This is cow

Fellow moms, did you ever play a game where you made believe that your children’s dolls, stuffed animals were “real”?

When our twinnies where in Kindergarten to second grade while they were at school I would arrange their favourite dolls so that they looked like they were reading books, or playing jacks with each other, or colouring quietly on the floor.  Just recently our youngest twinnie confessed to me that that would “freak her out”.  As a young girl she had come to believe that her dolls were alive and would listen at the door to see if they would be talking to each other or moving around, if she heard nothing she would go in; but then she worried that they were laying in wait for her.

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The infamous Cow

But our other daughter, the eldest twin, she loved it!  Well, just recently our eldest twinnie has brought that early tradition back with Cow.  Here is Cow —->.

A few days ago I found Cow on my computer in my office, then at my place at the dining room table, so I put cow by our eldest’s college textbooks as if she was reading them, then put our daughter’s hat on Cow. This morning I found Cow in the pocket of my coat as I was searching for my keys as I was out the door for Mass.

It made me smile to pull Cow out as I muttered to myself: “What is this!”

This got me to thinking, being Lent and all and seeing that as a spiritual director my mind will just go this way, of the spiritual about this little game.

Each time we play this game we are forced to seek Cow out; as we are called to seek God out.  Cow is hidden from our view, we have no idea where Cow is or where Cow will “pop” up, so it is a mystery. Just as God is a mystery in our lives and we have no “real” idea where He will pop up.

But when we find Him, when we pull Him out of His ever present “hiding place”, that place right before our eyes; aren’t we pleased when that happens?  Don’t we exclaim in wondered tones: “What is this!  Oh, its God!”

The Gremlins of the soul

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fellow mom how has your day begun?  I wish I had spent more time in bed sleeping well than just sleeping.  I stayed up way too late out of sheer rebellion and this morning I am paying for that.  But it is like Father said at morning Mass: Lent is a time to move forward not be stuck in the past.  It’s a time to fight the spiritual gremlins.  The readings today speaks of that fight.  Jonah going to Nineveh and transforming the whole city down to the animals, and Jesus referring to that very story when describing this generation as an evil generation

I love the Rector at the Cathedral!  He said that we were not to read these words as Jesus pointing fingers and saying to each of us: “you wicked person”, no.  Jesus was reminding each of us that EVERY generation has to deal with evil.  What popped into my mind was the movie Gremlins.  In the movie you were not to feed the cute little mogwai, (per-sin state) after midnight, (nagging of the devil), or it would turn into a nasty, nasty gremlin.

Lent is about fighting those spiritual gremlins.  When our children were little I wanted them to have more control over their emotional states, to use emotions in strength, not having them be controlled by their emotions.  So when they would begin to whine I would say to them: “Oh honey, I am so sorry but whining time is over!”  They would look at me as if to say: “OK, there must be a time to whine but its not now.” Every once in a while I would announce that whining time was now and if they had anything to whine about this was the time to do it.  Never once did the children have anything to whine about.

I introduced the boys to Angry Bear as a visual to controlling their anger.  The bear would grow as their anger grew and the object was to show us, mom and dad, where angry bear was and how we could make him a cuddly cub again.

For the girls the Harry Potter series was just becoming available and they were at an age when some of the concepts like Dementors, (devil trying to take away our joy and replace with sin and sorrow), and how we could combat, pray, thinking of a pleasure thing, AND a helpful person who can protect you, (Jesus, Guardian Angel, Mom, Dad) were being introduced. (I know moms, there are some of you who say that Harry Porter is about witchcraft so therefore is sinful, but I look to Saint John Paul II who loved the books and found them to be a source of spiritual goodness, and I felt good about having the children read them.)

Now we are dealing with very early adults/late teens and adult children.  For our adult boys, the tools have become crystallized.  For our twinnie girls, there is still work to be done.  Sometimes you have to say to yourself: “Alright, enough already!  get the gremlins, dementors, angry bears under control, or they are going to control you!”

 

Road to Perdition

One thing I feel called to do in my own life, is to stop thinking of per-teens and teens as somehow on the road to Perdition. I/We must start to see everyone…as Christ did/does/and tells us to. I am thinking of my work with moms of teens/preteens going through hard times. These moms see themselves in a long dark tunnel and the light at the end, what light? For them days can seem like a long series of frustration, guilt and despair. the very common mantra is: “Where/What did I go wrong/did I do wrong. These can intellectualize that every child has been given by God gifts and talents that are to be a benefit to His people; but for right now they are doing their best to keep their preteen/teen emotionally-spiritually healthy. Thinking of the future is so far off it might as well be centuries from now.

Right now these gifts and talents are hidden under issues that have come to surface, but as they work on what God is calling them to do; their gifts and talents will shine through. I deal with moms of these trouble kids, and I tell them that the pain their child is going is going to be changed by God into wisdom. I tell these moms that their own pain has been changed into compassion, wisdom and emotional-spiritual strength. But these changes must come with the attitude of Christ: positive, compassionate, wise.

Why I love Pope Francis

Dear Pope Francis:

Thank you for bringing compassion, love and Christ-likeness to my beloved Catholic Church.  Thank you for being the type of Pope who does not want to live in the Papal Palace, but chooses a simple Roman apartment block.  Thank you for wanting to go out and walk among your people to get to know them, and what they truly need.  Thank you for washing the feet of troubled teen-agers.  Thank you for embracing that disfigured man.  Thank you.

Your actions are showing the whole world how to live as Christ asks us, thank you.  Thank you for shaking the Bishops, Cardinals, all the Clergy awake.  Thank you for demanding that they no longer live the letter of the law to the point where they loose sight of the people they serve.  They Serve!

Thank you Pope Francis for seeing us, your flock, as people who hurt and need healing.  As people lost who need to be guided home.  As people without hope and are struggling.  That we need a Catholic Church that will not just preach to us of our faults, believe us we know our faults, but one that wants us all back no matter who we are.  After all didn’t Jesus CHOOSE to be with the greatly hated of his time?

Pope Francis, thank you, for reminding the Clergy that if they keep acting like the Pharisees, all rules no compassion, there won’t be a Church to guide!

Thank you Pope Francis for loving Christ more than the role you have assumed.

“Get over yourself, God Needs You!”

Sunday was the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Gospel reading was of the Canaanite 397459_191907174296663_142689242_nwoman with an ill daughter.  Now, what was so interesting about this Sunday, was that I was at a church that is far more conservative than I am. I seldom go to this church for Mass because I find that the spiritual conservationism can make me quite upset, and I hate being upset in Mass.

I remember expressing this opinion to my eldest son, and he said something insightful, he said: “Mom, the priest isn’t here to make you happy, he is here to make you think.”  Fair enough. This Sunday what the pastor was saying sounded about as far away from good thinking as anyone can get, it was fire and brimstone which, as far as I am concerned, does not nothing but set up a vicious cycle of spiritual condemnation and worthlessness.

Father equated the “evil one” with the Gospel, for me it was a huge leap, but he forced it to work.  Now here is where I have a problem with what he said.

First off, why are we calling the devil the “evil one“? Why give the devil more power by making the use of his name a talisman.  If we begin to the fear the name we increase the fear and therefore the power of the devil, we give power to the devil.  We have in essence, by increasing our fear, opened ourselves to the devil.  Doesn’t the devil work through fear?

Secondly, isn’t it true that Christ rebuked the devil and therefore gave us the same power? After all in an exorcism this very power is used to rebuke and turn away the devil.  We can not rebuke and turn away Christ, we can reject him but not rebuke him.  If this  is true, who has the greater power: Christ or the devil; Christ of course.

Thirdly, the devil is a rebellious angel, who thrives on crisis of faith, deals in death of soul, mind and spirit,  corrupts positive individualism, (God’s creation of us as individuals with gifts and talents which we use in our mission with Christ-Baptism), distorts free will,  and brings destruction to life, spirituality and emotion.

The devil works through man, is invited by man, creates in man a nature of hate; so why does Father seem to be saying that we have no power over the devil?   Does it make sense that we throw our hands up in the air and say: “Well, we can’t do anything about it the devil is too powerful!”  That can be what you take away from what Father was saying.  Evil in the middle east, Ferguson, Mo, nothing we can do about it all the devil’s fault!  Really, Father, really!

All Christians have the authority to bind evil spirits in Christ’s name (Mk, 16:17)

I for one  believe in Christ and put on the full armor of Christ!  There is a great article by Maximilian “Catholic Tools” Kolbe on the very subject of binding spirits/the devil.  Here is an excerpt:

This may sound outlandish or even like you might not have any authority to say these words.  But these simple words are extremely powerful.

For example how many times have you received communion and never felt like anything happened.  If we truly knew what we are receiving than how much greater would we prepare for Mass and how much more would that Mass effect our life.  In the same sense just because these words might not elicit a big theatrical scene, they still wage war against the Devil.

All Christians have the authority to bind evil spirits in Christ’s name (Mk, 16:17).  Binding an evil spirit is using the Authority of Jesus Christ and His power to make the evil spirit stop what ever it is doing and not to make any further progress.  It is silencing the spirit.  Rebuking is taking authority over the evil spirit and stopping it, too.

When you command in the name of Jesus Christ you are telling the spirit to be disposed of by Jesus.  One is not doing any of this with their own power, but the power of Jesus Christ. More of the article here 

So, now we come to evil in the world. If you have the attitude of oh well can’t do anything the devil is in the world; than what’s going to stop you from giving up spiritually?  Don’t/aren’t we seeing that everyday when people say things like: “Oh it’s too big a problem for me.”  “The world is going to hell in a hand-basket.” “What can I do, I’m only one person!”

As our pastor always tells us when we think the same things, he reminds us of what his spiritual director tells him: “Get over yourself, God Needs You!”

What can you do? Pray.  Work toward a righteous cause.  Educate yourself on the problem.  Write your congress person.  We want change right now, ain’t  gonna happen.  We have to work for change and when the change comes work to keep it.

It’s too big for you, maybe but how ’bout a group of you?

Hand-basket and hell, only if we give up.

So, here’s the question: You going to give up?

 

 

Comparing and Contrasting Pope Francis 10 Tips to Happiness

Stuart Heritage of the Guardian takes exception with what he feels is Pope Francis’ pop psychology approach to the bigger questions of the world. He sees Pope Francis as trying to get in tune with his inner Deepak Chopra as a way of making traditional organized religion more “believer friendly.” To Mr. Heritage the Pope’s 10 tips in the Argentinian magazine are hopelessly bland, lightweight and more of a no-brainer.    For him, Popes are men who scream OBEY ME with “thundering eyes” and for Pope Francis to offer up these tips he is somehow not speaking to the important heavier issues.  But if you look closely at his list of ten, they do revolve around very important issues: The connection of one human being to another.

Mr. Heritage maybe feels this way because he is so “unfussed about religion that I can’t even get it together enough to be properly atheist”, and so doesn’t really care one way or another, but Pope Francis has done much for Catholics in the few years he has been Pope.  He has reminded us that we are beloved of God, and because of that we should treat each other as the brothers and sisters we are.

1) “Live and let live”

The first step to peace and happiness, said Francis, is following the ancient advice of the Romans: Campa e fascia campà, or, “live and let live.” This advice is an echo of his now famous “Who am I to judge?” line, which was spoken in the context of his view that the Church should not “interfere spiritually” in the life of any person, gay or straight.

2) “Be giving of yourself to others”

This advice isn’t surprising coming from Francis, who has often admonished Catholic ministers and laypersons alike to live charitably toward all. Some of Francis’ most well-known comments have to do with his philosophy of economics, which places a special emphasis or “preference” on the poor. Francis also thinks charity extends beyond money, and includes giving one’s time to someone who needs it. No matter how it’s done, Francis advises against withdrawing into oneself, since that runs the risk of stagnation. And as he put is, “stagnant water is the first to be corrupted.”

3) “Move quietly”

For his third bit of advice, Francis cited the novel Don Segundo Sombra, which was written by the Argentine novelist Ricardo Güiraldes. The book, according to the National Catholic Register, follows the journey of its protagonist, who, in his youth “was a rocky stream that ran over everything, but as he became older, he was a running river and in old age was quietly peaceful.” Francis’ advice is to be more like the older protagonist, moving calmly and slowly through life. The theme of stillness is an aspect of Ignatian spirituality, which Francis, as a Jesuit, has been trained in.

4) Have a healthy sense of leisure

“Consumerism has brought us many anxieties,” said Francis, who has often spoken out against what he sees as the negative effects of capitalism. Francis said that in Argentina, he’d often take mothers off guard by asking them how often they played with their children. It’s hard to make time to play, and to enjoy art and literature, but “it must be done,” he said. This advice echoes a passage from his book Pope Francis: His Life is His Words: “people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.”

5) “Sunday is for family”

Following up on #4, Francis said that once a week, people should take a break from their work lives to spend time with their families. Francis has often spoken highly of the family unit. For example, in a radio interview, he said the concept of family is “necessary for the survival of humanity.” Although Francis has gone on record saying that marriage in a religious sense is limited to heterosexuals, he has also suggestedthat he is open to considering non-traditional forms of marriage. The concept of resting once a week from work is an important one in both Jewish and Christian theology, and is actually one of the 10 Commandments.

6) Find ways to make jobs for young people

Francis noted that the rate of drug use and suicide is high among unemployed people under 25. That crisis, he said, requires us to be creative with helping them find work. For Francis, jobs don’t only give a person money — they give her dignity. In a homily last May, the Pope said, “Power, money, culture do not give us dignity. Work, honest work, gives us dignity.”

7) Respect nature

This one isn’t surprising, either. Francis has discussed environmental concerns before in homilies. And according to the National Catholic Register, he is currently working on various writings about ecology that will “draw attention to the connection between environmental problems and poverty.” In one of his more provocative turns of phrase during his interview with Calvo, Francis had this to say about our “degradation” of the environment: “Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?”

8) “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy”

Joy is one of the hallmarks of Francis’ theology. No surprise, then, that one of his secrets to happiness evolves shunning negativity. Francis made headlines earlier this year for including a curious word choice in his first apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. In paragraph 85 he wrote, “One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, sourpusses.” Instead of talking about others who frustrate us, Francis advises that it’s healthy to let negative things pass quickly and quietly.

9) Stop proselytizing

Yes, you read that right. Francis’ recipe for happiness includes cooling it with the aggressive conversion tactics. “The worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes,” he said. To Francis, we shouldn’t talk with others with the sole goal of persuading them that we’re right. Each person, he said, sees the world in his or her own way, and that should be respected. Besides, he thinks that ultimately people will join the Catholic Church if they are attracted to it, not if they are argued into it.

10) Work for peace

Francis hasn’t shied away from commenting on international crises. Earlier this week, while addressing the conflict in the Middle East, Francis put out an impassioned plea for the violence to stop: “I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please!” In the past, he’s also advocated for those displaced by conflict, and praised those countries, like Sweden, who have taken steps to make things easier for refugees. Francis said that working for peace must be proactive, and never quiet: “Peace is the language we must speak.”

Today let’s get unstuck

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Get your act together

Mommy Mantra July 18, 2014: IS 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8, MT 12:1-8
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In the reading this morning King Hezekiah is told to get his house in order before he dies, and the Gospel sees Jesus challenging the Pharisees about the letter of the Law.
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These seem so disconnected but I see a thread. We have King Hezekiah, who when faced with death pleads for more life. God hears and answers the pray but warns Hezekiah not to waste the opportunity given; get some things that have gummed up your spiritual-emotional life out of your life. He doesn’t do that. Like many of us he sees the chance and acts like the school boy given more recess only if he hit erasers, he hits them for a second but if off to the playground.
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In the Gospel just yesterday Jesus says for us to pick up his yoke, don’t worry be happy, and follow him. Now he adds that we shouldn’t be worried about the letter of the law, but our actions.
I bet we all know people who have said yeah (!) that’s what needs to be done, but are still stuck in law. I bet WE have done that.
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Like Hezekiah we think for a while about the gift we have been given, even do some things to forward that gift but…..
We hear Jesus tell us over and over again how much more spiritually-emotionally unburden we would be if we just let go of some of the things that are holding us back. We do some unburdening but……
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Today let’s get unstuck.

Can we surrender

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Our Church, we sit on the left hand side

Our family often sits in the side pews of our church which means we look across to other pews on the opposite side. There is a young man who brings his adorable little boy to Mass.
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This morning’s Mass his little boy was tired and fussy, and the young Dad did everything to keep him comfortable and content. The little boy finally found himself on his fathers chest sleeping peacefully, and I was suddenly brought to mind of Joseph caring for the baby Jesus.
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This sweet little boy felt so safe, so loved that he could give up the control of being awake to the surrender of sleep on his father’s chest. Can we do the same? Can we give up our control to the surrender of God’s care?

Video: I’m a spiritual director

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This the first video for Spiritual Lives Of Women.  I am using these animations to bring an other aspect to the ministry.  It is my hope that I can begin to broadcast an every Wednesday a Q &  A video.

Thomas isn’t doubting, he is doing what we all must do

Mommy Mantra July 3, 2014: Feast of Saint Thomas It would be just too easy to write on doubt, but today I feel called to write about Jesus’ response: “Peace be with you.”

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Oh Lord, do I wish I could react to “surprising” parenting situations like that! In all the parenting classes I have taken, and taught, over the years the basic concept is the same: gentleness rules out over an overly emotional response.

When I think about Thomas and Jesus’ interaction, Thomas was demanding to be shown like our toddlers and teens do. Thomas needed to investigate, learn for himself just like our school aged children and young adult children do.
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Jesus doesn’t stand there doing the frustrated parent eye roll; he invites Thomas to quell his fears. When our toddlers run and hide behind us and venture out again, they are using us as a touchstone to help quell their fear of the big bad world. A world they don’t have the experience to understand. When our school aged children want to master a new skill they look to us for support to quell their fear of failure.
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When our teens do things that try a mother’s heart, they are like they were as toddlers, reaching out from between the boundaries of behind our knees to explore a world they feel they have mastered but truly haven’t. They need us more than ever to quell their fears.
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It’s too easy to say Thomas was doubting. Thomas is doing what we all must do with our faith: explore, question, investigate, understand for ourselves. Today let’s prayer to support each other as we see Thomas in ourselves and our children. Let’s strive to say to ourselves and our children: “Peace be with you”, and to hear Jesus saying it to us.