“You who so praiseworthily wish to lead an apostolic life, each according to her individual situation, know well enough the world of today to realize that in your battle against unbelief and immorality, natural resources and all purely human means are radically insufficient. What you absolutely need is an intimate union with Christ, and that intimate union absolutely presupposes prayer and sacrifice.”
–Papal Directives For The Woman Of Today, Pope Pius XII – 1947
In this quote I stumbled upon, I realize the enormity of the endeavor that we are taking on when we try to witness to Christ (whether it be by raising good children, teaching high school, keeping peace among relatives, stay ethical). I am not enough. What this pope, speaking right after WWII, says is the answer is actually what we all probably long for the most…
Let’s presume that, my husband and I are in a “conversation” trying to figure out the softball, soccer, dance drop off, pick up, carpool schedule when I hear a little voice in my head saying, “smile at him.” I really don’t feel like it so I cock my head to the side and raise my eyebrow up a little further. Or imagine that my kids are fighting downstairs and something urges me to go sit with them and figure it out but I’m busy with an e-mail so I ignore it. I have not cracked open the bible yet today and my heart pounds a bit when I see my book next to an empty chair but I eat a handful of chocolate covered almonds and scribble out my grocery list while doing 5 other things at the same time. How long will I continue to hear that voice and ignore it? Continue reading “The Nudge of God – do I listen?”
Friday means pizza, drinks, the start to the weekend! We all love Fridays! Even our school blasts music from the loud speakers at the end of the day. It feels great. But traditionally, Fridays have been a day of sacrifice. It is the day on which our Lord hung on the cross and died for our sins. Before Vatican II, all Catholics were supposed to abstain from meat on every Friday of the year as a way of doing penance and remembering the sacrifice of Christ. Even today, we are asked to make some small act. How today, can I keep vigil in my heart, even while I celebrate with the rest of our culture the end of the work week? St. Thomas More (who was beheaded for opposing King Henry VIII’s divorce), used to wear a hair shirt underneath his decorated rich garments to the parties at which he was served fine food. Other saints up and down the ages have put little rocks in their shoes to remind them of the suffering Christ and their desire to offer up their own lives to him.
I don’t own a hair shirt and pebbles don’t fit in flip flops very well but maybe I can do something similar. Part my hair on the other side, chew no gum, clean the toilet, stand with better posture. What can you do today, even as you play, to whisper to Our Lord, “I love you”, “I remember you”, “your sacrifice saved me”, “I am with you”?
The little neon green chairs and the 1940’s white leather bench were like magic in my house. The kids actually sat down to do their homework; their shoes were neatly stowed. Chores were cheerfully being fulfilled, somehow the laundry was already folded and the living room was tidy! With my new furniture acquired from my husband’s grandmother and my organized crew, I felt very Pinterest-y on this sunny morning. My house would never be chaotic again. This was going to be It for good! But then I looked again at the bench, the chairs and an end table with a little hole for writer’s ink. This time I saw not Pinterest but Grandma. The reason for this windfall- she died. Grandma “had it all” – an organized house, neon chairs, a good routine, children who co-operated. But that was not her crowning moment nor the goal. Her last breath was. Frail and empty handed, she surrendered the last bit of her life to Jesus and let go of this world. That was it for good. And that is it for me too. I aim not for beauty, systems and success but for the Cross. You too, if you are a Christian (a little Christ) are headed for the Cross. Total surrender, total abandonment, total brokenness, total service. And then we shall see what it will be like for Good. Try putting that on Pinterest.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain.” – John 12:24
We all need skills and habits to do any sport, job, or activity well. Being a disciple of Jesus also takes skills which become habits. You can think of your focus on this just like a music technique class or a skills day of soccer. When you focus on a skill, you become free to use it in the game of life. After a bit of practice, you will notice in your heart whether this is a practice you would like to do regularly.
If you are not already used to doing these things regularly, get excited! You are about to discover more of God.
Discipleship practices to learn this year:
- …make a morning offering
- …read to discover Christ
- …intercede with small sacrifices
- …speak about God
- …examine my day with God’s light
Continue reading “Discipleship Practices”
Vacations and trips are amazingly helpful to development and happiness but rarely leave me as charged and ready for action as a retreat. Many people take a yearly retreat but it can be hard to find the right fit and time. As a DIY-er, I love a Homemade Retreat. This retreat doesn’t cost anything, is totally tailored to what I’m currently going through, complements my family life and is easy to transition back into regular life.
Here are some ideas on how to make your own Homemade Retreat:
Before you Go:
- Carve out 5+ hours for a few days in a row to spend time with God. Most people need support in order to do this. Someone to heat up the meal that you made ahead of time, someone to drive the kids places, patience in your not responding to e-mails or texts. Also, having a friend or two praying for you for those few days helps. Clearly establish when the beginning and end will be.
- Determine your goal. Or maybe a few goals. What do you want from God? What do you want to give to God? What do you need in order to equip yourself for service to your family, job, community? Who needs your prayers? What are you wondering about? What would be good to learn about God or the church which would effect the way you would live? What internal hurdle would you like to climb? How have you changed in the last year? What direction are you headed in?
- Collect the tools you will need to help you on this retreat- bible, spiritual books, backpack, food.
- Determine a few places you where you can have the peace to pray and reflect (church, a nearby beautiful shrine or Cathedral, the library, a park, an empty house)
- Find a spiritual book that parallels something you are going through or would like to grow in. Read it intensely.
- Try to go to Mass everyday of your retreat. (This may be difficult as timing often conflicts with when kids need you in the morning).
- Go to adoration or pray by a tabernacle.
- Do many of the good things you usually do for your own soul but do them all in one day.
- Going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as part of your retreat is a big big help.
- Relax, rest and enjoy. Go with God like the two of you are on vacation together.
At the end of your retreat:
- Write down the graces you received on retreat.
- Write down the resolutions that you are making.
- Within a few days, share some of these graces and resolutions with a few people who care about you.
This free audio book source has changed my day to day chores into a university lecture hall. Even when I have no free time, I can cast myself into the classical world of Plato, stroll the countryside with Mr. Darcy, debate with Charlotte Bronte, or discover incredible treasure with the count of Monte Cristo. With the touch of a button on my Librivox app the stories are read to me-all while I fold laundry, wash the floor or reorganizing a closet. To all the volunteer readers- thank you!!