Friday, April 14, 2017

Holy Week in #7QT

Hi all, how's your Holy Week going?  Are you anxious for Easter to come and Lent to end?  Or do you still feel like there is too much Lent left to accomplish for Easter to be so soon?  I'm in the latter camp.  I'm linking up with Kelly to have a little chat in #7QT

This has been a strange Lent for me.  I am usually so militant and disciplined.  I can't remember the last Lent where I came to the end and felt like I had not accomplished any of my goals. Any of them!  The resistance has been incredible, I kid you not! My will and self control have been stretched and tested beyond anything I have ever seen before.  

I have been struggling with this.  Feeling like a failure and a fraud.  How can I blog about living a Catholic life and then have such a terrible Lent?  To be honest, I considered abandoning this blog all together about half way through.

However, I see how this struggle has not only tested me but strengthened me as well as delivered a healthy dose of humility.  The Battle may all ready be won, but the war for our souls rages on!

If you are feeling like you hoped to accomplish so much more this Lent, you are not alone!

Palm Sunday....good heavens!!  Little boys can make anything into weapons.  The belt on dress pants is obviously there to hold said weapons.  Is there a way to not allow anyone under the age of 7 to even touch a palm through the long Gospel?  We will just leave it at that.  A definite workout and warm up for the marathon week ahead.

The next day, I went back up the church for Reconciliation Monday.  I don't know how many diocese do this but it is amazing!  The Monday before Christmas and Easter, all churches in the diocese are open from 4pm-9pm for confession.  We often have 3-4 priests hearing confession at the same time in our parish.

It is such a precious experience.  I am so thankful we made it!  

Tuesday of Holy Week is the rehearsal for Children's Stations of the Cross.  It is my yearly penance no matter how my Lent is going.

I left very frustrated but wrapped in the love of Christ all the same.  We have over 3,000 families in our parish (families not people--families!!!) and a preK-8 school.  How many chidlren showed up to participate?  SIX!  SSSSSSSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!!!!  Oh, and two of them belong to me.

I am so very, very grateful for the ones who showed up and their excitement to walk the steps of Jesus.  These are beautiful, beautiful children.  However, I don't know what to do with this little project.  Every year we have less and less children.  We used to have to draw parts out of a hat to make it fair now we have one boy playing Pontius, Simon, and a roman guard.  He volunteered to be Joseph of Aramethia but we ended up just cutting that part. Owen is incredible but I think three parts is the limit.

St Jude, patron of hopeless causes, please rescue this dying devotion!

Wednesday of Holy Week I decided to catch up with some friends and family that I had not seen in awhile just as Jesus visited Mary and Martha on the Wednesday of the first Holy Week.  Only day not at the parish but a marathon none the less.

Today is Holy Thursday--I'm actually writing this the night before like a good blogger should.  This is my favorite liturgical day of the year!  Truly, I love the Holy Thursday liturgy so very, very much.

We had a field trip in the morning so we had to push our liturgical tea off until dinner.  I pulled it off but had nearly forgotten about the pre-Mass fast. It was the fasted liturgical tea in history.

I am so thankful to have had Cowgirl's help in setting everything out because Little Lady was having a colicky episode and screamed for 2.5 hours straight.  {If you would, please say a quick Hail Mary that we discover what is causing her colic and reflux.  She is on medication, I am on a highly restricted diet, and both are helping but she is still having these episodes of screaming in pain from the acidic reflux that keep choking her.  It is heartbreaking and exhausting for both of us.}

My tea was not picture perfect. My food was nothing fancy.  In fact the only items that we "cooked" at all were the mashed potatoes and a quick soup I threw together of chicken broth, carrots, and gluten free pasta when I realized that our usual menu would not be enough food to be considered dinner.

I say this so that you know that I am just a mom, a sinner, a human just like you!

Tomorrow is Good Friday, our Children's Stations are at noon.   I am praying for the LORD to use our little crew of volunteers to touch the hearts of all who are there. It is a small act of service but done with great love!

If you missed my other posts this week, I am finally getting the talks up from the mother/daughter retreat.  Considering hosting a mini-retreat this summer?  I am working hard to get all the resources I can up to help you do just that. You can find the links for the talks below:

For a more polished look at my week, check out my latest article on Seton Magazine!

How has your week been going?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Am Loved Retreat: I Created You!

I'm getting ready to have our annual Holy Thursday liturgical tea before heading to Mass, but wanted to post the next talk for our retreat.  This talk was inspired by this song.  Blessed Holy Thursday to all!

I created you!
As we have mentioned before, we each have a special purpose.  That purpose is called a vocation.  When I say the word vocation, what comes to mind? We usually think of religious sisters and priests when we talk about vocations.  However, everyone has a vocation.  Your vocation is the state of life that you are called to live.  Some of us are called to be married, some to be single.  Some of us are called to religious life in a monastery or working with those in need. Your vocation is a very special part of who you are.

We are all created to be a part of a family.  That family can look like many different things.  For some, it is a family of a husband, a wife, and children.  For others, their family is a religious community.  A priest is the head of his family and his parishioners are his children.  Whatever it is, we must remember that the family is the building block of God’s plan.  When God created humans, He created a man and a woman who then had children.  They were one of the first families.  The very first family is the Trinity.  We have God the Father, God the Holy Spirit who active love of the Father, and then we have God the Son.  They are a very unique family, and it is hard for us to understand that mystery well, but we can see that Our Father always intended His Kingdom to be based on the love of a family.

Have you ever heard God speak to your heart?(show hands)  Have you ever heard God speak to you in a way that you felt you could actually hear His words? (show of hands) God is always speaking, we just need to take the time and space to listen.  I have had a couple of experiences that I actually felt like I heard someone speaking to me.  It took my breath away.  I have heard little whispers in my heart, too.  However, there are lots of times that life gets busy, or I get cranky and upset, that I stop listening.  Our world is very noisy.  We like to have lots of activity and noise. Everywhere we go there is music playing, televisions on, and people talking.  Getting some quiet can be hard, but it is really necessary.  When we take some time to be quiet it gives our mind and body a break. It’s like a mini vacation.  If you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, you probably need a little bit of quiet.

What are some places or some ways that you find a little quiet time?  My favorite place to find quiet is at Adoration.  I also try to go to a Traditional Latin Mass whenever I can, because I find it very peaceful.  However you find your quiet time, make sure to include some time for prayer.  On of my favorite prayers of discernment is , “speak LORD, your servant is listening.”  I pray that whenever I feel confused about what God wants me to do.  Then I sit and listen!  Really listen. It  is hard, and I don’t always do the best job, but really opening your heart and your ears to the words of God will change your life.  Once you have prayed and listened--even if you didn’t hear an answer--wrap up your prayer time with another little prayer, “Not my will, by Your Will be done!”

In finding our vocations, we might be surprised what they are.  We may have a vision of exactly how we want our life to turn out, and then God shows us what He wants.  It can be hard to change our mind, but we have to remember that following God always leads to joy and peace.  Our new pastor was originally an actor and a teacher.  He was engaged to a beautiful, Catholic lady and planned on raising a large family.  However, God kept calling his heart to the priesthood.  It was difficult to change his whole plan for the future, but he knew he had to do it and he is so glad that he did.  Do any of you feel called to a certain vocation? Whatever vocation you are drawn to, remember to take time to discern, which means to decide if this is really what God wants for you.  When my husband and I got engaged, we spent a lot of time praying and studying to decide where God wanted us.  We really wanted to get married and have a family but we wanted for to follow God wherever He led us. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Am Loved Retreat: The Gift of Love

Yay, I'm posting, again!  Maybe I will finish this series this week. There are so many things I want to write about.  Thanks for stopping by.

 The Gift of Love

We have already talked about how much God loves you.  He loves you more than you can ever imagine.  One way that He loves you is by giving you rules.  He sets up boundaries to give us freedom within the confines of His Love, for our own good. Could you tell me the Ten Commandments,one at a time?

Could anyone share with me what Jesus said was the greatest commandment? By loving God with all we have, loving others as ourselves, loving ourselves, and respecting our bodies, we can live a very happy life without regrets and then enter into the neverending embrace of the LORD.  And when we make mistakes, God is always there to forgive us through the power of Christ’s redemption.  We are never too far gone to start over with God.

St Paul wrote, “ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.”  Does anyone know what “love” stands for in this verse?  This ultimate love is God, Himself.  God is living love and the source of all love here on earth.  

We have probably heard this verse many times, but it is good to read over slowly and think about, because even though it is written about God who is all powerful and perfect, it is a good guide for how we should love.  Jesus asked us to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us, so this verse isn’t just about how to treat our family and friends but everyone.

Let’s read it again, slowly.   “ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.”

Love means doing always what is right to another, even when it is hard.  What are some things that your mom does for you that isn’t easy or isn’t fun?  Are there things that your mom asks you to do that maybe you don’t want to, but know you should? Love takes not being happy but taking care of the other person anyway.  Your parents love you immensely.  Think of all these things that aren’t fun, that aren’t easy, and that they might not like, but your parents do them anyway, and even though they make you eat fruit when you would rather have chocolate, go to bed when you would rather stay up, and clean your room when you would rather play; they would never make you do something that is harmful for you. That is true love!

Bishop Barron says, “Love is willing the good of the other for the other’s sake.”  What that means is wanting what is best for the other person, always, for the one you love’s sake, not yours.  Love is a very special emotion, because it is actually an action and a choice.  When we choose to love others we are doing God’s work in the greatest way possible.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I am Loved Retreat: The Royal Treatment

This is the second in a series of talks that go with the I Am Loved retreat how-to.

The Royal Treatment

In the last talk, we heard about loving and respecting our body.  What does that mean, though?  Our bodies are very special. They were designed by God and each of us is wonderfully made in our own unique way.  God designed our bodies perfectly, but we need to take care of them.  

Your body is growing and going through amazing changes, so it needs a little extra TLC.  Be sure to eat healthy foods.  Your body needs foods that are naturally colorful, and have lots of vitamins, protein, and fiber. Junk food, processed food, candy, and fried foods taste good but don’t give your body the fuel it needs.  It’s like filling your gas tank with water, it will fill it up but won’t get you very far.  Make sure to watch how much sugar you are eating and drink plenty of water.  I am sending out an email of resources after this retreat.  It will include ways to pick healthy snacks, articles about good nutrition, and some fun, but healthy recipes!  Remember, you only get one body, so take care of it. Can you name some healthy foods that you enjoy?

Another way to take care of your body is exercise.  Stay active and get plenty of fresh air.  Sunshine is a very important ingredient to a healthy life.  While you are soaking up the sun, take a walk, ride your bike, play a game of catch, go on the swings.  Exercise doesn’t have to be boring.  Playing a sport or running around your backyard is still exercise. Can anyone think of something they like to do that is like exercise but a lot of fun?

Along with your body, you need to nurture your mind.   Try to fill your mind with good things, just like your body.  Choose TV shows and movies where the characters are kind, respectful, and make good choices.  Read great literature.  Listen to music that sings of good, not evil.  Have good conversations. Try to learn something new every day.  Don’t use any drugs or chemicals that affect how your brain works, that includes staying away from artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors in your foods.  

The most important part of you is your soul, it lives on for eternity. If you abuse your body, one day it will fail, but if you abuse your soul the repercussions will never end.  Does anyone know why God made us, it’s the answer to the first question of the Baltimore Catechism?.  What are some ways that we can take care of our soul?

As your body changes, you need to take extra care to have proper hygiene.  Get bathed often, especially after physical activity.  Wash your face everyday.  Wear deodorant daily.   In a little while, we are going to make some special treats to help pamper yourself and give you the royal treatment.

God designed your body perfectly.  You may be wondering why your body is changing or you may not like the changes you are seeing.  These changes are all a part of God’s Plan.  Our bodies were designed to become women and mothers.  Later, we will talk about being grown up and being a mother. However, now I just want you to know that you are designed just as you should be.  Your body is growing so that you can become a woman.  The way you look, how tall you are, what kind of hair you have, even the size of your shoe was all decided before you were born.  In the very instant that you came into being, God decided exactly what you would look like throughout your entire life and what special gifts He would give you.  These directions are written on a special code called DNA.  Sometimes we wish we were taller, or had curly hair, or smaller feet.  You have probably heard the expression the grass is always greener.  Has anyone ever felt that way? (show hands)  It’s important not to think that one person is better than another because of any particular characteristic.  God designed who you are and how you look, and God only make beautiful, wonderful things.  You have a special purpose. Every inch of you is fearfully made. You are a beautiful miracle!

We are going to now watch a short video that shows how special miracles, called babies grow and develop in their mother’s womb.  Scientists just discovered that when a new person is created, there is a remarkable flash of light.  In the instant a new baby is created, a bright flash happens, hidden deep in its mother’s body. No one can see it, but isn’t it amazing?  The light of God is blessing His newest miracle.  He was with you from the very second your life began.

Point out when heart starts beating, how baby seems inquisitive and shows emotions in the womb, etc during video.

After video:  Isn’t that incredible?  Did you see the baby opening and shutting his eyes?  Did you know that babies can see and hear in the womb?  A baby is learning for nine months about the world around him.  Babies, long before they are born, have a nervous system that can feel pain, hot and cold, and even react to tastes that he likes or dislikes.  I once saw an ultrasound that showed the baby’s reaction when mom ate different food.  When she had sour foods, the baby made a “yucky” face and when she had sweet foods he smiled and licked his lips.  It was so funny.


Monday, April 10, 2017

I Am Loved Retreat: The Talks

I know it has been a terribly long time since I promised to post this but, I promise to work on this this week as we are on spring break.  Hope everyone is having a blessed Holy Week.

Have any of you ever wished that you were a princess? (show hands)  Have you ever wanted to live in a big castle? (Show hands)  Well, I have good new, you already are.  You are the best kind of princess, because your Father is the King, of Kings.  As God’s princess, you are worth more than any jewel.  You are the most beautiful creature, not because of how you look on the outside, but because the Holy Spirit is living in your soul. A soul in the state of grace is the most beautiful thing in the world.  You are beautiful and loved.

Does anyone have a special talent or gift? All of our gifts come from God.  Our gifts alone aren’t what make us special.  Everyone's gifts are just as precious.  God made us all unique.  We are special because God made us and loves us more than we could ever understand.  

God has special plans for all of us.  Do you know that he already planned out all your days?  He knew before you were born that you would be here today.  He knew the exact minute you would be born and he knows when He will bring you home.  Along the way, we sometimes make mistakes, but God is ready to forgive us.  

We’ve probably all heard this verse from the Bible, “ For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  Sometimes people take that to mean that God has a plan to give us everything we want, make us very happy, and nothing bad will ever happen to us.  However, I found this version in the Douay-Rheims, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience.”  

God is thinking about you, always.  Isn’t it amazing that He is thinking of all of us at once and no one is forgotten, that is a great mystery, but doesn’t it make you feel good to know the LORD is always thinking about you?  God definitely has a plan for every one of you.  Every person is created to play a completely unique part in His Plan for the world.  If you are following the path of God, you will have peace and joy, even when life is tough, because you will be walking in His grace. And that end that He promises, is eternity in His Kingdom, His princess will be welcomed into her castle.

One of my favorite quotes is from St Catherine of Sienna, “Be who you were meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”  Being who you are, who God created you to be, just as He created you, will set the world on fire!  You may not be world famous or make it into the history books--but you might.  When you hear the name Mother Teresa what do think?  She did become famous because of her humble work doing what God designed her to do.  However, greater than that, she became a saint.  Like the song we just heard said, “I am famous in my Father’s Eyes.”  

You are all famous!  It reminds me of a book my mom bought for my siblings and me called, “You are all my favorites.”  Each of us is God’s favorite, God’s special child.  Today we are going to talk about what makes us special, how to take care of the gifts that God gave us, and how to follow the path that He has planned for us.  We are all the most magnificent type of princess, because we already belong to the greatest Kingdom that ever was and ever will be.  When life gets tough, just say to yourself, “I am God’s Princess, and I am LOVED!”