Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Mouthpiece of God

Robert Bellarmine has a publication entitled, The Mind's Ascent to God.  Step 14 of the ascent is "On the Consideration of God's Mercy."

Bellarmine talks about how created things can take away some of our miseries; drink can take away thirst, bread can take away hunger, and so forth. He then reminds us that some "miseries" are only curable by God, such as "the snares of the devils" including "error and blindness of mind and of warped conscience, which we do not notice in ourselves."

This is where "support" comes in. This is where I need to have a friend, family member or spiritual director who is willing to say to me, "that seems kind of rash" or "what about your calling?" With their boldness and insight, they hasten the "cure" of which Bellarmine speaks. Such loved ones, such ones who are brave enough to say what they see, are the mouthpiece of God.

It is my nature to be a quick actor, particularly in crisis, I tend to see clearly what I need to do and I set about getting it done. I have good instincts, and usually it pays to follow them, but not all my decisions are sound ones or the best thought out. That's where deconstructing it with someone I trust can be so helpful. They can see the impulsivity, the rashness, or any hardness of heart, that is hidden to me. Likewise, at a time of weakness or faltering, such ones are the ones to give a word of encouragement or offer a prayer. Sometimes that word is enough to help me stand tall.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by those who are willing both to lift me up and to set me straight. It takes courage and an open heart to be the mouthpiece of God. May I also be so for others.

Peace.






Saturday, January 3, 2015

What Manner of Love?


"See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed* we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure."
1 John 3:1-3

It was unbridled joy for me to open my Bible and encounter this reading today. It comes to my mind as an old Sunday School song, "Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us; behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us.  That . .. .we. . . should be called the Sons of God."

"What manner of love," indeed.  How can it be that He has chosen me?  How unworthy I am and yet how filled with unquenchable joy! How undeserving and yet, how it makes me stand erect, how this knowledge fills me with pride! 

What manner of love, indeed, has so lifted and elevated me? What manner of King exalts his servants so? What manner of Savior is also brother and guide and counselor? 

It is indeed only by the fullest description of love that such gifts, such grace is possible. It is the greatest gift of grace and is made even fuller in the promise of the next verse: "What we shall be has not yet been revealed . . we shall be like him."  


Dear Savior Jesus, make it so. Help your humble servant.  This day, this hour, though undeserving, may I be like you. May I strive to be in the present moment in my words and acts. May I stand tall in the knowledge of your grace and love and be equal to the tasks you have set before me.  Help me to know you and to see you in the hands and words and hearts of all I encounter.  May I be in some small part worthy of the name, "Beloved."  In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Gave All - My Part Looks Different

Growing up, I thought I'd be a missionary. Well, actually, at first I thought I'd be a singing nun and a missionary (think Julie Andrews) but my mom discouraged it on the basis that I wasn't Catholic. So I revised my vision to that of a married Protestant missionary.

I combed religious periodicals at the library and wrote down the names of missionary training schools. I schemed ways to raise money. I spoke to every missionary who visited our small church and saved my pennies for missionary causes. I could see myself with my wild-haired, bare-footed children in the wilds of Borneo or Honduras, translating the Bible into indigenous languages. I imagined my bed draped with mosquito netting as I patiently combed the knots out of my daughter's wild mane with a primitive looking comb. I saw myself washing clothes in a river on rocks alongside the locals, my baby tied securely to my back with piece of woven cloth.  I imagined visits home as my children, unused to civilization and with unfamiliar shoes strangling their feet, clung to me with uncertainty in the airports as my family ecstatically embraced my tan, fit self. This, I was certain, was my future.

Instead, I went to a nearby university, dropped out after only a year, earned my "M.R.S. degree" instead and began adult life in the concrete jungle in Houston, Texas. It took me years to stop accusing myself of selling out. I thought the only way I could share my faith was, in short, to sacrifice myself to it.

In truth, there was a lot I did not know about my mission. Throughout my life I have gotten glimpses of my calling, sometimes in crystal clear blasts and sometimes, "as through a glass, darkly." In 1984, I got such a blast and for the first time articulated my calling "to be an advocate for children." In the 30 years since, that calling has woven through my life, manifesting in myriad ways creative enough  to be the handiwork of only the Great Artist. Right now, it is manifest not only in the raising of my beautiful family but in my work with Special Ed kids in a Functional Communication Classroom.

But I digress. On Sunday, all of this came tumbling back to me as Father Uche reminded us that we know not what the future holds, but each of us has a mission and it is ours -- and ours alone -- to say YES to. For some that looks like being an alter server, for some it is a lean-to in the wilds of Borneo. I think about soldiers, giving all. I think about doctors fighting Ebola at the cost of their lives. I think (and think and think) about martyrs and saints and Mother Teresa and oh yes, I do wish I was more like her!

For some, it is dramatic and public and heroic. For me, it seems to be less so.  I don't know if I will be called on to give my life for my faith and ideals;  I like to think I would in fact do so willingly and joyfully, but honestly, I don't know. I do know that for now, my call is to  live out the gospel --in a way that is hopefully both evoking and inviting --while advocating for children. It's certainly not easy, but it's not complicated either.  It living life purposefully day by day, moment by moment, all the while praying that the "good" is outweighing the "bad" often enough to make a difference.

May God give me the grace to do just that.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Formula One and Giving

Dear Friends:

Here is a chance for you to "give back." If you volunteer, you will doubtless run into my dear hubby.

--------------------------
The Knights of Columbus Chapter in the Diocese of Austin has an excellent opportunity to raise funds

for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin Office of Pro-Life Activities and Chaste Living. They need your

help.

Sodexo, the food Vendor for the Circuit Of the Americas (COTA), has generously offered the chance to

staff some of their concession stands for the Formula One Race. In return they will be making a lot of

money for Pro Life. If we do a good job, more opportunities with them will come our way.

We need contact information for 450 volunteers by 8/29/2014


These funds are being donated to our Diocese Office of Pro Life and Chaste Living. This office supports a

myriad of ministries in the Austin Diocese; Project Rachael, Sidewalk Ministries, Gabriel Project, Pro-Life

Helpline, Natural Family Planning, Catechesis on Human Love Certification the UT. Party for Life, Texas

Catholic Pro Life Day, the Coordination of Parish Pro-Life Committees, Culture of Life Speakers Bureau,

and much more.

Could you please send your contact information to austinknightsf1@gmail.com, or call/text (512) 387-

0337 right away. Please let us know which of the 3 days you can work. If you can work all three, that

would be great!!

The Formula One race is in October 31st, November 1st & 2nd. You can work any or all of the 3 days.

Our shift will start around 4:00 am, with most going home at 7 pm, though some of us will be going

home around 8 Pm. All are encouraged to obtain their TABC License. This can be received online for

$12.00. It takes approximately 2 hours online. See link.


There is also a Mandatory Food Certification Required.

http://texasfoodsafetytraining.com/product/5-austin-food-handler-card-city-of-austin-registration/


Volunteers must be at least 15 years old. You must be at least 18 years old to sell alcohol (with a TABC

license, of course).


Most will work in the food stands, which also sells alcohol. A few will work in the beverage stands.

Parking, breakfast & lunch will be provided. There will also be breaks during the day. Of course, there

will be no entry charge.

God Bless You and Yours,

Knights of Columbus

Monday, May 12, 2014

For Anyone Struggling as I Am . . .

I have been quiet here of late, a sign that I have been struggling, faith-wise. I have one child who was just confirmed and is for the first time truly developing her life of faith, and another who has turned away from her faith.

This has left me wavering in the gap. My hubby is often resistant to going to church, it's a pain with the little ones and we are way, way too busy with ball. Ball is coming to an end this week for all but Sunshine, so that will help. Really, though, what is needed is my own resolve. I am being tested on many fronts and frankly, failing.

I've often wondered how I would have stacked up to the early Christians, who were tested at every turn and under constant threat of torture and death for living their faith. I am grateful for the privileges I have as an American; I am free to worship as I choose. 

Nonetheless, I totally forgot Mass yesterday. No, I'm not kidding. Our routine was weird because Dear Hubby was out of town (a very rare occurrence) and Pepper was cooking me Mother's Day breakfast. On Saturday, I'd gone to bed with a vague thought of going to 9:30 or 11:30, depending on breakfast timing. On Sunday, my mind was a blank. I remembered around 5:00 when I was helping Pepper get dinner started and it was almost time for my MIL to come over and also too late for Sunday evening Mass.

I therefore woke up today accusing myself of being a failure. I am so disappointed in  myself in this fourth week of Easter. Yet as I sat here, reading the readings and listening to my Mother's Day gift of Angels and Saints at Ephesus, I had to take heart. I remembered one of my memory verses from long ago, this from Second Timothy, 2:11-13:

This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him;

if we perservere
we shall also reign with him;
But if we deny him
he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful
He remains faithful,
For he cannot deny himself.

If you are likewise struggling, dear friends, take heart. We stand at the crossroads of Grace and Mercy. The only wrong turn now is to leave the road.

God is not dead. He has risen as He said and remains faithful. The Good Shepherd longs for us to return and reside in his heart of hearts. May God bless us all in this Fourth Week of Easter and may the angels and saints indeed intercede on our behalf to hasten our return to his good and loving arms.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Persevering

I may have mentioned that my new favorite blog is "Mama Knows, Honeychild." I just love it. She's quite funny, but also most inspirational.

So if you are finding it hard to persevere in whatever impossible/crazy/weird/unseemly/impractical goal/Lenten Sacrifice/New Year's Resolution you have set for yourself, run, do not walk to this post by Mama Knows.

I know, I am very behind on my blog reading. This one is actually from July of last year. But do not let that dissuade you.  This is me before I read this post:

(This will all make sense to you after you read Mama Knows' blog)


and this is me AFTER I read it.



You know you need some inspiring. Go.  No really, go. Now!









Are you still here? GO!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Measure with Which I Measure

Today as I sat down to peruse the readings, I encountered one of my favorite -- and most challenging -- passages in the gospel. This text on mercy fits my new year's "mercy theme" and lives where I do.

It is helpful to be reminded that living with forgiveness really isn't enough. The state of mercy is not only a reactive state. Mercy is also proactive. It is not enough to forgive those who have "wronged me," I am called to "love your (my) enemies" and "pray for those who persecute you (me)." It gets tougher: I am called to "offer no resistance to one who is evil."

Even in Leviticus, we the faithful were exhorted to "bear no hatred" for our brother and sister; and of course to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

There is a parallel to today's gospel from Matthew in Luke (6:27-38) and I have always particularly loved this ending section of the passage:

Give and gifts will be given to you; 
A good measure, packed down, shaken together and overflowing
will be poured into your lap; 
For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. (6:38)

It's such a hopeful passage! Give and it will be given to you! And so easy to forget the instructions that come before it: Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, judge not, lest you be judged.

What is the "measure" with which I measure? Is it a measure of generosity? Is it a measure of forgiveness? Is is a measure of proactive mercy?

That is surely the measure I need poured into my lap, one of generosity and non-judgmental-ism and
forgiveness. Food for thought!

I'll let Mother Theresa finish the thought: