Monday, December 31, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
This Advent Season has been and still is one of specific, verbalized thankfulness for the people and the comforts in my life. This challenge, this question of gratefulness should make us stop and think about all we have and all we are willing to lose. I know, I know, God knows we are grateful just as well as we know our children are grateful for all we provide, but don't we think every now and then, every day of this joyful season, we could take the time to say the words? We know how much it means to us to hear those words of thanks for a good dinner or a new pair of shoes. Today and from this day forward, thank Him. Take nothing for granted. Say the words. Don't risk it. Be grateful.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
Thursday, November 15, 2012
As I went to stand in the Chapel for Mass, I reached my chilled hands into my coat pockets only to find them full of junk. Notes I had made at Christmas Village over the weekend for customers, my phone for some reason (turned off), my wallet, my keys and a few other receipts from a previous trip along with some change. Now really. Why all the junk? And, I heard loud and clear, "If I needed you to give that coat to someone less fortunate right this very minute, you would have to take several minutes just to clear out your own "stuff" and by then, the need could be over." Seriously. It made me stop and think about how much I have in my life that I truly need to get rid of physically or mentally so that I can give to those God wants me to give to instantly. We often burden ourselves or bog down ourselves so much that we make ourselves unable to do His work efficiently and in this world, with all that is going on, we need to be efficient and effective in God's work on earth.
Between this week and last I have been stopped inside the store, inside Church, at a Christmas show and at a workshop and asked to stop everything I was doing and pay attention to one of God's people. I have been asked to listen to, to pray for, to work with and to take time for and as I reached into my pockets this morning, I was given an image of what God saw as I tried my best in the midst of my busyness. I'm not saying that I didn't do well or poor pitiful me, I have so much on my plate. I'm just saying that I heard Him say to me this very morning, Be Ready! Lighten your personal load and help me out! Be an empty vessel! Be open! Be prepared!
So, if you're like me during the Holiday Seasons and you tend to load yourself with a lot of your own "stuff" or even throughout the year if your mind and your heart and your calendar are always cluttered, maybe it's time to let go of some things and make room for the One that really matters.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
All of this brings me to a quick sharing of a glance at my week. Monday morning, my eldest had a late start so as my routine is to wake him at 6am then my daughter next, I completely forgot to wake my daughter. As 6:36 rolled around, I jumped from in front of my computer and ran to her room. Her ride was outside the house at 6:40. At 6:50 she got in the car. "Tell them I am so sorry. And yes, you can also set the alarm on your phone from now on." I didn't want all the blame. Now, the 6:30 shower for the next son was off time wise, and so was mine, which made the youngest late to wake and we were rushing to school like a crazy family. Thank goodness we are 3 minutes away. As I knelt before Mass, all I could say was "hectic" and all I got in return was "rest in Me". All I needed. And the morning prayer in the Magnificat, "Every morning we arise afresh in Christ our Light". Thank the good Lord tomorrow morning promises the possibility of a better start. Tuesday morning, all was well and again, I knelt before Mass and lifted up my children to be watched over and guided and guarded and I received that my eldest' pause in her job (Monday was her first day without work so she is doing much needed online work for the bookstore) was not about anything more than using her as an instrument to further evangelize. And the meditation in the Magnificat, "Stop trying to think out a solution for the moment; there isn't one. One day there may be; God will then show it to you. In the meantime, accept it all as being the big thing for God and his Church that he asks of you..." Wednesday, my youngest was serving for the all school Mass and as I sat in the Church, the sun was shining right into my face, blinding me. I kept my head down and read in my Magnificat before Mass, "The bright light of the risen Sun, Jesus Christ, shines to all parts of the earth. Let us walk in His light and follow His way, that, reflecting His brightness, we may enlighten the eyes of the blind with faith and hope." As the Mass progressed, I noticed that same Sun was shining intensely on the face of my little altar server. And lastly for any readers that have hung on this long, today, on my day off, I was headed to vote and read, "Let us put into God's hands our heart, our soul, the deep recesses of our being wherein dwell those beliefs and thoughts that govern our actions, so that He may guide us in the ways of the Gospel." May the Gospel be our guide, every hour of every day, a day at a time and a week at a glance. And, may God Bless America!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one who brings glad tidings, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation." Isaiah 52:7
Okay, that was weird. I typed this once and it jumped off the page and I had to type in again. Man, okay, I get it already!
Anyway, this morning I was thinking about how completely selfish I have been the past couple of weeks because I have been so incredibly busy and I have had many "things" due for mid-October. The bookstore had to be in 3 different locations in one week, I had to write wording for a couple of different TV commercials, I had a proposal due for a book I am working on, I needed to order contacts for my daughter, get her to her orthodontist appointment, get her to the dentist for some teeth to be pulled, finish up volleyball season with another daughter, I had to schedule dentist and doctor appointments for my son, get hotel rooms for my trips to Lake Barkley, Cleveland and New Orleans, and along with it all, I still had to work at the store and do laundry, cook and help with homework and college applications. I was no fun what so ever! I was really very selfish thinking that I was the only one who had anything to do. I even whined to one of my good friends about how much I had to do. Come on! Hahaha. We can all see the common word in this hoopla. Sounds like one side of the Debate the other night...I, I, I. Then, I get this in my morning meditation and at Mass this morning. "How beautiful...brings glad tidings...peace...good news...salvation." All I see is "how ugly...brings selfishness...I'm too busy...not right now...I'm the only one in the world."
Then, the Scripture message goes even further, "he sent ahead of him in pairs". In pairs! We are not meant to do this alone. This is when we could get caught by the evil one. And I so did. This is when we are apt to be tested...when we try to go it alone...then we are vulnerable. We are meant to be paired up. To go in twos at least. To ask for and receive help. We must get over the "poor pitiful me, I have to do everything myself" and get the help we need. So what if we have to continually ask when we really want others to jump in like they should automatically. So what. So...I made lists and my husband and my mom and my sister helped me get the workshops done and my husband helped call around and get appointments and hotel reservations. (By the way babe, we still need one for New Orleans, if you're reading.) And my kids pitched in and helped unload the van from the workshops and ate whatever I brought home and my son actually cooked for the other kids in my absence and drove others where they needed to be. And, my eldest came in, took a personal day at work, and entertained some out of town guests with my husband, sister, mom and employees at the store. She and my mom really did the wording for the TV commercials. And my two oldest called and listened and sympathized as they usually do for pooooorrrr mom.
Ya see, despite my ugly, awful feet, others helped to bring gladness and peace and good news. I was never alone even when I thought I might be and Scripture is point blank on target in my life...as it is in all our lives if we just open the Book.
|Call to Prayer|
|Just Before Sunset|
|Spring at Radnor|
|North Carolina Beauty|
|Light in the Dark|
Thursday, October 11, 2012
I was a little hectic before I left, setting up a book fair for one of the area schools and leaving my family to host the Midwest Church Guild for the weekend and on Monday and having my mom and my sister cover for me at a book club on Tuesday taking books to be donated to an area hospital. But, it all worked out as usual and I am home, having driven until after midnight and picking up the last of the book fair this morning.
Each day that I was in Maggie Valley I thought about how hectic I had been trying to get everything settled before I left. I thought about how hectic I make my life and I thought about what I could do to make things a little less hectic. Hmmm. Not take the bookstore out to the people. Well, no, that's part of our mission. Not be in the Catholic Book Club. Well, no, I enjoy those people and it makes me read books I normally may never read. Not allow people from other parts of the U.S. to come visit our store and see how we operate and what an amazing job my mom and sister do with our displays and my husband does in the small space we allow him to have. Well, no, I think God gave them talents that need to be shared. Not write. Well, no way, I love to write. So, this day as I begin the first day of a Year of Faith, I am contemplating all that God has put into my life, my awesome kids included, and I am thanking Him every day for the opportunity to have to juggle, to have to find creative ways to get it all done. Sitting alone for 3 days with the occasional visit from a priest can make a person contemplate. Lord, what do You want me to do each day? Teach me Your ways. Let me be Your hands. Let me walk Your path. Show me. Lead me. Give me Faith.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the balcony at the store taking a look to see what kind of books I could take for a workshop. We have had a lot of book tables lately...a good thing...and I am grateful. Before I could exit, this big man came toward me and said, "You've worked here quite a few years haven't you?" He had my undivided attention because I was not getting past him anyway. "Yes sir." "Do you have a second?" Here it comes..."I just wanted to tell you that I have come in here since the 1980's and when I first started coming with my friend I was Church of Christ. He convinced me to become Episcopal. We have continued to come into the store a couple of times a year." "Oh. That is great." Then...it surprised me..."Well, I am now studying to be Catholic. I am taking RCIA classes and I wanted you to know that this store has been a large part of my journey to the Catholic Faith." Well, I thanked him for sharing that, truly thanked him and found myself crying as I spoke. I was completely choked up.
You see, my mom has done such an amazing job keeping this Catholic Bookstore up in Nashville against the odds. I say that because when she bought it from the Diocese and enlarged it to the four story building it sits in today, it was really a leap of faith. The percentage of Catholics at that time was I believe 2.5% in Nashville and it may be 7% now. She was very careful to make the store a place for everyone, of all faiths and of no faith. Today there is a flashing sign right in front of me, actually blocking my way, that says that her hard work, her prayer, her belief in the mission, her faith, our God, has made a difference. It was humbling to hear this man speak of his journey, to share his story, to include the store. Completely humbling.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
|Path thru the Gates|
Fr. John opened his homily Sunday with the old saying, "can't see the forest for the trees". He used this to make the point that neither the elders who prophesied with Moses nor John could see that the men who were working outside "their" groups were still doing good. They were so busy nit-picking the fact that they were not "one of them" that they couldn't see the good work happening. This hit me right between the eyes because I had just sat with a small group, each of us bemoaning some nit-picky person or thing in our lives that just wasn't working with us. You know, our way. As the priest spoke, it hit me how important it is to look beyond the person, the place or the thing and see the big picture. For all we know, God has sent us that very occasion as an aide to get us one rung up on the ladder to Heaven. The very person, the very thing in our lives that drives us absolutely out of our minds, could be who or what we should be the most grateful for in such a way that how we handle it or him or her could make for a wonderful spiritual encounter. Hmmm. Something to truly ponder. What is the big picture for me? How can I trim down all those trees and prune away all those branches so as to find a path that will guide me in the right direction? Through the gates? Not necessarily an easy path, but once found and surrendered to, a path to complete happiness.
Unlike the football fans, I've loved our replacements and yet like those fans, I will love having our pastor back.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Her favorite and probably most frequented prayer is (I think) the Novena Prayer to St. Therese of Lisieux:
Saint Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell Him I will love Him each day more and more. Amen
(The prayer above, plus five Our Father’s, five Hail Mary’s, and five Glory Be to the Father’s, must be said on five successive days before 11 a.m. On the fifth day, when the fifth set of prayers have been completed, offer one more set - five Our Father’s, five Hail Mary’s, and five Glory be to the Father’s)
Invariably after saying this prayer in intercession for someone, she has received a rose, roses or the fragrance of roses to confirm her prayers were heard. So it is no wonder that the gift of roses is very special to my mom.
She certainly does not look or act 80, whatever that's suppose to be I suspect. She asks, "What am I suppose to be like at 80?" as she fills out the third entry form for another art exhibit in October or as she moves a display at the bookstore with one of her grandchildren or as she hops on the computer to check her email or drags her easel out of the car to paint at Radnor Lake. I'm pretty sure for her 80 is just like that huge vase of roses that she got from my dad. Big. Bold. Full of Life. Blooming. Hard to hold in one place. And Beautiful.
Just so ya know, I flipped the roses image about 10 times and every time I put it on this page it ends up on it's side. I guess that's another quality this vase of roses shares with my mom, she is not easily swayed once she gets her mind set so we might as well just go with it her way. Usually, all is well if not better.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I have to ask myself today, what do I do in times of sorrow? How do I react to others? Is there some way to actually turn my times of sorrow into some sort of good for someone else? Why should I? It's the time when I may want others to come to my rescue, to attend to my needs, to give me attention. And yet, maybe it's the time when Jesus asks me to have Faith, to sit with Him and to accept the gift of peace, to be an example to those around me. This lesson I read today is a tough lesson for me to even fathom. In the times of my greatest loss, of my greatest fear, of my greatest anxiety, how can I turn this into something good for others? How can I see beyond myself?
Jesus tells me today that especially in my darkest moments, in my brokenness, in my sorrow, I am to have faith. He will bring me peace. He will cleanse me of my sins. He will be my consolation.
My mother has always, and I have mentioned it before, told us to "wash feet". She has passed on the idea that until we have been in someone else' shoes, we have no idea. Maybe it is times such as this, our own times of sadness, or fear, or anxiety, that we can understand just what others go through and we can ourselves be witnesses to what it means to truly have Faith.
Today, as I envision this woman's tears washing the feet of Christ, may I learn to wash, may I take the time, may I make a difference, and most of all, may I not say a word and simply have Faith.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
As I park, I notice she is at the Grotto, bowing slightly toward the large figure of Our Blessed Mother. I don't walk past her, not wanting to disturb her time in prayer. I walk around and hop up the larger flight of stairs and head for the Chapel. I sit and read a little about the Saint of the Day, St. John Chrysostom, "Golden Mouth". I read a bit on his amazing talent of preaching and of using his words, the words of Christ, to turn others to the Faith. I sit and listen. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I notice she enters the room. As usual, those who come in after her, old and young alike, stop for a hug or exchange a smile or a soft spoken word. It happens every morning but this particular morning it hits me. She speaks very little English and even that is rarely understandable. And. That's. Just. It. We all understand the language of kindness. She is meek and she is gentle and she is always kind and all can understand. She never fails to ask me about my children and my parents and to tell me about her grandchildren. She is always smiling and praying and touching her lips to her hands and passing that kiss on to the figure of Mary or of Joseph or of Jesus. She is always in that Chapel and her kindness and her love for her Faith is an example to us all. She is truly an example of being a disciple of Christ and although we can rarely translate the words, we easily understand the language. As St. John Chrysostom spoke to small and great alike and all were able to understand by his word and his example, so too can those who have mastered the language of kindness.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Mass was about to start and I didn't have time to read my Magnificat so I squeezed in the morning reading and the meditation on the Gospel during the short pauses of the Mass and some of the parts of the Homily. (Don't tell Fr.)
I've been thinking about my lack of organization lately, at home and at work. I blame it all on being out of town for a week and having a difficult time catching up but truth is it's more about goofin' off. Not that there's anything wrong with a little goofy around but let's face it, it can cause us to get behind and stay behind and we don't want to be continually late with God. Um, I can picture the Gates just closing as I sprint to squeeze into my Eternal Reward, or not. And why? Because I didn't take His Words seriously? Because I was goofin' off instead of working? Because I didn't take time to listen?
I'm pretty sure that I'm barely squeezing by because I'm doing more talking than listening. That's how it was the other day. I was outside the Chapel talking to a friend and her children before school, ya know, entertaining them with my mouth, and I missed my time for spiritual reading. Missed it. So often, I kneel down in there and start all my yammerin and I hear Him say clearly, "Shhhhh! Listen! I have the words of Everlasting Life." How more direct can that be?
For the most part, my dad gets to the Chapel for morning prayer about two hours before Mass. He's passed that example on to us just as he and my mom have of going to daily Mass. They both give time to Jesus in the morning and in return He gives them time to get all that needs done in a day, done. Now why in the world am I still just squeezing by? Fifty some years of hand me downs and I am still goofin' off. Lord, help me to do more than just squeeze by in this life. Teach me to close my mouth and open my heart and get where You want me to be.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
|Using Social Media Tools to Communicate and to Serve|
I have a habit of thinking that I know people when in reality I have only seen them somewhere or they simply look like someone I know. I can't help it and now neither can my daughter. We actually can be driving down the interstate, halfway to Florida, and she can swear she knows someone in the car next to us. Now come on! Really! But, most of the time, she does know people in the most unlikely places.
As I jumped on board the Trolley outside the Crown Plaza Hotel at 6:30 A.M., heading for Mass at the Arlington Convention Center, I greeted a nice young girl seated in the first seat. I'm thinking, Wow! She looks familiar. Of course she does. We as a family know everyone as does my brother and my parents...ha. She swings around and notices my name tag and says, "I thought I recognized you. You're from St. Mary's Bookstore." "I am. Where are you from?" "I'm from Gallatin but I was in the store last week and I think you found a book for me for the Catechetical program I'm in." "Oh yes! The Craft of Catechesis. I remember." Ahhhh! Great. Someone to hang with a little while I'm a long way from home alone. Seems she was there for the Catholic Writers Conference. I was so fortunate to find her and sit with her during a few sessions of the Catholic Writers Conference and the Catholic Media Conference. What a great time! We both have a lot to learn and the talks were so helpful. Now we just have to put them into practice.
But, here's something else important about the entire week. I recognized so many of the authors, both of books and of blogs. I was in awe of the group of talented people so willing to give of their time and their energy to share with us the importance of what we do as Catholic authors. I realized that people do recognize us because of what we do and what we say. It is very important to understand that we do represent this large Faith Community and we can make a difference in this world. We can bring others to Christ. We are here to serve. And, hey, I do know you. I have read your words, I have bought your products and they have made a difference in my world. I knew you looked familiar.
Monday, August 27, 2012
On these back to back Feasts of St. Monica and St. Augustine, it is difficult not to realize the responsibility we have to not just raise our children, but to raise them in the Faith and to keep at it until they fully understand what Jesus wants from us in this world. We have all heard parents say, “Well, they are old enough to make their own decisions.” “It’s time for them to make big kid choices.” From the stories of St. Monica and St. Augustine, we should never assume our kids will come back to the Faith or will make the right choices. Monica was hard core when it came to her son. She followed him all over and never stopped praying for him to turn his life around. Sixteen years of prayer and tears. Sixteen years! Finally, it all paid off. Monica could move on up to Heaven where she longed to be with God and she would know that Augustine would someday be there too.
Yesterday was my boy’s birthday. The Feast of St. Monica and St. Augustine is truly a good connection because they remind me how important my job is as his mother. They remind me that I can never do enough, ask enough questions, give enough instructions or pray enough. Years can pass and yet, they are still the children that God entrusted to me to get back to Him.
“You have made us for yourself , O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (St . Augustine)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
"Mary has a right to be loved as Queen of all hearts so that, through her, hearts would be cleansed and themselves become immaculate, similar and like unto her own heart, and so worthy of union with God."
"Today's feast reminds us that holiness means depending on God. The Queenship of Mary invites us to exercise our obedience to God in a way that results in, not submission, but likeness."
This picture was taken this summer in the Chapel at the University of Dayton when my kids and I stopped to see where my dad went to college. Love this campus and this Chapel!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Every year, I don’t fully understand it, but either my children grow or their clothes shrink in the dryer because I am constantly changing the hem on their pants. Even with my reading glasses, it is getting more difficult to put the thread through that tiny slit in the needle to get started. I know, bigger needles, bigger eyes, but then it is more difficult to sew and make it look nice. So, I have grown fond of the “needle threader” with the flexible wire loop on the end that I can slip through the eye of the needle and pull the thread through easily. The cheapest item in the sewing department and yet I have found it the most helpful.
Jesus tells us that entering His kingdom will not be easy. He never said life would be easy. His way is simple but difficult, especially in today’s world. We have to go against the grain. We have to find the tiniest little loop holes and we have to make conscious efforts. We have to fit into the smallest spaces. We have to work hard at the most difficult tasks. Strive to pass.
-Jesus at My Side
Jesus gives us much to think about today. The eye of the needle, giving up brothers and sisters and mother and father, inheriting eternal life, the last shall be first. Figuring out all of these words and putting them into practice can be a monumental task but I believe He wants us to take things one step at a time meticulously working toward a full inheritance. Pull out something from all the Words today or from the life of St. Pius X or from his words “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor” and work on one task at a time. In this world we will need all the help we can get to pass through the eye of a needle. Some days I know that eye is getting smaller and smaller for me. Pray for one another. Strive.
Monday, August 20, 2012
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal” (St. Bernard).
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Today, when asked by Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?", we hear Peter say, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And in return, Peter is made head of the church and given the keys of the Kingdom. Later, we hear Jesus tell of his upcoming suffering and death and Peter reacts instantly saying that he would never let something like that happen and Jesus responds, "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Peter is seen here as both thinking in the ways of the Divine and the human. And, he is still made the head of the church on earth. He is still given the keys. God still loves him, trusts him and empowers him and so He does us.
God knows we are not perfect. He knows we share both the sides of the human and the divine. He simply wants us to work more toward the Divine. He wants us to strive. He wants us to pray and He wants us to ask for the grace to do better every day. In the midst of this crazy world, ask for the grace.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
We drove from Manassas, VA where we had found a hotel the night before into Washington to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception without a hitch. Did not know the USCCB was right across the street. Heck, could have picked up my order for encyclicals and Spanish Catechisms for the bookstore.
We entered the Basilica on the lower level and must have looked out of place. A security guard politely asked if we needed help and proceeded showing us where to start in the lower Chapels and how to move to the Upper Level. We toured for several hours. Stopping in each Chapel and reading the prayers on the kneelers in front of the Visions of Our Lady. Seeing where both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict had been. Watching the other people who had come to pray and to touch. Entering the lower Sanctuary and happening upon Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Mary leading us to her Son. Seeing the workmen diligently and reverently replacing the used devotional candles, hundreds burning as prayers to Our Lady for requests, in thanksgiving and in honor. And finally, the same security guard giving us directions to Mary's Garden, one of his "favorite spots". (understandably)
The tour of the Basilica on this day and others was interesting to me for another reason, as well. Each of my girls had different responses, different interests, different gifts to offer. The youngest would not hesitate going straight to the front, kneeling, reading, taking it all in. The oldest could not take enough pictures and read enough of the writings on the walls, from the great Saints and about Our Lady, loving the idea of the many different images from around the world, respectful of all who have immigrated to the U.S. and all who visit. And then my middle girl, watching, waiting at a slight distance, taking it all in cautiously and in her own way loving different areas and happenings, lighting candles for specific requests.
The first tour of the many places in the U.S. where Mary is loved by so many and where so many are loved by her. The first of many places where the people who work there have a love for the people who come as well as a willingness to share their love for Our Mother and her Son. The first of several areas where the young and the old and all in between witness openly to the fact that Christ is alive and waiting, as well as His Mother, for us to come and to visit and to receive the gifts these special places, made to honor them, have to offer.