Isn’t it easier for us to confront, question, have a deep conversation with someone we know so intimately?

Mommy Mantra July 29, 2014: Memorial of Saint Martha
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If you read the first few verses of Jer 14:17-22: “Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest…” In the first reading Jeremiah laments over the sins of Israel and worries that God has abandoned the nation.
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JN 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42 are the options for the Gospel today. Both of them are stories of Martha and Mary. The first relates the death of Lazarus and how Jesus raises his dear friend from the dead, and the second of how Mary gets all the pleasure of spending time with Jesus while Mary has done all the work.
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Doesn’t it sound like life of a mom. We mourn over troubles, situations, and trails of mothering. Haven’t we all lost beloved family members and wish they could be with us on more time? For us as moms, especially those of us who have lost our mothers, we want our greatest supporter, source of wisdom, source of love with us once more to give us the strength we need.
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And the story of Martha missing spending time with Jesus that is in Luke, isn’t that something we have felt ourself: I have kids now and no time for God.
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Today we remember Saint Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, we understand Martha because she, like us, is an “ordinary” woman, maybe a mom we don’t know, seeking God during her life. We can relate to her because she asks Jesus how fair is it that he wasn’t there when her brother died and when Mary gets to enjoy her time when Martha has to do it all.
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She is a fearless woman being able to confront Jesus with questions of personal justice. She is fearless because she has a very intimate personal relationship with Jesus. Isn’t it easier for us to confront, question, have a deep conversation with someone we know so intimately?
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Today let’s pray for such a comfortable intimate relationship with Jesus that we can ask those “what the what” questions and demand satisfaction.

Sweetheart, fellow mom, you are not alone

Righteous Cause Monday.

10479750_770483182974897_5370651985988896174_nI found this on my Facebook feed about a young mom who wanted to quit being a mom, a blog post from the website “Finding Joy”.

Sweetheart, fellow mom, you are not alone, we, moms of older children, feel your pain, understand your pain, had lived your pain, and survived/thrived and grown as women and people in ways that not being a mom would have given us.  We, moms of older children, know how mothering can feel like you are standing in the tunnel and you see NO LIGHT at the end.  The end is near, just hang in there.

We, moms of older children remember those early days.  It is so easy to be lost in the endless late nights of breastfeeding infants, not getting the sleep you need, constant nappy changes, and laundry that feels like Mount Everest.  It takes a huge toll on you, after a while all that exhaustion can make you feel person-less. Hang in there my dear heart. Please ask for help. Please ask for friends/family to give you a break so you can recharge, get much needed rest.

We, mom who have been there, love you, want you to hold on.  We understand the struggle of toddlers and young children as the role of hormones and self discovery starts to create conflict between you and that lovely little baby you were just beginning to understand.  It feels as if you are starting over, in a way you are, hang in there.  Find support for those times, joining with other moms in the same struggle can give you much needed support and wisdom, creating life long friendships.  There is a reason TV shows like Super Nanny or American Nanny are popular, there is no manual we receive at our babies birth that explain how to be a parent. There are resources to help you become the mom you want to be.  But please I beg you don’t fall into the perfection trap; we, no matter how much we want to, we will never create prefect children, prefect home, perfect life.  We can only create the best life, a better life.

As your children become school aged you have finally a feeling of confidence much earned by all you have learned, survived, created that works for your children, your family.  During this time you may find your child needs help with learning or being, but you now have strength to deal with it.  You will have good friends, good support, more understanding of yourself, your child, your world.

Please know that tweens and teens are again like toddlers.  Again you will face children who want fierce independence, please do not lose heart if things get rough, they will get better as your children mature.
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 “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain

Some things very few will tell you.  There will be great days, months, years, things will be wonderful.994950_10152013871048352_209180184_n  Keep those days in your heart.   They will come in handy when things get touch, they will help you staying in love with mothering, your family, your spouse, at moments when it looks like you are in that early tunnel again.  People will “advice” you on how to raise your children, trust your heart.  As I often say, my mouth is bloody because I was biting my tongue to keep from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, trust your knowledge of your children to know how to treat difficult times.  There will be times when you will make mistakes, where you feel like just waking up will be wrong; but know love and forgiveness will work wonders.

Know my dear fellow young mom that you are loved and supported.  here are moms all over the world thinking good thoughts for you, saying prayers, sending blessings; we are all in the same boat and want to be a help if you need it.

Prayers for you.

Blessings

Spiritual Question to Ponder: Valued Reason

Yesterday’s Gospel Jesus speaks for the merchant who sells everything to buy the great pearl, the farmer who finds treasure in a field who also sells everything to buy it, and the fishermen who hauled in every type of fish and works to provide the best, every example of someone who gives up everything they had to obtain the greater prize.

How many of us say: “I would give anything for_____________.”  Often these types of questions are flippant.  I wold give anything for a cool drink, said on a hot day.  I would give anything for you kids to be quiet, said by a mom in desperate need for some quiet time.

In this Sunday’s Gospel that question of “I would give anything for” was said by those who see the great benefit of the pearl, the field, haul of expensive fish, and that value was well known: I would give anything to know Jesus, obtain the Kingdom, be a better a person.

So, what is your: I would give anything.

Leave it in the comments below

#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.