Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The start of a wonderful vocation

When I started really living my faith 3 years ago, one of the blogs I loved to read most was Roamin' Roman.

Roamin' Roman chronicled the travels and studies of Mary Gibson, a U.S. college student studying for one year in Rome. Mary traveled all over Italty - and Europe - and shared the Catholic sites and sounds she discovered - Saints' tombs, shrines, World Youth Day, papal masses - you name it.

Reading her blog was like traveling across Italy visiting all the amazing Catholic sites - complete with gorgeous pictures.

When Mary returned to the U.S., she returned to her original blog, Veritas Splendor.

But, today, Mary is leaving her blog - and the world - behind as she enters cloistered life with the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Kansas City, Mo.

Please say a prayer for Mary today - and all others entering and discerning religious life - as she starts an amazing journey today!

And, check out Mary's own story, moving from non-practicing Catholic to future cloistered nun! Amazing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Obtaining clean soles and souls

A few weeks ago I had a Saturday afternoon to myself.

I wanted to run a few errands and hit Confession, which I sorely - sorely - needed. It had been several months, and my soul was heavy. You know, that I have got to make Confession this weekend urgency.

One of the errands I needed to run before Confession was buying a new pair of sneakers. My old pair was God-knows-how old (I honestly can't remember); and they were filthy - as you can see from the photo - bald as old tires and the soles were coming up at the heels.

I hit Macys, and bought the same style.

Then I headed for Confession and, without realizing the parallel between this and my sneaker purchase, traded in my worn-out, sinful soul for a blindingly-white new one. It stayed blindingly white, for about 30 minutes I would say - LOL - but it was a whole lot lighter than it was before I knelt down.

I didn't always love Confession, and that's A Post For Another Day. But, boy, are we so lucky to have it.

I just came back to finish this post after going for a walk with the kids. Before we left, I bent over to tie my shoes and their brand name hit me between the eyes like a 2x4 - Easy Spirit.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Of lilacs and parishes

Last week our family visited my brother's new home.

Out in the backyard, there is a beautiful lilac bush.

When my sister-in-law noted how she felt bad cutting flowers off the bush, Mo - who's like a second mother to us all - said: "You have to cut it back to keep it healthy. The more you prune it, the more beautiful it will be in the future."

That's all I could think of when I opened my diocese's newspaper this morning and saw the front-page story on parish closings. The diocese has been studying this for years now and, like so many others, is closing several parishes.

The thought of closing a beautiful parish, with all the history it holds for its parishoners, breaks my heart. But, in thinking about it, it would be more painful seeing a parish continue to struggle.

Parish closings and mergers are not easy. They are complex and emotional, understandably so. If my childhood parish closed, I'd be incredibly sad, even though I live 50 miles away and the only time I visit now is for funerals. But it was where my brother and I were baptized, where my parents were married, where I was married, and where we said our final good-byes to too many family members too soon.

So I get where those affected by closings are devastated. Just reading the story in the paper today made my heart break.

However, I think right back to that lilac example from last week. I looked it up online, just to make sure I didn't mishear, and found this quote:

"Without regular attention to pruning, lilacs can lose their shape and become overly bushy, inviting disease. So, for healthy lilacs, regular pruning is essential."

And an unrelated note: Sorry I've been so long between posts. Life's been very hectic as of late. Everything's fine, just not leaving me much time to post. Hoping to rectify that now!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pray a Rosary for the Unborn Tomorrow!

Just a reminder that the One Million Rosaries for the Unborn event is scheduled for tomorrow!

The St. Michael Organization is hoping to get a million people to pray the Rosary during the same hour (see here for times and time zones).

If you can, join in and let's help those defenseless souls. And, if you can't make the specific hour, I would think any Rosary offered up for the unborn tomorrow would "count."

And if you want to pray another Rosary tomorrow, EWTN notes the Pope will preside over a Rosary from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome tomorrow. EWTN will be broadcasting it live at 12 p.m. Eastern. The event will be rerun at 3:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Time for a new Scapular

After 2.5 years, that's what my old Scapular, on the left, looks like.

I have no idea if 2.5 years is a good run for a Scapular, average or really short. I did wear it every day, only removing it to shower. I accidentally washed it with my laundry a couple of times. I lost it once and found it four days later in the laundry.

I gave birth to two children with it around my neck. (In fact, in some of the pictures of me holding our children after the delivery, you can clearly see it over my johnny. Which led several friends to ask, "What was around your neck?") It's survived a lot of tugging and grabbing by two infants, but I think time - and my son - twisted it into a very fragile state.

The once-wide cords that laid over my shoulders slowly became thinner and thinner. Deep brown stitches that ringed the edges popped one by one. Eyeing it daily, I knew it was only a matter of time before it went completely. Then it happened the other night - I was changing my shirt, and I caught it when I was pulling my arms overhead. Snap. It was gone.

Now here's where - if I was smart - I would write, "So I retired the old one and grabbed the new one I had purchased." But, um, while meaning to buy a new scapular, I hadn't actually done it yet.

I headed to the Order who sold me this Scapular I loved so much - The Sisters of Carmel in Colorado Springs. I ordered a replacement and anxiously awaited its arrival.

Since I couldn't wear the broken one, I kept it in my pocket until the new one arrived. It felt odd not to have the cloth around my neck and under my shirt, and knowing I had it in my pocket made me feel a bit better.

The Sisters sent my new Scapular quickly - I received it in four days. It's back around my neck and I feel better. I know the Scapular isn't a magic talisman, nor does it hold any special power. The power of the Scapular - or Rosary or any other sacramental - is in the person. Wearing the Scapular reminds me to be like, as much as I can, our Blessed Mother. And that, hopefully, grants me the grace to be a better person. Same with the Rosary - pray it and you reflect on the life of Jesus, through his first and most amazing disciple, his mother. Internalize those stories and, hopefully, live a life more in tune with His.

So, that all written, I should have no problem properly disposing of my old Scapular, right? Well, I should have no problem, but I have grown sentimental toward it. I can't bring myself to properly retire least right now. So it'll sit in my jewelry box until one day, probably a day when my daughter is old enough to start poking around my jewelry box and asks, "Mom, what's this?" pulling out a tattered, faded piece of cloth and string that's seen better days.

And, if you're interested, the story of how I came to the Brown Scapular is here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St. George, pray for us

Today is the Feast of St. George, and since my parish is under the patronage of the dragon-slayer, Father passed out prayer cards last Sunday at Mass. They erected a small prayer area before his icon, and we all prayed the following after the intercessory prayers:

Father of divine mercy and compassion, may your holy matyr, St. George, who through the power of divine grace fought the dragon of hopelessness and fear, pride and self-reliance, temptation and doubt, help me to bear with like courage the burdens and challenges of life.

Inflame my heart and illuminate my mind with the fire of your love that I may pray as Jesus, "thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

Most gracious and loving Father, I place this petition before you in union with the passion of Christ (your petition here).

May the intercession of our holy mother Mary, and the prayers and merits of St. George, instill in me the blessed assurance of faith that you always grant what is for my good and the good of others.


What really struck me during this prayer was the mention of "hopelessness and fear, pride and self-reliance, temptation and doubt" - all things I wrestle with at one time or another. 

Need something today? Ask St. George.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Four Ways God Answers Prayers

Around the time I re-embraced Catholicism, I heard this lovely saying. I only wish I could remember where I heard it.

God has three answers to a prayer:

1. Yes.
2. Not now.
3. I have a better idea.

I love that and think of it all the time, especially when a prayer is not answered as I requested.

Last Sunday, what did I find in our parish bulletin, but another take, which I thought I'd share.

Here are the four ways God answers prayer:

1. No, not yet.
2. No, I love you too much.
3. Yes, I thought you'd never ask.
4. Yes, and here's more.

Another lovely thing to remember.