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Ink Slingers Prayer Spiritual Growth Susan

“You Shall Not Pass!”

I read this past year (I do not recall where) that mercy is that love that keeps evil at bay. Mercy does not permit evil to progress further.  And from a priest: Divine Mercy is the greatest exchange of charity. I hope by reflecting on these insights, we may praise God for His unfathomable mercy and seek to become Mercy for others.

You Shall Not Pass

As I sit and type, I am listening to the movie, The Hobbit.  I am reminded of one of the previous Lord of the Rings movies where Gandalf takes his staff, strikes it into the rock, and commands the devil creature, “You shall not pass!” The staff pierces into the rock, cracking sounds resonant, and echoes travel with powerful cinematic effects. Gandalf makes way for his friends escape and then falls into the deep abyss to battle the creature.  The power behind the action sets a visual effect for us to apply in a sense to Christ’s powerful actions.

 

Can you picture it? God placing His Son, for all to gaze upon, on the hill of Cavalry. “You shall not pass!” The buck stops here! Although there is no devil creature visually present, as in some movies, Christ IS the staff and keeps evil from progressing any further. He clears a way for His Friends to pass,  goes to battle for us all, opens the gates of Heaven. He ushers in Mercy….the great exchange.

 

The Bite Stops Here

Now taking a look backwards into the Old Testament when the serpents were biting and killing the Israelites. God commanded Moses to put a serpent on the stake and place the stake in the high rock. Any Israelite who gazed on it would be saved from dying from the poisonous bites; a merciful act because it stopped the poison from progressing in those persons, and gave them another chance for living righteously. It may be humorously said that the stake with serpent represented said, “The bite stops here!” All joking aside, there was an exchange. Only those who gazed upon it were saved. It is as if the staff was the pivot point where ones life was based upon.

 

But is this not also true from the Cross? There Christ hung, the pivot point for all eternity and for every soul….if one chose to gaze upon “Him whom they pierced.” But why the need for the gaze? And what does this have to do with mercy?

 

In cinematography the scenes can place a strong image into our memories, but nothing that lasts, nothing that enters the heart and soul for lasting transformation. See, not only does the Crucified Christ redirect evil and clear a path for His followers, but He exchanges our weaknesses with His strength. Love put Himself in the direct line of evil, and Charity gives His merits to those who “gaze” from their heart upon Him. Mercy in both cases. He did and does what we cannot do for ourselves. He stopped evil. And He gives us what we need. This is Mercy.

 

Be Mercy for Others

We are told to “Be Mercy” for others. How? Do what Christ did. Stand firm in the face of evil with Truth. Take on the cross to make others’s crosses lighter. Give to others in need what you have that they do not.  But before all this, Gaze on Christ Crucified. Exchange and share your life with His. Let Him give you what you do not have and transform you.

 

But where can we gaze? A Saint once taught that the Crucifix is the school of Christ. Begin by meditating and gazing upon the Crucifix every day. Give Him your weaknesses. But also, go to the place where Christ is made present every day…..the Mass. The Mass is the eternal “You shall not pass!” to evil. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ.  The once-for-all offering is held up constantly to be Mercy for the world…but through us. Gaze upon and receive Him at the Mass and you are receiving Mercy! The very love that stood in the face of evil, the very charity that was able to give All for all, is offered for you today. Sure there is no cinematography to impress us, but as a blessed priest said recently, “When you come to Mass, you have entered REALITY.”

 

Let us gaze on Christ and become Mercy for others.

 

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Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth Susan

It Really IS That Simple

Years ago I found myself in the darkest days. Illness, fatigue, and depression were my constant companions, but not only. Of course I had wonderful family support, but I also was given a desire for God like none I had ever known. This desire led me to sit quietly in Church nearly every day for even a few moments of time. But this desire also led me to seek out advice on how to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I decided to take a chance and contact a Benedictine monk whom I heard speak on EWTN. He was kind enough to send me an email that changed my prayer life for good. I hope it will also help yours.

I told him in my message the various obstacles I was facing, the mental strains I battled, and the desire for God I had. I asked how am I to pray when so many things are worrying me? How can I BE with God in the midst of it all? How should I pray? His answer was short: Go to sit before the Blessed Sacrament daily; when you are there keep bringing your thoughts gently back to pondering who God is. Think about His attributes. Don’t limit time, but also do not force more time. He will take care of everything.

And He did.

Instead of planning my prayers, or listing all my concerns, I sat for the first time and considered who God was? Perfect Beauty. All Loving. All Goodness….. Day after day I went, and well………, so should you. I discovered God is eagerly waiting to just be sat with and loved. For I believe it is impossible to sit and ponder His attributes and not become grateful beyond words and loving beyond description toward Our Creator and Savior.

But what of petitioning in prayer? God wants that too, right? Yes. But try to petition like this: My dad is in pain and ill. Or…make haste to come to my son. Or…..I am tired and worried. After focusing on Who God is in prayer, the petitions become confident and statements of fact and knowledge that God can and will help when He knows is best. Why? Getting to know someone builds trust in who he truly is AND in what he can do. We have seen this in getting to know our husbands. With God we need to do the same.

Let me give a practical example. My husband started a new job in November. We soon saw the commute was just too long for us to remain in our most beloved home and town. So we searched for homes in the town where he works now. One thing led to another….and only three weeks later… our home has been prepared for sale,  a contract with a new house has been signed, and after 1 day of our current home being on the market, we have potential buyers! One day! This is ONLY work God can do! Sure we put all the muscle into it, willingness to follow where He leads, but in prayer….I sat and stated the fact, “ we cannot afford the large gas amounts for my husband’s commute.” And then let it go. Look what He did! Look what He is doing! I praise Him publicly in this post because credit is due only to Him for the marvels He does.

Here is another: my 16 year old wanted to buy herself a car. When my husband was told when he was to start his new job, I knew with one car my two daughters would be limited on their unique activities they have done for a long time, and which are good for them. I found however the day after I uttered a short, “my daughter needs a car, I need her to have a car” prayer…..and I then mentioned the need to two friends out of the blue….the one quickly texted her brother who was selling his son’s Honda. By the Friday before my husband’s job starting my daughter bought herself her own car and has matured considerably. Would this have happened if I did not utter a simple prayer, nor would it have happened if I had not willingness to open up my needs to others? I do not believe so. God has been so good to us!

So many little utterances from the heart have proven to me that God hears, God helps….He is ALL that is GOOD. He wants for us to know and love Him….and to ASK SIMPLY.

So as your life gets ahead of you (and my family’s life begins a new journey in a new town), let us not neglect to take time to sit before God and ponder Who He IS. “Let Him take care of the rest.” You will be amazed at where He leads you.

Categories
Ink Slingers Motherhood Sacramentals Susan

Stop Running in Circles & Accept Our Lady’s Gift

Everyone has their own story from 9/11/2001. When my husband called me on the phone from work, I turned on the television and watched the events of the day in disbelief. Then all of a sudden, I ran up to my bedroom and put on my Brown Scapular; it has been on ever since. I finally chose to accept my Mother’s help.

Up to that day I had been toiling with the idea of wearing the Scapular. I would have it on my bed stand at night and keep it in my pocket during the day. But wearing it under my garments made me feel strange. I was a convert, and still had preconceived notions about Mary that were not accurate. The tug-o-war in my thoughts and heart would not settle and decide. But the morning of 9/11 convinced me that I needed Our Mother and it was time to move forward. Sadly, it took seeing the 9/11 atrocities for me to realize life is too short to be undecided on life.

Now in 2017 we find the Church celebrating the 100th anniversary of the visits of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children. There are many reminders of her messages and this year’s indulgences, but a dear friend pointed out that none of the lists she has read mentioned the Scapular as part of her message to the children and to us. We discussed and researched why this may be. It seems from my findings that the Scapular is disregarded by many Catholics. Some say it is not historically accurate; others believe it to be superstition. Yet there are valid traditions and promises that have continued to be taught by the Popes that go back to the Middle Ages. Additionally, misuse of this sacramental comes from lack of education, not superstition. Being that we are women, many of us mothers, seeking to follow Our Lady’s example, there is much to be gained from accepting the gift of the Brown Scapular for ourselves and for our children.

The scapular is a rectangular garment with a hole in the middle for the person’s head to fit through so that the remainder hangs over the shoulders before and behind the person’s body. This apron-like garment has been part of the monks’ habit as a sign of their willingness to serve and work since the time of St. Benedict. The monks wear it on the outside, but lay people wear a smaller version under their garments. The Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel has been a sign since the 1300s that the wearer has given his life to Mary in a very special way, called consecration. Our Lady, surrounded by angels, appeared to St. Simon Stock in 1251 to give him a scapular for the Carmelite order to wear. He had been pleading for help for his failing order, and this apparition was an answer to his prayer. It has been held credible that her words, known as the Scapular Promise, were spoken to him and that her protection extends to all, even lay Catholics, who wear the Brown Scapular. Her words were, “Receive, my beloved son, this habit of thy order. Whoever dies invested with this Scapular shall be preserved from eternal flames. It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of ages.” This means “those who wear the Scapular devoutly will either persevere in the state of sanctifying grace, or they will be granted the grace of perfect contrition at the hour of death.”

At Fatima in 1917 the Scapular was presented in a silent vision conveying to the shepherd children its importance: on October 13th in the third vision in the sky Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel holding out the Brown Scapular. Some think that since Mary said nothing, then the Brown scapular is not necessary. But Lucia, the one shepherd child whom God kept on earth until recent years, has shed light on this issue. When asked why Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the last vision, she answered, “Because Our Lady wants all to wear the Scapular…The reason for this is that the Scapular is our sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Then she said, “The Scapular and Rosary are inseparable.” (Mary in Her Scapular Promise, James Mathias Haffert, AMI Press 1954). So, if we pray the Rosary, desire peace, conversion and holiness, the natural next step is to give ourselves and our children entirely to Jesus through Mary. We can do so wearing the Brown Scapular.

The Scapular certainly is a garment made by Our Blessed Mother for her children; it parallels Christ’s seamless garment that was made by his Mother and for which lots were cast at his crucifixion. It was one woven piece with an opening for his head. So, too, is the Scapular; when wearing it, we are wearing her carefully designed “garment of grace.” Hence, the Scapular is a sacramental help, meaning it can provide us with grace according to our disposition and openness. It serves as a reminder to follow the call to holiness not as orphans, but as loved children. After 16 years of wearing mine, I cannot imagine not having it on; it has reminded me to keep reaching for God in the darkest of times.

Related topics worth researching are Marian Consecration, Home Enthronement to the Two Hearts, and First Saturday devotion. If you have never heard of consecration to Jesus through Mary, I suggest you research St. Louis de Montfort and read Morning Glory by Father Gaitley. This book is beautiful for adults and teens. Home Enthronements are beautiful, and once it is done, things change for the better in the home. It it a way for your family to invite Jesus and Mary into your home. First Saturdays are a lovely devotion to make reparation for those who do not love Our Blessed Mother.

I will end with a family story: Our family decided to Enthrone our home and our whole family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary years ago. My youngest was about 3 or 4. Enthronements includes a short ceremony, which is long to a 4 year old, then enrollment into the Brown Scapular Confraternity for anyone not yet enrolled. I was having my two youngest enrolled that day, but not with their acceptance. During the prayer ceremony when my youngest kept running in circles in and out of the living room, I was not expecting her to get enrolled. Father came to the point to enroll the girls and all of a sudden my youngest came to a braking halt right in front of him. He proceeded with the enrollment blessing while she stood so still, so sweet; we were all in smiles. Then when Father was done, she went immediately back to running in circles! It was funny, but a clear witness that the souls of children desire Our Lady’s help and they love her. We adults make faith and devotion so complicated. But before Mary we can learn to be children again. By the way, my daughters have not taken the Scapulars off since that day, and they are 14 and 16 now!

I invite you to explore these devotions and make them a part of your lives and your families’ lives. May we all be blessed! Amen.

NOTES:

Brown Scapular

When you research the Brown Scapular you will find it must be made of woven brown (or black) wool, with or without pictures of Our Lady on it, and attached by any type of cord to lay over the shoulders so the wool squares hang in front and behind the heart. The Church asks a few things from those who wear the Scapular in order that they may receive the Promises of Our Lady; wearing the Scapular is not simply a free ticket to heaven.

From a vision to Pope John XXII and his communication to the Church in a papal bull in 1322, and through subsequent Popes over the centuries, the following is expected for the wearer of the Scapular:

  1. One is to be lawfully enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity which is for life (easy to do with the help of a priest. See below);
  2. One must observe chastity according to one’s state in life;
  3. and one of the following: Pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin daily, or
    Observe the required fasts of the Church as well as fasting from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or
    Pray the Rosary (5 decades) daily, or
    With permission, substitute another good work

Scapular Enrollment:

You will need Brown Scapulars and holy water on that day. You can find them on Etsy and Ebay. Also, The Catholic Company sells ones with long cords which are comfortable to adults and women who want to tuck the cords under their undergarments. But look around for fair prices. BTW, my mother-in-law uses a small piece of velcro to secure her Scapular under her undergarment straps. I do not, but if the straps show, I figure I am not dressed modestly enough.

Scapular Investiture Ceremony

Priest – Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.

Respondent – And grant us Thy salvation.

P – Lord, hear my prayer.

R – And let my cry come unto Thee.

P – The Lord be with you.

R – And with your Spirit.

P – Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, sanctify + by Thy power these scapulars, which for love of Thee and for love of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Thy servants will wear devoutly, so that through the intercession of the same Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and protected against the evil spirit, they persevere until death in Thy grace. Thou who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

 THE PRIEST SPRINKLES WITH HOLY WATER THE SCAPULAR AND THE PERSON(S) BEING ENROLLED. HE THEN INVESTS HIM (THEM), SAYING:

 P – Receive this blessed scapular and beseech the Blessed Virgin that through Her merits, you may wear it without stain. May it defend you against all adversity and accompany you to eternal life. Amen.

 AFTER INVESTITURE THE PRIEST CONTINUES WITH THE PRAYERS:

 P – I, by the power vested in me, admit you to participate in all the spiritual benefits obtained through the mercy of Jesus Christ by the Religious Order of Mount Carmel. In the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy Ghost. + Amen.

 May God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and earth, bless + you, He who has deigned to join you to the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel; we beseech Her to crush the head of the ancient serpent so that you may enter into possession of your eternal heritage through Christ our Lord.

R – Amen.

 THE PRIEST THEN SPRINKLES AGAIN WITH HOLY WATER THE PERSON(S) ENROLLED.   

Resources:

https://www.ewtn.com/library/Prayer/zbrwnscap.HTM

www.cmri.org/05-brown-scapular-of-our-lady-of-mount-carmel.shtml

www.aquinasandmore.com/blog/what-is-a-scapular/

www.sistersofcarme.com/brown-scapular-information.php

Categories
Motherhood Prayer Rosary Spiritual Growth Susan

That They All May Be One: Mother As Peacemaker

Recently a dear priest gave a homily on St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She was the great-granddaughter of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Like the other Elizabeth, through marriage, she became Queen of a country different from her own. She did all she could to keep peace between her son and her husband, between family and nations. Father reiterated, “She was not a virgin nor religious; she was a mother.” When he said, “she was a mother,” I felt, “be a peacemaker.”  But what is a peacemaker?

I never considered the importance peacemaking was to motherhood. When I told my husband I was writing an article on how moms are called to be peacemakers, he kindly laughed! I cannot blame him; I mean, how often are we the cause of tension in the home?! Nevertheless, we are called to be peacemakers. But what do I know about being a peacemaker?! Where would I begin? I had to do research and reflection. This is what I have learned:

‘Enemies of peace’ need to be exchanged with ‘friends of peace’.

The enemies of peace are anger; ignorance of a person’s plight; ignorance of the world’s plight; desire for profit; lack of respect for life; self-absorption; disinterestedness in the true meaning of work; and misunderstanding the value of marriage and family. On the contrary, peacemakers love; take family seriously; promote the common good; educate in lofty values; defend the innocent and poor; promote human life and value the family. They forgive; reconcile; share goods; work for unity; avoid revenge; and avoid unnecessary war/arguments.  As I reflect on the lists, and recall the life of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, I begin to see a peacemaker as someone who brings together two opposing sides for reconciliation.

Christ is The Peacemaker and His Sacrifice the Greatest Act of Peace.

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Christ lifted up at every Mass is the same event of Christ on the Cross, held between heaven and earth, draws all to Himself. This is the ultimate coming together of two sides in the reconciling of sinners to God. If His greatest act of peace was His Sacrifice, where did He begin His work of peace? It was in the family…specifically in the womb of His Mother.

The family is essential to fostering peace in the world.

The Church follows Christ’s example and says even today that peace in the world starts in the home. Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the World Day of Peace in 2013. He said, “No one should ignore or underestimate the decisive role of the family, which is the basis of all society.” He also said the family “is one of the indispensable social subjects for the achievement of a culture of peace.”

But Pope Benedict also told the world that peace is a slow process. He advises us all to create an atmosphere of respect, honesty, and cordiality through our thoughts, words and gestures. We need to remember that we should “feel the need of others as our own” and not tolerate them, but LOVE them. He wisely states peace “depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family.” It is no coincidence that he wrote this message on December 8 of 2012 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and gave the speech on January 1, 2013 (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God). Why? Because the role of the mother is pivotal to the establishment of peace in the home and in the world.

“Thy will be done” equals peace of heart.

When Mary was spoken to by the angel Gabriel, a life was offered to her that could easily instill every anxiety. Instead, she abandoned herself to God’s will, then hastened to assist her cousin Elizabeth.  She trusted, then went about her duty. What she did is what the saints call abandonment.

Abandonment is an attitude of detachment. It is a spiritual gift which we are told to ask the Holy Spirit to give us. In Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe he writes, “The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently our detachment.” And “if we leave God free to act in His way, He is infinitely more capable of rendering us happy than we ourselves are, because He knows us and loves us more than we can ever know or love ourselves.” What happens when we do not allow Him to act freely? Anger, self-absorption, disinterestedness, anxiety, and all the enemies of peace grow. Therefore, let us to pray for this grace and read books written by the Saints on abandonment to God. Since allowing God to work freely fosters peace of heart, and we are the heart of our homes, learning to say “Thy will be done” is important to our growth in holiness and becoming peacemakers. Where can we being? With Mary, of course!

The Heart of the Mother desires peace for her family.

It was in the midst of World War I, 1917. Europe was losing the lives of many young men. The century of wars was in full force.  Our Lady reached out to the world through three little children. The horrors and threats were beyond the understanding of the poor shepherds of Fatima, Portugal, yet their hearts were open to her message. Are we? 

  • The Angel told them to “believe, adore, hope, love” God.
  • Adore the Blessed Sacrament and offer the Body and Blood of Jesus to the Father “in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference with which He is offended.”
  • Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.
  • Accept all the sufferings God wills for you. 
  • Make everything a sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.
  • Do not offend the Lord our God anymore because He is already so much offended.
  • God wants to establish in the world devotion to my (Mary’s) Immaculate Heart.
  • Pray, pray very much and make sacrifices for sinners.
  • Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only She can help you.

Peace is unity with God.

It should come as no surprise that Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of the World, would teach us how to obtain peace in our hearts and our world during this modern age. She shows us that the Christian mother’s vocation is pivotal in promoting peace and she wants to help. Peace begins with conversion, and conversion requires sacrificing our desires for God’s will and the good of all souls. So by following her example we will first say “yes” to God’s will, and then “make haste” to serve and foster unity. In a nutshell, peacemakers aim to answer the prayer of Christ in the Garden when He prayed for His disciples saying, “That they all my be One, as you, Father, and I are one.” Hence, peace is oneness with God. Moms are peacemakers when we work for this unity.

It all begins when we ask what Lucia asked Mary 100 years ago, “What do you want of me?”, then hasting to serve our families in peace.

I encourage you to take full advantage of the indulgences (see the link below) given during this 100th Anniversary of Fatima. And pray the Rosary every day.

References:

https://wafusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Plenary-Indulgence-Centennial-Fatima-Apparitions-2017.pdf

http://www.foryourmarriage.org/peacemakers-born-and-raised-in-families/

https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20121208_xlvi-world-day-peace.html

https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/messages/peace.index.html

Categories
Confession Parenting Spiritual Growth Susan

Lessons from Flynn

 

What is it about parenting that can make us too controlling? How do we find the happy medium between guiding children and instilling independence? Do we care too much or are we missing something? What is the heart of the matter? How do we become holy parents?

 

The situation which raised these questions for me happened one Saturday in June when my husband and I went with the owners of local horse farm and my daughter to her third horse show. Being our third show, we have become more aware of some questionable parenting we have been habitually doing, and have had regular adult witnesses to it. What were we doing, you may ask? We were being too “helpful;” too “correcting;” too “coach-like;” and confusing it all with being “parent-like.” I, personally, have been allowing myself to be very critical. I have struggled with this as a mom, sister, friend and neighbor. Now I am seeing myself in the mirror, and something needs to change.

 

The first part of the day sounded like this: “hurry up, get ready,” “did you learn the pattern,” “you better go practice more,” “eat something,” “drink something,” “why are you upset?” “remember this and do that.” Then when she was away from us, I would gently complain to the owners on how she seems not to care, even though I know she does; and worse, overanalyzing the psyche of her behavior. They, being the kind people they are, were so patient with my immaturity. They only responded with kind words, encouragement, and understanding, allowing the subject to dissipate, and open me to self-awareness.

 

The first pivotal opportunity of change that day began when the announcer broadcast, “There is a palomino loose and he has headed down the street.” Immediately, I knew it was the horse my daughter was going to ride. Quite a few of us headed in the direction of the horse’s path. My daughter and her trainer went running across the field. They hopped a ride with a man in a jeep and later with another man on a four-wheeler to find the horse. This man knew where it went, where all horses go… to the apple orchard! They found the horse and he came to them easily.

 

Meanwhile, waiting at the trailer, I was very upset. Finally after venting, I said a quiet prayer asking God to help me not to say a harsh word to my daughter when she returns. “She is upset enough already.”  Soon, ease and calm soothed me when the owners voiced a forgiving “they-did-not-mind,” and “It’s all a learning experience. No worries.” It was their horse, and I was so embarrassed at the situation. But they were understanding and mature enough to know everything is a learning experience.

 

I voiced to my husband while waiting for the horse’s return that I did not want to say anything to our daughter that would make her feel worse; he agreed. Next, we looked across the field to see her and the trainer coming back with the horse. The trainer wore a smile and exclaimed, “that was fun!” Her words eased me even further. Compassion for my daughter stirred when I saw her face slowly returning to refreshment after shedding many tears. “It’s all good, Sweety.” And we listened to her story of their adventure.

 

Thankfully they made it back just in time for our daughter to get ready to show. Everyone had time for physical and mental refreshment. My husband kept encouraging our daughter. I, however, began to tell her what she needs to do to get ready. I did not say anything harsh, but I felt myself wavering between my let’s-get-things-done attitude and a new one of sincere support.

 

My second pivotal opportunity for change came as the afternoon progressed.  My daughter was doing increasingly well in the show classes. Her trainer was attentive to her; advising her…and us. The trainer was heading toward my daughter and politely, kindly, yet firmly said to us, “Let me instruct.” That was all I needed to gain the motivation to change. My husband and I looked at each other and admitted our fault, acknowledging: “We need to just encourage our daughter, and let her trainer do the rest.” We went right to work at trying to do so and were able to rejoice in our daughter’s success in ending the day with a blue ribbon from a competitive class.

 

We are so proud of our daughter. I am so grateful for the peacefulness, firmness, and kindness from the owners and trainer. Their correct reactions toward our negative behavior helped so very much. Thankful to God for what I learned that day and the variety of personal inner thoughts I continue to ponder, there are two lessons that really stood out to me from this experience, and that I hope will speak to you.

 

First, we need others so we can grow in virtue. Every interaction with anyone is a chance to grow in holiness. Even when we fail in practicing virtue, we immediately are given the opportunity to learn from our weakness, which opens up another chance to act with virtue. I am reminded of Romans 5:20, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”

 

Second, interaction with Christ is the key opportunity we need for ongoing, lasting healing. It begins with knowing ourselves as we truly are.  I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal where I need healing so I am not so critical. This was not my own idea, it was prompted by the advice on a CD called Healing and Holiness by Vinny Flynn (ironically, Flynn is the name of the horse, too! HA!) This Mary Foundation CD encourages its listeners to go beyond recognizing the sins we have committed and discover the healing we need which is the root of our sin. Vinny Flynn reminds us that Christ wants to HEAL us, not just forgive because forgiveness is only part of the healing.

 

So, bringing to prayer, “where do I need to be healed, Lord?” opens us to healing. Then when we bring it all, sins and wounds, to Confession and Holy Mass, Christ will take it away and replace it with His holy life. I had a personal experience with this when I lived in fear which fueled my anxiety. Knowing my fear was not technically a sin, I knew I still needed to be healed from it, so I gave it to Christ in Confession. I knew He would replace it with grace. The more I confessed it, the more it lost its grip on my life. I know what Vinny Flynn teaches is absolutely true and am glad he shares it ever so well.

 

I encourage you to obtain this free CD, Healing and Holiness, at www.catholicity.com and apply it to your own lives, and share it with others.

 

When in your own lives have you seen yourself more clearly? How did the Sacraments help you heal?