“If your day can’t be perfect, at least give it purpose.”
I heard this recently and it gave me real encouragement on this Monday as none of my days are perfect. So, I need to remember to give my days purpose!
Such was the life of John the Baptist whose birth we celebrate today. His purpose was to announce the arrival of the Messiah. Everything he did was to that end and that end alone. “So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:29b-30)
We all know the tradition of ‘offering up’ something, it is laid out very clearly in 1 Thessalonians 5 where we are encourage to: cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, rejoice always and pray without ceasing among other ‘suggestions’. For me, I think of these as spiritual presents for someone I love. They can become gifts of praise back to God for someone in need, be it a family member, a friend or a need in the world.
Everything we do – from our prayers to our daily activities. We have the drudgery to the pleasures that can be offered up for an intention or merely a shout of praise to God. Mentally wrap up everything you do, put on a tag with someone’s name and place it before the throne of our King. He will know exactly what to do with it!
Make a list if you need to, log it in your prayer journal or write it on the mirror in your bathroom. It will become a reminder to you that while your day isn’t perfect, it had a real purpose!
No? Me, either. But in today’s reading, Jesus tells us to go there to pray (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18), so it must be important. After all, He does say, “when you pray”, not “if you pray”.
If you check out pinterest for prayer rooms you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed (or inspired or jealous) about what you will see. Some people have spectacularly beautiful prayer rooms while others are more humble.
Perhaps you know the movie, War Room (2015) which highlights the clearing out of closet as a spot dedicated to powerful prayer. Also, a very neat idea and back over at pinterest, you’ll find some of these along with more than a few prayer corners in well-used, quite full closets!
However, you may be more like me, living a house where space is at a premium and having a dedicated space is more of a luxury and just isn’t working out.
BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t have an inner room. In fact, we all have an inner room. Our own hearts and minds will become that inner room, that prayer room Jesus tells us to visit if we make it happen.
Here’s the plan – pull together your favorite prayer books, a Bible, a prayer journal (if you like those), favorite prayer cards, Rosary along with an image of Jesus and/or a crucifix. Put them all in a basket, or bowl, or even a shoe box (decorated or not) and you now have your inner room.
Then, setting your phone somewhere away from you (and perhaps, even off) as well as turning the TV off and other distractions; close your eyes and put yourself in your perfect inner room. Quiet your mind, picture yourself with Jesus at the seaside, maybe working along His Blessed Mother or in one of those lovely rooms you saw on pinterest. Ask Jesus to make the space you are currently occupying into your ‘inner room’ and He will.
Then begin to pray! Let Jesus know how much you love Him, write in your journal, share your problems, maybe read a chapter in the Bible. Just be with Him as your best friend and as Matthew 6 reminds us, “And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
The nice thing about such an inner room is that it can be pulled out easily if you are sprinkling your prayer time amidst children, laundry or any of the other many tasks of parenting. Prayer time throughout the day is just as effective and delightful to God as a committed longer time. We may all hope and desire a quiet 1/2 hour or so, but we all also know that some days even that is a luxury.
You can even make a second one to keep in the car when you are waiting for a child, stuck in traffic or at the doctor’s office. I made myself a ‘prayer purse’ which I keep in my car so just such moments.
In other words, you need nothing more than a committed heart for prayer to create a lovely ‘inner room’ to spend some time with God. Of course, the prayers uttered in those beautiful prayer rooms or closet corners fill God with joy but so do the prayers whispered in the playroom, at the poolside and as you fall asleep. After all, where ever you are, He is also there, just waiting to hear from you.
We would love to have you and your daughter(s) join us for friendship, laughter, s’mores and more. You will have a memorable time together, meet other LF’s and their mothers, along with me and my daughters (VA & MN).
We always have so much fun as we work on badges, learn a bit more about the Church and a few saints but take some time away to remember that our faith has a real dimension of fun and joy! Camp can help revive our weary souls, give us courage to face the days ahead and help us become the evangelists Christ asked of us – ‘go and make disciples’ – at His Ascension which we celebrate this week.
Jesus begins today’s gospel very clearly, “Hear this!” and he begins to tell the parable of the sower and the seeds . We know it so well, we can almost say it along with him….”A sower went to sow some seeds……” (Mk. 4:1-20)
After Mass I began thinking not only of the ways the seed falls – on the pathway, on the rocks, on fertile soil – but where the seeds might come from. Of course, we will think of Christ and His words as found in Scripture, the teachings of the Church and writings of the saints and so and so on. But some seeds can also come from the evil one, the hands of our enemies or well-meaning friends and family who want to discourage us from following Christ. In other words, just as the seeds might fall anywhere, the ‘sower’ can be almost anyone.
But we, as parents and teachers, are a special type of ‘sower’. We are the first ones to plant seeds in our children’s hearts, minds and souls. As such, we need to think about not only where those seeds are falling, but what seeds we are sowing.
As parents we should strive to sow seeds that grow into virtue. And we also realize the timing is just as important. For example, we would never think of trying to teach either a toddler or a sleepy teenager how to drive. Rather we wait until the timing is right, ensuring they are old enough, mature enough and alert enough to get behind the wheel.
So it is true with virtue – we begin gently with little children reminding them again and again of our expectations. Meanwhile, with older children we might start expecting a bit more maturity, initiative towards responsibility and independence.
In addition, we want to insure the quality of the seeds we are sowing. In Proverbs 6:19 we are warned, very clearly about the perverted heart, working for evil who ‘sows discord’. We try to keep at watch at the door (or our own actions and language, the TV, or the phone or the friendship) to prevent the ‘the enemy…prowling like a hungry lion’ who is ‘looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8)
The best type of seeds we can sow can start with trying to grow the fruits of the Holy Spirit as found in Galatians 5. We want our child’s hearts full of seeds that will produce the peace, joy and patience (among others) they need as strong Catholics.
Those seeds will come from how we ourselves act and speak in front of them, in front of others and even with ourselves.
And that image from above??
These are actually pages of seeds that we received at a wedding! Seeds have been imbedded in the paper that can be planted come spring time and, hopefully, the garden will bloom with new flowers.
Take a closer look – the seeds are almost invisible to be seen as the paper was used as the actual invitation and name cards at the reception! It looks like just plain paper when, in truth, it is a garden just waiting for the chance to be planted and bloom!
What a lovely image and thought for ourselves. With the help of Jesus and his Blessed Mother may we become not only the sowers but the actual seeds that bloom into a garden of virtue with all the fruits the Holy Spirit is waiting to send our way.
Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest and in our souls come take thy rest….
On this feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, I want to declare to the whole world (at least to those who will read this blog post) that I love Jesus. I love God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church. I am grateful for the Blessed Mother’s love and St. Joseph’s protection over my marriage and my family. I want only to do God’s will and hope for heaven at my life’s end. I love the saints and the angels. I strive to be holy as He is holy and am glad I am a Catholic and pray and hope that all might be converted.
I also want to say that I do all of the above imperfectly and with varying degrees of competence, passion and consistency.
I’ve written about her before as she is one of my BFF saints – St. Marianne Cope’s Vatican Biography It was easy to love her as I have both a husband and a son named for one of her BFF’s, St. Damien of Molokai.
I took too long to add her to our wreaths but her vocation and mission for God made her the perfect example of sympathy which didn’t show up until Wreath V. In reading any biography of St. Damien of Molokai, her name will appear, and the love she and her sisters had for the children, young girls and women of Molokai recognized.
Her presence was memorable enough that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this of her and her sisters work during his 1889 visit to the island:
To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breast of pain!—
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.
Remembering her work amongst the lepers might make it easier for us to be sympathetic for those suffering around us and try to lift their burdens and ease their pains: “I do not think of reward; I am working for God, and do so cheerfully.” (1902)
Her feast day was yesterday, Jan. 21, 2019 and she reminds us, from our very first wreath, Wreath One, to Love God above all else.
She is a beautiful reminder to our young people (and ourselves) to get our priorities straight. If you search ‘balancing time’ or ‘jar of life’ you will find any number of videos or stories about this great visual on priorities but I haven’t seen or read them all so cannot verify their quality. Here’s my attempt –
You need three items in equal ratio: large rocks, smaller pebbles, rice or sand. You can use marbles, decorative glass, etc. You just need 3 items of three visibly different sizes. And a jar that could hold all three in the same ratio: one cup or even smaller for a smaller jar.
The largest item represents God and his will for you, the smaller items represent the other people in your life who need your help, assistance or even friendship while the smallest item represents what YOU want, your needs.
For example, get a large jar that can hold three cups and get one cup of each of the above. If you put in the smallest first (such as sand – YOU) and then add the next larger (small pebbles – OTHERS) and finally the larger (marbles/large stones -GOD) they won’t fit! The sand or rice will take up too much space, followed by the larger pebbles and the largest stones will end up spilling over the top.
BUT – if you start with what God asks of us (largest stones), followed by taking care of others (smaller stones fitting in between the larger ones) and finishing off with you and your needs (shaking into the smallest spaces the rice or sand) – they will all fit. Without a problem. Test it out and be amazed!
In other words, if we put God’s will as a priority, looking after those under our care or influence, and THEN, look to ourselves – everything fits. God’s will should be the largest thing in our life but we often switch it around thinking our needs will never be taken care of if we don’t go first. However, God loves us so much that we put Him first, He will make sure we are taken care of as well.
Try it at home first and then demonstrate it to your group. If you want to do it for everyone, you could switch it out to smaller jars such as pickle jars or even baby food jars and adjust the three items accordingly.
I’ve done it with baby food jars using navy beans (God), dried peas (others) and shiny decorative beads (you) as a nice contrast. You may need only tablespoons of each for each 1/3 so be sure to try it at home so your measurements are correct.
It makes a great visual for the girls and their Moms to keep on their dresser or kitchen window sill to remember to keep God first.
Here is another retelling of this demonstration from a website relating this to making exercise a priority: Story of Priorities
For me, starting out the day with God (either Mass, morning prayers or just great worship music) makes the rest of my day go more smoothly.
Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus’ first public miracle was at a wedding! How cool is that?
His mother and followers were there and he stepped in to prevent the host and the couple from the embarrassment that the wine had run out. The joy, enthusiasm, the dancing and the laughter of the first few days of the celebration (historically, these weddings would last days and days) were about to come to end, “they have no wine.”
Jesus, at the prompting of his Mother, our Mother, steps up and with only his word turns the water to wine. Marriage matters to Jesus and a good, healthy holy marriage should matter to you. It certainly matters to your family and your children. It matters to society more than ever as they seek to redefine marriage in their image rather than God’s.
But how are things at home? Has the wine run out in your marriage? Have you felt as if you are slurping the dregs of love? Perhaps you even feel the blush of embarrassment beginning to warm your cheeks when you think of your marriage or what people (perhaps your children?) may be thinking. But, please, please don’t worry, miracles still happen; every day and can happen for you!
Please don’t wait another day. Take advantage of the special graces that come every Sunday and turn today to Jesus and Mary and ask them to revive your marriage. Ask them to refill your jars! While your own wedding reception was years ago and probably didn’t last more than a day, they are still waiting to be asked to step in and not only give you more wine but, “the good wine”.
(If your marriage requires direct help through counseling, do not be embarrassed but encouraged by the work of Catholic Counselors and give them a call or email.)
This week’s daily readings have all about being healed, including today’s, which was the familiar story of the four friends willing to climb to the roof to reach Jesus; all for a friend.
I will admit that hearing all these readings about being healed had me a bit despondent. Having dealt with my MS for over 20 years, I’m more than ready to be healed. I’ve prayed for it, I know Matt prays for it, I’ve been to services, been prayed over, and on and on. Yet, here I am.
Does the fact that I am not healed mean that God isn’t listening, doesn’t care? Of course not!!!
Prayers are never ignored or forgotten. God just has a better plan and I’m willing to wait (most days) to see what it is.
Hearing the reading today though, I thought of the friends. Those friends, those amazing friends willing to do the heavy lifting came to my mind. And the reality is that while I’m still waiting to be healed, I am not without good friends.
And you aren’t either. If you, like me, are waiting for God’s healing hand, do not despair or stay blue. You aren’t alone and as I ask for the Great Physician to touch me, I will remember all of you who are need of healing as well.