Seeing through a glass darkly...

and some days are darker than others...

Name:
Location: United States

Please refrain from identifying me by name in your comments! Thank you :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

She's at it again....

I haven't blogged for ages, and I'm supposed to be dissertating right now so I'll be brief.  St. Therese is once again calling me back to Christ.  This time she sent a missionary, from Africa, a successor of the Apostles.  Wow.  She's not very subtle.  Sorta like my darling 3 year old who when he tries to hide says loudly, "You can't find me!"  Hmmmmmm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Your Daddy's at Home!

My darling toddler told me this evening that my daddy was at home. I corrected him gently and said, "No, Mommy's Daddy is in heaven with Jesus." He said, "Oh!" Too cute. Made me tear up and miss my Dad, but then I thought he's sorta right. My Daddy is at Home, or so I pray.

Happy Veterans' Day Dad!

2007?!

Maybe it's time to start blogging again? Or not. Don't suspect anyone is still out there . . .

Monday, June 18, 2007

Self-Tagged!

I'm following Laura's lead at And If Not...
Well, sort of, I tagged myself for this one!

Things that (or People who) don't bother me:

Hmmm, this is harder than I thought....ok, here goes....

1. People who insist on passing along email hoaxes.....I just reply to all with a link to the snopes page to try to stop the madness. Ironically that seems to bother some of them!

2. Babies crying, gurgling, or giggling at mass....it's a good sound, it's what they do, it means they're alive and they're there! Heck, maybe they're conversing with the angels and saints who are also there! Of course, be reasonable. If your child is screaming for more than 5 minutes, perhaps it's time to step outside!

3. Silence....especially at mass. Sometimes I even prefer a mass with no music.

4. Those emails that you send to friends to tell more about yourself, etc. They're kinda fun. If you don't want to reply, just ignore it, I'll forget I sent it to you anyways.

5. Consults as I'm walking out the door at work. If you didn't need me you wouldn't have called.
6. Older people who take more time to do things.

7. Driving long distances. The journey can be a lot of fun!

8. Answering my students' questions. It means they're doing the reading and trying to learn!

Phew, this is harder than I thought! I can think of all sorts of things that annoy me! Oh well.

I promise a more substantial post soon, on light....Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ordained!

This slideshow of ordinations for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal was brought to my attention and I was brought to tears seeing that one of my very dearest friends from long ago had been ordained (yes, I need to get back in touch, life got in the way).

Not coincidentally, meaning the Holy Spirit was on the move, I was just speaking of this dear priest last Friday while on a walk with a Brother. He asked if he'd been ordained and I admitted I didn't know. Then I saw the video and I knew.

Though there are over a dozen who were ordained he is in many of the photo close-ups. In many he is looking right into the camera, right at me. I was reminded of his great love for Christ and his gentle spirit, both of which led me back into the arms of Christ many years ago. How funny that as I struggle to regain my spiritual footing that he is there again, confronting me gently through cyberspace unbeknownst to him!

Please pray for all those who have been ordained this year. May Our Lady guide them ever closer to her son.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ahhhhh.....a new post

It has been a long time since I've blogged, too long in fact. The sad thing is that often when my spiritual life is slipping I'm also not blogging. So dear reader if you see my blog silent do send up a prayer for me as I am likely in need.

Laura at http://and-if-not.blogspot.com has posted lots of food for thought, look for my musings here soon!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stabat Mater

As we near Holy Week and face the little difficulties that can make the day so long may we remember that Mary STOOD at the cross. She didn't crumple, didn't fall to her knees, she STOOD. May each of us have the strength to stand when persecuted for our faith and to stand for Christ, but the wisdom to fall to our knees in adoration of Christ when apropos.


Stabat Mater


At, the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with scourges rent:

For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of the to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee.
Amen.

Ummmm...

I'm confused. Let's just leave it at that for now. People always say how lucky one is to be smart. What they forget is that to be smart is to never be satisfied with a partial answer. So, when one's core beliefs are challenged one isn't content to take others' words for it. One must read and understand for one's self.

I guess that means it's Theology 101 for me. Here's hoping there's enough time in life to get it all in.

I have the faith, but now I need the academic underpinnings. I have the reason, but now I need the deeper knowledge to back up the basics.

Faith suffices for the soul, but when one must defend one's foundations to another, professionally that is, one must have more.

I must heed the advice I gave to a friend this week, "Keep your head down and your mouth shut."

Yes, contemplation and acting like a sponge. That'll be me. Pineapples under the sea anyone?!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where's Mary?

As we enter into these forty days of Lent which represent the forty days Christ spent in the desert let us stop to ponder this important question asked by a Brother Priest in the Community of St. John.

"Where was Mary during the forty days Christ was in the desert? Was she with him? Was she with Joseph? What was she doing?"


Of course the Gospels tell us nothing of Mary during this time. So, where was Mary, what was she doing? What was she thinking?

As I reflected on this question I wondered especially what she must have been thinking. I cannot imagine wondering about my beloved in the desert for forty days. I thought, Mary must have been beside herself with worry for Jesus' safety and needs.

But then Father's answer came. What was Mary doing? She was adoring God, and in doing so adoring Christ in the desert.

So as we enter into this forty days may our hearts and minds be allured into the desert where He will speak to our hearts. Let us enter into the desert with Mary in adoration of her son. Resting our head on his heart seeking to fully understand the love he has for us, and perhaps most difficultly, letting him love us. This is especially difficult as we become more aware during the season of Lent of our sinfulness, our failures, and our infidelities. May we grow in humility and love as we adore!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Q. Why is my page weird?

A. I have no idea. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

St. Therese delivers again!

I was reading some of the last conversations of St. Therese tonight and came upon this. Her imagery speaks directly to what I was trying to explain in my last post.

I've always said she's sneaky! It is comforting to find that her thoughts match my own, not to mention humbling.

"For example, if I were to say to myself: I have acquired a certain virtue, and I am certain I can practice it. For then, this would be relying upon my own strength, and when we do this, we run the risk of falling into the abyss. However, I will have the right of doing stupid things up until my death, if I am humble and remain little. Look at little children: they never stop breaking things, tearing things, falling down, and they do this even while loving their parents very, very much. When I fall in this way, it makes me realize my nothingness more, and I say to myself: What would I do and what would I become, if I were to rely on my own strength?"

That's it! Over the past month as I've mulled over why I do things that I know are sinful and as such cause Christ to suffer and questioned why it is that I hurt the one who is Love Himself so willingly. Trying to rely on my own strength I recognize like Therese my limitations. A little child is humble because there is no other choice. It is truly a gift when as an adult one is able to recognize and embrace her utter reliance on Christ and her true identity as a child of God.

Trust and Humility (and a bit of a ramble!)

I've been pondering lately what these two things have to do with one another. If you read my earlier bit on humility you'll know that I'm not talking about being humble in the secular sense, but rather spiritual humility. How does it relate to trust in God if at all? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

It seems to me that trust and the accompanying abandonment must go hand in hand with humility. In fact, I think I've decided that they are a necessary prerequisite for it. Here's why.

Humility requires that we recognize our utter dependence on God. Many of the reflections I've been reading lately talk about this dependence reminding us that we exist at the pleasure of the Almighty. God thinks therefore I am. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it Renee Descartes!)

If, even just for a sliver of eternity, God stopped doing so I would cease to exist. Of course it is quite difficult to imagine one's non-existence. Even when considering our own death we are reduced (not that it's a bad thing) to considering our eternal home (smoking or non-smoking?).

See, this is where the connection between trust and humility starts to be revealed. If I didn't trust that God would not "forget" about me I would have to live in constant fear. So there is a basic level of trust there. Even when I feel as if I'm alone, I'm not. God is just hidden, waiting for me to seek him out, and to do so like a little child.

It is this image of the little child like whom we must become to enter the kingdom of heaven that has struck me immensely these past weeks. The child trusts, until someone violates that trust. So I must ask myself, if I lack in trust what is it that God has done that has violated that trust? An odd question to be sure.

Of course since I know that God is Love it does not make sense that he has done anything to violate that trust. In fact I know he has not violated that trust.

Well that leaves me at a loss then, doesn't it? No, not the way I see it. Remember when you were little and you did something that you knew was wrong? Your parents, like our heavenly father, may have shown you only love, but once you'd done wrong, perhaps by disobeying them, you lacked trust. You knew that you were in trouble, that you'd be punished. What you didn't know is that that punishment (in God's terms, justice) also would be accompanied by mercy. My paternal grandmother always told me, "No matter what you do, Grandma loves you." This is how it is with God. No matter what.

But, I digress.

It seems to me then that this lack of trust comes from two sources. Primarily as noted above from my incapacity to fully recognize (or is it an inability to accept) the generous mercy of God. Secondarily (though perhaps really primarily) from my humanity -- I'm thinking original sin here, concupicense (why can't I spell tonight?).

So, I must become then like that little child, but I have the advantage because of the gift of faith I know that God is merciful. How? I have experienced it.

Thus, failure to trust in this way perhaps is a reflection of my lack of humility. That is, perhaps I lack the humility to admit that I not only desire, but that I truly need the mercy of God. Without it I am without hope. But this issue of trust is not limited to this.

Trust also requires that we recognize the limitations of our free will. We are free to love God or not. Free to accept or reject grace. Free to beg the mercy of God or perish in an icy vacuum -- void of Love. But on a more basic level there are somethings that we simply must turn over.

Trust requires that when the world is too much with us that we do not try to hold on so tightly that we strangle our own souls by our prideful grip as we try to manage our lives. This is where the humility comes in to play again.

If I trusted, truly trusted, I would have the humility to embrace my utter dependence on Christ, not just give lip service to it.

How easy is it for us to say we trust in God's mercy and love? That we trust he will redeem us and welcome us into heaven? Heaven seems far away, a dream at times in this valley of tears, this shadowland. It is in the now that trust is the most difficult. And by now I mean right now, today, this hour, this week.

If I lack trust about the little things then my trust in the big thing seems shallow, or even a total farce. It seems odd that I have that bigger trust, but that this more basic trust is lacking. It is lacking not in an obvious way though. It's more subtle. As I've mentioned before I tend to neglect my prayer life not when things are going well, but the very opposite. The tougher (read busier & more overwhelming) things get, the more quickly my prayer life falls away. I have too much to handle to pray. I make foolish decisions, hurt those I love, push them away.

There's the problem, I have too much to handle. I should know better. Yes, I have free will and the gift of reason which I must employ, but I am not the one who should be trying to handle everything. It seems as if I don't trust that God can handle it, I have to keep a hold of things. How foolish.

Perhaps though this is my gift from God. He knows me intimately and in this knowledge gives me this capacity for the greater trust as a lesson in humility. It is embarrassing to admit that one can't trust in the most basic way. How many people do you know who have this weird self-reliant attitude when things get overwhelmingly busy? Most I know cling to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, not on Easter morning.

It has taken me nearly a decade to see this connection between trust and humility. I suspect it will take me at least another decade to begin to fully understand the implications of the connection. And of course, a few dozen more to learn from it. By then hopefully my understanding will be directly illuminated by the Light of eternity and not its reflection in the glass.

I have learned to trust a great deal over the past ten years or so. My Oblature is a concrete sign of this. But it is not enough. Ironically I have to trust and open myself more to the requisite grace and mercy of Christ to continue to grow in trust.

What do I know for sure? I cannot grow in humility until I grow in trust. For today at least the glass is not so dark. I must become like a little child who knows that he cannot do everything for himself. Like the child I have no option but to trust. It is only in this trust that my love for Christ can grow.

Jesus told St. Faustina, "Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace" (1074). Today let us trust, let us snuggle close, let us be humble like little children. Amen.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Catholic Alphabet Meme!

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Mary to St. Catherine Laboure (Miraculous Medal)

[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: Ignatius - Revised Standard Version
[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: It's a tie between wisdom and faith, though I suppose if I had wisdom the faith would naturally follow

[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: St. Therese of Liseux

[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)

[F is for Favorite Hymn]: Salve Regina (the slow sung version of the prayer)

[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: John

[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Jesus

[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: When I see the love of my husband

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: Technically at Baptism, but I don't recall that very clearly, so let's say at my first communion.

[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?]: Mother Teresa

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: The Triduum

[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Mother of Mercy

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: I'll have to get back to you on that one.

[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: see above

[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 51

[Q is for quote - saint quote]: Yeah, gonna have to dig up my book of em...

[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: Sorrowful

[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: St. Therese

[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Does Adoration count?

[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?] St. Louis University (Jesuit)

[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: charity

[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: Jesus falls a third time. It's the accumulation of things that wears us out. I can only imagine what He was thinking as He fell AGAIN! Auuuugh. I'm not trying to be flip about the Passion, it's impossible to comprehend the pain it involved, physical and spiritual.

[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: Yes.

[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: Why is "Y" for this? Ok, well, Mozart.

[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: Yup, right-o.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I always knew I was royalty. . .

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Excellency Daughter of St. John the Excited of Gallop Hophill
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Friday, December 01, 2006

In honor of the remaining Orthodox in Turkey . . .

The Orthodox Church in Turkey struggles as this poem about an ever smaller school of theology reflects. One hopes (no matter how unrealistically!) that the journey of Papa Ben to this land will lead to a resurrection of the Orthodox Church and Christianity in Turkey.

You were the invisible ladder between heaven and earth.
You set our souls on a voyage
to seek the pure and the grand.
Hiding our dreams in your warm embrace,
you gave us wings to travel all over the world...
Oh! How your pleasant figure withered so suddenly.
How the waves drowned your thunderous voice.
And now you stand dead alive, our ill-fortuned mother,
Expecting a bell to signal your resurrection.

- Anonymous poem by Orthodox theologians, "To Our Mother, the Theological School of Halki"

A true spirit of poverty

Father.

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do. I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,

and in all your creatures-

I wish no more than this. 0 Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it
to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you Lord,

and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands. without reserve.

and with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld

Poverty and Humility

A while back I was urged to think on humility. Not humility as it's understood in the secular sense, but spiritual humility. At first I wondered what the person who brought it up to me meant, if he had seen something in me that necessitated his urging. Had I been too proud? Arrogant? Holier than thou?

It took me a long time to figure out what he meant. In all honesty I'd sort of pushed it to the back of my mind, but my heart hadn't forgotten. I now realize I had been turning it over and over in my heart, ruminating on it and wondering why I couldn't figure out from where this had come.

Humility.
HUMility.
HUMble.
HUMANITY.

My soul is a human soul. It is limited. It is dependent, dependent on Christ for its health and indeed its life and very existence. I am dependent on Christ, or at least I should be. This is my lesson in humility. Unlike many who pray when the going gets rough I tend to do the opposite. When things are overwhelming my prayer life evaporates. This neglect is I belive why I was urged to think on humility.

When I neglect my prayer life I fail in humility. I pretend I can do this on my own. I lack the humility that allows me to see myself for what I really am, a child of God. Like all children I need the protection and love of my Father. I need His forgiveness, His mercy, His strength, and His understanding.

He should be my center, my reason for living. My calm in the midst of the storm. But as the days and weeks fly by I find myself not centered...at all. Not only not maintaining a spirit of prayer, but not even praying. I just keep my head down and keep plowing forward, sort of like one walking home through a blizzard, snow whizzing by, wind whipping, eyes squinting almost blinded by the storm just trying to reach Home. But I will wander out in the storm if I fail in humility and never reach my destination.

This is poverty. Not monetary poverty, but spiritual. I am forced to recognize that I must accept my current situation living between two states, away from my beloved, in a spirit of poverty.

As I try to embrace this poverty in a spirit of prayer I struggle and find myself again slapped upside the head (as only the Father could do!) by humility. Thinking I had a good handle on things and was re-centered I discovered that I was far from it. Hounded by sins and difficulties that I thought I had long since overcome by the grace of God I recognize even more keenly just how reliant I am on His grace and mercy. I must live always in the spirit of poverty and humility recognizing my humanity. I am human and I will fail, sometimes repeatedly, by committing the same sin. By failing to maintain a spirit of prayer I am impoverished and lacking in humility.

Poverty. My poor prayer is that our souls may be illuminated this coming Advent season by a deeper understanding of poverty and humility so that we may receive the infinite grace and mercy that Christ wishes to give us if only our souls have enough room, enough poverty and humility, to recieve His gifts.

The only way I know how to get through this...

I mentioned a while back that my Alma Mater was going co-ed. The college will not only admit men as degree candidates it will also change its name. As many of you know I have experienced deep sadness over this. Many of my sister alumnae are grieving with me. I sent this to them in the hope that some healing will come.

This is the only way I know to get through this sadness to surrender it to Christ for the salvation of others. I have been blessed by all those who have journeyed with me through this distressing time, through feelings of betrayal and disbelief. I have also been blessed by the many new and renewed friendships that have blossomed out of this painful situation.

PRAYER OF SURRENDER


Lord Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment. I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace. I surrender myself to your Father's will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.

Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:

to thoughts of charity for those who need my love
to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care,
and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help.
As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need.

May I find my healing in this giving.
May I always accept God's will.
May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of sacrifice and suffering.
May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you.

As I seek to surrender to the Father's will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.


Adapted from the spiritual teachings of Rev. Walter J. Ciszek, SJ.

All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands

It's been a while since I've posted lyrics. This is from one of my favorite albums. It is a good reminder for me about for whom we should be preparing our hearts as the season of Advent closes in on us. Most of us will be pulled in a thousand different directions over the next few weeks, but we must always seek as this song tells us to "join all [our] thoughts" to Christ and to remember that we should be "preparing every part" for the Christ Child.

It is though the opening lines that are most striking. . . ."IF I am alive this time next year. . ." How many of us doubt that we will be alive this time next year?

We must prepare our hearts not only for our own death, but also live in the recognition that each day we have with one another is precious. As Joshua Loth Liebman emphasized, we must "t
reasure each other in the recognition that we do not know how long we shall have each other."

And now without further delay. . .

All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands
by Sufjan Stevens from his album Seven Swans

If I am alive this time next year,
will I have arrived in time to share?
And mine is about as good this far.
And I'm still applied to what you are.
And I am joining all my thoughts to you.
And I'm preparing every part for you.

And I heard from the trees a great parade.
And I heard from the hills a band was made.
And will I be invited to the sound?
And will I be a part of what you've made?
And I am throwing all my thoughts away.
And I'm destroying every bet I've made.
And I am joining all my thoughts to you.
And I'm preparing every part for you.

Monday, October 23, 2006

All those little difficulties. . . .

Sarah at "Just another day of Catholic pondering" was musing on The Breaks today and reminded me of a reflection on the Agony of Christ in the Garden, the first of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary by Fr. Didier-Marie.

"Jesus comes to meet each one of us in our misery to transform our human misery into the divine mystery of love. Jesus does not come to destroy our suffering, but to transform it profoundly so that it may not be ours any more but that it may be a path to enter in His divine life. . . ."

Christ was, as Sarah so aptly reminds us, distinctly aware of the sufferings of daily life. His humanity was complete. He suffers with us, just as a father suffers with his children when he sees them hurt by others. We have the tendency sometimes to minimize our concerns, the stresses we endure, comparing them to those of others or to the sufferings of Christ, but this denies Christ the opportunity to transform our lives in the smallest moments, in the moments when we may need Him the most. What may be insignificant to others but significiant to us is significant to Christ. They give Him an opportunity not only to manifest His great love for us, but also to teach us about humility.

Father Didier-Marie continues, reflecting on the Scourging and the Crowning of Thorns:
"Jesus in the Scourging and the Crowning of Thorns comes to encounter those daily miseries that each of us experience in our days, all those little difficulties that make the day sometimes very heavy, that sometime make us lose our joy, lose our hope. Jesus comes in our scourging, in our crowning of thorns, each time that we experience a humiliation to help us to discover in that humiliation His humble heart. [He says,] 'Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart'. . . ."

These reflections really drive home the deep love of Christ for us. He takes each of our own sorrows and miseries, no matter how small, into His sacred heart. He bids us to lay our heads on His heart and allow Him to apply the salve of His love and mercy intp the deepest wounds of our souls. At the same time He teaches us gentleness and humility. Seeing the effect that these "little" difficulties can have on us, that we can sometimes lose the inner peace and focus on Christ that we seek reminds us just how in need of His Love and Mercy we are.

The Love shown at the cross and the humiliation of Christ's burial are reminders of the limitlessness of Christ's love for each of us. We must always remember that in the little difficulties of the day or in the darkest night of the soul that: "Our backs might be pressed to the wood of our cross, but our heads are always resting on the outstretched arms of our God who was lying there before us." We are never abandoned.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Defining Light of Christ

Sitting at adoration the other night in the back of the Novitiate chapel I noticed that in the darkness the light reflecting on and then eminating from the monstrance silhouetted my spiritual father, defining him in the the darkened chapel. In the darkness it can be difficult to discern which brother is which, but when he shifted positions his physical form and each curve of his face became evident and I knew beyond a doubt that it was him.

Yet it was more than a physical definition. Who he is as a priest, as a child of God is defined in the light of Christ. It shapes his life and his heart illuminating his heart and mind in the darkness of the world allowing him to bring the light of Christ to others. Each choice he makes, and indeed his entire life and being, is defined by the Light. His presence reveals the Light in both the physical contrast in the chapel of his silhoutte against the light and in a metaphorical way by the way in which we see the Light defining his entire being and purpose.

May each of us allow ourselves to be illuminated and defined by that same Light.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Deep Thoughts . . .

Complements of Micah and PhatCatholic. . .

Friday, October 06, 2006

Silence and Contemplation a la Papa Ben

Today Pope Benedict XVI spoke on contemplation and its role in our lives. Exceprts are posted here for your spiritual edification....

Though he is speaking about theologians his words are ones we all should heed in our journeys into the heart of Christ who IS love.

"In this homily, the Pope mentioned the figure of Saint Bruno, whose feast day is celebrated today and whose mission was characterized by "silence and contemplation (...) which allow us to find this deep, continuous union with God, in the dispersion of every day".

The mission of the theologian, Benedict XVI said, is to "keep in present the essential words in the loquacity of our times and other times (...) For the purification of our words and therefore those of the world, we need that silence that becomes contemplation, which allows us to enter into God's silence and thus reach the point where the Word is born, the redeeming Word".

He continued: "Our words and thoughts should only be used that they may be heard, may find space in the world, God's speaking, God's Word. Thus, once again, we are invited to this path of renouncing our own words; to this path of purification, that our words may be only instruments through which God may speak . . . "


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Being In Love

Laura at ...and if not... has been posting about contemplative life and started me thinking...

When I first learned about contemplative life I thought, "I could NEVER do that! No way, no how." After I was married and spent a few weekends with the contemplative branch of the Sisters of St. John I started to think that if I ever had the opportunity to pursue a vocation (i.e., if (GOD FORBID) something were to happen to my darling hubband) that I might be called to contemplative life. I even told my husband it was a good thing I hadn't visited as he'd wanted before we were married or he might still be single!

If you knew me you'd laugh at the idea of me being a contemplative sister...a lot. But it's weird how you get that tug on your heart. Even though I have a vocation as a wife and a mother I only just now realize that that tug was then a sign, and now a reminder, of the vocation I have as an Oblate of the Community to live in a spirit of contemplation.

As with all things though we gain knowledge and understanding in God's time, not ours. I was shocked when I requested permission to begin my preparation for Oblature that the Father with whom I was speaking observed that I was somewhat living the life of an Oblate already. I was even more shocked when he said he saw the spirit of contemplation in my life.


In the years before I don't think I had ever tried actively to cultivate a contemplative spirit. Surely I desired to practice contemplation, but that's an action. What I should truly seek is a contemplative spirit; which rather than an action is instead a way of being -- being IN Love. That is, being one with He who IS Love. Standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary and the Beloved Disciple, John, and contemplating the heart of Jesus crucified. Similarly, just as John rested his head on Christ's breast, next to His heart we are also called to contemplate His love in this way -- allowing His heart to speak directly to ours. (The evening prayer to St. John speaks of this so eloquently, but I cannot find it right now, when I do I'll post it.)

A spirit of contemplation is unfortunately an elusive thing. For some time now I have been searching unsuccessfully to rediscover it. The ability to enter into His heart is thwarted by the noise of the world. One can do spiritual readings, go on retreat, spend time in prayer and go to mass and still lack the spirit of contemplation. One cannot will it back once it is lost, nor demand it back. Like understanding it is granted in His time, not ours.

Is it withheld to remind us that it is a gift and not to be taken for granted? This I cannot answer but as St. Augustine so aptly observed, "Our hearts will not rest until they rest in You, O Lord." The holy rest the spirit of contemplation brings comes at a cost, the rest serves as preparation for the search for Truth and Light. Perhaps the key is in Hosea 2:16 "So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart."

Or more simply is it me who is unable to receive the contemplative spirit that He is so willing to give? Am I unwilling to admit that it has not been taken from me but rather that I have foolishly set it aside for other things that in the light of eternity are of little consequence?

As another day comes to a close may we beg: "God, come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help me . . ."

Recalling what I have done and what I have failed to do -- I ask you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.

May our desire for Love Himself lead each of us deeper into the spirit of contemplation we desire.




Saturday, August 26, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation!


This summer the hubband and I drove from MO to MI and back, via WI. We visited many friends and family along the way that we hadn't seen in some time. It was a blast. A road trip to be remembered.

We visited MSU where we had our first date on the banks of the Red Cedar River, went to the Cherry Festival (top photo) in Traverse City, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes (mid. photo), and then watched a 4th of July parade that went on forever! They even gave fresh cherries to the parade watchers! We followed the parade back into town and ended up in it! We waved at all the locals who wondered how folks from MO ended up in the parade! We finished that busy day by watching the 4th of July Fireworks on the banks of Lake Michigan.

Finally, we went clear up into the UP to visit a dear friend where there is nothing but pine trees and miniscule towns every few dozen miles. The snowfall up there averages around 300'' a year! We enjoyed a proper afternoon tea and some much needed catching up with her after SEVEN years!

We took a cruise around Pictured Rocks (btm. photo: this rock formation is called Chief Superior, see the headdress (the pine trees), his nose (the outcropping), and his strong forehead (slants up to the right)? We also went to the banks of Lake Superior, to Tahquamenon Falls featured by HW Longfellow in his poem Hiawatha,
"So they gathered cones together,
Gathered seed-cones of the pine-tree,
Gathered blue cones of the fir-tree,
In the woods by Taquamenaw..."

There is lots more to tell and hundreds more photos, but other than having no cares and enjoying the company of my husband for 10 whole days, these are the highlights!

Finally, an update!

Well, many of you have been begging me for an update, in my comment boxes and via email, and it has finally arrived!

I am pleased to announce that I am now a Ph.D. candidate, or Ph.D. (c) for short. I passed my last comp exam this Friday! That is part of what has been taking up all of my time!

It has been a busy summer, preparing for exams, a vacation to Michigan that included 2400+ miles of driving, and soon, a trip to Florida before I move back to Peoria for the year.

I will post more often going forward, but first I wanted to thank each of your for your prayers and friendship this past year. They have sustained me throughout the summer, and indeed throughout this entire Ph.D. process! It's not over yet, there's still the matter of a dissertation to be written, but 2/3 of the degree are done!


Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming which may include a bit about the move by the BOT of my Alma Mater, a woman's college, to admit men! Hey, I love men just as much as the next woman, I married one afterall, but keep 'em the HELL outta my school! I can think of at least one F word that could be attached to this situation. . .But I suppose for now I'll stick with the more lady like option. FIGHT!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Today's post is brought to you by the letter "F"

As many of you know I am a lifelong fan of Sesame Street, so this is tres appropos. My letter, F, was given to me by Laura. And now, without further ado.....

The rules of this game:
  1. Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter.
  2. Write ten words beginning with that letter in your journal, including an explanation of what the word means to you and why.
  3. Pass out letters to those who want to play along.

My letter is "F". Hmmm, 10 words, this could be tough....

1. Fiat: Ok, I admit I stole this one from Laura's post. This is the word that Mary said to the archangel Gabriel when he asked if she would carry Christ in her womb. Mary's response? Fiat Voluntas Tua. Let it be done unto me according to your word... Such a huge committment by such a young girl.

2. Faith: What should determine everything we do. If we have faith nothing is impossible.

3. Family: Those whom we love deeply, not just those related by blood or marriage. Part of my family is the Community of St. John. I've always wanted brothers and sisters, now I have hundreds!

4. Friends: semi-synonymous with family. Those who bring out the best in you, challenge you, support you and aren't afraid to tell you when you're out of line.

5. Fraternity: as in brotherhood in Christ. Fraternal love and correction ensure that we are on the right path and remind us of what faith demands.

6. First: This word reminds me of what we should put first in our lives, our days, our hearts...

7. Fight: There are things worth dying for. What are yours?

8. Fear: I have lots of silly fears and others that are not so silly and somewhat huge. The big ones especially remind me that I must trust and abandon my fears to the will of God who loves me and will never abandon me, no matter what life brings, good or bad!

9. Fabulous: You look fabulous dharling! It's a word we Americans don't use enough. Try using it today and see the delightful reaction you get.

10. Fleeting: Our lives are fleeting, we never know what will happen or when they will end, therefore, don't put off things you should have said yesterday.

Hmmm that was fun! Next?!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Child of God

Today the "sexiest man alive" told Oprah when she inquired as to "who" he was as a person, that he was "a Child of God." She was stunned, looked at him and said, "Of all the celebrities who have ever sat on my stage you are the first who has ever identified as a Child of God!" Equally as shocking was the fact that that was the first descriptor this man used in speaking of himself. I thought he was attractive before, but after that comment he got a whole lot more attractive!

There's an odd thing that happens when you tell people that you are a Child of God. Some look at you as if you've stepped off another planet, others laugh nervously, and yet others will look at you with tears in their eyes as they realize that they too are a Child of God. For some this revelation is painful because their realtionship with their parents was less than stellar. Others are simply struck by the profundity of that understanding of our relationship with God.

Today, remember that you are a Child of God. If you are lost He will go to the ends of the earth to find you. Ponder these words from Isaiah 43: 1-7.
1
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.
2
When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.
3
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in return for you.
4
Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you, I give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life.
5
Fear not, for I am with you; from the east I will bring back your descendants, from the west I will gather you.
6
I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Hold not back! Bring back my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth:
7
Everyone who is named as mine, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Heart to Heart

A friend and I were talking about my spiritual life just now and he asked how I was doing. I've been struggling to keep up with mine, especially as finals have closed in. I told him that I'm doing better about keeping up, but still not where I should be.

His reply took my breath away and is a reminder all of us should heed. "Where you should be is in the arms of Christ. Go there and let Him hold you up to the Father."

I pray that each of us will flee to the arms of Christ and hold on tightly. Even when we kick and struggle like a little child fighting to get down from his father's embrace, He won't let us go. He'll hold us close to His heart and then, like a father, lift us up towards the heavens, towards His Father.

When we do struggle free, impetuous children that we are, when we stumble and come running back holding up our arms looking for comfort, He'll lean down again, scoop us up, dry our tears, look into our big eyes, filled with contrition -- searching His for forgiveness, and shower us with His Divine Mercy as He holds us close once again.

Today, be where you should be. Sit in His lap, lean your head on His merciful heart, and be at rest.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sigh....

My husband is gone for the weekend and this paper is going no where, fast.

Sigh, I miss him.

The paper on the other hand it appears I could care less about.

At least I have my priorities in line.

Bah.

Tomorrow is another day?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Watch this spot...

...for an upcoming review of Boca Java Coffee!

I feel like a celebrity of sorts. Why, you may ask. Becuase celebrities always get really cool free stuff just because they're (in)famous so that people will see them wearing/using it. I'm getting free coffee to tell you how much I like (or dislike) it!

Stay tuned. . .

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Holy Week Meme

I was tagged by Laura H. for this meme. Thanks Laura! It was fun.

Lent is almost over and this Sunday is Palm Sunday already! I thought it would be fun to share what we do special to commemorate the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord.

1. What do you do with your new blessed palm from Palm Sunday?
I used to always make a cross with it. Last year my hubby kept poking me with it so I think I put it in the pew to resist the temptation of doing the same in return! Now they're tucked above our Papal Blessing for our Marriage from JPII.

2. What do you do with your old one from last year?
Ummm, when we moved our old ones went to the Brothers to be burned. I'll take 'em with me this year as well.

3. What do you do during Holy Week in preparation for Good Friday?
Time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, the normal fasting, and observing the Triduum ( I love that word!) at services on Holy Thursday and Good Friday at the Brothers' Novitiate.

4. How do you commemorate Christ's Passion on Good Friday?
I will go to services at the Brothers' Novitiate where we will venerate the Cross after stopping three times to bow on our way up the aisle to commemorate the three falls of Christ.

5. When do you color Easter eggs?
When we remember and have time!

6. When do you buy Easter candy?
Early and often!

7. What is the first thing you plan to do Easter morning?
Roll over and kiss my hubby goodmorning before we go to early mass! (I didn't realize the Cardinal's tickets I bought for his b-day were for EASTER! AUGH!)

I'm tagging Micah and Jonathan!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I got great news . . .

from Peoria . . . from a hospital . . .

Now we'll see who actually reads this blog . . . and who knows to what I'm referring!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A shower of roses....

Many of you know that I have a special affinity for St. Therese of Liseux. When I first read her auto-bio I thought, what a spoiled silly little child. Then she started to grow on me. Her Little Way began to work its way into the depths of my soul. I'd pass the large photograph of her in the Newman Center and she seemed to stare into the depth of my soul questioning me.

One day I was washing dishes in the kitchen there and I looked up and there she was smiling mischeviously at me (in the photo perched on the windowsill, I wasn't hallucinating!) as if she were up to something.

When Fr. A went to Liseux I asked for a photo of Therese for my desk. He brought me back a lovely medal instead (I still chuckle over that). I think he always knew that she would get to me eventually. She and I are a lot alike I've found. We're both quite impetuous at times! And we both struggle to pray our rosaries.

I've been thinking a lot about Therese this week. Probably because I just watched the movie about her by Luke Films. Often when I think of her I find that I am restless, that my soul is searching for something. I haven't figured out what just yet.

Anyhow, here I was pondering on Therese at odd hours and in odd ways, and I was showered by roses! I hadn't asked for a rose, much less a shower of them, but there they were -- two dozen long stemmed red roses in the arms of my beloved who was asking me out on a date! I of course accepted, but it wasn't until later as we were getting in the car that it hit me. Roses! A shower of roses!

Funny how Therese works. My soul is still restless, but I know that she is walking with me, leading me in her little way to the heart of Christ, to the feet of the Little Child Jesus. She is like a mother in a way, anticipating the needs of my soul before I even think to ask.

And yes, when I picture her, she still has that mischevious but knowing smile on her face and she is loving me, calling me to come closer to her Beloved.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Holding on Tightly!




Finally, as promised, another few Oblature photos.

When I made my promises Father held tightly to my hands. Just as tightly as my own father did as he walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.

Both days I was filled with immense peace and calm. In both cases I knew I was making life-changing decisions, but ones that I will never regret.

Prayer and Imagination...

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately: What it is, what we should get out of it, how it should be done, etc.

We were talking about it at breakfast the other day and Fr. A said, that Jesus doesn't talk to him when he prays. Jokingly I said, "He doesn't? He talks to me all the time!" LOL, I'm not sure he realized I was joking as he rebuked me for being caught up in my imagination. Whoops!

That got me thinking though, how much of what we think we understand of God's will for us is our imagination, and how much of it is true? Is there any way to know? I'd be interested in your thoughts on this because I'm not sure I know the answer. God clearly speaks to us, but not always in the ways we think He does.

The Community calls us to contemplative prayer, to opening our souls in silence which is difficult to do, especially for those of us who don't live in monastaries. It is more difficult for us to change the rythms (sp?) of our lives to live a life of contemplation.

Perhaps the most difficult for me is finding a place where I am comfortable in prayer. I don't mean a bodily position, I'm often fidgety at prayer, going from prostration to kneeling, to sitting, and back again. What I'm talking about here is a real physical location. And what "works" one day, may not "work" the next. Thank God it is our desires that matter!

I am most comfortable at prayer at the Novitiate whether it be in the chapel of the Brothers, or Sisters, or just outside there in the (semi) silence. Perhaps it is because I know that no one will think it is odd to come upon me with my face on the floor and butt in the air! Or perhaps because it is my spiritual home and I know that my family of St. John has the same spirit of prayer that I desire to have.

When we first moved away from the Community, prayer was very difficult for me. When my Father died all I wanted to do (especially at night when I couldn't sleep) was run to the darkness of the chapel. I didn't want to go to our local adoration chapel, even though Jesus was there! I wanted more than anything to be home in the arms of the Community. I knew that we were all united in prayer each day at mass, but that didn't seem to be enough.

I was quite disturbed by this. It made me question the development of contemplative prayer and my spiritual life that I had undergone over the past three years. Was I just overly fond of the Community, emotionally attached, too comfortable? Worse yet, was I a poser? Not really interested in a deeper life with Christ, but only in the acceptance and love of the Community? These thoughts and more troubled me deeply. Even more troubling was that I was preparing for Oblature which I had resisted for many years. And here I was facing this. What good was I as an Oblate if I couldn't even keep a constant spirit of prayer?

I was relieved when I received the answers which I had been seeking.

We are both physical and spritual beings. Our immortal souls reside in our physical bodies. We are limited by the physical, no matter how much we wish not to be! Thus it is natural for us to be emotionally attached to a place, person, and even things (within reason of course!).

Not that my problem has been solved mind you. I still struggle in my prayer life, more than I'd like to admit. One man who has recently discovered the Community asked me the other day knowing that I was an Oblate, "How do you structure your prayer schedule? I try to do an hour of silent prayer in the morning and at night..."

For a moment I thought about making a nebulous comment about how we all must pray in accordance with our abilities and state in life, i.e. I can't keep a monastic schedule of prayer, I'm a wife and a student! I realized though that that wouldn't be right, and instead was brutally honest with him. "I struggle with my prayer life. In fact I got a good smack upside the head about it just yesterday!" (Well that's only true if you can call the mercy of Christ a good smack upside the head!)

I think he was surprised, but I hope he was also grateful for my honesty. I am no great saint, far from it as many of you know. The most I can hope is that I will be used by Christ as an instrument of grace to lead others to know Him better, to desire a more intimate relationship with Him. If He uses my failures to do that I am only more humbled by the realization of just how powerless I am, but how His grace can transform even the littlest of His souls.

As a dear friend told me recently, "It is the small consolations which sustain many of us!" Though we walk by faith and not by sight our eyes still see, and our hearts and souls trapped in our bodies still ache and are often restless.

I must remember that even when I am not literally in the arms of the Community that spiritually we remain united. More importantly, I remain in the arms of my Father always.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Seventy-Six?!

It's reached 76 here today and now the wind has picked up, the clouds are rolling in, and the thunder has started. Seems more like late Summer than WINTER!!!!

Have You Prayed? Redux

I was rereading the poem below, "Have you Prayed?" and am reminded how fortunate I am to have three fathers to ask me, two in heaven and my spiritual father here. Like the son in the poem, even when I cannot find my voice, they each know my needs in different ways. And they continue to ask, "Have you prayed?" Sometimes I am ashamed at my answer to that question, but today at least I can answer with a yes.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy….

Today it is nearly 70 outside! 70! In Mid-Feb! So, I decided to plant my spring bulbs. It’s funny really. I have amaryllis in bloom in the living room, a blooming Christmas cactus in the foyer, and now spring bulbs planted on the porch. The juxtaposition is striking. It reminds me of the way my life has been going. Things are blooming at unexpected times and others are buried, just waiting to emerge when the time is right. Like the bulbs, some of my dreams will blossom and others won’t, but whatever is will be beautiful because it is in the end what God wills.

Yesterday I knelt in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet with my spiritual father. Afterwards he and I had a lovely walk around the grounds of the Carmel and for the first time in months I was at peace -- truly at peace.


Then this morning I was up early and went to mass at the Carmel. Hearing Mass in the voice of my spiritual father was a great blessing. Mass is always wonderful, of course, but to hear it offered in the voice of someone who knows me so well is a double blessing, a spiritual consolation of sorts.


Some time ago I was fortunate to have a private mass with him late in the evenings in the dimly lit chapel at least once a week. It was such a privilege and I miss those quiet intimate masses. To explain the intimacy with Christ in those moments is impossible, but if you’ve ever been alone at mass with just the priest you’ll understand.


Not much point to this post I suppose so I’ll stop here. I pray that each of you are enjoying the simple things in life today, like moist dirt and spring bulbs and not too much fertilizer!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Have You Prayed?

HAVE YOU PRAYED
by Li Young Lee

When the wind
turns and asks, in my father’s voice,
Have you prayed?

I know three things. One:
I’m never finished answering to the dead.

Two: A man is four winds and three fires.
And the four winds are his father’s voice,
his mother’s voice…

Or maybe he’s seven winds and ten fires.
And the fires are seeing, hearing, touching,
dreaming, thinking…
Or is he the breath of God?

When the wind turns traveler
and asks, in my father’s voice, Have you prayed?
I remember three things.
One: A father’s love

is milk and sugar,
two-thirds worry, two-thirds grief, and what’s left over
is trimmed and leavened to make the bread
the dead and the living share.

And patience? That’s to endure
the terrible leavening and kneading.

And wisdom? That’s my father’s face in sleep.

When the wind
asks, Have you prayed?
I know it’s only me

reminding myself
a flower is one station between
earth’s wish and earth’s rapture, and blood

was fire, salt, and breath long before
it quickened any wand or branch, any limb
that woke speaking. It’s just me

in the gowns of the wind,
or my father through me, asking,
Have you found your refuge yet?
asking, Are you happy?

Strange. A troubled father. A happy son.
The wind with a voice. And me without one.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ahhhhh, Peace, or not

Today I made the decision to postpone my comps, the last big hurdles to cross before my dissertation. I'm not really postponing them, just sorta not doing 'em as soon as I'm allowed to.

I've been under a great deal of stress and thought this would relieve it. It sorta did. But then again, I'm still stressed.

Sigh, maybe if I trusted in God more and stopped worrying so much about the future I'd be better off.

Blah.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Promises vs. Vows

When I made my Oblature with the Community of St. John, I made promises, rather than vows. It’s a subtle distinction, but Catholic Rage Monkey (scroll down to "You've Asked Twice -- Now the Answer") has a great post delineating the differences (or lack of)!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Taking the plunge into the arms of Our Lady and the Community of St. John


On the Feast of St. John, Dec. 27th, I made my Oblature with the Community of St. John.

There will be better photos, but for now this is the one that I have. This is when I was making my promises in the hands of Fr. Joseph Mary. He's the prior at the novitiate.

The promises I made make me as much a part of the Community of St. John as the Brothers and Sisters are. Though they're not vows they're equivalent in how I'm seen by the community. It was so awesome. There was a hymn to invoke the Holy Spirit at the start and some prayers, a short homily etc. We were reminded that we were offered ourselves to God as holocausts, and that we were now no more than huge piles of ash :-)

I was honored to share the sacred occassion with a priest who was also making his Oblature and with Br. Benedict of the Cross who made his simple professions. What a glorious day.

I also received a Miraculous Medal direct from Rue de Bac. It's my first nice one and I will cherish it always. I love that it's in French. Now I just have to find a chain/cord for it!

And the oblate said.....
“I, Daughter of St. John, in the presence of Fr. Joseph Mary, Prior, and the Brothers and Sisters of the Community, consecrate myself to the Most Holy Trinity -- through Mary -- promising to seek to lead a more evangelical life by the grace of Christ and with the help of the Blessed Mother , following our father St John, and according to the Rule of Life of the Secular Oblates of St John.”

My Father had promised to be at my Oblature when I had called to tell him that I was preparing to make it, years ago. I know he was there. My Mom was able to come and it was great to have her there and introduce her to the Community. My husband was there as well. I pray that he will one day resume his preparation and will join me in Oblature.

I pray that I will be able to fulfil the promises I made on this day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tempus Fugit!

Time surely does fly. Today marks one year since my father passed away. Today was a busy day for me, and not much different from normal. That was ok. Normal is good. There was something else I was going to say, but now I'm not sure what that was.

Ah well. Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. When my father died one of the brothers remarked that God wanted him home in time for the vespers of the Immaculate Conception. Since my father had no singing voice at all (and made no secret of it) I always thought that was particularly funny.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

So be perfect . . .

This poem was written by me for my father and he died just after my Mom read it to him. It was written years ago and I had been waiting for the right time to give it to him. My husband read it at my father's funeral. I think it was one of the hardest things he had ever done. He was so brave and I was so proud of him.

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

You may not have been perfect,
But to me you were the perfect Father.

You may not have been there at the very moment of my arrival,
But through your life you showed me what a wonderful world this is.

You got angry, but you taught me how to apologize,
And how to forgive.

You did not hand me everything I wanted,
But you provided everything I needed.

You held my hand tightly,
And taught me security.

You released my heart,
And taught me joy.

You gave to others,
And I learned compassion.

You sacrificed,
And I learned the value of the gift of one’s self.

You risked your life for freedom,
And I learned that there are things worth dying for.

You showed me patience,
And I learned the value of a job well done.

You taught me to be independent,
And I learned what true freedom was.

You declared that God was in control,
And taught me the value of surrender.

You loved my Mother,
And taught me the beauty of commitment and dedication.

You gave me love,
And taught me hope.

You showed me integrity,
And I learned to speak up for what I believed was right.

You showed me wisdom,
And I gained faith.

You prayed,
And I learned to seek Truth.

You showed me that it is ok to grieve those we loved,
And to laugh in the process.

You hugged me tightly,
And I learned to hug back.

You cried,
And I learned that it was ok to let go.

You were yourself,
And I looked for a husband just like you.

You walked me down the aisle,
And I learned that you’ll always be there at my side.

You prayed to be perfect as your Father in heaven,
And brought me a taste of that heaven here on earth.

You were my perfect Father,
And I love you.

(C) 2003 by author. All rights reserved.

My father had been catatonic for days, but as my mother read the last line of my poem my father sort of sat up a little and made a noise, she thought he heard us. Many months later I realized that what had in fact happened was that he had taken his last breath. Perhaps he did hear us. I don't know. But I do know he loved us. In the end that is all that matters.

Having been out to sea for my confirmation he had promised to be at my Oblature. I know he won't miss it.

525,600 minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?

Yes, measure in love, as the lyrics from "Rent" tell us. But to understand that almost a year, 525,600 minutes, has gone by since my father died is impossible. To be sure the year has been filled with love, but with less love than there would otherwise have been. The questions that remain I dare not ask. The answers I dare not hear.

I was going to send flowers to my Mom for the day, and then I thought not, as if flowers could fill the emptiness. Then I thought I should. As if not sending them would make her forget.

My mother is slowly dispersing my father's clothes, suits, ties, his tuxedo that he was so proud to buy and wore only once on my wedding day. She's asked my permissiong to be sure, but I can't help that I'll go home and he'll be gone, no trace of him anywhere. Ha. As if he's not gone already.

One of my dearest friends asked me two weeks after he died, "What do you want for Christmas?" I wanted to slap her. What did she think I wanted?! She wouldn't stop asking. I never gave her an answer.

Sigh. And here I thought a year would never pass, we would never reach that day again, and yet it approaches, relentlesly. Heeding neither grief nor joy, time marches on, right over the top of my father's grave.

The Joys That Sting
by C.S. Lewis
To take the old walks alone, or not at all,
To order one pint where I ordered two,
To think of, and then not to make, the small
Time­honoured joke (senseless all but to you).
To laugh (oh, one'll laugh), to talk upon
Themes that we talked upon when you were there,
To make some poor pretence of going on,
Be kind to one's old friends, and seem to care,
While no one (O God) through the years will say
The simplest, common word in just your way.

This is, I think, my favorite photo of my father, taken about two years ago...



I didn't know it existed. My husband and I were sorting through old photos and there he was, just sitting on the couch, watching my friends and I chatting in the living room.

The night before I left for college I couldn't sleep and I got up and he was sitting there on that couch watching some old western on tv. He couldn't sleep either.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ph.Ds, Promises, Perfection and Prayer

It's been a while since I've really blogged and I suppose I should be more regular so here goes...

Visiting a fellow Ph.D. student who is a dear friend I realized that the best thing that I can do for my husband is to finish, on time, and do well. Thus, I have a new motto, "I will do x, because my work is worth it." "x" is anything that will help me accomplish my goal.

I have sorely neglected my friends and family, but I pray that they will understand.

I am having the most academically intense semester I've had thus far, with three seminar papers due. Please pray for me.

I am making promises in the hands of the Prior of the Community of St. John in December. I am supposed to be entering into an intense period of preparation for my Oblature and instead I have been pulled in a million different directions ever since I returned home this August. I know that my preparation will never be perfect. My heart longs to be united through Oblature with the Community, but my mind tells me that I am not prepared, not making the time I should to make the promises I will. Sigh. I sense that I will never have the time to prepare in the way that I wish to. My soul will always remain restless until I am Home. So I will trust in the guidance of my dear spiritual director and take this leap of faith into the arms of Our Lady and the Community. What I lack I hope will be compensated by the fraternal charity of my fellow Oblates.

Monday, October 31, 2005

My favorite people in my favorite hats!

The two dark hats belong to me. The one with the large bow is from Droopy & Brown's in London, the black one is from a little botique in Oxford, Storm, and the white one is Vikki's from Marks & Spencers.... Posted by Picasa

HATS HATS HATS! Oh, how I love hats!

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina and Edward


The news from the South has been devistating. Words cannot even begin to describe what we are seeing.

This is the first hurricane that has hit since my Dad, Edward, died. For most this would seem a useless point of information, but to me it is significant. When hurricanes would develop we would chat about strike probabilities, storm surges, damage estimates, recovery efforts and the like. Not because we reveled in others' misfortune, but because my father's specialty was disaster recovery.

We'd always talked about those who wouldn't leave, about New Orleans' particular concerns, about disaster preparedness. But even my dad, the disaster master, was caught unawares in a minor brush with Ivan this same time last year. He remarked to me, after my mom had been caring for him and my very ill grandfather (who was stuck in his reclining electric chair) without power for five days, that he just didn't realize what that really meant. What they would need, what they might have thought to gather.

His disaster recovery training was on large scale issues, often on corporate recovery, on coordination of major services. This micro-level had caught him off guard, much the same way in which Katrina caught the South. When one evacuates and returns to nothing there is one sort of devistation, when one remains in a seemingly safe area and crawls through their roof to find themselves surrounded by water there is no way to prepare for that.

There is more to say, but no need to say it. It is too late to say "Get out!" to those who we love, too late to plead, "Please, get out!"

I miss my father more these past days then I have in recent months. No one else wants to talk about hurricanes the way he did.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

At the Window of the Father's House

In 1978 when Pope John Paul II stood on the balcony and declared, "Be not afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!" I was two years old. I have no recollection of that moment, though I have seen it played over and over to the point that I feel in my heart as if I were there in that crowd waiting expectantly.

"We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us" said then, Cardinal Ratzinger at the funeral of John Paul the Great.

When I call my Father's house these days I hear his voice on the answering machine, "May the Peace of Christ be with you..." At first it was too painful to hear, but now when I hear it it is like hearing the voice of our beloved JPII. Both have left us, but I can hear both of them in my heart, one reminding, or is that exhorting, me to "Be not afraid!" and the other wishing for me the Peace of Christ.

Now the rooms of the Father of the Church will soon be filled again by Papa Ben. Already his books are filling the rooms, transfered from his apartment in the exact order in which they were on the shelves there, to the Papal apartments.

In my Father's house no one will ever be able to fill those rooms, or take his place. His books have not been moved to another apartment. But just as we waited for the announcement of our new Holy Father with expectation there is a sense of expectation that comes with faith. The expectation that he too is waiting for us at the window of our Father's house and that one day we will be together again.

Watching Papa Ben at the installation mass this morning it was evident that the burdens of office are already taking their toll. He has aged at least a decade since he appeared on the balcony of the Basilica of St. Peter last tuesday. Be not afraid Papa Ben, be not afraid.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Contemplative Feminist with a Rock-Star-Like Quality

The charism of JPII which attracted so many youth to WYDs across the world and has been described by the news networks as a "Rock-Star-Like Quality" is a charism that the world does not understand in the same way that the Pharasees did not understand the authority of Christ and his mission.

While this is surely a time to mourn it is also a time of great anticipation for the youth of the world. They have heeded the call to "BE NOT AFRAID!" Generations X and Y lack the singular focus of Generation JPII. This generation which has been shaped by his papacy have begun to lead the Church. They anticipate with great hope the naming of the successor of Peter. They also hold the Theology of the Body close to their hearts knowing that it is a ticking time-bomb of the love of Christ for His Church.

BE NOT AFRAID!

There's this photo...

...on the shelf in the living room at my parents' house of my Father at an indoor Papal audience when he was on cruise in the Med. He is reaching out to touch the Pope, they are just inches apart. We would never have seen that photo, but that week he went to visit Navy friends and they asked if he had been in Rome. They pulled out the paper and there he was on the front page!

Now as the Pope is dying I am sure that he is reaching out to him again.

When I was young we travelled to Israel. We stayed at the Jerusalem Hotel and our room was far from the rest of our pilgrimage group. We went through many thick glass doors to get there, down many corridors. Our room was breathtaking, the ceilings covered in mosaics. We found out the next morning that we were staying in part of the Papal suite of rooms. We were floored as were the folks in the rooms on either side who were also in the suite. I wanted to leave the Pope a note, but my parents gently explained that he wouldn't get it. Ah well, soon I'll be able to speak directly to the Pope.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Thoughts that can take your breath away

"The God of all eternity is first and formost our Father"

The divine intimacy between souls, between spouses, between parent and child, between confessor and penitent, between spiritual director and directee is nothing compared to the intimacy between our hearts and the heart of Christ.

Like John, the beloved disciple who rested his head on the heart of Christ we must take the time to do the same. To rest on His heart, listening to its desire for us, its longing for us, and its sorrow over us when we lack trust.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

Having spent my Spring Break working on a paper I took the opportunity to escape on a mini-retreat from the city to my spiritual home, the Community of St. John.

On Holy Thursday we processed to the "Garden" where all night adoration was. The room was full and standing in the back in the warmth and glow of the candles reflecting on the Apostles falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, I was reminded of the faithful friends waiting with my Mother around my Father's hospital bed when I arrived home. Like Christ he was in agony, and his friends were keeping watch. (Yes, I know Christ's friends fell asleep, but go with it ok?!) All of those at my Father's bedside, the night I arrived were men. They were waiting, watching and praying with their friend in his agony, praying the prayers that he himself could not pray. Like Mary received John at the foot of the Cross, my Mother too received the gift of Love in her moments of grief. Man after man came to me, telling me that they would do anything for my Mother around the house that my Father would have done. That they had promised him that, that they had promised to care for her.

I had to leave the room where the sacrament was exposed. Tears streaming down my face, treading softly through the Cloister I stepped out into the cool night and stood in front of the Chapel. The night air was refreshing, and soon I was surrounded by the warm arms of a dear friend.

Sorrow though gives way to joy and the Garden of Sorrow and Agony of Holy Thursday gives way to the Garden of Ressurection.

Mary Magdalene finds herself searching desperately for the One who gave her life and is so caught up in her sorrow that she almost misses Him. I wonder how many of us in sorrow like Mary almost miss the soft calling of our names by Christ.

The Ressurection is filled with joy, but we do not forget the events of the previous days. The only way to the Joy is through the Cross. The sorrow is not fogotten, but it, like our hearts is transformed by Love.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

U2!

YAY YAY YAY! We're going to the U2 concert! Yeeeeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaawwwwwww! I'm at a place called Vertigo!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Lamentations and Beauty Intertwined

This message found scrawled on a Gestapo prison cell wall in 1944 by an 18-year-old girl:

No, Mother, do not weep,
Most chaste Queen of Heaven
Help me always.
Hail Mary.

is sung by Dawn Upshaw on Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 in the second movement. This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever heard.

Another of my new favorites, not yet released is John Tavener's "Veil of the Temple." It will be released on March 22, 2005 and is a must have!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day....

This morning is simply glorious! It's already in the mid 50s and it is supposed to reach 73F before the day is over. (of course by Friday it will be in the 30s!) I was out on the porch talking to my Mom just a while ago listening to the birds chirping. I've planted some garlic for the summer and this afternoon will plant the rest of my flower boxes for the back porch. Hopefully the bulbs which ended up stored in the refridgerator for the winter will take.

I'm sitting here watching "Home Again" with Bob Villa. My Dad would have loved today, two of his favorite things, beautiful days with sunshine, and a home improvement show!

My Mother continues to amaze me. She is enjoying life, and grieving all at the same time. She's one tough cookie. She feels the presence of my Dad so keenly. On his birthday she awoke at 4am thinking about taking some Asti to his birthday luncheon some friends threw for him/her. Dad always got up at 4am. I am glad that God sees fit to give her these consolations, they are such a powerful part of her healing.

I can't wait to have our table out on the porch! Oh what a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Making Plans

My Father would have been 58 yesterday. He had plans. He spoke of coming with my Mother to visit us when my Grandfather for whom they were caring was dying. The first day of his new round of radiation my Father looked up at me from the gurney on which he was lying awaiting radiation and said, "I think my traveling days are over." We didn't know his cancer had returned, and 9.5 days later he was dead. Yes, I know about plans, all I could say to my Mom was, that he was making plans, he was making plans that he never got to enjoy.

Friday, February 25, 2005

On Your Own Terms

This poem was recently published in JAMA.

On Your Own Terms

At least you meet new words—
adipose, ischemia, proctitis,
cystitis, fistula, tenesmus—
those Greek and Latinate poseurs,
purveyors of what passes for
intelligence and class. Who
would have thought that
you would be
intimate with that crowd,
intermingling with such foreigners
as ureter and sphincter,
rectum and urethra,
at this cocktail party of
the pompous and obsequious.
Me, I’d rather be
monosyllabic, dumb,
outside in the garden,
hobnobbing with the common folk,
gabbing with the simple words
like good, and health, and hope.

Ronald Wallace
Madison, WI