Tag Archives: Catholic Conservative

Nursed with the Word

After reading a quote from our beloved Papa Bene yesterday I was inspired to write this poem…

flower

Plant the seed of the Word

                      into me

          nurture it

water it

                      bless it

feed it with your light, Lord

call it forth

          whisper

                               songs

                                             psalms

       soulful

                        joyful awakening

Green heads popping up

          bursting through

my pain                         my sorrow                              my weakness

flowers 2

Let it bloom huge

                                     musky flowers

                   heady with intoxicating angelic perfume  

spraying hues of truth

                   through my veins

                                            And butterflied laughter

                             out my shining eyes

butterfly

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Year of Mercy… During an Election Year

year of mercy

Yeah I don’t know why it didn’t hit me before… coincidence ..? Hm. I think it dawned on me at the beginning of July when I was doing my morning prayers, my St. Maximilian Kolbe consecration to Mary and July’s intercession is: “That resentments and anger may never stifle our ability to love.”  Bam. Right smack in the middle of the Black Lives Matter/5 police shot in Dallas/the FBI overlooking Hillary’s shenanigans …  ETC. Yeah. That. Being my obnoxious, opinionated, conservative, catholic self I have a hard time NOT saying anything. It’s hard to not get caught up in the political snarling debates, fiery posts attacking, actually, both candidates, and posting witty cutting un-merciful memes on Facebook.  It’s hard to be kind because I am disgusted and discouraged by the state of our nation.   It’s hard to be merciful to those who have differing opinions when it just feels like they are ruining the country with their division.

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At times I just don’t want to be merciful…  I am too angry and disappointed to ‘let it go” to “agree to disagree”  I want to rant and rail… sigh. But as a Catholic in this Year of Mercy …. I need to step back and assess the situation.

So there’s mercy. Be merciful like the father. Luke 6:36. The logo for this year. Heck I may hate what the “other side” says.  I may think they are wrongwrongwrong WRONG!!!! about so many issues. Case in point:

black lives matter

… I may think they are ruining this country. I may think the Founding Fathers are rolling over and over (and over!) in their graves … 

founding fathers rolling

but… Mercy. Be merciful like the Father … He forgave all of us (we all matter!!).

Jesus all lives matter

Though we may not like what others say or do… we need to show them mercy. Yeah, I know. Garshblamit. I don’t want to. I DON’T WANT TO! … It’s hard.

God is always asking me (you, us) to step out of that comfort zone and BE that kind, caring, compassionate, merciful Christian, especially when we don’t want to.  (Especially when they are wrong about so many issues… .) He never said it would be easy… He actually said living this life would be hard and many people will despise us for it… but we don’t have to despise them back…

This is going to be challenging for me and I know I will blow it several times (wanting to post that funny, yet obnoxious meme that shows Hillary’s hypocrisy!) but I am going to TRY to be less me and more Him. Like the Father~ Merciful.

Yeah… I’m going to need a lot of prayers…

mercy 2

“Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” Pope Francis.

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What St Paul Didn’t Say

woman praising god

I would like to introduce my friend and fellow Secular Franciscan as my guest writer… Joan.  Enjoy!

So I am honored to guest write and I hope I will have the opportunity to do it again. I am the crazy, single friend. I say this not to point myself as less-than because I am not married, but honestly sometimes I don’t seem to fit in as I get older and my friends are married. It is sometimes difficult to live this life as a Secular Franciscan and a single young woman. It is simple. But simple does not always equate to easy.

cake
I found myself having a very deep conversation with a friend of mine from another Christian faith this week. It was regarding chastity. With the movie “50 Shades of Grey” and I use the term movie loosely, we have learned one thing about our society, sex not only sells, it is socially acceptable to have relationships based upon sex. Sex should be an act of Love, Love is not a product of sex.

50 shades
I go back to the many letters of St. Paul. St. Paul said that if we as Christians could not be celibate we should be married. He did not say that if we could not be celibate, that we should be serially monogamous. However, in our society those of us that wish to stay chaste outside of marriage are the “different” ones. I asked my friend why this was. Why when almost every religion teaches chastity, is this true of society? The only answer that we could reach is that society has become more about what you can do for me rather than what we can do for God.
I remember a conversation when another male friend found out I observed chastity. He told me, “I couldn’t date a girl and not have sex.”

chastity 2

I can only think how sad this is. Why should we be expected to give something that is not ours to give? Our bodies belong to God, were made by God for a purpose, and should only be used for a purpose that is respectful to Him, which is an act of love in marriage which is open to children.
I will go one step further and say this. Men are only half the problem. We women, until we learn to respect and value ourselves, will continue to be the other half, because women who observe God’s Law, will continue to be seen as abnormal as long as the majority of women continue to devalue themselves. I am glad to have the friends that I have who strengthen me in this journey. Because, I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

joanofarc

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Praise Him in the Blizzard

snow-heart-large

“No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?”

Interesting that the recessional hymn tonight was “How can I keep from singing” with a blizzard blasting its way into New England. So many people at the 4:30 Mass, knowing they will be snowed in tomorrow. And I am one of the few who loves this, just loves this beautiful snow. Yes. I just said that.

snowiloveyou

It is awesome. It makes me smile. It lifts my spirits. It brings that childhood joy into my heart. No I am not crazy. And I haven’t had a drink in over 4 ½ years… I am perfectly sober and sane. Don’t look at me like that.

This winter reminds me of all those classic childhood winters I had growing up in Syracuse NY in the 1970’s. Snow, snow and more snow. So awesome… Good memories.
But it seems… all I hear is people complaining.

 GIFSec.com
Just like in November, when I blogged about enjoying the season we are in NOW …. Again I say… Enjoy the NOW! Why can’t everyone just see the beauty in winter and stop complaining? The snow blankets the earth in pure white, it is beautiful. And each snowflake, each one, God’s creation, so unique and perfect and amazing… I love walking on winter nights relishing the quiet hush of the whispering snow. So powerful. So clean, pure, fresh… so new. It is beautiful.

snow 6
But everyone is complaining. Wishing for spring. Um… hello, it is February. It is winter. Stop. Really, just stop. Enjoy each moment. Again I always seem to come back to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks…” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 . IN EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING !!! give thanks. See the beauty in everything. Praise God for the snow. Thank Him for all the small beauties he places in your life. Stop grumbling. Stop stop stop stopstopstop complaining….

snow 4 letter word

Yeah that is what they think.

I am probably the only goofball who likes to shovel. Yes I do… I find it relaxing (and good exercise!) and I like to stop every once-in-awhile and just take in the winter moment. The other day I chopped ice and snow off my driveway for almost 3 hours… now that was a work-out! Sure these snow storms cause it to be icy and dangerous… and driving can be sketchy and scary … and yes I did back my minivan into the side snowbank as I was trying to back out of my driveway to get to work …my Aspie son, as he was watching and directing me out of the walled-in, narrow driveway monotonily (no I do not care if that is a word) said, “You just backed into the snowbank.” Like, really mom, didn’t you see that? haha. … Hey sure there are hazards… and seriously, where am I going to put another foot of snow?… the snow walls of my driveway are almost over my head.. O.o But still. Still I praise him for all he places before me. With my minivan in the snowbank I praise Him… perfect joy. HA!

I started reading Michael D. O’Brien’s Sophia House last night (Father Elijah was awesome so I had to read more!) and at the beginning of chapter 2 I found this line:
“And whenever the darkness was above, at night or during the dreariest days of winter, the angels sent snow as a sign. Don’t forget Pawelek, they seem to say. We’re here. We give you these stars as messengers.”

snowflake-head-590x330

Look up. Let them fall on your face. Cold kisses.
Breathe in.  Listen
That whispering wind swirling, dancing about you.
Angels laughing, brushing by you.
Touching your heart lightly.
This snow. Falling from heaven.
Each flake. Created by Him.                                                                                                                                                Beautiful in its complex luminous uniqueness.
A gift for you.
Catch one
Don’t let this moment go.

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St. Joseph of Cupertino! Pray for us!

Exam MEME

Midterm exams have started at our high school and several of my students are, for lack of a better word, freaking out… Not only are they trying to shove all the information they had learned all semester into their heads and then be able to regurgitate it out for their exams (which are either midterms for full year classes or finals for half year classes) but some of them are also scrambling to complete missed work before the grades close… they are panicking and losing their teenaged minds. As a case coordinator I am a little concerned for some of my students. So one of the things I do is pray for them.

This morning as I dropped my high schooler off near the Freshman building I told him to say a prayer before his exam. His typical, cynical, gloomy, teen, Aspie (Asperger’s syndrome) response, “Prayer doesn’t do anything.”

sad-face

Whaaaaat… !!! I turned For King and Country off (you know mom is upset if she turns her music off!) and explained that prayer does too do something! (Tried to NOT be that crazy Catholic mom)… I explained that praying was not magic; like God was going to help you get a 100 on the test! No. Praying before a test helps you be ready mentally and spiritually for the test. You pray for courage, peace, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and strength … stuff like that … I explained any time I had to do something hard, like get up in front of a lot of people and speak, I would pray for courage and peace and I would receive it from Him. I was able to DO what I needed to because God gave me the strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He nodded and got out of the minivan.

Now I have no idea if he did pray, but I assume (well, hope), after my explanation, he did. Though he can be the grumpy, disparaging Aspergian, who always thinks he is not good enough or smart enough… he is actually the one in our family who remembers to say grace when we are at a restaurant or at someone’s house … and he is the one, who at age five, not only learned the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, but he memorized The St Michael the Archangel prayer and Psalm 23… Most adults don’t know those! I always have to remind him of that… You, my lovely son, are smart!

Though, I must say, sometimes miracles do happen when you pray before an exam… several years ago I was headed to Rivier College to take the (evil) Praxis. I prayed the rosary as I drove; I was very nervous about the math section of the test. Well, I totally thought I bombed the math section (I did fine on the English section)… I seriously thought I would have to take it again… there was no way I passed, I could not do a lot of the problems and I guessed on a lot… well, the prayers must have worked… and I believe my guardian angel had to have answered some of those questions… because I passed (by one point! But I passed!)!!! Now that was a miracle.

During the exams this morning I remembered one of my favorite Franciscan saints, St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of studying.

St Joe Cupertino

He was known for his flying (levitations! Yes he flew! Many people saw him do this!) and he was a simple, humble… and well… not a very intelligent man… BUT he was faithful and holy! And he really wanted to become a priest. During one of the oral exams the examiner asked him the one thing he knew well and he passed! He became a deacon and then a priest! So this is why he is the patron of studying! It would be great if more students knew about him! Here is his prayer:

O St. Joseph of Cupertino who by your prayer obtained from God to be asked at your examination, the only preposition you knew. Grant that I may like you succeed in the (here mention the name of the test) examination.

In return I promise to make you known and cause you to be invoked.

O St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for me

O Holy Ghost enlighten me

Our Lady of Good Studies pray for me

Sacred Head of Jesus, Seat of divine wisdom, enlighten me.

Remember, when you succeed in the exams then you should thank St. Joseph of Cupertino.

st__joseph_of_cupertino_by_aodhagain-d390zx4

I love this picture, he is like a super hero.

I have prayed and will continue to pray for my students… I just hope they are praying too.

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Called (Nudged)

God_qualifies_the_called_1

Many of my epiphanies and ideas to blog happen in church after hearing all the readings and the homily, today was no different. Phew, I felt relieved… finally… an idea to blog! I had been stuck in an empty place … I had been thinking and berating myself recently … “It is already the middle of January and you have not blogged yet! What is wrong with you?!” I could have blogged about the New Year… Nope, nothing came to mind. Then I could have blogged last week ~about finally professing as a Secular Franciscan (YAY!) … but, meh, though it was a wonderful experience I just did not feel called to write about it.
But today I finally had that epiphany (Alleluia!) and felt the urge to write about being ‘called’… in today’s first reading (1 Samuel 3: 3-10, 19) Samuel heard someone calling him and thinking it was Eli he ran to him and said, “Here I am. You called me.” But it was not Eli who called… and after this happened three times (always three!) Eli realized God was calling the boy and told him to respond to God, “Speak for your servant in listening.” And today’s gospel (John 1: 35-42) was about the first disciples following Jesus… feeling called, dropping everything and following him. (that still blows me away)… so the theme… being called.
Now I believe that I was called many years ago to teach. Now I don’t remember if I related this story before in my blog (I apologize if I have)… but back in the summer of 2005 I was sitting at the 9:30 mass at St John’s in E. Bridgewater, Massachusetts and the head of the CCD program got up at the end of mass and spoke about how they really needed men and women to step forward and teach the children the faith. Well, I thought, ‘Not me. Heck no,” when all-of-a-sudden I felt a prompting from behind me, as if my guardian angel was sitting in the pew behind me, and was poking me on the shoulder saying, “Do that!”… I literal felt it very strongly, but my response to that prompting was, “No! Are you crazy! I can’t do that!” Well the next week at the end of mass, again the CCD woman got up and implored the parishioners that they needed teachers. AGAIN… yes again, I had that nudging feeling, like someone was poking me on the shoulder from behind, “Do that! You can do that!” and again I responded, “No way! Leave me alone! I am not a teacher!” Well, yes, the next week comes and again she gets up and asks again, “We really need CCD teachers, please consider volunteering!”… and yes again, my persistent guarding angel shook my shoulder one last time…, “DO THAT!”… hm. I didn’t understand why he wanted me to do this. I had never taught anything before in my life and I did not know how to teach the faith since I had just come back to the faith myself. Sure I was eager to learn and I had been reading the bible, from the beginning mind you… so defeated and willing to obey this prompting, I sighed and said, “Okay, okay, geez” to him.
After mass I went downstairs and told her I would do it. I made it known that I had never taught before and I didn’t know what I was doing. She was okay with that and said, “Sixth or seventh grade?” I chose sixth. Well, teaching sixth graders the faith was like herding cats… seriously it was really difficult, but at the same time it was kind of cool. I was reading the Old Testament at the time and sixth grade CCD is the Old Testament… coincidence? I think not.
Well I survived, (they did make me cry once!) and over these past ten years I have been teaching various forms of religious ed in my parish’s. From teaching religious ed classes, to taking the kids down during the mass to teach Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW), to teaching at Whole Community Catechesis (kids and adults), to vacation bible school in the summer, to then Edge Program (eighth graders) which led me to what I am doing now. I am on the Life Teen Core Team helping teach at Life Nights on Sunday nights for the high schoolers who are getting ready for Confirmation. I love it.
And during this time, as God dragged me along on this journey of teaching religious ed, he also set me on the road to becoming a special education teacher. Seriously if you told me ten years ago I would be a special ed teacher now I would have laughed at you and called you crazy… my typical stubborn, rebellious reaction, “No way! Not me!” So how did it start? I volunteered in the kitchen at St Thomas Aquinas school while my son went to pre-Kindergarten. I did that for one year. The next school year I needed a real paying job so I went from one kitchen to another, from St Thomas to a high school, Pinkerton Academy’s Shepherd Café. I made cookies and warmed bagels and sold snacks at the snack bar. But I knew that was not where I belonged, but it was a step in my journey to where I needed to be. And so the next year I began my journey as a Para educator (a teachers aid, who assists the special needs students in the class, for those of you who do not know what a Para is) at Pinkerton. This job led (nudged) me back to school to get my masters in special education (I wanted to teach!) …and then I student taught there, and then became a long term special ed substitute teacher there… and then I got a full-time job as a special ed, resource room teacher and case manager at Pinkerton! WOOO HOOOO!
And it all started with a nudge in church and here I am now. I was called to do this. I was born to do this. I just needed to be poked several times to get me going…
But there are times when I don’t feel like I am a very good teacher/case coordinator, that I am not doing the best I can to help my students be successful. It is now the end of the second term and first semester and several of my students are failing. I feel it is my fault because I did not ‘get on’ them and assist them in getting all of their work done. I should have been more persistent and even annoying so that they would do the work and hand it in! I felt like I failed them!
Last Thursday and Friday I wrote in my journal, “Lord, I pray for my students as we come to the end of the first semester- several are failing. How could I have helped them better? Help me to be a better case coordinator.” I even told one of my students that I felt bad, that it was my fault, but he assured me it wasn’t, it was his. But I still felt horrible, like I failed at my job…
Well at the end of the day on Friday I found this note on my desk:
note from Brad
Wow… that totally made my day, my week, …. my year. I posted it on Facebook and one of my friends stated: “Teachers say that if they can help just “one” student, their job is priceless. You should be very rich (inside) by now!!!”
This morning during mass I saw that student and as I passed his pew, as I processed up during communion, I nudged (gently punched) him on the shoulder. He looked up, and seeing me, he smiled.
Thank you Lord for that message, for that confirmation, that though I am not perfect and still need work on this teaching journey you are using me to make a difference in my students lives…

I am thankful for this calling, this journey and very thankful for the nudging of my guardian angel.

Praise be to God.

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All The Year

honor Christmas

New Year’s eve is upon us. Most people at this point have either already taken down their Christmas tree or will tomorrow. It’s sad really; people are “done” with Christmas and happily pack it away until next year and are ready to move on to something else, something new. But Christmas is not over.
I understand the mentality… I understand why people pack Christmas away so quickly; either they don’t celebrate it as a religious holiday and don’t know any better, or they are just done with the holiday that has been shoved down their throats since Halloween. I get it, but at the same time I don’t understand why they want to pack away ‘joy’ so soon.
Today’s gospel reading is from the beginning of the holy gospel according to John (1-1-18) which includes, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” John 1: 14. I find this very interesting since my recent Lectio Divina meditations are of this same theme. Jesus dwelling among us … and dwelling in us. Last week I read/prayed/meditated on John 14: 15-28 in which includes, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” John 14:23. Today I started a new one: 1John 5:11-15 and when I got to, “Whoever possesses the Son has life.” There it was again; God dwelling in me. He is my possession, because he was given to me and He dwells in me. And then there were the Christmas gospel’s I meditated on this month … When Mary gave me baby Jesus to hold; when I imagined I was a shepherd and saw the choir of angels, the Star of Bethlehem and was there adoring at the manger. Being there and seeing Emmanuel~ God with us. That was incredible. I want that joy always … all year round.
Our Christmas gift every year is to be reminded that God sent his son down to be with us and to dwell in our hearts forever. This idea isn’t just for one day and then to be packed up and forgotten the rest of the year. We need to keep him and the gift of Christmas in our hearts and minds always. As Scrooge says in A Christmas Carol, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” We too need to step into this New Year with Christ in our hearts and minds.

Keep that Christmas spirit alive
let the Christ in you be seen
Carry Jesus in your hearts
Shine on in 2015

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