If you’re ever called upon for a prayer or struggle finding words to express yourself in prayer, Pope Francis has you covered.
The following is a prayer the pope included in his recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”
October 15, 2015
If you’re ever called upon for a prayer or struggle finding words to express yourself in prayer, Pope Francis has you covered.
The following is a prayer the pope included in his recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”
October 11, 2015
“Sacred Reading: The 2016 Guide to Daily Prayer” will help you keep your promise. It’s a page-a-day, affordable paperback ($15.95) that eases users into reflecting on how they are following Jesus Christ in everyday life, challenges with thoughtful questions and prompts prayer to flow naturally.
Published by the Apostleship of Prayer through Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame, “Sacred Reading” offers a simplified wrinkle on “lectio divina,” and, if you’ve been put off by the Latin name of that approach to prayer, fear not, this is for you.
This version offers six steps — steps repeated each day so you’re not paging back to the introduction — that are extremely easy to follow:
Here’s an example of how one is guided into prayer:
“Lord, I repent of my sins so that you can come to me. Show me the ways I resist your love, help me to forsake all habits of sin, and give me grace to . . . (Continue in your own words.)”
And here’s a sample of an action step:
“Lord, lead me to do something today that is pleasing to you, perhaps something I have never done or even thought of doing. Glory to you, Lord. Amen.”
Now here is an important point. “Sacred Readings” starts with the beginning of the church year, the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29. Don’t wait for the new calendar year to start keeping that promise to pray every day.
July 1, 2015
I received a Fitbit for Mother’s Day. This little tool tracks my steps, my sleep and if I input the information, it tracks my calorie intake also. This tracking device comes in a variety of brands and names and no; this is not a commercial endorsement but a reflection on how this little tool has changed my life.
Here is how it works. If I make my daily goal of 10,000 steps I get a congratulatory e-mail and a buzz on my wrist device to give me an “Atta boy!” It is amazing what I will do for a little atta boy or girl as in my case! The positive reinforcement and reminders have been a good thing to keep me on track with my fitness goals. We have become a Fitbit family now since I bought my son one for his birthday and my husband one for Father’s Day. Our daily routine includes Fitbit challenges with family and friends trying to outdo one another in daily goals! With our good natured family competition, our evening greeting has now become – “How many steps did you get?” instead of “Hi honey, I am home.”
Recently I read an opinion piece saying “You don’t own your Fitbit – it owns you!” While it may be true that I get a cheap thrill when I get my congratulations e-mail or if I am at 9500 steps at the end of the day I choose to walk around the living room or find reasons to jaunt over to the neighbor’s house just to make my 10,000 steps, my Fitbit doesn’t own me! At least I don’t think so.
Unlike the critical article about how the Fitbit owns me, I feel the Fitbit is doing its job. The goal is to change some of my bad behavior into good behavior. This started me wondering if this same process could be used to help me have a more “fit” spiritual life.
Instead of putting on my Fitbit each day – How do I put on Christ each day to make Him a priority in my life?
Instead of reminding me to take my 10,000 steps each day – How can I be reminded to pray my 10 minutes a day?
Simple reminders and small changes in behavior can make big changes in my overall well-being physically and spiritually. Since I need prompts and support, I am trying to attach a spiritual devotion or reminder to everyday things.
Here are a few:
Living out your faith every day doesn’t need to be hard or complicated but like my overall physical health, big changes can happen over time with little adjustments on a daily basis. What devices and supports can you put into place to up your game?
May 4, 2015
“Just for Today” meshes the words of the late Pope John XXIII with the imaginative artistry of illustrator Bimba Landmann in a children’s book that will stir the soul and energize people of faith of any age.
Graphically displayed in type meant for young readers on 34 pages across Landmann’s creative scenes, Good Pope John’s 10 ideas for living a better, holier life can become a meaningful morning prayer for young people, especially, for example, first communicants.
As a seven-year-old making his first communion, Angelo Roncalli declared, “I want always to be good to everyone.” When he went on to become pope, the 10 thoughts for daily living that he wrote became well known, valued as much for the humility inherent in them as for the down-to-earth advice they offered.
The daily decalogue of now St. Pope John XXIII is worth finding on the Internet and taping to your bathroom mirror to start your day in a saintly way.
Here is just one example:
“Just for today, I will do at least one thing I do not enjoy, and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.”
It’s another fine edition from the Eerdmans Book for Young Readers collection.
March 23, 2015
One word was all it took to bring me a smile.
I have been on a semi-silent retreat at my sister’s cabin. I say semi-silent because being silent is not something I am good at. I have my phone with me and have made regular calls to my husband, son and daughter. But the purpose, or my hope, in this little excursion was to hear God’s voice. So far all I can hear is my own.
On Sunday I snuck away to a cafe with internet to catch up on some of my social media vices. I hopped on my facebook and messaged a few people. Most of my correspondence was rambling and chatty since I have been out of contact for a while. I messaged a priest friend of mine whom I have known for years and rambled on about my silent retreat and the church up north that I went to Mass at and the retreat center that is up here but I am not staying at and how it would be a great place for a retreat and… Well, you get the picture. You can almost imagine that my fingers were out of breath.
Being a Sunday morning I was surprised that my priest friend replied.
It is sort of their buisiest day!
He replied with one word.
Not hush like a mother would say, but shush like a Father reminding his children and redirecting their attention.
The shush brought me a smile. For one, it was a reminder to redirect my thoughts to God but later that day I reflected on how it made me feel.
The shush brought me a smile because this priest knows me well and knew that I needed that gentle reminder to quiet myself considering my extrovert personality. It also brought my heart a moment of joy to think that this busy priest held me in his thoughts for a moment on a busy Sunday morning. I get these same moments of joy when my husband sends me a text telling me he is thinking of me or a friend remembers a special day.
So if this brought me a moment of joy, why am I having so much trouble feeling the joy of knowing that God holds me in his thoughts always? God knows me and my heart better than anyone.
What was keeping me from hearing God’s voice? Feeling God’s love?
Am I not praying well enough? Is their something I am missing? Has God forgotten me?
Lent is a time for Shush… As we head into this last week before Easter, prepare your hearts and quiet your soul and “Shush” to hear God’s voice.
All we need to do is listen…
December 3, 2014
I have agreed to be a guest writer on facebook for a new organization -Women In the New Evangelization. The acronym is WINE. To my delight, the first time I write the daily post, the daily readings include one of my favorite passages about food and WINE.
Below is my post. If you would like to follow the daily Advent reflections just like us on facebook!
A favorite passage from today’s readings.
On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
A feast of rich food and choice wines! This is what God promises us!
I don’t know about you but I love a party and I love to host parties. Gathering friends around for special moments is a wonderful part of the Christmas season. Parties take preparation and that is what Advent is about – preparing for the feast.
Preparation includes arraigning for and cooking the food. Planning the drinks decorating and making sure everyone has a place to sit. It may require rearranging a room, polishing the silver or plates from a friend. There are centerpieces to think about and…. the list goes on.
I have a friend who has the spiritual gift of hospitality. No matter what is going on in her life, when you enter her home you always feel welcome. It helps that she is an excellent cook! One day she shared with me a secret of her party prep.
She prays for every guest that is coming, she prays for good and enlightening conversation, she prays for all to feel welcomed and loved. Sitting quietly and praying before 6 or 20 people are set to arrive at my house is not something I usually turn to in the frenzy of last minute prep but when I did it, it put my heart in the right place. I focused on my guests and not if my hors d’oeuvres would get a complement or that no one notices the stain in the carpet. Those worries are all wrong because they are focused on me and not on my guests.
This Advent as you prepare for your feasts – add prayer to your party preparation. It is one thing that isn’t mentioned in the Martha Stewart handbook!
December 1, 2014
As we make the transition from Thanksgiving season to Advent, I offer a story that combines both — offering thanks to God and waiting for his blessing. It comes from Father Michael Becker, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul and avid deer hunter. In his own words:
“The first weekend of deer hunting opener, I was stationed in a stand one hour west of Bemidji. I saw a total of 10 small 1-year-old deer at different moments in the morning and late afternoon. The party I hunt with abides by the rule that one never shoots a buck with less than eight points on a full rack, so that the young bucks can grow, and one never shoots a yearling unless you want to be made fun of.
About fifteen minutes after sunset, I decided that I would get on my knees and thank God for the beauty of his creation — the sun, the moon and the stars, the vegetation, the snow on the ground, and all these 1-year old small deer frolicking around the tree line.
It was not but thirty seconds after I knelt down and offered my thanks to God that a larger 2-year-old fork buck trotted past my stand. I saw it head toward the woods 40 yards to my east, and watched it elegantly scope out the territory before heading into the woods.
As I am a guest on Jerry and Bitsy Dehmer’s land, I abide by the same rules they follow, which is again not to shoot any bucks with less than full racks, but to let them grow to full stature. Suddenly, the fork buck took off running at high speed away from the woods. I thought, ‘Wow, there must be a bigger buck in that woods claiming the territory and chasing him away.’
So, I lifted my rifle and got in place, ready to shoot. The next sight was stunning. I watched a 200-pound black bear climb a tree on the edge of the forest like a monkey. I was in awe at how fast it ascended and descended, and realized, ‘One trying to escape a black bear by climbing a tree would never make it.’
Then, it climbed a second tree. I’m not sure what it was looking for, as the trees were barren, but the sight left me in awe. I continued to thank God for his small and great gifts of love.
The second day followed a cold storm, which lifted about midnight, leaving a very bright moon to shine on the landscape. As a result, most deer were out feeding in the night, and no one saw deer in the morning’s hunt. At dusk Sunday evening — and, mind you, I had celebrated Mass the evening before with the whole Dehmer clan — we all went out to our stands, and I took the stand on what is called, ‘Machinery Hill,’ as a few old combining pieces rest on the 15-foot hill overlooking a patch of corn and beans.
Jerry Dehmer, the grandfather and owner of the land, instructed me to go to Machinery Hill because there was more food left in that area for the deer to graze. Internally I wondered, ‘Maybe I should go to another stand in which no one has yet sat,’ but this little interior voice told me, ‘Trust Jerry’s advice.’
You see, Jerry has been hunting and trapping since he was 8 years old. For much of his youth he trapped fox and skunk, selling the hides for money. He is an expert huntsman, who has shot many whitetail deer, elk, antelope, etc. So, I trusted Jerry and went to his recommended stand. One other thing about Jerry and his family: No matter how good the hunt, one always gets out of his stand on Sunday to go to church!
Now sunset was judged to be 4:46 p.m. that evening; thus the final minute to shoot would be 5:16 p.m., which is one half hour after sunset. As in the first day, I saw only small yearlings, but this time 13 of them in different packs. They were cute and playful.
About the last 10 minutes of my hunt, because I could not go out on the second weekend, I decided again to simply thank God for all his gifts of love, in creation, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in the Scriptures, in my family and in friends like the Dehmers, in my vocation as a Catholic priest, and in these 13 small deer who scampered around 20 yards from my stand.
As soon as I completed my prayer of thanksgiving, sure enough, this large buck comes strutting out of the woods. It chased some of the yearlings, only to discover they were not ready for mating, then left a large scrape on the ground under a twig, into which it pressed its facial gland, leaving notice to any does in heat.
Sighting the buck in my scope, I recognized the antlers widened beyond the ears, revealing it to be a fully mature male whitetail deer. My first shot was over the buck, highly unusual for me, but the sound the bullet made in the woods behind him confused his judgment, and thus he stood for another second trying to get his bearings. This gave me the opportunity to lower the rifle and put a bullet through the heart. Upon retrieval, I found that it was a 10-point buck with a beautiful, full body. God is good to the grateful man!”
Congratulations go to Father Becker! I’m sure that made quite a story for dozens of seminarians at SJV. We’ll have to see if that buck makes it to the wall of his office. If it does, it will join two other handsome buck mounts already there.
I think my strategy for next year should include asking Father Becker to bless all of my deer hunting gear, especially my bow and my gun!
November 28, 2014
I have not been a Black Friday shopper ever since I used to work in retail. Although I would go out with the family and grab lunch or look around, it was a rare occasion that I would head out early and brave the crowds while I muscle my way into a store. When our children were little, my husband did head out at 4 a.m. to get a special electronic gift for our son, but in general I have tried to avoid the shopping frenzy. Part of my reasoning to minimized my Black Friday shopping has come from my many years of working in retail and from working on Black Friday. Crazy is even crazier from the other side of the cash register.
The practice if detachment is spiritual practice. Their may be some people who are called to rid themselves of all material goods but detachment is not just about or for those in a religious order. Just as their are different ways to approach our prayer life based on our state of life – we approach the practice of detachment in different ways. The Church teaches that we can serve the Lord and grow in holiness through many ways. But St. Paul also tells us that the Christian engaged in secular activities must inwardly detach from them: “those who have wives should live as though they have none . . . buyers should conduct themselves as if they owned nothing, and those who make use of the world as though they were not using it, for the world as we know it is passing away.” (I Cor 7:29-31)
Detachment is a response to God’s love for us. When you fall in love, everyone else in your life pales beside the beloved. You change your schedule and your priorities.
Putting Paul’s advise from first century Palestine into practice in 21st century America can be tough. Having news reports and ads constantly telling you that you are missing out leave you feeling like you really are missing out but I try to remember that I have enough. Their is this little anxiety thing that happens. It is a cross between feeling like you are missing out because you are not spending money and the fear of not having enough or being enough. This year I am even more apprehensive to fall into the spend just to spend frenzy that happens in theses days after Thanksgiving. Long term financial security is uncertain as I work through my next career move and though I am looking forward to the time off to enjoy the holidays I do have the realization that my life seems to give me time when I have no money.
Sticking to our holiday buying budget is always important but this year we will be trying to put our spending to where it is most important. That may mean that if the must have item is 50% off today only, I will brave the elements to get the deal but work really hard not to fall into buying the impulse item sitting next to it. I am focusing on my time I get to spend with family and recognizing that my time is a gift as I try to be thankful for all I already have.
October 11, 2014
Brittany Maynard’s story was covered in media all over the country. If you haven’t heard, it is the story of a 29 year old woman diagnosed with brain cancer who has decided to take her own life. By all accounts; the news, social media, and the medical community see this as a good thing and the pro-Euthanasia group Compassion and Choices (Formerly the Hemlock Society) is using this press to get more political clout to change the laws in more states to allow for mercy killing. The story painted in these reports is very easy to enter into with misguided compassion. Brittany has been told by experts that her type of cancer is a terrible way to die and she plans to take her own life by a doctor prescribed drug on November 1, just 2 days after her husband’s birthday. The video that accompanies her story contains her testimony as well as that of her husband and parents. It seems they are all in agreement that this is the right thing to do.
As I read this report I know their is something missing in this story. Of course – I could site examples when people have been cured of incurable diseases. I could point out the slippery slope of euthanasia where it has become legal like Belgium where now children of any age can make the choice to be euthanized and diagnoses such as depression can be deemed a medical reason to assist them in suicide. I could point out the lack of understanding about redemptive suffering. A teaching of our faith that very few – even the faithful can understand. Or I could point out how this is selfish to deny others of being with her – and her time left on earth. The open letter by Kara Tippets – herself a woman dying of cancer addresses much of what is missing in this story of Brittany.
We have heard from Brittany’s perspective and her parents and her husband but the story not being told is the story from our Heavenly Father’s point of view. We do not know God’s plan. The hardest words for me to say in the prayer the Our Father is “Thy will be done.” Who is to say that God’s plan doesn’t include a conversion of heart of those around her through caring for Brittany in her last natural hours of life on earth? Who is to say that her life will not have meaning to others? Who is to say that God’s plan and communion with Brittany is finished on this side of the veil? We tend to think our stories are about us but in reality it is the bigger story of God’s great plan that we need to keep in mind. In our small minds we loose sight of God’s larger plan just because we cannot comprehend it. We think because we don’t know why, then it cannot be.
A priest once reminded me that our lives are not about “me and God.” Sure – we need that personal relationship with Christ but our lives and the teaching about our faith is that it is about “US and God.” Our understanding of the Eucharist and heaven is about how we are all together – we move together and when one person is lost it effects us all.
I recently saw a U-Tube video of a group of starlings flying together with perfect accuracy. They moved together as if they are of one mind, as if they are being controlled by something outside of themselves, as if they were being panted on canvas by a great artist. In researching how these birds move I found out that each bird is in communion with six other birds. They interact with those around them to synchronize their movements. Scientists have been able to discern how the birds move together in unison but as of yet, they do not know why. We don’t know why, but it certainly can be.
This image of swarming starlings has become an analogy for me of the Body of Christ. I am not at all surprised that the number of birds bound with each other is seven. Seven- like our seven sacraments that bind us together.
I have little hope that this young woman will change her mind. Many have said, “Let Brittany die with dignity. It is her choice.” But when even one of us falls it effects us all.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31
Take a few moments and contemplate the Body of Christ as you watch this video of starlings swarming. Wonder at God’s great plan.