last decade or two) I notice that just about everything I do could be a completion of a “Life is…” sentence starter.

Years ago I took a walk around the neighborhood and had to duck under some branches that were in the way of the sidewalk and found that I was also moving in and out of sunshine and stepping over large mounds in the sidewalk cement that had been uprooted by big trees. I kept thinking to myself “Wow! Life is like this walk! Sometimes you have to duck and sometimes you have to watch your step. Sometimes everything in front of you is bright and clear and open and sometimes it is dark and a bit shadowy.”

The revelations of that walk have always stuck with me.

This Christmas I received a puzzle. A beautiful Italian water scene. I haven’t done a puzzle in a really long time but was excited by the prospect. My husband joined me, too. Sometimes we worked together and other times on our own. Very quickly I realized that the puzzle was yet another one of those “Life is…” revelations as it sat there on the table beckoning me. My response varied from day to day. There were times I relished the challenge and dug in while at other times I turned my back on it, not up to the commitment and even a bit frustrated.

“Life is like a 1,000 piece puzzle!” I found myself constantly saying. In fact, the quiet I anticipated while doing the puzzle was sometimes overrun with the revelation in my spirit: Life really, truly is like a 1,000 piece puzzle!

1.      All the pieces fit—even if you don’t see that truth right away.
2.      Try as you might, pieces that seem to go together can’t be forced if they really don’t go together; on the other hand you can’t be afraid to at least try to see if the pieces fit!
3.      It’s nice to have someone to do it with but sometimes you just need to go at it alone.
4.      Sometimes you need to take a step back—take a break—to get a better picture of what is happening.
5.      There will be times when all things come together without any effort—and there will be times when no matter what you do, nothing works out; but it is ALL GOOD!

And now that my puzzle is finished, I am struck by the incredible understanding that it really is all about the journey!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tending the Temple

January 10
 St. Gregory of Nyssa (330-395)

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1: 5-7

A greedy appetite for food is terminated by satiety and the pleasure of drinking ends when our thirst is quenched. And so it is with the other things... But the possession of virtue, once it is solidly achieved, cannot be measured by time nor limited by satiety. Rather, to those who are its disciples it always appears as something ever new and fresh. St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa shared brotherly affection and love with St. Basil the Great (Jan. 2), his own big brother. Along with St. Gregory, these three bishops from what is modern-day Turkey, formed the great “Cappadocian Fathers” of the Church, all fighting the Arian heresy that denied Christ’s full nature as God and man, and all defending the doctrine of the Trinity.

St. Gregory, echoing the admonition of St. Peter, also wrote much on man’s God-given responsibility to perfect his own human nature (with the assistance of God’s grace). Inspired by St. Paul’s words “forgetting what lies behind and pressing to what lies ahead, I prize the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:13-14), St. Gregory wrote that humans are called to engage in a process of epektasis, epektasis, of “constant progress” in godly virtue leading us upward towards Christ.          

Exercise: Still early in our march through the calendar of another temporal year, in what ways are you seeking out constant progress in virtue and holiness, in body and soul, in preparation for eternity? Will you commit to God that this is the year you will develop the virtues of fitness within your soul? Will your knowledge of fitness grow, and along with it your affection and love for all around you? What about today? What thoughts and deeds might foster your own spiritual growth and share its bounty with those around you? Let’s think about that—and act upon it!

(This excerpt is reprinted with permission from the daily devotional Tending the Temple by Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes and Shane Kapler.)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Joggers, Rocks, and All the Ways God Speaks to Us

God is always speaking to us, His people, but we are not always listening. Or we aren’t quite sure how to listen because we aren’t quite sure what that looks or sounds like in our daily lives.

The fact is, we can’t obey Him or follow His lead unless we hear Him—and we can’t hear Him unless we understand how He speaks to us today.

Many of us read Scripture and long to hear God speak to us as He spoke to Moses, Noah, or Abraham. We desire the clarity that apparently existed for the prophets and sages and patriarchs. Consequently, we miss out on God’s active participation in our lives because we miss out on all the ways He speaks into our very existence.

The first, most prevalent way that God communicates with us is through His word. This is why it is called “living.” It has as much relevance today as it did thousands of years ago. When we become familiar with God’s word, He is able to use it to talk to us.

Very early every morning, before the sun rises, I take my cup of coffee outside and spend some quite time with God. I enjoy the stars sparkling and starting my day with Him in this way. During an extremely difficult time when I felt exhausted and discouraged, I continued my routine but with no real enthusiasm. As I stood outside, gazing at the stars but with nothing to really “say,” a jogger strode by. I had no idea who this person was and had certainly never, ever seen this person before during my morning coffee time with God. As soon as this person passed, my spirit was filled with God’s word from Hebrews: …and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Had I not known God’s word, He simply could not have spoken it to me that morning. Through His word I was able to regain hope and strength.

Another way God speaks into our lives is through our circumstances—but we must be paying attention!

Most people see the serious side of Jesus—and rightfully so; but a woman I know typically sees a fun, amusing side of Jesus. She feels He has a great sense of humor and so that is how He broke into her routine.

There is a wooded path that she enjoys hiking through and does so quite often. During a particularly lonely time in her life she hiked the same trail as she had always done. To hear her tell it, she intimately knew every branch on every tree and every part of the trail. Except on this day, something new appeared. As she hiked, feeling more than a bit forlorn in her spirit, a rock on the ground caught her eye. It was big enough for her to see and what brought it to her attention was that it had a regular formation on it that was in the shape of a smile. The rock was smiling at her (and not in a potato-chip-shaped-like-the-Virgin-Mary sort of way!). So much so that she took it home and cherished it for many years, until God asked her to give it to another person—which she did in obedience.

Which is the last way in which God speaks to us today: through others. The day that this woman was asked to part with her cherished rock was a day God was asking her to be Him to another person.

He asks the same of us all: to be His messenger of love and hope and peace. We are all invited to speak God’s love into the lives of those with whom our paths are crossed.

There is never a coincidence in who God allows us to meet and greet. In all ways we can become the herald of His words and wisdom to someone else. All we need is a heart open to Him and a desire to be His servant.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Digital Detox

Maybe you’ve heard it was coming.

Maybe in your heart of hearts you knew you were going to be part of it.

Personally, I didn’t need much encouragement to join.

Join what, you ask?

The Digital Detox of 2015.

In fact, I only happened to come across the naming of this phenomenon in passing so I’m already pretty much Internet detoxing. Have been for a while.

I have a few favorite blogs I read (Laura Pearl’s and Nancy Carabio Belanger’s) and a site I particularly like, but other than that I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. The digital world just seems so noisy and for my introverted self, just too much yammering and clammering.

Even the Catholic digital world is just so, well, secular.

A few friends I know are also part of the Digital Detox but haven’t named it as such; they just knew deep in their souls that it was time to pull back from what was close to becoming social media addictions. 

I received a puzzle for Christmas and have been enjoying the challenge of the 1000 piece Italian scene! I couldn’t have received a better gift for this quiet time. 

God’s timing is, as they say, always perfect!