Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Words from Lent

As I reflected on Lent, several key words popped out several times throughout my Blessed is She On the Way Journal. These words/phrases helped define my Lenten Journey and helped me have the best Lent of my life so far.
Do not let my heart be drawn into worshipping other gods. (Deuteronomy 30:17) I defined the gods in my life as social media, as well as my profession (Speech Language Pathology). My goal for Lent was to cut back on social media; not cut it out completely, but reduce the use and use it to profess my faith. Even though I’m in the last phase of my career, I had been spending an awful lot of time on my professional blog, as well as making materials to sell on a teacher website. It was definitely an “out” after my mother’s passing (July, 2014), so it was time to put that aside and delve into reality. I drastically cut back on those things; I closed my laptop and addressed things in the house that needed to be addressed. When my laptop was open, it was used mostly for devotions or checking out Catholic-related sites.

Forgiveness. I was forgiven by a former coworker who acknowledged a letter I sent to her; she accepted my apology and expressed forgiveness. Will we ever be best friends? No, but I think hope that we both will be there for each other should we ever be in that situation.

Free Will. God gives us everything, but we have to decide to take it. We have no control over what someone else is doing; all we can do is pray and ask God to lead him back on the right path. I’m a bit of a control freak, so this is something I have a very hard time with. Around my calendar I have the phrases, Jesus I trust in You, as well as Lord, I give this to you. And I have prayed those prayers every single day since I wrote them around my calendar.

Humility. This word resounded all throughout Lent, and culminated by the washing of feet on Holy Thursday. I felt the humility of the people having their feet washed by the priest, as well as the humility of the priest.

God has a plan. WOW. Just how awesome this is hit home for me while we were at the beach for Spring Break. My husband & I walked onto the beach, looked up, and were amazed at the stars. It makes you realize just how small we are, but for each one of us, He has a plan. We just have to pray that he shows that plan to us, and that we have the awareness and the courage to follow that plan.

Fear. Fear of peer pressure, fear of not knowing the right words to say if I’m confronted about my faith, fear of being persecuted for my beliefs. A couple of weeks ago, we read about Susanna who was falsely accused but faced her fear and put it in God’s hands, and Daniel who faced the fear of being ridiculed for standing up for her. I pray for their courage during those moments when I’m afraid.

Silence. Having come from a family with 9 siblings, there was rarely a moment of silence in our house when I was growing up. Silence is a very difficult thing for me. I have to have some kind of noise in the background during my day. This Lent, I tried going to sleep without the tv being on. The only time I had it on was when my husband was out of town, so I think I did okay with this. I rarely had the tv on during Lent, saving my tv time for certain shows. (My husband would question the quality of one of the shows I watch, but that’s beside the point!)

I learned so much this Lent. As far as God’s plan for me, I’m still trying to listen and do His will. I’m still trying to listen to His word and live every day as He would have me. I’m no theologian; in fact, I think my Catholic education was greatly lacking. I have a lot on which to catch up.

Did you have the same words speaking to you during Lent? How different were the words you heard?

Palm Sunday

I chose to hit the snooze button when my alarm went off this morning, instead of getting up so I would have time to go over the Readings before Mass. My reasoning: I’ve heard the Passion of our Lord at least 50 times; I think I pretty much know what it says. I remember the first time when saying out loud “Crucify Him” bothered me. I remember there were years when I refused to say those words. But, it’s necessary for us to say those words, because we crucify Jesus over and over with our words, actions, and even our thoughts.
As I listened to the Gospel this morning, these words ran through my mind: Humility. Peer pressure. Faith. Every time we say “Crucify Him”, we humble ourselves. Every time we say those words, we admit that we have sinned, sending Him to the cross. We are no better than the crowd that insisted Barabbas be set free while Jesus is doomed to die for us. FOR. US. We don’t want to see how we have sinned. How many times have we betrayed Jesus with a kiss, just as Judas did?  How many times have I been 2-faced with someone? How many times have I not treated someone with respect and haven’t seen Jesus in them…or better yet, haven’t let them see Jesus in me?
While the part of the Gospel where Peter denies Jesus 3 times was being read, I thought about the times that I’m out with friends and the talk turns to gossip. I thought about how I feel a bit uncomfortable, but then I push those feelings aside and listen; sometimes I even join in. I am guilty of betraying Jesus in those moments.
Pilate succumbed to peer pressure, just like we do. And we end up crucifying Him over and over again because of it. Pilate didn’t stand up for what he believed: that Jesus was innocent and didn’t deserve to be crucified. The people insisted that Jesus be put to death, even after Pilate told them more than once that he did not find him guilty of any crime. But then he backed down and gave the people what they wanted. He was scared to stand up for what he truly believed in and let them have their way. There have been many times when I’ve kept quiet about things that I knew weren’t right; times when I should have stood up for my beliefs and for Jesus, but I kept quiet. I wasn’t confident that I would have the correct answers. I wasn’t confident that I’d know what to say and would end up being ridiculed. I didn’t have faith.
We have faith that what we believe is the truth. We have faith that Jesus died for our sins so that we will one day see the kingdom of God. 

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" Luke 23:42
Photo by Luis Ramos

{SQT} March Madness

  Every week SQT is hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum, so jump on over there & check out some quick takes.

1.   This has been the looooongest week of my life. Spring Break is next week; I didn’t think Friday would ever get here. I’m so looking forward to just taking it easy next week & getting geared up for Holy Week.
2.    This quote keeps coming up when I least expect it. I ran across it again when I looked at The Catholic CompanySite:
3.    Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in a day? I’ve made a concerted effort to get to bed earlier so I can get up 30 minutes earlier to read the Daily Readings and some reflecting, as well as prayers. A couple of mornings it’s taken all I have to get up, but I don’t seem to be going to bed any earlier.
4.    I’m thanking God for a very small answer to a prayer. On Monday, the Blessed is She reflection encouraged us to “stretch out your hand in faith, and ask for the thing that you need but cannot get for yourself.” Well, I did, and I saw a sliver of that prayer being answered. I have faith that in time, most of it will be answered.
5.    This week, I’ve read about humility, happiness, grace, and trust. I attended the Stations of the Cross last Friday, and was invited to stay and pray with the Hispanic community. I kind of wish I had stayed, even though I wouldn’t have understand much of what was said.
6.    Have you seen this youtube clip? I just thought it was so cool that these friars were tearing up the basketball court, Rosaries & all!

7.    Have a glorious week!

4th Sunday of Lent

The Readings today had so many good messages. After I read and wrote down my thoughts, I read a couple of reflections. All 3 of them were somewhat different. I was excited to hear what take my parish priest was going to share with us.
My take:
Through our sins, we are like the son who takes everything and leaves. But God will always gladly take us back. He gives us everything and we take. We have to suffer in order to know just what we have. We have to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness. This is where the Sacrament of Reconciliation comes in. There was a time when I didn’t think I needed to go to confession; I thought I could just confess my sins to God and be done with it. As Catholics, God gave us this beautiful Sacrament so that we could fully feel his forgiveness. It’s so much easier to just say in your head (or even out loud), “Oops. Sorry, God. I sinned. I know I shouldn’t have done that & I’ll try not to do it again.” BUT, how hard is it to sit face to face with another human being and tell them that you’re not perfect, that you’ve sinned and you’ve done things of which you’re ashamed? God allows us to humble ourselves before him and the priest by making a good confession. No matter what we’ve done or haven’t done, God is always there, ready and willing to take us back. Even for those of us who left the Church for a while, he is standing there with open arms. He is ready to give us more than he already has. We just have to be willing to take it.
One of the reflections I read spoke of happiness. The son who stayed and obeyed his father wasn’t happy. He would never be happy until he forgave his brother for leaving and coming back. He obviously wasn’t a parent, or else he would understand the joy his father felt when his brother came back. Bishop Robert Barron said, “When we fall out of love for God, we fall into hatred of one another.” How often do I feel this? During my “dry prayer periods”, I can definitely tell how intolerant I am of so many people; so many things. Yet, when I take time out of the day to read, reflect, and pray, my days go so much better and I’m so much more patient at work and at home.
Pope Francis said, “God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to Him.” It does take courage to come back. The son who came back had to swallow his pride and find courage to go back to his father. He had no idea how he was going to be received. He probably expected to be treated like his brother treated him. How relieved he must have been when his father welcomed him with open arms!
If you’re a parent of grown children, you can probably relate to the father. I know I can. When one of your children goes out on his own, it’s hard for him to ask for help, and there are definitely times when we all need help! When my husband and I were just starting out, we had to ask our parents for help. Sometimes it was over stupid things that I did, like spending too much on Christmas and then needing some extra help with daycare the next month. It’s very hard to swallow our pride and ask for that help. It’s in humbling ourselves and receiving help that we become stronger and more compassionate.
 Unfortunately, I didn’t hear a lot of the Homily. Since I play flute during Mass, I sit with the choir, which was to the Priest’s back today. We had one of our former pastors celebrate the Mass this morning, and he chose to stand at the front of the altar to give the Homily. He is a little difficult to understand anyway due to him being a bit soft-spoken; so with his back to us it was very difficult to hear him. I wrote down 2 things in my Mass Journal: We are called to change to the light of God and Our joy in life comes from Reconciliation. I must have been meant to hear that last statement loud and clear, because when he said that, he actually looked over toward the choir when he said it.
“Our joy in life comes from Reconciliation.” Amen, Father…Amen! By humbling ourselves we will find joy. How wonderful it is that, as Catholics, we are able to truly humble ourselves by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and find joy!

How was your Homily today? I'd love to hear how it was different or the same!