roadhouse-1503283_1920

It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong. ― Terry Pratchett, “I Shall Wear Midnight.”

There are some people who don’t care where they came from (which family, or the lack of a family, town, country, or region) because they don’t see their ‘roots’ as particularly outstanding, and may even see them as negatives.

But where we came from always affects us. Memory is memory and doesn’t just vanish. To a great extent we build our lives around what we’ve known by either relishing it, or trying to rid ourselves of it. Either way, where we came from can make us strong as steel, if we allow it to.

And if we go far enough back, to the moment of our birth and the fact that we were even given the gift of life, we will see how very valuable we are.

Each of us was chosen to be here, chosen by God to be put where we are. Chosen for a purpose that only we can carry out. There is no other us to do the work.

Are we ready to take on our singular and unique purpose in this life? If not, here is a reminder.

Snowbear, 2009, MorgeuFile.com

Snowbear, 2009, MorgeuFile.com

When you prepare for an action, how do you gear yourself up? We could learn a lot about preparing from Bumble Bees.

At rest a bumblebee’s body temperature will fall to that of its surroundings. If it wants to fly the temperature of its flight muscles must be raised high enough to enable it. What does the bumblebee do? It shivers. Sort of like we do when we are cold. This shivering can easily be seen in a grounded bee when her abdomen pumps to ventilate the flight muscles. And then she’s up!

If we want to succeed in something, we need to prepare ourselves. If we are involved in sports, we train hard. If we want a good job, we educate ourselves. If we want to go on a great vacation, we plan it. If we want to be successful parents, we learn patience. And if we want to play a musical instrument, we have to practice. (Can’t wait for you to see the video below!)

But above all the training, education, planning, patience, and practice, there is an even greater preparation, and that is the sincere trust that God will lead us in our endeavors, all of our endeavors no matter how big, or small. We can achieve this through prayer.

We don’t have to be on our knees to pray. We can pray anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance. Our prayer does not have to be rote, or long, or complicated. A sincere “Jesus help me,” or “Lord lead me,” or any heartfelt words that link us to God, is enough. So when you want to do something beyond yourself, and are shivering like the Bumblebee, PRAY.

I simply couldn’t do anything without prayer–I mean that literally. I know many of you feel that way. But for those who haven’t tried it, I have one word. DO. And keep doing it. Why? Because prayer is a conversation that opens, and then continues, our relationship with a God who loves us and wants us to love him back.

For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. – Saint Therese of Lisieux

Pixabay Photo

Pixabay Photo

The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred.” In the Catholic Church, the seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. That’s what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s grace.

There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. The purpose of each one is to make people holy, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God; but being signs, they also have a teaching function. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and object, they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called sacraments of faith.–Catholic.org

This blog is about one of the sacraments, the Sacrament of Marriage, and how it can lead us toward holiness.

Marriage is meant to be a lifelong union with the purpose of creating holiness in a man and a woman. In marriage each spouse gives up some rights over his or her life in exchange for rights over the life of the other spouse.

As Fr. John Hardon explains in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary, there are four elements common to natural marriage throughout history:

1. It is a union of opposite sexes.
2. It is a lifelong union, ending only with the death of one spouse.
3. It excludes a union with any other person so long as the marriage exists.
4. Its lifelong nature and exclusiveness are guaranteed by contract.

So, even at a natural level, divorce, adultery, and “homosexual marriage” are not compatible with marriage, and a lack of commitment means that no marriage has taken place.

It is important to remember, however, that the opposite occurrence of any of these points does not keep God from loving that person as if he/she were the only person in the world–He does. Neither does it keep God from continuing His offer of grace to all.

As a sacrament, Marriage is truly a vocation. But there will be ups and downs. Sometimes those ups and downs will be terribly exhausting, and seemingly unsolvable. But then, out of commitment, comes divine grace.

Marriage is a vehicle for God’s grace, his sanctifying grace which helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, as well as helping them together to cooperate in God’s plan of redemption by raising up children in the Faith.

In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. As married Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual salvation, we participate not only in God’s creative act but in the redemptive act of Christ.–Aboutreligion.com

Got a Prayer Companion???

Posted: August 18, 2016 in World On The Edge

Prayer Companion Until a few months ago, when I began polishing up a novel I’m working on, I was a weekly contributor at www.catholicmom.com You can still find my articles in the archives, but before I took off, many of the columnists and I contributed to this prayer book.

If you are busy with life, but also, someone who daily links to God, i.e. YOU PRAY, then you will benefit from this prayer companion. One brief prayer pondering for each day of the year,  beginning with a brief quotation from scripture, saints, recent popes, or important spiritual writers; and then, a personal reflection written by contributors.

Contributors include Catholic writers, Mary Amore, Sherry Antonetti, Danielle Bean, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, SP Corbitt, Erin Cupp, Sarah Damm, Patrice Fagnant MacArthur, Jen Fitz, Allison Gingras, Pat Gohn, Lisa Hendey, Kaye Hinckley, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Judy Klein, Colleen Connell Mitchell, Lisa Mladinich, Rhonda Ortiz, Cassandra Clifton Poppe, Margaret Rose Realy Oblate, Karee Santos, Barb Grady Szyszkiewicz, Charisse Tierney, Leticia Velasquez, Kelly Wahlquist, and Nancy Ward.

Here’s one of my reflections: (Only because I already had the copy.:)

April 15—The Super Glue of Renewal
Monthly theme: Renewal
Core focus: Forgiveness works both ways

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.
–Desmond Tutu

Renew: To make new or as if new again. To restore. I know a woman who could renew or restore anything. She was my grandmother. In her pocket was a tube of Super Glue, just in case she found anything broken in her house; a china cup with a broken handle, the bead off a piece of jewelry, or the crack in the frame of a picture. But she was a fixer of people, too, as well as things. She was a healer of hearts. How did she do it? Well, this time, it wasn’t with Super Glue. It was with forgiveness.

Each of us, as human beings, has something to forgive–because people hurt us, even those who profess to love us. We must let go of our hurts whether it be an act of infidelity against us, prejudice, the loss of a job, or the ‘just plain meanness’ of another toward us. But again, as human beings, we also have something to be forgiven for. So we must first look at ourselves, at the ways we have hurt others, too. Until this is done, our renewal is not really possible. Forgiveness works both ways.

Jesus, help me to see that I must forgive others before I can expect to receive forgiveness myself.

Question to Ponder: Will I commit to forgive someone who’s hurt me in order to bring about my own new beginning, and renewal?

file000324750683At times we feel like a fragile leaf taken up by the wind, with no control over where we’re going. And we worry, we obsess. We may shake, or sweat, crying out, “What will happen to me?”

Maybe we’re suffering from some disease. Maybe we’re despondent over the loss of a loved one. Or we may have deliberately hurt someone else, and while we regret it, what we’ve done eats away at us.

We may have committed an offense we don’t think we can be forgiven for. Or we may be afraid of the punishment we’ll receive from that offense. All these happenings can alter us until we barely respond to others in kind ways, because there’s too much darkness around us to recgonize any sort of joy.

But life itself is good. Life can be affirming even in our sorrow, pain, or distress.

The idea that Life is good doesn’t come to us from something outside of us. It comes from inside us, if we allow it to. It comes from creating in our hearts an attitude of Trust–no matter who has hurt us, or who we’ve lost, no matter how terrible we think we’ve been, and no matter how weak our bodies have become.

Trust means a lack of worry about tomorrow. Trust means loving the moment we are living in. Trust means that even if the moment we love doesn’t last, our Trust, our Faith, our Hope will last.

Can we do this alone? Can we stoke the fire inside us and carry it forward without someone else? Don’t we need a hand to hold, the hand of someone who truly loves us?

Oh, you are alone? And nobody loves you?

Don’t fall for that.

We are never alone–not alone on the top of a mountain of happiness and good fortune, and not alone at the bottom of a sea of sorrow and despair.

The One who created us never leaves us.

Trust that the hand of God is always extended to you.

All you need do is reach out and take it.

Then tomorrow will take care of itself.

Greedy???

Posted: August 16, 2016 in World On The Edge

smiley-822993_1920

Remember this fable by Aesop?

ONE day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find,—nothing.

“To kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs” is often used to express the idea of an unprofitable action motivated by greed.

So why do we want more and more of everything when we don’t really need it?

I have many pairs of shoes. But my friend has a new pair that I like better than any of mine. I don’t need any more shoes, still, I hurry to the store to get a pair like hers.

I don’t need everything, especially not the ‘everything’ everybody else has. I just need enough to live a good life.

Some tyrants have enough land, but they want more. Some politicians have enough power, but they want more. Some of us have a spouse who loves us, but we look elsewhere for someone we perceive as better. Some of us have children who for some reason in our own minds, don’t measure up to our expectations, so we berate them constantly. Some of us steal what others have worked for. Some of us lie to make ourselves look better. Some of us want to live in a world that asks nothing from us, so we stick needles in our arms, or swallow pills, or smoke marijuana or cocaine. And some of us will do anything at all for money.

What good comes from all that? I’ll answer the question: Nothing good comes from it.

We’re looking for satisfaction in the wrong places. We’re letting ourselves be drawn into a world of greed. For years, we’ve been enticed by television, movies, and the internet, to want more. By now, we’re nearly programmed to believe we actually need more.

We overlook the lovely, little spoonfuls of life because we no longer see them as enough. In fact, we’ve already come close to destroying things we see as small. Even face to face interaction with a loved one or a friend is seen as too small when we can ‘hit’ many more through Facebook, iPhones, etc. As a result, our society is becoming very saturated with ‘stuff,’ but very impersonal when it comes to people.

Like the countryman in the story above, we’re killing the golden goose of a joyous life—our life, which is a gift, after all. Soon we’ll have nothing left but our greed. And that will be the death of us.

ballet-1566561_960_720One of my sons once told me that he did not want to be a spectator in life, he wanted to be a participator.

What does being a participator mean? To take part, to be or become actively involved. So, the  way I heard it was that he did not want to ‘sit-out’ his life on the sideline. He wanted to dance!

Thank goodness and Hallelujah!! Because that is what I’ve wanted for all my children, and grandchildren, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Today, it’s hard for children to participate as they once did; the world has become so dangerous. But here’s a trip down memory lane.

My family lived nearly ten years in Scottsboro, Alabama, a small, mountainous, and beautiful town off the Tennessee River. I wonder if neighborhoods like the one I experienced in Scottsboro are able to exist anymore; it’s so important, now, to keep your children close at hand. But then, our children were free to go most anywhere; roaming the woods, riding miles on bicycles, paddling around Roseberry Creek which led to the river near the neighborhood dock. There, we had cook-outs, and lots of boating, skiing and swimming (while watching out for cotton mouth moccasins, of course.) The children never sat down. They took part, actively involved with others; family and neighbors. My cousin and her family lived steps away from us, and so did the finest neighbors anywhere.

We were blessed to be there at the time we were, with those people, in that place of beauty. It wasn’t necessarily what we did, but who we were doing it with that made us happiest.

My oldest son–always doing, never sitting–was about nine years old, when he came to me one night after we’d gotten home from a gathering at the dock. “Mama, this was a good day,” he said. “In fact, it was the best day of my life.”

What would make him say that? He was a child, for one thing. He lived in the present moment. He did not look back and grieve over something that happened yesterday, and he wasn’t troubled about the future. What affected him most was a day he actively did all the things he loved to do. In other words, he danced.

As adults, do we appreciate a good day?  What about when a bad day happens? Can we  learn from it? Because it’s often the worst day of our life that starts us on a path of hope, and active  striving that ultimately achieves our best day. When we realize that tomorrow can produce a better day, we are experiencing a divine virtue we receive through the grace of God, called hope.

And hope insists on participation, not sitting on the sideline and whining.

Hope is what keeps us going. Hope is the possibility of change. If we participate with God in the virtue of hope He has given us, then even the worst days have power enough to become the best days of our life.

At one time or another in each of their lives, I had my five children listen to the song that follows. I told them  and I say to them now,  If you have a choice to sit it out or dance–I hope you DANCE.