Solidarity February 26, 2014

12509223_10153548787927632_3486538030755249571_nKatniss Everdeen holds up her hand to show solidarity.  Look at her fingers: three fingers – the Trinity.

It makes using this picture poetic.  By standing with other moms in prayer is to stand in solidarity with them.  It is one important way to help moms feel less spiritually isolated, overcome, overburdened.

There are very busy mom’s who fall into several categories:

  • Moms  who fall in the “OMG how did I get to be this busy” category.
  • Moms who chauffeur their little guys to games.
  • Older moms who are wrangling teens and working to keep body and soul alive.
  • And the category I believe all moms fall into, the: If I add one more thing to my schedule Lord I will explode!

Starting this Friday  let us lift each other up, ask St Rita of Cascia, (an Italian widow, and Augustinian nun) to stand with us and pray with us.

If you are comfortable let us know what you need, feel free to just say special intentions, God knows what you/we need.

 

We, like Mary bear, the Divine

12400617_10154554734621632_4259838348387258692_nContinuing with the Lenten theme of seeing Motherhood from a different perspective, let’s consider this picture on the left.

Women are created to bear children.  As women we have a very important role in salvation. We are baptised  as Priest = Nurturer, Prophet = Teacher, Queen = Minister of Home with each of these roles challenging us to live lives of service, generosity and kindness, of patience and guidance.1

We are are given certain gifts and talents from God, and we have a responsibility to put them into the service of others.  These gifts combined with the baptismal roles are given to us  because we are important to the mission of God’s plan for salvation.  Throughout the Bible, God has valued, pursued, and honored women, in a time period where women were treated as second-class citizens. Jesus pursued the woman at the well, He loved his mother dearly, and He healed the bleeding woman. God even gave women the highest honor in allowing them to be the first to see the resurrected Christ. We must first understand that all women are very precious to Him and then, regardless of our relation to them, we will treat them in a way that makes them feel valued and points them to Jesus. New Spring  This is certainly true of Mary who is described by her Son that God found her “Highly Favoured.” She is thought of in the Orthodox Catholic Church as “Theotokos“, or “God-Bearer” (Mother of God).  If God did not think that women/mothers were important why would He have Mary involved in such a Divine plan?  Mary is the New Eve. Her Yes cancels out what Eve had done.  So, with all that can’t we think of ourself as important and not reduce our role by seeing ourselves as less than men.  We are different and just as important.  Don’t we, because of our birth, have the Divine spark within us?  Wasn’t Mary, born without sin, also born having the Divine spark, as well as carrying the Divine Presence?

Let’s look at motherhood.  Mary as Mother of Christ is an example for us of the importance of motherhood.   “It was at the Wedding at Cana that Mary is instrumental.  Prompted by her merciful heart” to help this family by bringing her concern for them to Jesus: “Having sensed the eventual disappointment of the newly married couple and guests because of the lack of wine, the Blessed Virgin compassionately suggested to Jesus that he intervene with his messianic power.” Saint Pope John Paul II

She is a strong mom trying to keep her son out of trouble.  She went off to seek Jesus when he disappeared from the family and being found in the Temple reprimanded him. As Jesus’ ministry comes to it’s apex she travels to  Capernaum because of what was being reported about Jesus and that scene appears to be one where Mary wants to protect Jesus from getting himself in trouble with the leaders. John 2:12

Mary was deeply concerned about social justice, (James 1:27), “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visitor orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  If James was the beloved disciple and the same disciple that Jesus relinquish His mother, James must have sat around the maternal kitchen table discussing with Jesus all the issues of His ministry while Mary prepares snacks and gives her opinion and thoughts on the subjects/issues.

Mary as mediatrix began at the Wedding Feast of Cana and continues today.

From Mary’s song, Mary’s encounter with Jesus in the temple, Mary’s intervention at the wedding . . . all the way to Mary at the cross and Mary with the earliest believers in Jerusalem — these scenes lead us to Jesus each and every time. Mary ought not to rob Jesus of his glory, for the mission of Mary in her own life was to witness to the glory of her Son.  10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about Mary, Mother of Jesus

We can see Mary as a normal mom.  She is our Mother.  We, like Mary, have given birth to our children to bring them up in the faith, to be faithful, to live faithfully.

Hymn to the Theotokos

1

CC1214 This sacrament is called baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptize) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”

CC1215 This sacrament is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.”

CC1216 “This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . .” Having received in Baptism the Word, “the true light that enlightens every man,” the person baptized has been “enlightened,” he becomes a “son of light,” indeed, he becomes “light” himself: Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilt

 

OMG look at her!

Mommy Mantra for Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting.

Last weekend we saw the movie “Hail Caesar!”  The movie is set in the 1950’s and one of the main characters was very Catholic who prayed his rosary when seeking wisdom about a problem, went to Reconciliation, daily. The movie directed by the Cohen Brothers, treated the faith very respectfully.

That Sunday our pastor had a wonderful homily:  For him, he is a priest in his very early 60’s, Lent is a time to look at what God is calling you to change, not just giving something up but being willing to accept new positive habits, becoming a new person, being resurrected with Christ as someone profoundly changed.  He recalled his childhood and early teens when “Catholic Guilt” was in full flower.  When he was young the idea of God’s love was the same as love in the 50’s – 60’s, no matter what you do it isn’t going to be good enough.

The movie has the Catholic main character going to Reconciliation every 24 hours. Something I know from my own childhood was very common, in fact it seemed required to be seen as a Catholic in good standing.  The priest character listening to his sins is so gently trying to tell him that he didn’t need to come every day, (something I know wouldn’t have had happen, that was more a reflection of today).  Our pastor’s homily comes to mind, now reflecting on the Reconciliation scenes, the fact so many would gravel to God.   The Catechism, here I paraphrase, states that a Catholics in good standing are obliged to confess their serious sins at least once a year (CIC 989), but the minimum should not be made a maximum.  Catholics should come to confession as soon as possible after they’ve committed a mortal sin. If they’re seeking to grow in holiness, the regular practice of confession at least once a month is commended.  For God desires steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

Lent as I understand is probably as exactly as Jesus wanted from the beginning: Spiritual Renewal.

Happy Ash Wednesday

I can’t find the bottom of this bag

EPH 4:17, 20-24 “…..that you should put away the old self of your former way of life”

I hear this Gospel loud and clear.  As a mom, we come into this vocation with whatever we are bringing from our old life.  Often we bring what is good, helpful. But there are those things that we bring that hold us back.  I am speaking of our own woundedness.

As human beings we all deal with a certain amount of spiritual-emotional baggage.  Some of our bags are quite small.  Some are as magical as Hermione’s traveling bag; it seems to hold everything while looking quite normal.  I journey with moms who are dealing with painful pasts, or deep woundedness, these moms feel as if they are the poisoned tree of their family.  They sit in my little office and weep to God of their pain.  I hear that pain because as a human being I have my own woundedness issues.

The second reading is asking us to let our faith be bigger than our fear.  Not an easy thing to do.  It requires that we let go of fear the blocker of all faith, and really prayerful look at ourselves and what we have brought into our vocation.  We just might learn that we brought in more good than bad.

St. Mary Tchou-Ou-Cheu

One of my goals with this blog is to try and introduce fellow faith-filled moms to women saints.  There are many wonderful women who have heard the call of God in their lives and they can be an inspiration to us.

Many of these brave women are not well known so I am trying to bring them to our attention as a way of honouring their sacrifice and work.

So on Saturday I will be posting about an extraordinary woman saint of the Church.  Today it is St. Mary Tchou-Ou-Cheu.

Not much is known of St. Mary Tchou-Ou-Chen.  She is on of the 120 Catholics who died between 1648 and 1930 as its “Martyr Saints of China”.  The Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church in Toronto, Ontario is named for them.

 

How to spot a Feminist

Patty Perkowski is a John PaulThis is what I believe a feminist to be: “John Paul II had begun his theologically based affirmation of integral gender complementarity in his Wednesday audiences between 1979 and 1984, in what is now compiled as the Theology of the Body. In this work, he describes his belief that men and women are formed as complementary human beings, whose purpose, strengths and weaknesses are reflected in the physical make-up of their bodies. New Feminism holds that women should be valued in their role as child bearers, both culturally and economically, while not being viewed as a “homemaker” in the broader sense of the meaning.  Its main aim is to promote the idea that women are individuals with equal worth as men; and that in social, economic and legal senses they should be equal, while accepting the natural differences between the sexes.”  New feminism

 

Devil you bully, you have no power here

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks at the Feast of the Dedication:  He says his sheep follow his voice.  How many of us are there who Jesus is desperately screaming for like a lovelorn lover.  Calling to us passionately. Begging us to believe him when he says he loves us.  He forgives us ALWAYS!  He wants nothing but the best for us; that he is always with us.

Jesus will go hoarse calling to us, that is the depths of his desire for us.  So, why don’t we hear?

Pain. Guilt. Feelings of self-loathing.  These are just a few of the things that keep us from God.  But to say these are sin AND that is why we can not hear God is both spiritually and theologically irresponsible.

The Old Testament is replete with those suffering from depression: Moses, Elijah, Job, and Jeremiah.  Paul, the Greatest Apostle, was also a suffer.  There are numerous Saints who suffered from major mental health problems:

Saint John Paul II said of those suffering with mental illness: ”Whoever suffers from mental illness ’always’ bears God’s image and likeness in themselves, as does every human being. In addition, they ‘always’ have the inalienable right not only to be considered as an image of God and therefore as a person, but also to be treated as such.”  ~ International Conference for Health Care Workers on November 30, 1996

We have to think responsibly and charitably about mental illness and sin.

 

Deep depression is not just self-pity. The level of anxiety of those with generalized anxiety and panic attacks is significant even during sleep. If you can imagine the anxiety of being on a hijacked airplane and seeing several co-passengers shot, you can begin to grasp the level of anxiety some people suffer for days at a time. Even people with moderate clinical depression (dysthymia) feel pain on their best days.

From a research perspective, the emerging answer to what causes emotional illness involves three components: nature (one’s biological, chemical, and genetic makeup), nurture (environment, circumstances, teachings), and personal choice (which can but does not necessarily include sinful choices). Not uncommonly, the cause is a combination of all three of these.  ~Dwight L. Carlson Exposing the Myth that Christians Should Not Have Emotional Problems In Plain Site

So to say that emotional issues are caused by sin or that the persons dealing with these issues are sinning, is denying God His power to heal. Their ability to use their story for God’s good, and for God to them as instruments of His Glory.

So why would we not want to hear God’s call?

Let’s go with Guilt.  As moms, we have more guilt than we want to admit.  A small amount may be of our making.  But the majority is not.  I know from my life that the guilt I express most comes my feeling of inadequacy as a mother. Inadequacies which come from the fear that I am not raising perfect children. I know in my head that is impossible, but my heart still tells me that I must, or the world will look down on me poorly.  This makes me deaf to God because it is society, or “friends” who hiding their guilt, limiting the advancements, triumphs, I have made.

Now for Pain.  Emotional/Spiritual pain that comes from issues, situations, or problem causes us to become isolated.  The insolation that we create we believe will be helpful, only keeps us from the support we need.  Going deeper inside is like burying ourselves in a grave.  We think of nothing else, do nothing else, experience nothing else but the problem.  Blocking us from finding solutions, we only concentrate on the dilemma.  Making us deaf to God’s calling out to us.

Feeling of self-loathing are the most difficult to control unless we get/have support from affirming God loving friends and family. These feelings come when we do not care for ourselves emotionally, spiritually, physically or socially.  It is a vicious cycle: we feel the pain of our self-doubt, it causes guilt which create self-loathing forcing us to hide making us emotionally/spiritually deaf to a loving God.

Now this deafness.  I am not one that will say everything bad that comes into our lives is the work of the Devil.  That takes us out of the responsibility for our actions.  I am also not so inclined to call the devil the “evil one”.  Gives the big bully more power than he deserves.  But I will say that there are times when the devil will bully us into not hearing God.

Like what he did in the Garden with Eve.  He uses the same technique now as he did then.  He uses our feelings to goad us into doing what he wants, not what is good for us.  For the slightest of moments what he has to say makes sense, and then the reality sets in that we have been duped.  If we are not careful, we run around that vicious cycle pain/guilt/self-loathing for far too long.

It is better for us to take a few minutes out to discern what it is we are thinking and how it will benefit us.  If we have peace than it is of God, if not, time to do more rethinking.

A Temple of Cloth

I will not wear a chapel veil.  I know many women who do feel called to wear one, but I am not one of them.  Wearing one for me implies a servitude of women, one that blocks women from fully participating in their faith read more here.

But I will wear if I had one, and I hope to have one this Mother’s day, a Woman’s Tallit.

I have been in love with the idea of a Tallit since I was a child.  I am a DC gal and many neighbourhoods have multiple Catholic Churches and Jewish Synagogues. One of my best friends was a Jewish girl named, Judith.  She lived three doors down and we spent hours at each others houses.  Fascinated by the expression of faith on display; which was very interesting to say the least!

Judith’s father was a prominent psychologist and her mom was a stay at home mom.  They were Orthodox Jews.  I loved their understated display of their Menorah, Torah, Talmud, Sabbat candlesticks.  Their house seemed like church to me.

When Judith visited my home, I often felt embarrassed by my family. In our living room was a huge, and I mean huge, almost life-size crucifix hang to “greet guests” as my mother would say.  Terrify them I always thought!  It seemed to scream: “Here is Jesus, the guy you people crucified!”  It was church size!  Now Judith being a good southern girl never said anything about it, never showed any discomfort, never seemed bothered.  But I was!

We would go to each others services, something very modern for Judith’s family, bringing this Catholic girl into a Synagogue and letting their daughter go to a CATHOLIC service!  But I loved what I was allowed to see from behind the curtain, the men in their Tallit praying.

I asked Dr. Schamberger why the men worn those cloths while praying. He told me they were Tallit, and they wear them for morning service. The tassels are reminders of the laws of Moses.

But the one explanation I loved about the Tallit: it was like wearing the Temple of the Lord, so when you prayed you were alone; just you and God.  Now that just warmed me to my soul!  From that day on I wanted one, I wanted to be wrapped up in a temple of cloth with God/Jesus. That speaks to a great deal of spiritual power!  Something that we as women must begin to take as part of our mandate.

One fun fact I learned from Dr. Schamberger was that for many years women could freely wear a Tallit, and, in fact, some communities do. It made me wonder if Mary had one?