Monday, August 27, 2012

St. Monica and St. Augustine

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

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sharing my Magnificat today. I have read this from Maximilian Kolbe twice this month so it must be worth repeating:

"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."

"Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help." Heb. 4:16

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

The Eye of the Needle

“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

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Today is the Feast Day of St. Bernard and while reading a short bio of his life I not only read about his reform of Monastic life and his settling of schisms in the church but also about his deep love for Mary. I found his words most comforting for this time in our world when life seems uncertain. I have been spending quite a bit of time lately reading about Our Lady. I have a "bee in my bonnet" as my mother would say and I have been working it through with Her, believing she has something to help me with that I haven't quite "put my finger on". These particular words, this particular morning, were exactly what I needed. As you well know, I love when this happens. Just the right sign, at just the right time, sent from above. God-incidence.

“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

The Legacy Continues

Today's a big day! My third daughter Margaret is going for registration and orientation at St. Cecilia Academy. Attending SCA is a long standing tradition in our family. My grandmother (Rose Dalton Dortch), her niece (Agnes Eckhardt Nixon), my mother (Jean Drennan Dortch), my two sisters (Jeanne Dortch Rast and Donna Dortch Turner), my sister-in-law and her girls (Mary Jo Luster Dortch, Betsy and Claire, and me and my two older daughters (Beth and Sarah) have all gone to SCA. This Friday, the legacy continues. Off and on for over 100 years, we have been a part of an awesome family, the St. Cecilia Dominican Sisters. We are blessed to have our children taught by this congregation of amazing women who's love for God and complete joy speaks the Gospel message and the love of Jesus Christ. We are excited to have another daughter who will enjoy the fun of Freshman-Senior week, St. Cecilia Day and Father-Daughter Dance. She is very excited to finally begin to experience some of the same traditions she has heard about in many, many stories. So today, the legacy continues and I hope and pray these four years are as memorable and wonderful as the four years I had at St. Cecilia. We are proud of you Margaret!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Human and Divine

Father's explanation of the Gospel reading today struck home big time. I so often wonder how I can be so bad and yet feel God pull me toward writing for the good or working in His name. You know, like how I can pull close in traffic so someone who has obviously seen the "lane closed" sign just like the rest of us cannot get way up at the front of the line, while I am praying the second Joyful Mystery. Or, kneel in the Chapel and wonder when the lady down front is going to take out her crying child. Or, buy some saints medals to bring home from a beautiful grotto visit and express to others that the clerk who waited on me was cranky. (Be careful. As my mother would say, what goes around comes around.)

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

Welcome to the World

I just had to share this sweet picture of my great nephews born August 1st.

Knowing their mom and dad, they have a wonderful, full life ahead of them!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

One week ago today three of my daughters and I were cruising around Washington, DC. As unplanned as the trip was with no hotel reservations (proved to be stressful a couple of nights), an atlas, a GPS (Emma) and some ideas about where I wanted to go in our 5 day tour (ideas that changed daily), it all turned out to be quite amazing. We literally looked up addresses at night, punched them into the GPS in the morning and drove. The girls often thought Emma was leading us to our death but I thought she was wonderful. She got us in and back out of some tough places.

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.