#WeAreN

Mommy Mantra July 25, 2014: 2 COR 4:7-15, MT 20:20-28

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

Have you seen this symbol lately, maybe on Twitter or Facebook used to replace your friends profile picture, and do you know what it means?

‘N’, or ن in Arabic, is the symbol used by the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) to identify who is a Nazarene – a Christian. It has been drawn on doorways and in front of houses in captured Iraqi cities, allowing militants to quickly assert where the loyalties of the inhabitants lie.  ~Christian Today

If ever there was a time when Scriptures speak to us, for me the reading of today is that time.  On Sunday our Pastor spoke of the war brewing in the Middle East, the war between Israel and Palestine.  But at the same time extremist Sunni Muslim factions drove Christians out of the historic city of Mosul, where members of the faith have lived for the past 2,000 years. They were told to either flee the city, convert to Islam, or pay a tax for the right to be a Christian. Those who refused now risk death “by the sword”. From

Several years ago we had a young man come speak at our Church, selling Christmas ornaments, Advent Wreathes, all made from wood from that area, and women in the village; all in a hope of collecting donations for their Church.   This young man related the trouble they were having with the Sunni in the area, but as Americans, I think we all sat in our pews thinking well it will blow over, don’t worry; wish we had taken this young man more seriously.  Now there are no more Christians in the area, no more Catholics to celebrate the Life of Jesus in the very area where Christ walked.

Jesus asks the mother of the sons of Zebedee who approached him, did him homage, wishing to ask him for something: that her sons be given the seats on Jesus’ right and left.  But Jesus says he can not give them that honour, and asks them instead if  they “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

The former citizens of Mosul are surely drinking of the cup.

Let us pray for all those who are drinking the Cup Jesus offers.

 

Vatican Radio: The voice of the Pope and the Church in dialogue with the World

Mom Blogs today’s parables-Resource Thursday: Mary Lenaburg’s Passionate Perseverance

Today the readings speak of God’s message being presented to the world through Jesus’ parables and Jeremiah’s 2: 1-2:

The word of the LORD came to me: Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear! I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the wilderness, in a land unsown.

The message of God is still being cried out for all of “Jerusalem” to hear.  Many of these messages are coming in the forms of Tweets, Facebook Pages, Instragram uploads, and so on.  I compile much of this information for myself, for my own edification, but thought why not share what I have with you?

I am sharing a blog I feel is a wonderful example of how mothering can be a vocation that changes us profoundly, but how that profound change is ultimately making us strong, compassionate, wise; more than we ever thought we would ever be.  Here is the blog I wish to share The Passionate Perseverance by Mary Lenaburg
She describes herself as:

“…a Catholic blogger limping along the spiritual road somewhere between Holy Hannah and Snarky Sinner. Married twenty-five years to her first (and only) blind date, Mary has two adult children, one of whom has significant special needs. When not dealing with the crisis du jour, she aims to create Parisian-inspired meals on a Walmart budget in her 1968 cramped cottage kitchen, can sew a mostly-straight seam, and has recently learned her green thumb is actually black.
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As she seeks joy among the dirty dishes and laundry piles, she lives a vocation that is one-hundred percent God-given, grace-filled, and exhausting. She thanks God daily for the caffeine and chocolate which keeps her sanity intact and tries to live by the motto, “Be nice to your kids because one day you may need an alibi”. If she’s not snapping photos of her daily life, she’s writing about faith, family, fashion, fiction and crazy days here at Passionate Perseverance.”

What? Me? No Way, I Am Too Young!

Mommy Mantra July 23, 2014: But the LORD answered me,
Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. Jeremiah Chapter 1: 7

That sounds so much like when we learn that we are going to be a mom for the first time. For one split second we say: “I am too young.” But God says “to whomever I send you”, or what ever child I send you, you shall go, become a parent; whatever God commends/what you speak will be how we love our children, raise them well is what we will do.

Have no fear before them. Don’t be afraid to be a strong mom. Because God has delivered us from the childishness of our past to our better nature as a parent.

Sacrificial Prayer is living out your life in imitation of Christ

It’s FYI Wednesday and I have asked fellow Catholic moms for questions that they might have on such topics as motherhood and spirituality, children’s spiritual development, finding time for yourself, or just to learn more about Spiritual Direction; here is the latest question asked by Susan:

Hello! i got a question for weds..how can changing diapers and cleaning house be a form of prayer? How can it be used as a sacrificial prayer and how does sacrificial prayer work?

Oh My Gosh, let me rummage through and find my theologian’s cap!

First a note to the newest moms among us: It is so difficult for young new moms to see the end of the tunnel that is the sleepless nights of infanthood to have time to even think about their spirituality that they should take time to heal and rest.  I think God is hoping that these moms will attend Mass but spend a great of bit of time caring for their newest family member and for the moms to give themselves time to regain mommy momentum.  After they have regained that momentum that is enough time to begin to understand themselves anew as they have become new persons because of motherhood.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of everything you should do should be a form of prayer, it’s based on Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. It is a very Benedictine way of life.  Well, what that means is everything we do from nappies to cleaning the house takes on a sacredness.

Saint Benedict was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia.  He was a young man of his time, but unlike his fellow companions he was more interest in a life of scholarly pursuits.  He became a monk and lived for several years as a hermit, and later created an order of monks whose motto and rule is ora et labora (“pray and work”).

His model for the monastic life was akin to a family, with the abbot as father and all the monks as brothers. Priesthood was not initially an important part of Benedictine monasticism – monks used the services of their local priest. Because of this, almost all the Rule is applicable to communities of women under the authority of an abbess.

The Rule organizes the monastic day into regular periods of communal and private prayer, sleep, spiritual reading, and manual labour – ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus, “that in all [things] God may be glorified” (cf. Rule ch. 57.9). In later centuries, intellectual work and teaching took the place of farming, crafts, or other forms of manual labour for many – if not most – Benedictines

Here are some blogs of moms who have taken Benedict’s rule and applied them to their family life:

A Mother’s Rule of Life A blog by Holly Pierlot in which she blogs exclusively about living Saint Benedict’s rule. She also has quite a nice book and program to go with it.

You shall accept all sufferings with love. Do not be afflicted if your heart often experiences repugnance and dislike for sacrifice. All its power rests in the will, and so these contrary feelings, far from lowering the value of sacrifice in My eyes, will enhance it.

—as told to Saint Faustina, Diary, 1767

As with all things spiritual there is a connectedness.  Seeing all things as subjects to bring to God, working so all things give Glory to God leads us to something we, as mothers, know very well; being selfless.

Now let’s try and tackle Sacrificial Prayer.  Sacrificial Prayer is not the sack cloth and ashes praying that Jesus rebukes in Matthew 6:16-18: When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. How is that important?  I believe it is important because we don’t want others paying more attention to what we are doing than what God does in our lives.  Like ALL things we do when we live out our lives we are showing people who we TRULY are, not just who we say we are; and making a huge show of anything isn’t going to make you look like a good person, in the long run it might just backfire.

What makes up Sacrificial Prayer.

There are several aspects of Sacrificial Prayer.  Let’s begin with the aspect of fasting.  Fasting is no joke, there are very proven psychological and spiritual effects on us when we fast.  First it focuses our minds.  I have had experiences with fasting.  I did a twenty-four hour fast for the intentions of my friends and family.  What happened to me was quite interesting.  At first it was a piece of cake, (I know it’s a pun), for about four hours, but as hungry built, prayer became a way of focusing my mind on what was important.
Secondly, fasting heightens our senses, sharpening our minds, making us awaken to God in a new and important way; without distractions we can now take time to “hear” God.  Here is an excellent post on fasting from the Catholic Education Resource Center

The virtue of Obedience is also part of Sacrificial Prayer.  We are asked to be in full obedience to the Church, but also to our imitation of Christ through our:

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive all injuries
  • Pray for the living and the dead

And because we are imperfect humans our obedience is never going to be full and for those times and for those acts we must ask forgiveness, reuniting us with a God that is over the moon in love with us.

What finally binds all these together is prayer.

Prayer refers to our unceasing communion with divine will. Because our lives belong to God, not to ourselves, we must dwell in God’s presence in every moment of our lives. We must pray constantly for God’s mercy, for nothing else in life has any enduring meaning. And we must pray for the repentance and conversion of anyone who injures or insults us, lest our lives remain stuck in bitterness and vengeance.

Psychological Healing in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Sacrificial Prayer is a combination of living out our life in imitation of Christ, participating in the Mass, obeying the Church, praying and living in a sense of love of other and God.  As mothers our lives reflect Sacrificial Prayer when we understand that caring for our family is an imitation of the Holy Family, imperfectly trying to be as God calls us to be.

Susan, I hope this answers your question, let me know in the comment section below.

Mary Magdalene was transformed by God’s love so are we

Mary Magdalene

Mommy Mantra July 22, 2014:  Micah 7: 14-15, 18-20, John 20: 1-2, 11-18

Today we celebrate Mary Magdalene.  Many use this Gospel to point out that this is a story of Mary Magdalene’s growing and transforming faith.  They point out that she went to the tomb in the earliest of morning hours while it was still dark, saying the symbolism of the early darkness is Mary’s unbelief, further saying that her running away from the tomb was her running from her growing faith, only to have that faith pull her back to seeking for Jesus, finding him she grips onto him hard not wanting to let him go.

Now, I don’t see the Gospel in the same way.  Mary Magdalene  traveled with Jesus, she is mentioned by name 12 times, more than many disciples, and she is the one who stands at the cross as Jesus dies.  This is not the action of a shrinking violet of faith.

In the Gospel of Mark 16, Mary goes to the tomb with three others; they find the tomb empty but they do not run away.  They confront an angel in the tomb and ask after Jesus.

Gospel of Matthew 28 also has the women, this time two, coming to find Jesus gone and have an encounter with an angel who comes to them in an earthquake.  Again both women stay to hear what the angel has said and goes to tell the men the good news.

Gospel of Luke 24 has two other women joining Mary on her way to visit the tomb.  They also encounter an angel, receive the good news and tell it to the disciples.  They are perplexed, but no where do they seem to be afraid of the angel or to hear the news.

In two of the Gospels she does not running away, but standing there, perhaps confused, amazed, afraid, but she is till there.  In the one other Gospel where she does run she doesn’t go far and her reaction is because suddenly she is face to face with an angel who comes in an earthquake and is so dazzling that he looks like lightning, I’d run too!

It’s very interesting John’s take.  His Gospel is said to be written from the perspective of an eye witness account, so is his Gospel closer to what really happened and the others interpret the events according to their audience and their understanding, or need to understand, the message of Christ?   I don’t like seeing Mary Magdalene as weak, fearful.  She is the one that Jesus casts out the seven demons. She is usually thought of as the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is interesting that in Aramaic, “Magdala” means “tower” or “elevated, great, magnificent, because she alone is the first to see Jesus at the Resurrection.

To me her association with Jesus gives her confidence and strength.  She is a woman so transformed by her experience of and association with Jesus that her life is never the same.

Today let’s pray for each others transformation.

What is your true calling?

Spiritual Hero
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You’re a remarkably spiritual soul. The true meaning of your life is defined by your faith and deep connection with God. As you may know already, this road is not a particularly easy one. It’s full of bumps, mountains, and valleys. But you’ve held on long enough, and there’s nothing stopping you from reaching what you’re called to do!

I have taken a few of those many quizzes you find on the web, those quizzes your friends on Facebook have taken and posted their results, or Twitter pals have sent you a link because they thought you might find the quiz fun, and found them interesting.  As someone who had to write surveys in college social work and psychology classes I know that the way they are written helps you, the participate, get the information the survey writer wants, and some insight for you the taker.

This one called “What is your true calling?” had me from the title.  It was purported to help you find your spiritual calling, now I know an internet quiz isn’t the way of going about finding your calling, but I am a sucker for these anyway so I took it. I got “Spiritual Hero“.  I thought it was an interesting type of calling and I began to wonder two things: A. Did it fit me, B. was it compatible with what I know Spiritual Direction to be?

To find out what this all meant I had to  pray for some guidance from the Holy Spirit; something I would recommend to anyone dealing with spiritual/God things. It is always a good idea to put yourself in the positive presence of God because He’s got your back.

Did it fit me?  With these tests you have to take them with a grain of salt, they are just for fun, but still there are some insights.  For me, what struck me was: The true meaning of your life is defined by your faith and deep connection with God. My earliest remembrance of my relationship with God was as a small child.  I would look up at the clouds and imagine God riding them like a great chariot.  And as a young school age child I had always had two sandwiches, one for me, one for my guardian angel.  I loved going to Mass and always felt at home there, loved there, cared for there.  When my dad died, it was my faith that got me through my grief. Faith, especially my Catholic faith, has been a foundation for my life expression.  It is a core value.  So yes this part of the quiz was true to me, but the questions where written so I would get that response, but doesn’t diminish the insight.

Now, how does it fit my thoughts on Spiritual Direction. Well, the title Spiritual Hero makes me a wee bit uncomfortable.  Spiritual Hero is a far too aggressive title for me.  I am not a hero.  I am just a mom trying hard to live my faith, answer my calling, be me, and I am far from prefect which is how I see heroes, right or wrong.  And can I call myself a hero, isn’t that word given to you by others?

But there is something that is part of the quiz that is basic to spiritual direction; that you the director, has been through the peaks and valleys of faith/spirituality, that is what makes a good spiritual director.  It makes you a good director because you have been there, survived it, and can point out the pot holes.

And isn’t that what we want, someone who can guide us from falling into the traps, the holes, down blind alleys, dead ends?

 

Looking at the past to see the future, present

Mommy Mantra: Micah 6:1-4, 6-8 Matthew 12: 38-42
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What do both of these readings have in common? Look into your past to find your future.
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Both Micah and Jesus evoke memories of past events to show the power of God in the present. They were not asking for the people to dwell on past wrongs but to remember the triumphs.
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These readings talk about God’s guidance: Sheba coming to Solomon seeking counsel.
Jonah in the belly of the whale being transformed, Jesus resurrection.
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So. It begs the question: Looking at events of your past where do you see God leading you?
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Let’s pray in support of each other’s calling

Answer Number 2: Jeannie’s Question When Did Jesus Know

Jeannie asks:

Saint Thomas Aquinas

I’ve always been confused about this passage:  “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…..” Luke 9: 23. Did He, (Jesus), know he would be crucified and predict it exactly or did Luke paraphrase His words after the fact?

This is a great question for you to try a Saint Ignatius mediation technique: praying over a scripture/theological question, like the one you ask.

To help you begin let’s look at each of the Gospel writers individually:

  • Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written by a second-generation Christian and Mark’s material was dictated to him by St. Peter, who later compiled it into his, (Mark’s), gospel.  He seems to not be from the area, because much of the geography was wrong, but that does not take away from the importance of the message.
  • The Gospel of Matthew was written by an witness: Matthew himself.  His Gospel was written for Jewish Christians by a Jewish Christian.
  • The Gospel of Luke written by Luke who was an associate of St. Paul but not an eye witness.  Luke was a Christian writing for Christian.
  • As for the Gospel of John is very interesting.  Many scholars believe that the “beloved disciple” is a person who heard and followed Jesus, and the gospel of John is based heavily on the witness of this “beloved disciple.”
Gospel Traditional author and apostolic connection
Gospel of Matthew Saint Matthew, a former tax-collector, one of the Twelve Apostles.
Gospel of Mark Saint Mark, a disciple of Simon Peter, one of the Twelve
Gospel of Luke Saint Luke, a companion of Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles
Gospel of John Saint John, one of the Twelve, referred to in the text as the beloved disciple

If we read the passages before verse 23 we read: “And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must  suffer many things and  be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9: 21-23

Did Luke paraphrase? I don’t think that paraphrase is the right word here.  As Catholics we believe that the writers of the Gospels were guided by the Holy Spirit, had the resources of the oral tradition of the knowledge of those disciples who were in a directed relationship with Jesus and had gone on before them, as well as the teaching of the early church.  Seeing that each writer had a specific audience the wording difference, or paraphrasing, is the choice of the writer to make Jesus’ message clearer, not as an attempt to change the meaning.

Now for the technique. Before you begin take the time to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Imagine yourself in the scene of Luke where he telling his disciples that he will die.  Imagine yourself there.  Imagine you asking a disciple what they think, ask Jesus himself.  Take time to pray over what you experienced.  Then let me know what you come up with, write me a comment, I think many would be interested by what you experience.

References:

Catholic Culture

Catholic Stand

Christian Courier