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.

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?

 

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 

Let Nothing Trouble You

Mommy Mantra July 17, 2014: Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my478230_461454107223096_1494209975_o yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

 

Soul Weary

Thinking more on the Gospel of today I was wondering if the people in the towns of Galilee could have been just a little soul weary?

OMG do I know how Jesus must have felt

Mommy Mantra July 15, 2014 MT 11:20-24
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Jesus is rebuking the towns of Galilee where he preached and did great deeds and those towns did the so what shrug.
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I am sharing what a friend has posted about her experiences of today and I wonder if Jesus wasn’t thinking exactly the same thing when he confront the people of Galilee:

I am so annoyed with everything today. Stupid government websites and error codes; stupid people doing yard work with the most noisy machines possible while (my child) is napping; irritating statements being made by numerous individuals. Can I have a reset button please?

Was Jesus standing in the road pulling his hair out muttering to himself: “Why don’t they get it!”

How many times have we done that?  Stood in our kitchens so frustrated at what is going on in our lives that we want to push the rest button.

But maybe that is what Jesus is asking us to do, push the reset button.

Let’s take the day and look at all the blessings we have gotten. All the answered prayers. All the situations changed, and stay with that for a moment. It will help us all feel better.

It will also awake us to what Jesus has done for us and how much more work there is yet to do to help Jesus in his mission.

The Lie Cross: Sometimes crosses can be forced on you

Watch TV in the last few years and there have been campaign after campaign featuring “real” women.

“Always” has a commercial showing how young women’s views of themselves change from confident preteens who have not bought the hype to young women who did.  It was a Righteous Cause Post of June 30, 2014.

Just a few days ago I read of this: Stop The Beauty Madness As they describe themselves and their campaign:

There is a great groundswell and the numbers are rising daily. We are a new tribe, and we know it is time to take back the streets-OUR streets. We know that begins with lifting our self-esteem, our self-imposed standards of worth, and honoring our deepest truths about what it means to be “enough.”

We are not only working towards this change. We are witnessing this change. We women KNOW we are done with competing, done with comparing, and done with playing the ugly/beauty game. We are waking up from the crazy beauty hypnoses we have been under.

“Dove” did this very evocative video of how we “see” ourselves and how others see us.

What does all this mean?

It means that we as women have forgotten a great truth:  We are Daughters of the Great King.  And we have allowed society to tell us differently.  It’s as if society draped across our shoulders a huge cross as if it were a stole of royalty:  Here you go a cross made just for you; your ugly, worthless, insignificant!  You’re welcome!

It is a cross we as women have allowed ourselves to have placed on our shoulders. It is not a cross we pick up such as illness, or work difficulty, or wondering how to answer our calling; no this is a cross society has said we must have so they can sell us our own beauty back.

It’s a cross I know too well.  I am going to tell you a truth about myself: I hate my growing older self.  There are a lot of reasons that I will blog about, but mostly I feel that being a mom has robbed me of some things and now that my children are growing out of the house as well as gone from the house, I see it as time to try and regain my beauty.

But that is the problem with these types of crosses, they are lies we tell ourselves.

The lie I tell myself is that somehow I am not pretty enough, good enough, woman enough.  I know stunning older women so it’s not age that robs you, it’s you that robs you.  What I mean is we forget, or no longer care about ourselves.  I have allowed the lies in my head about how I see myself to become truths.  I grew heavy because I believed the lie that no-one cared who I was, I was just a mom.  I stopped caring for myself in other ways: How I looked, what I did, my attitude.  All because of the lie: you are just a mom, invisible, “personless”.

The, what I will call the “lie cross”, wants you to believe the lies; because in believing the lies you have to forget to fight for the greater truth, that God has made each one of us beautiful, in his own image.  And that motherhood is a calling of greatness.

A Fresh Start, A New Beginning, A Do Over

Mommy Mantra July 11, 2014: Responsorial Psalm ps 51:3-4, 8-9, 12-13, 14 and 17
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The Responsorial Psalm really spoke to me today. Have you ever felt that way: like what you are hearing at Mass or reading at home is being said directly to you? That is the amazing thing about the Scriptures.
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The words wash, cleanse, clean, create, are the most common words in today’s Psalm. A renewed heart create in me o, Lord. This is a theme for today’s Psalm and it is a recurring theme in Scripture. In fact our Catholic/Christian faith revolves around renewal: Reconciliation, Easter, the Eucharist, the season of Lent.
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Create in me a clean heart o, Lord, a fresh start, a new beginning, a do over. We are never told to dwell in the past once we have asked for that clean heart. No where in today’s Psalm does it say anything about staying focused on all our missed deeds, cruel words, thoughtless actions, because God knows if we do that we can’t stand.
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So today let’s pray for all those moms who are praying for clean hearts, new beginnings. I always keep you all in my thoughts and prayers, please remember me in yours. ~Wilson