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Anni Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth Uncategorized

Weathering the Storm

I recently sat inside our family’s RV on a Sunday afternoon, watching the lightening, listening to the thunder, and seeing the raindrops of the most recent storm blowing through our camp. The rhythmic sound of the wind and rain lulled me to sleep, and when I awoke, I began to think of the metaphor between the storm I was experiencing in life and the storm which has surrounded the Catholic faithful.

I have always heard reference to a storm being on the horizon, with the faithful being tested through it: “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). As faithful Catholics, we ought to prepared for storms.

But rather than worry, St. Padre Pio reminds us, “Pray, hope, and do not worry. Worry is useless. God will hear your prayers.” 

As we analyze the components of a storm, we see the divine power within. 

Much like the verse from Isaiah 35:4, thunder is the voice which reminds us, “He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense, He will come and save you.” It wakens sleeping children, it rattles animals and humans alike, and it casts a pall of fear over those who sit directly under the boom.

Clouds roll in to darken the earth during a massive storm. Thunder breaks the silence. And yet, in a good storm, lightening illuminates the darkness. Satan loves darkness. He loves secrecy and living in the shadows. Yet lightening brightens the sky, even if only for a flash. Lightening forces the demons to scurry. It brightens the path, showing the way to sanctuary.

With all good storms, there is wind, too. The wind can cause chaos and confusion. It can blind even the best of seers, all-too-often forcing even the strongest among us to bend with the breeze and seek shelter from the wind. But the wind is also a force of change, as we are reminded in Acts 2:2: “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” The wind gives strength to grit through the storm.

Finally, with the storm comes the deluge of rain. Big, fat, drenching raindrops falling from the heavens and meeting the earth. Rain washes the dirt and grime from everything in its path. The rain cleanses. It purifies.

My friends, we are in the midst of a storm unlike we have ever experienced as faithful Catholics. The storm is no longer on the horizon; rather, we are in the thick of it. The Church is being tested in a manner we have not seen before.

This past month has been difficult for the Catholic Church. The devil is among us, looking to cause division, suspicion, anxiety, and suffering. And, he is hell-bent on destroying the foundation of the Rock of Peter. Literally.

Too many priests, as fallible men, have fallen into the temptations of the devil. The sins of the cover-up, even more than the abuse itself, have played directly into the devil’s hands. Most priests are good, holy men, whose chosen vocation has been thrust into a terrible spotlight. They now are battling to endure and survive this storm. They are scrambling to safeguard their sheep who are experiencing doubt, fear, anger, grief, and betrayal.

In Ezekiel 34:12, the faithful can find some encouragement, “As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep. I will deliver them from every place where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds.”

This past spring, a chaplain said during his homily, “When there is unity, it is a sign that the Holy Spirit is working. When there is division, it is a sign that the devil is at work.” The devil works tirelessly, with one aim in mind: to take souls for himself. 

Yet the sun comes out after the storm. The damage and debris from the storm won’t disappear overnight. It will take hard, dedicated, tireless work. It will require us to listen to the instructions in Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” We already believe the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, but the cleanup will take time, effort, and energy.

At the end of the storm, the sun is on the horizon. It shines brightly, beckoning all to bask in its warmth, dryness, and glory. We are reminded that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). 

So suit up, my faithful Catholic friends. Join me for the turbulence of this storm. Let us weather it together, each playing our part to ensure the gates of hell do not prevail. We will stand together, facing toward the Son. Because He alone will be left standing, helping us out of the raging waters, drying us with His radiance.

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Janalin Parenting

In the Eye of the Storm

Our real life storm lately has been our baby’s diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes. And although this ‘storm’ isn’t our first and most certainly won’t be our last, it did bring to mind how I need to be more mindful to care for others who might be facing their own storm. 

The strangest thing about being in the eye of the storm has been watching everyone else continue on with their life as normal.  I’ve heard a friend of mine describe this same feeling where it’s almost like you are alone and watching the rest of the world go ’round.  In this solitary time we have been immensely blessed by several family members, friends, and parishioners and I thought I would share some ways that you can care for someone going through a trial of their own. 

1) Pray and have Masses offered. Not only pray but also let your friend know that you are praying for them.  Have Masses offered in your friend’s name. 

2) Communicate.  Some of the biggest joys that we encountered in our daily struggles have been calls, texts, visits, and notes in the mail.  The saying “it’s the little things in life” is so very true on a hard day.  

3) Take meals. One of our homeschool mamas organized a meal train for us and it was such a relief to not have to think about feeding everyone that first week home from the hospital.  She used an amazing free web service www.mealtrain.com.  Don’t forget to drop off paper plates as well! 

4) Offer to help. Does the trash need taken out? The grass mowed?  The kids dropped off at an activity? Ask your friend if you can take care of one of these tasks or hire it out for them. 

5) Share a good book. One of my spiritual mothers shared this devotional book and I have been immensely thankful.  This little booklet has brought me words in prayer when they would not come on their own. 

6) Drop off a goody bag for the family  (or mail them a package). Small bags of treats or stickers for the kids, chocolate for Mom and Dad, and a note bring light to a dark day.  The children appreciate this the most because it gives them a surprise during a time when they aren’t getting as much attention as usual. 

7)  Don’t forget to check in.  If you haven’t heard from your friend that is in the eye of the storm in a while it would be a great time to call or send a message. Usually after the first month the initial support wanes and continued contact is more important than ever. 

And if you happen to be weathering your own storm here is my prayer for you today: 

Our Mother of Sorrows, with strength from above you stood by the cross, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus,
and with tender care you bore Him in your arms, mourning and weeping.
We praise you for your faith, which accepted the life God planned for you.
We praise you for your hope, which trusted that God would do great things in you.
We praise you for your love in bearing with Jesus the sorrows of His passion.
Holy Mary, may we follow your example, and stand by all your children who need comfort and love.
Mother of God, stand by us in our trials and care for us in our many needs.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
Amen