On a Faith Journey???

Posted: January 17, 2018 in World On The Edge
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In the interviews I’ve been privileged to have, I’m often asked about my Faith Journey. Each of us has one. As we travel through life our faith either increases, or doesn’t increase. Or maybe it’s like a stone wall, just sitting there, never budging because we don’t think about it.

We ought to think about it though. At one time or another, our closets need straightening, lists of “things-to-do” need to be made, and certain people in our lives need specific attention. We sometimes forget that we need attention, too.

After we’ve gone on vacation, we usually assess the trip that we took. Assessing our Faith Journey is similar. We need to look back to see where we’ve been. We need to look at ourselves—really look—to see where we are, and then forward to see where we’re going.

My faith journey began in my family, in Dothan, Alabama where I was born, and where there were few Catholics, so we stood out. Specifically, it began with my mother and grandmother. They were the Catholics in my family to start with. My father and grandfather were Protestants who later converted to Catholicism. In fact, I was confirmed the same time as my grandfather. He was 62 and I was 9.

For the first five years of my life, we lived with my grandparents. My mother was just out of her teens when I was born, and my father had returned from WWII, so my grandmother was definitely in charge, and she was a woman of great faith. She was from Macon, Georgia and in her family were many vocations. Her sister was a Mercy nun and five of her nieces and nephews were priests and nuns — three Jesuit priests, two Sisters of Mercy and two Dominican sisters. One of those Jesuits, Fr. Anthony Benedetto, taught me at Spring Hill when I was there. In fact, he literally wrote the book for one of my required Theology courses—“Fundamentals in the Philosophy of God.”

But in Dothan, Catholics were often thought of as strange, even non-Christian. So we had to stand up for our faith, which meant we had to know it. So my faith journey began there, in having to defend my faith. When you have to defend something, you grow to love it even more.

When I entered Spring Hill College at 17, I was really amazed that everyone around me was Catholic. It was such a welcomed change. So my faith journey continued at Spring Hill, inspired by the many Jesuits I encountered and by some faith-filled students. I also met my husband there. We’ve been married for 52 years, have five children and will soon have twelve grandchildren. And that itself is a journey of faith!

The struggles I went through in my particular life were/are part of the journey. I learned from them. I understood that God was with me throughout them. He didn’t take my struggles away, still He was/is there.

God sends particular people to us on our Faith Journey. Oddly enough, years ago, I learned how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through a Protestant, a beautiful girl who happened to be Jackson County Alabama’s Maid of Cotton. I was in charge of religion classes for the teens at St. Jude in Scottsboro, and often brought in speakers from other faiths. She came when I asked. Of course, the boys were impressed with her looks, but inside she was just as lovely. She talked about her own relationship with Jesus as if he was her best friend.

So I would say, look for the landmarks in your own faith journey and strengthen them. No matter how trivial they may at first seem, those milestones are there; and God-sent just for you.

He is your God.

He is my God.

And He loves us enough to have sacrificed His son for each of us.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Wind that Shakes the Corn by Kaye Park Hinckley

The Wind that Shakes the Corn

by Kaye Park Hinckley

Giveaway ends January 31, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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hands and anchor

A new year is here. We do not know what it will bring for us. All we know is that on January 1, 2018, another new dawn happened.

Some of us feel uneasy about our life, and even afraid. We may feel that life is an unending storm for us, and that we have no control over where the water and wind will take us.

Uncertainty is downright scary when we do not notice the anchors in our life. Of course, anchors in the form of other people are available. If we haven’t made use of them, why not?

Maybe self-pride has taken us over, and we consider only “our way,” until “our way” doesn’t work.

Maybe we have alienated family or friends through petty disagreements neither will forgive.

Maybe there are habits we have that we know are wrong, but we keep them up anyway, feeling guilty.

All these situations cause uncertainty, and are common to everyone at one time or another. But without an anchor, they can become unbearable, until we feel the words, Happy New Year, do not apply to us.

But hear this:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
–Isaiah 43:2

These words are about the life-saving anchor we can all have in life–if we choose to grab onto it. The words do not mean that we will have no storms in our life, but that when we do, God’s anchor is available–many times through other human beings, especially those we are close to.

The anchor, because of the great importance in navigation, was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. The Christians, therefore, in adopting the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence, gave a new and higher signification to a familiar emblem. Just as an anchor secures a boat in rough waters, so does faith in Christ secure us, and indeed, becomes our safety net.

This is no more apparent than in marriage. But to achieve faith in God, and in another person, requires a certain amount of surrender:

Forgiving when we don’t want to forgive.
Realizing that we don’t know all the right answers.
Looking at our real self and what we are doing without making excuses for our wrong actions.

When we give up control of our life in favor of God’s plan–done His way, not ours–then we enter onto the road called: Trust. And what does Trust in God prove? It proves His faithfulness. I can certainly say that I’ve seen His faithfulness in my own life. And if you look upon your circumstances, whatever they are, with spiritual eyes, I’m sure you will see it, too, and know that you are not alone.

light-1670175_1280

If we are in dark room for a length of time, our human eyes eventually adjust to the darkness, so that any tiny light venturing into the room becomes enough for us to grasp the location of walls, furniture, and door. A tiny light—only a tiny light—can change our perception and take us from obscurity to clarity in the darkest of rooms.

When the light we see by is small, we use other faculties instead of perfect eyesight to make our way around the blackness of a room. We use our memory of what should be there, our sense of touch, or even smell. These other senses may not come into play in a brightly lit space–we wouldn’t need them. But in a very dark place, the tiny light is crucial.

Each of us has a tiny light within us, and it is a precious light unlike any other, made just for the darkest of rooms. When sadness, disappointment, or tragedy darken our life, we make use of that tiny light.

In a story or novel, there is usually an epiphany–a change–in the main character, or at least his or her choice to change or not. It is the same in our lives when we make choices.

Vision from such a light may come about slowly, but if we remain calm and concentrate on its glow, we can find safety, security, and even courage.

And where does that light come from?

It comes from the kinship we have with the God who created us. The God who created each of us as His child, and then sent His son to earth as a tiny baby. The true light of the world.

Saturday, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany. Your light is here.

How will you receive it?

sport-2264825_640

We all want to see approval in the eyes of those we love or admire, and when we don’t see that approval, it hurts. It makes us feel small and we don’t like that. So, we may constantly strive for attention anywhere we can get it to prove that we are strong, that we matter. We may become angry and vindictive, or we may even set out to harm anyone who pushes us aside. We become fighters for our self image, our own personality, without even realizing that’s what we are doing.

But our biggest battles are those inside us, the stand-off between who we want to be and how we are actually mirrored by our actions.

What do these battles–those internal swinging doors between who we are and who we want to be–hinge upon?

The human personality is beautifully complicated. There are three factors which mold it. Two of those factors, nature and nurture (heredity and environment) are those things we receive at birth and what education and social influences do to us.

But the third factor may be even more important–the way a person uses his inborn capabilities and adapts himself to his environment. This adaptation depends upon his/her own free volition. A person has the ability to inhibit certain drives, to hold in check his emotion, or at least the expression of them. He may even act upon his physique, for example by exercise or dieting. And he is capable of influencing his environment by changing it, or moving out of it.

Our ability to freely choose an action is, hands down, our greatest human gift. When we let the source of that gift–God–lead us in our battle choices, we will be so much stronger than we think we are.

If we stand back from our gift-buying busyness, if we look to the manger, we will see the core message of Christmas which we are to follow: Be humble.

The son of God came to earth as a newborn baby. Why did he come as a helpless baby from a poor family?

Simple humility. The first lesson taught us by Jesus Christ that leads us toward human goodness.

Humility is the tool of human goodness. The opposite of humility is pride. Pride is the tool of evil, causing haughtiness, jealousy, or anger over slights or insults.

Pride is when we worry constantly about what others think of us. When we must be the center of attention, and feel frustrated if we are not. When it is all about us, and not about God and our neighbor, this is pride.

So, how do we grow in humility, and not pride?

This prayer for the virtue of humility has been around a long time, and it is certainly one that I need to pray! It asks for our Lord’s assistance in humbly following in His footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to Him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness.

Deliver me, Jesus:
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
From the fear that others may be loved more than I.

Grant me the grace to desire:
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

HUMILTY IS SUCH A GIFT. LET’S LIVE IT, AND SHARE IT!!

COMING  JANUARY  8, 2018

page 70 of CHAPTER NINE

To imagine a day without Arthur was to imagine no sun, or an ocean empty of water, even life without air. He demanded nothing from me, not even verification of my love, while I wanted all he would give. I did not want to be free of him, not ever; or him to be free of me. I wanted to be as essential to him as the beat of his heart.

On the brightest of nights, the moon like an elevated host, Arthur and I wandered farther than I had ever been. An Irish girl is warned of wandering, still I was not afraid. We passed by the jagged trunks of once mighty oaks to the other side of Lough Gill and climbed a hill of alder trees, their ragged leaves rustling like the sound of waves below us. Across the shimmering water was the castle, the rightful home of an Irishman, usurped by England and given to a Scot. The silhouette of the fortress appeared drawn against the sky like a great design, great as my father’s dream for me, until a fog crept up to blur its boundaries and apprehension overtook me. “Do you really love me, Arthur?”

He seemed surprised. “Yes.”

“But why? I’ve only caused you grief.”

“How do I explain loving you? I just do, that’s all.”

“Can’t you give me a reason? I’d like to know if it’s something I can count on.”

“Maybe that’s the reason—I know I can count on you.”

I smiled. “To put you in danger?”

“No, I think you’d die for me, if you had to,” he said solemnly.

“I would, “ I said, and he lifted my chin to kiss me.

I thought I knew what he would say and do next; stroke my face, run a finger down my neck to stop just at the rise of my breast, then kiss me once more, his hand on the center of my back pressing me closer. He would jokingly ask how long I intended to stay as pure as the Virgin Mary and I would give my usual answer, ‘Until no more priests are murdered to keep me from having a proper wedding.’ After months of constant companionship, I believed I knew him so well that I could sense all that, but Arthur simply took my hand and said, “Marry me, Nell.”

I did not ask him to repeat it or explain it; I only asked, “When?” And for a brilliant and brief time, I felt nearly invincible.