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Anni Ink Slingers Mary Prayer Revelation: Public vs. Private Rosary

Contemplating Eternity: The Encouragement of Our Lady of Fatima

We are living in dark, perilous times – no darker and no more perilous than the times preceding today’s society. However, as our society seems to descend into moral relativism, eschewing the notion in natural truth and law, many of us holding on to the belief in our Faith, and in God, are left holding the draw strings of a bag whose bottom is slowly coming unraveled.

The Chicken Little sky falling mantra does not seem to be shouted from the rooftops as pervasively as it has in times past. Instead, we seem complacent to let each other live our own truths, without thought to a much larger truth.

This month is the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

Over the course of six months, Our Lady appeared to three small shepherd children, giving messages…

…and warnings.

Society was warned to repent and turn from sin…

…to recognize God in all His goodness and glory…

…to accept the Truth only God can offer us.

There is no timeline for when the warning will expire, since Jesus was pretty clear – only the Father knows the day, the time, and the hour.

Upon baptism and confirmation, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit sparked within our beings. As humans, longing for relationship, we constantly strive to seek the elusive relationship – the one that only God can provide… only He can provide a relationship with comfort, security, and true agape love. For, as Our Lady of Fatima explained during one of her apparitions,

Heaven is real.

Hell…

…is also real.

And, Our Lady of Fatima provides us with warning…

…and encouragement.

There are testimonies throughout history which indicate just how transformative the Rosary can be – for individuals, and for societies. In addition to this month being the hundredth anniversary of the final apparition of Fatima, this month is also the 446th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, whose outcome secured the victory of Christendom in the West over Islam. The success at Lepanto has historically been attributed to the power of the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima reiterated praying the Rosary as an avenue to convert hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

Our Lady of Fatima encouraged us to be on guard against sins of impurity, and to offer sacrifices throughout our days – offering up our small sacrifices for love of Jesus, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins.

One hundred years ago, Our Lady reminded us of a framework to succeed in getting to heaven.

But, as we are also warned in Matthew 7:13-14,

As Lieutenant General (Retired) Hal Moore once said during an interview with EWTN, “I’m in the business of eternity, and I hope I am successful in that business.” While difficult and wildly unpopular it is to do so at times, it is not impossible for us to keep an eye on the end goal of our eternal life. Even if it makes us stand out, and makes this life difficult at times, it is not outside the realm of possibility for us to keep eternal life at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Keeping our eternity in mind requires vigilance, prayer, sacrifice, and love.

It should also lead us to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to ensure we are choosing the gate and the road that leads to eternal life?

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Ink Slingers

Life Goals

It happens to me every time I attend a funeral, especially a Catholic funeral Mass. I cry, I mourn and I thank God for the Catholic Church. A Requiem Mass is not just a ceremony but a prayer filled, beautiful sending home. While the loss of a loved one is always sorrowful, this goodbye always leaves me filled with hope. And, without exception, I find myself thinking on the spoken remembrances of the deceased. I am always moved to hear the story of their life and how they touched the lives of others. I enter into a reflection of my own life; am I living the best life I am capable of? Am I fulfilling what I was created for? Or, am I so busy living for today that I have forgotten I am not meant for this world?

Who do I say I am?

Would I be recognized as being a woman who knows who I am and whose I am? My identity is to be found in Christ.  I am a child of God. I am a wife, a mother, sister and friend loved into being by God. My faith in God is the core of who I am. I have finally come to understand, that my strength as a woman, wife and mother originates and stands firm in the knowledge that I am first a daughter of our heavenly Father. The deeper I trust in this, the better equipped I am to completely let go of the unrealistic worldly expectations placed on me as a woman. I can abandon myself to Him. I have nothing to fear knowing He will never leave me.  I am certain that if God is not the center of my life, it’s not a fruitful life.   I have tried doing life without keeping my gaze on Christ and found little success in living joyfully or peacefully.  Without God as my anchor, my spiritual and mental well-being is so easily disturbed. When I rely solely on my own power, I close myself off to allowing the Spirit to move in me and through me. I become so easily distracted by the unnecessary flighty things of today. Disappointments and frustrations follow me when I am solely focused on seeking worldly approval and accolades. As Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, reminds me “we must daily claim the love of God” by cooperating with His desire to draw me in closer and closer to Himself, the source of Truth and Love. I am beloved.

We are all saints in training.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Matthew 6:21)  I am thankful for a great many things in my life, next to faith; motherhood has been the greatest gift I have received.  Becoming a wife and a mother has both ruined and transformed me. I can think of nothing that compares to the joy of embracing my babies, growing with them as my heart stretches near to breaking and overflows with all that is bittersweet on the journey of motherhood. Sharing in this blessing with my husband has magnified the wonder of it all.  I have always wanted to be a mother and to have a family; this vocation has fulfilled the desire of my heart. Marriage and motherhood are intensely beautiful, although neither is easy nor perfect. Ever. But, the beauty is, I am being refined and perfected in these roles. God is using the people and the relationships I cherish to teach me to love better, to forgive more and to grow in mercy. It is in persevering in this tiring and trying work of caring for and loving my family well that I am growing in holiness. They are my treasures on this journey. And, every instance that I am able to be generous in self-giving it is as my grandmother would often say, “another jewel in my crown”.  Family life and relationships are the place we learn to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). God’s will is that all of His children become holy. We are called to live courageously as saints in training, that we may receive our crown of glory.

It is good to keep the end in mind.

Do I acknowledge and share with others that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Am I living as if He is my only hope? Am I greeting each new day with the end of this life in mind? I know, who wants to think of their death? It is not pleasant, demanding really. But, I hope that as my life is running its course towards its eventual unknown end, I am clinging hard to my faith while keeping my heart wide open. The example of my life is certainly not always pretty; I can be hard of heart, stubborn and judgmental. That friend I have been giving the silent treatment, the child I exasperatedly snapped at, the disrespect I threw at my husband,… these are the moments I need the Holy Spirit to remind me I have taken my eyes off Jesus and it is time to turn and plead forgiveness. The gate is narrow. The way is strenuous. I have found great help in leaning on Mary, our Blessed Mother, who proclaimed do whatever He tells you. Our Lady is a constant, gentle guide along the way, leading her children to her Son. In the end, when I arrive at my eternal destination, I pray I am bruised and exhausted from persevering in the loving and serving that has been asked of me, so that it is in the glorious beatific vision I find myself resting.

Heaven “is neither an abstraction not a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity.
It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.”
-Pope St. John Paul II 

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Charla Ink Slingers

Patience, please.

impatienceI once went to Confession years ago, and as I divulged my many transgressions, I still felt helpless. Typically, I am at peace and have a sense of relief after having let out all that baggage and a cathartic sensation overtakes me, but not this time, not until Father spoke. It wasn’t words of absolution that did it but a question: “Why do you continue to ask God for patience? Ask God for understanding, and then patience will come.” I didn’t quite understand what he was suggesting, but I felt trust in his words. It did not seem too far-fetched and rather reasonable, so I was left with something to ponder. When he gave me absolution, I thought more on this idea and tried to apply it to my life.

My difficulties with patience usually stem from frustrations with dealing with my children. My kids don’t listen to me at times, or they get easily distracted. They aren’t ready quickly enough or they won’t stop talking.  If I put myself in their world, their understanding of their situations, I may gain this patience.  Understanding in this way is most definitely empathy. If I empathize, I become a better version of myself.  I use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given me to be what God envisions for me and to continue on such a path enables my salvation. So maybe my children will in fact be my golden ticket to Heaven.

The mother of one of my students mentioned that her son said he was not going to pray for patience, because then God will give him the opportunities to be patient! Isn’t that so often the truth! We are afraid of the hard work.  We shy away from the challenges God gives us, expecting our lives to be simple and carefree, and quite frankly easy.  Patience isn’t easy; it is quite difficult because we want to focus on ourselves and not on others. We want it NOW; we want others to cater to our whims; we want our way. If we accept people and situations for what they are, it sure brings a sensation of peace, so isn’t patience worth it?

heavenSometimes, I truly feel like I do not actually desire patience. If I am patient, doesn’t that mean I am not enthusiastic or I do not feel emphatically enough about things? Won’t patience hold me back from greatness? Or keep me from pursuing my dreams? Will it make me complacent or content? All these things are actually true, but only in one sense. We should not be patient with ourselves when it comes to a relationship with God. We can’t afford to wait until we think we are ready to be good and holy and virtuous. God is patient with us because He loves us, but if we are patient with a lower standard of holiness for ourselves, it could result in our loss of salvation.  Heaven is too important.  Our Lord is too precious to us to let a relationship with Him slip through our fingers. If there is a time to act, it is now.  We cannot become patient with others; we cannot show empathy to others if we put off a rapport with God.

 I will seek understanding, which will bring patience, which will arouse empathy, which is an important gift of the Holy Spirit.  This level of holiness will help us gain God and gain Salvation.

What tries your patience and what can you do to understand and become empathetic?

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Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Liturgical Year Ordinary Time Prayer Sacred Scripture

Lectio Divina: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (2016)

Lectio Divina- 23rd SundayLectio divina is a beautiful way of encountering Jesus in Scripture and is an ancient tradition of the Church. To learn more about it, there is a brief description HERE including citations for further resources.

This coming Sunday is the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary time. Before we begin, you will want to have the Gospel passage ready to go. You can find it HERE. A simple prayer before you begin is a nice way to start (I like starting with the prayer to the Holy Spirit, a Glory Be would be good too).

READ

This first very simple step is to simply read the Gospel passage. This is God sending you a letter, so just read it and be with it. Does any one word or phrase particularly speak to you at this time? If so, say it out loud to yourself. Sometimes there may be more than one. If so, say the first one and sit silently with that word or words. Then speak the second one.

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

After you have sat with your word or phrase for a moment read the Gospel passage a second time. Reflect on the passage as a whole. What is God saying to you through this passage?

In my first reading of this Gospel passage from Luke two phrases caught my attention: “carry his own cross” and “renounce all his possessions.” This led me to think mostly just of material possessions and my constant need to divest myself of the clutter I seem to perpetually have around me. Another thought I had was that Jesus may not be talking only of material possessions, after all pretty much every story we have of Jesus has more than one meaning behind his words.

Reading this passage a second time something else struck me instead. The analogy of the builder constructing a tower. A builder should properly calculate everything before starting. If not, things may not turn out as expected and, as Jesus says, “onlookers should laugh at him.” At first glance it’s not obvious why Jesus uses this analogy in the context of renouncing your family and possessions to follow him. But then I remembered one of my first thoughts, that Jesus is not just talking about material possessions, he’s also talking about our souls and how we prepare our souls to be true followers of Jesus.

I don’t think Jesus wants us to literally hate our family members or the things we need in life (“need” being the important word here). But we must prepare our souls to be detached from the things of this world, even the people of this world. Like a builder who properly calculates and prepares for the construction of his tower, we must be continually preparing our souls for the next world. In addition to detachments from the things of this world, we must also be prepared to take up our cross, the cross that makes us different from the world around us precisely because we are focusing on the world to come.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Read the Gospel passage a third time. After this reading focus on how you would respond to God. What do you want to say to God?

My first thought in answering this question: I’m trying. Preparing my soul is hard. Human weakness being what it is, I want to have my cake and eat it too. So, yes, I’m trying, one day at a time. Slowly but surely, I spend time in prayer, spend time in Scripture, and spend time getting to know Jesus and building that personal relationship with him. As I focus more on those things I think detaching from worldly goods becomes easier and easier. One day at a time, Lord, always keeping you in sight.

REST

Read the Gospel passage a fourth time and simply rest with God in his word. To close your time, I recommend an Our Father, or any other prayer of your choosing.

Lord God, help us to prepare our souls to be joined with you one day in our heavenly home. I pray for the strength to carry my cross, to stay true to the Christian way of life and renounce all worldly things. Help us to always have a focus on you, our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Reflect for Ordinary Time- Sept 4Find our Reflect series, a short version of Lectio Divina, on Instagram.

 

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Ink Slingers Michelle Saints Spiritual Growth

All You Holy Men and Women: Becoming Saints

It’s very late right now as I sit and type. I haven’t had an opportunity to gather my thoughts lately in a very cohesive manner. I feel like I have so much to say but so little time to say it in. It seems like I am constantly rushing from one thing to the next and never really accomplishing all that I need to accomplish. Add in kids who just aren’t sleeping well at night (we are traveling), wanting to spend quality time with all our family- especially my mother-in-law, needing to get homework done even though we aren’t at home, my van breaking while we are away, and just the general worries of everyday life and well, I feel like I can’t do it all! I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. Admit it, you feel this way sometimes too, right? Right?

st frances of romeSo what’s a girl to do when she is overwhelmed and stressed out beyond the max? When I start to feel this way I look for a patron saint to lean on. There are many websites out there which can point you in the right direction but my preference is CatholicSaints.info It has an alphabetical listing of all the saints either by name or by patronage. If I am looking for a saint to intercede for me because we are experiencing another car issue I know that I only have to click on to their website to discover that in addition to St. Christopher, St. Frances of Rome is the patron saint of motorists.

It’s strange to me to hear some people don’t rely on the Saints the way I do. I guess for me it is second nature to call upon a trusted friend in my time of need. I know that because of the Communion of Saints we are still connected to all those who have gone before us. They can pray for us and intercede for us. It seems very natural to me to look up who specializes in what and call upon those saints in my time of need. I figure they are all on my team (Go Catholic!!) and it seems wise to bring them into the game when they are needed most.

That said, I don’t just use the Saints for my selfish needs. I am thankful for their prayers and intercession even when the results aren’t what I was hoping for. While they are my trusted friends who are before God they also know that His will is what is most important. I trust them to bring my needs before the Lord and to accept on my behalf whatever His decision is for me. Maybe a better description of these holy men and women would be protective brothers and sisters. They look out for me, they go to the Father to plead my case, they rejoice with me when things happen the way I hope, and console me when they don’t. They are trusted teachers whom I look up to and hope to emulate. They were just like me- broken and sinful and yet trying to do our Lord’s work. However, they are different from me too- they have achieved holiness and closeness to God that I have yet to achieve. They give me hope and strength to try harder and do better.

I often think about the prospect of becoming a saint one day (oh how I wish it to be so!). I pray that one day God will call me to be one of His holy saints. We know that all those who are in heaven are His saints, but we often only think about those who may be well known or listed on sites like the one I listed as the saints in heaven. These saints listed are the ones the Church officially recognize as saints, but there are so many more! More than likely you have known some saints personally. When you stop to think about the Communion of Saints in that manner it really is an exciting thought!

communion of saints

I hope and pray that one day I will be called a saint as well. I sometimes daydream about what I will be the patroness of. I’ve thought of a few patronages along the way- large families, homeschoolers, police wives, pregnancy and infant loss, difficult or dangerous pregnancies, and survivors of abuse. My children would probably add me to the patron saints of chocolate lovers, diet coke drinkers, and people who just long for a little alone time in the bathroom.  I imagine I could be helpful to anyone in any of those situations who is needing a heavenly friend to assist them! I pray I am given that chance one day.

Living our lives in hopes of becoming saints one day is difficult. It requires tremendous sacrifice and faith. We will fail many times along the way. Thankfully we can look up to the many which have gone before us- men and women who were once sinful and broken made holy by God’s love. To become saints we must die to ourselves and live for Him. It sounds easy enough, but it’s one of the hardest and most important challenges we will ever have in our lives.  Now we must ask ourselves if we are up for the challenge.

If you were to be declared a saint, what would you hope to be the patron/patroness of?