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Anima Christi AnnMarie C.

Line-By-Line Prayer Reflection: Anima Christi, Part VIII

Anima Christi Sept reflectionThis is the eighth of a series of posts reflecting line-by-line on the Anima Christi. Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.

I have a chronic illness which is exacerbated by the foods I eat. Instead of traditional medicine, the only way this disorder can be treated is by eliminating certain foods from my life. At one particular visit, my doctor proposed an initial very strict stage of food elimination. Being used to elimination diets, , I didn’t give it a second thought. But, at the next Mass I attended, when I was on line for communion, it struck me that I shouldn’t be receiving communion in either form, for the next month or so. I made my way up to the priest, crossed my arms and received a blessing. When I got to my seat, suddenly, an overwhelming thirst came upon me, which underscored the loss I had just experienced. I began to weep, quietly, kneeling in the pew. “Oh God,” I prayed, “I feel so far from you!”

But, later, I was convicted.

Why was I so upset about not being able to receive the Eucharist when there have been plenty of times in my life that I’ve separated myself from God for other reasons?

The Lord gave us free will so that we would freely choose to love Him. We are not slaves. We are not puppets. Our free will is a gift that the Lord will not take back from us. He wants us to love Him, yes. But He wants that love to be a chosen love, a sincere love. Who among us would want anyone to love them solely out of a sense of duty or obligation? That is not a free choice. The Lord wants our hearts, but He will never force our love. He waits by, patiently, always ready to accept any love we have to give Him. He doesn’t force us, which is beautiful. Yet, we are also free to choose to turn our backs on Him; to cut ourselves off from Him through sin.

We all sin; we are fallen creatures and that is our nature. But, the Bible tells us that there are some sins that are more serious than others; some that bring spiritual death.

sinSt. John tells us that, “There is such a thing as deadly sin… All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” (1 John 5:16-17)
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, St. Paul gives us a whole list of sins that will exclude us from the Kingdom of God. Is this because God is mean? No. He is perfect, and loving, and no creature could possibly dwell with Him that has turned his or her back on God. In Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3-6, St. Paul again underscores that certain people, especially the immoral, impure, greedy and those who practice idolatry cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Idolatry can come in many forms. That thing you just can’t live without? It may be an idol for you. It may be the thing that is preventing you from living the life God created you to live.

Consider the things that may come between you and God.

What came between Adam and Eve and God? Pride. Disobedience. But, although they were no longer able to dwell with the Lord in the garden, He formulated a plan to get them back. He Himself redeemed them, and all of us.

We have a responsibility to live according to His Word. Yes, in John 3:16, it tells us that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life. ‘

But what does it mean to believe?

Do we just make a verbal profession of our belief? Or does it extend beyond that? Through the gospel, Jesus gives us direction on this. He tells the adulteress to stop sinning. He tells the rich man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. He tells us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. According to Matthew 16:24-27, how we behave matters to Jesus.

forgivenessIn Matthew 5:22-24, Jesus tells us to reconcile with our brother before we approach the altar of God. Harboring unforgiveness will separate us from the Lord. He tells us this Himself, in the prayer He gave to the disciples, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiveness is not a feeling, as much as it is an act of the will. We make a decision to forgive. It cuts the tie between us and the person who offended us. When we forgive, that person no longer has power over us. It doesn’t excuse what they did, it just cuts us free. Feelings may remain, but, over time, emotions will heal, especially through prayer, help from family and friends, or therapy.

Through the Church, the Lord gives us a way to reconcile with Him. Jesus clearly established a Church (see Mt 16: 18-19, 18:15-17; Ephesians 1:22, 3:10, 5:23-24, to name a few verses). He also gave priests the authority to forgive sins (see Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:22-23). We should take advantage of these avenues of grace given to us by the Lord. Making a good examination of conscience is a great way to evaluate where we are in our relationship with Him. Frequent confession helps to keep us focused on the Lord and His plan for us.

There are two sides of a coin here. We need to make sure we are not creating a separation between ourselves and God. But, at the same time, we need to try to grow closer to Him through daily mental prayer, praise and other devotions, like the rosary, which helps us to meditate on the life of Jesus. Christ is the ‘Word made flesh.’ He is the bible. Get to know Him intimately by reading Him. When we read the gospels as a whole, a picture of Jesus emerges, and we begin to get a sense of His mission, his personality.

For me, one major theme of Jesus’ teachings is hope. Some, or even many, of our actions may create a chasm between us and the Lord. But, if we strive to be like Jesus, and use Him as an example for our behavior; if we use the sacraments given to us by God, and hope in His mercy, we will see a bridge being built. And how wonderful it will be to get to the other side!

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AnnMarie C. Books Domestic Church Easter Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Movies Resources Spiritual Growth Your Handy-Dandy List

A Tisket, A Tasket; What’s in Your Easter Basket?

A Tisket, A Tasket; What's in Your Easter Basket

My oldest child is in his twenties, so we’ve had a lot of experience creating Easter baskets for our children.  We want to make them fun, but also help the children keep their focus on why we are celebrating. So, along with candy, we include some things that will help bolster their faith.

Over the years, here are some items we have included:

Rosaries:  a good, every day rosary, perhaps a corded one, is a great inclusion, especially if you hide it in a plastic egg.

scapularScapulars/medals: a child-seized scapular or medal of a favorite saint make excellent inclusions. If you give both, attach the medal to the scapular for wearing.

Holy Cards: one of our children has a collection of these and keeps them in a binder with clear plastic inserts that have individual sleeves for each card.

Books: historical fiction is a great way to keep children engaged while learning.  Here are some of our favorite selections:

The Xan Chronicles by Antony Barone Kolenc – This trilogy is excellent for pre-teens and teens alike.  These stories, which are set in the 12th century, tell the tale of a young boy who was injured in a raid on his village and taken to a monastery. He has lost his memory, so the monks name him Alexander; Xan for short. The first book, Shadow in the Dark traces Xan’s recovery and how he stumbles upon a mystery which he eventually helps solve.  books kolencThe next book, The Haunted Cathedral, delves deeper into Xan’s past and other topics, such as forgiveness and redemption.  In the final book, The Fire of Eden, Xan has a big decision to make, as well as another crime to solve.  These books are exciting and engaging and any child–boy or girl– would be pleased to find them in an Easter basket.

The Weight of a Mass and Take it to the Queen by Josephine Nobisso – In The Weight of a Mass, a poor beggar woman promises a wealthy baker that she will offer up one mass for him of he will give her a scrap of bread.  He mocks her by writing the words, ‘one mass’ on a piece of paper and weighing it against  a load of baked goods.  What happens next changes everyone, including the beggar woman.  Take it to the Queen is an allegorical story which reveals the Blessed Mother’s role in salvation.  Both books are masterfully illustrated and are treasures to pass down from generation to generation.

The Living History Library collection published by Bethlehem Books contains many titles which children are sure to enjoy.  Some of these are: Archemides and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick, Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard, Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel C. Brill, Red Hugh, Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Rielly, books hsitorical fictionThe Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow by Allen French, The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum and, a favorite of my own children, Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard.

Any of the saint biographies by Vision Books are appropriate for children of elementary school age and up.  Included are St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills, St. Elizabeth’s Three Crowns, Francis and Clare: Saints of Assisi and many others.

Movies: what child wouldn’t like a new movie to watch?  Some of the more current movies that would be appropriate for older children are

Mighty Macs

The Ultimate Gift

The Way

October Baby

Bella

The Passion by Radix

 

Younger children would enjoy any of the animated saint stories by CCC,  Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt or Joseph King of Dreams, any of the Cat Chat episodes, or Brother Francis DVDs, released by Herald Entertainment.

matt maherMusic: Fr. Stan Fortuna’s music is a favorite in our household.  This former street rapper turned Franciscan friar creates amazing songs that range in genre from rap to jazz to sacred.  Sacro Song II will appeal to teens.  My personal favorite is the Second Collection. Music from Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, Laura Story, John Waller, Natalie Grant and Casting Crowns is popular in our home.

Along with jellybeans, Cadbury Eggs and Peeps, you may want to try some of our favorite candy, Gummi Bears or Organic Jelly Beans by SurfSweets or Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate.

Categories
AnnMarie C. Current Events Ink Slingers NFP and contraceptives Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Plan B: When is a Right Simply Wrong?

Tuesday, the federal government threw in the towel in an ongoing fight with a  judge; which will result in the Plan B Morning After Pill being made available over the counter with no restrictions.

Some women’s groups are lauding the move as a victory for reproductive rights and for women of all ages. They are touting the benefits of unrestricted access to safe birth control.

Whoa! Stop right there!

When is a teenage girl a woman?

And since when is hormonal birth control safe?

Let’s back up and take a look at this…

This week, the Appellate Division of the NY State Supreme Court is hearing an appeal regarding the repeal of Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban.  Despite this ruling being struck down before it could take effect, arguments are once again being heard in favor of the ban.

What does soda have to do with the Plan B ruling, you ask?

Well, if the ban goes into effect, a teen girl would be not be able to order an extra large Coke while she’s out to dinner with her family, but she would be able to purchase a cancer causing drug without her parents’ knowledge.  The World Health Organization has classified hormonal contraceptives as Group 1 Carcinogens.  The Plan B pill is, in fact, almost as strong as an entire month’s worth of doses of a regular birth control pill.

“Don’t drink that soda dear, but, here, have a dose of cancer, please.”

Some months ago, I took my daughter to get a second piercing in her earlobes.  I had to show a valid ID and sign a permission form.  The employee who did the piercing handed me the care instructions and gave me the verbal explanation.  Why?  Because she realized that teen girls are…distracted…by lots of things; phones, friends, iPods, etc.  A teen girl may not be responsible enough to follow through on the aftercare of a piercing.  My daughter did fairly well, but I still had to remind her on occasion to twirl her earrings and clean her lobes.

“Here’s your Plan B…don’t forget to read the entire insert before taking it!”

If a teen takes Plan B and experiences severe lower abdominal pain 3 to 5 weeks after ingestion, she may not realize that the pain could be linked to Plan B use.  This could indicate an ectopic pregnancy, which would require immediate attention by a physician.  What if she thinks she just has a stomach bug or food poisoning and doesn’t get to a physician?

The list of drugs that interact with Plan B is quite extensive.  What if a drug interaction occurs, and she is unable to tell someone because of the reaction?  How would medics know how to treat her?

In  our country, a teen has been deemed not mature enough to vote for public officials or drink alcohol; she can’t be dispensed pain killers at school or even go on a field trip without permission from a parent. Why, then, is she considered responsible enough to handle this drug on her own?

To me, this doesn’t sound like a right which should be celebrated.  It simply sounds wrong.

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7 Quick Takes AnnMarie C. Getting to Know the Ink Slingers Ink Slingers Kerri

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 7

Welcome to 7 Quick Takes at Catholic Sistas! If you are new to our site we hope you will enjoy this little interview with one of our contributors, or Ink Slingers as we like to say in these parts, and stick around to explore more of our offerings. In this seven question interview we are chatting with Ink Slinger AnnMarie C. who is a devout Catholic, busy homeschool mom and wife and a published author. Keep reading to learn more about AnnMarie’s favorite song, her challenges in homschooling, what she loves about the Church, and where she finds her inspiration for her writing (and a link to her new book is included). Enjoy!

–1–

What is your favorite song or who is your favorite singer? 

One of my very favorite singers is my father.  He sang in clubs in NY when he was in college and even made an album.  His stage name was Peter Mitchell.  When I was a child he made me listen to the Rat Pack and I grumbled about it. Now I have very eclectic taste in music, from Fr. Stan Fortuna to Dean Martin to Aerosmith.  I will admit that my “shower song” is Etta James’ At Last.  I love to belt that one out when I think no one is listening!

–2–

What do you wish everyone knew about the Church?

That, contrary to popular belief, women find freedom here!  The church has such high esteem for women.  This is evident particularly through the writings of Bl. John Paul II in his encyclical on the dignity of women, the Theology of the Body talks and in his book Love and Responsibility.

–3–

What inspires you when you write?

Love.  Love inspires me.  The book The Song of Solomon in the Bible is particularly an inspiration.  In fact, I used it constantly when writing Angela’s Song.  When I write, I start by asking the Holy Spirit to guide me and I always have a Bible on hand.

–4–

If you homeschool, what is your favorite part of homeschooling and what is your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge is balancing the housework, shopping and all the other responsibilities with teaching.  My favorite part is that I get to hang out with my kids all day.  We pray together and I see them learning, playing and being creative.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

–5–

Tell us about some unusual things that make you happy?

The aroma of coffee, watching my kids play, choosing the right gift for someone’s birthday, stormy weather, a phone call from someone I haven’t heard from in a while, singing Psalm 63, talking with my husband, making a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner for my family (shrimp scampi, baked clams, fried fish, calamari and linguini with clam sauce), crisp fall mornings, getting a hug from my son with autism, an hour of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament,  the fragrance of frankincense,  the sound of boots crunching in the snow.

–6–

Where were you born and do you still live there (or nearby)?  If not, how many places have you lived and which were the most interesting?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on the north shore of Long Island.  After we got married, my husband and I lived in Queens for awhile, then we relocated to a far west Chicago suburb for about 15 years.  Now our family lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  It was a big adjustment moving so far west.  It’s very different from the east coast!  But this is definitely where God wants us to be and all of us are happy here.

–7–

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Goodness, I constantly embarrass myself!  Last year, at the Catholic Writer’s Conference in Philadelphia, I hired Ellen Gable to critique the first three chapters of my manuscript.  The Catholic Writers Guild offered this service and provided several authors to choose from.  Usually I’m more thorough, but it was a very busy time for me so I wound up just  picking a name off the list and leaving it at that.  When we finally met, Ellen said, “I know why you picked me to critique you r work. You must have read my novels.”   I think I said something like, “Oh…you write books?”

It turns out that she writes Catholic fiction with a Theology of the Body theme.  A year later, Ellen is my editor, publisher and good friend.  I’m thankful she had the grace to overlook my faux pas!

For more Quick Takes go visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

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AnnMarie C. Marriage Matrimony NFP and contraceptives

Erotica Catholica

Knowing that the words on a page or the scenes in a movie were what aroused my husband instead of, well… me,  would honestly hurt my feelings.  I expect my husband to hold sacred his marriage vows and to honor and cherish me…and  I hold myself to the same standard.  Many women are urging their friends to read erotica or watch titillating movies to enhance marital intimacy.  But that’s like putting a soiled bandage on an open wound.  It covers the wound, but when you take it off, the infection has worsened.

If you find yourself looking outside your marriage for arousal, don’t grab a bodice ripper, instead work on your marriage.  Below are some tips to help you achieve emotional intimacy with your spouse.  The results will be satisfying and long lasting.

FORGIVE – We’ve all been hurt by our spouse.  When you live with someone 24 hours a day you’re bound to be hurt by them in some way.  Maybe they don’t appreciate the work you put into your family, maybe they don’t notice when you need something, maybe they don’t give you love in the way you need it.  There are probably many ways you’ve done the hurting as well.  If you harbor unforgiveness you need to let it go.  Use the Sacrament of Reconciliation often to confess the unforgiveness.  Pray for the desire to forgive.  Ask your spouse to forgive you for these feelings as well.  Discussing this with your husband or wife could open up a door to healing.  What would the result be if you gently approached and said, “Honey, I feel hurt and unimportant to you when you schedule girl’s night/guy’s night without checking my calendar and I’ve had a hard time forgiving you for that.  I’m sorry.”  In my own personal experience, dialogues like this go a long way in creating emotional intimacy.

 ALWAYS ASSUME –   I know the old adage about never assuming, but there is one exception to this rule.  Always assume that what your spouse says or does has a good intention.  Adopting this attitude is helpful in avoiding misunderstandings.  You don’t really want to be at odds with your spouse, do you?

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE VULNERABLE – When you close yourself off to pain, you close yourself off to joy as well. Many of us have past hurts that we are healing from.  Because of this we’ve built a brick wall around our hearts, not allowing anyone in, afraid to be hurt again.  To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Hey, you!  Tear that wall down!”  If you have childhood wounds, allow yourself to feel the pain and let them go.  Find a good therapist and work through it.  Visit the Blessed Sacrament often and sit in the presence of Our Lord and ask Him to heal you.  If you can, conjure up the memory of the incident and invite Jesus into it.  You will be amazed at how healing this can be.

LEARN YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE – Everyone has a love language.  When our spouse learns to speak our language we feel loved.  Some people feel loved when their spouse performs acts of kindness.  This is me.  I always tell my husband, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like taking out the trash.”  For some, like my husband, it’s words of affirmation.  To satisfy his need I text him throughout the day and let him know how much he means to me.  (Thanks for making my tea this morning or just a simple I love you.)  The book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is an excellent resource.  I would suggest taking the quiz, determining your love language and then reading the chapters that address you and your spouse’s particular love language.  It’s a small exercise that will have huge results in your marriage.

PRAY – Invite the Lord into all aspects of your marriage.  Pray for your spouse.  Pray with your spouse.  Pray before sex.  The prayer that Tobias prays before he makes love to his wife Sarah is an excellent way to begin intimacy.

Now Lord, you know I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose.  Call down your mercy on me and on her and allow us to live together to a happy old age.  (Tobit 8:7)

Pray during sex.  The simple prayer, “Lord, help me to make a gift of myself to name,”  will help you focus on your spouse and not yourself.

Pray instead of gossiping.  Men and women alike will complain to their friends about their spouse’s shortcomings, which creates animosity in a marriage and fuels the fire of unforgiveness.  Instead, use a prayer journal and pour your heart out to the Lord.  Then ask Him to heal these areas of your spouse’s life and pray for the desire to forgive.  Wouldn’t this do more for your marriage than texting your BFF or posting a passive aggressive status on Facebook?

PRACTICE CHURCH TEACHING IN YOUR MARRIAGE – Church teaching…it’s not what you think it is!  Many people assume that the church is oppressive and prudish when it comes to sex.  Guess what?  They’re WRONG!  When my own marriage was lacking,  the book Holy Sex!  by Dr. Greg Popcak made all the difference for me.  It took Theology of the Body and put it in practical terms that were extremely simple to apply to my marriage.   Christopher West’s Heaven’s Song was the book that made it all click for my husband.  Remember, God created sex.  He wrote the manual.  Use it!

We have used these principles in our own marriage.  When I  see my husband loving me to the best of his ability, making sacrifices for our family, and taking on the role of the spiritual head of the household, that does much more for me than any book, movie or cyber dude ever could.

Marital intimacy is something that grows from a deep emotional bond.   Humility and selflessness are the seeds that grow this bond.  True intimacy doesn’t start in the bedroom.  It begins the moment you open your eyes in the morning.  Focus on your relationship with God and fulfilling your spouse’s needs.  When both a husband and wife focus on God and each other, everybody wins.

 

Sometimes marriages need some extra help. Retrouvaille is a program to help couples who are considering divorce. Marriage Encounter is for couples who have a good marriage, but want to create a deeper bond. And many marriages suffer because of the effects of pornography use or past sexual trauma. Recovering Hearts is a counseling service which specializes in these areas.

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