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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Could I Really Do It?

Photo by Ian Froome on Unsplash
When I first read Mark 8:27-35 my initial thought was: Could I leave everything and follow a man that claimed to be the Son of God? Could I have that much faith in anyone to just leave all I know and all I have? Could I really do it?
I know people who have had to flee their homes for various reasons, but the difference is that they didn't have a choice. They had to do it for their safety. I know people who have lost everything in floods and fires, but again, that wasn't their choice.  That's a totally different situation from the disciples being told that to be true disciples they had to leave everything and follow Jesus.

A Saint with Issues

Poor Peter. Throughout the New Testament, he tries to do the right thing. He thinks he is doing the right thing consoling Jesus by telling him that what He said is going to happen will not. Peter must have been shocked when Jesus called him Satan. Most of us associate with Peter: we try to do the right thing but there are times when we fall. Yet, Peter was not only a saint, he was the first leader in the Church. He is the one God entrusted with His Church. He is the one who was to start this Catholic Church...he is the one who is the rock. Isn't that just the way Jesus said it should be? We are all sinners, and Peter definitely had his issues. When the going got tough, he bailed, and not just once. Jesus kept giving him chances and taking him back.  After Jesus rose and appeared to the apostles, that's when things started happening.
I wonder if Peter actually had some doubts about who Jesus really was? Even though he was the one to say Jesus is Christ, did he also have some doubts down deep? Did he really & truly believe what he was saying, or did he say it because that was expected?

I Would Need Faith

I just don't know if I could really do it; if I could really give up everything and walk away from my husband and children (and dogs) and follow a man. Surely the Holy Spirit was working in the disciples. I would only hope that I would have the faith I needed to drop everything and follow Jesus if He asked.

What My Parish Priest Said That Changed My Mind About This Blog Post

I had no plans to talk about "the scandal" in another blog post. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about it. I'm not saying it should be swept under the rug and those involved shouldn't be prosecuted because they most definitely should. My priest's Homily made me change my mind about this blog post. What he said really hit home.

Never in my life have I seen the congregation clap after a Homily. My parish priest is a kind, gently, very holy man. When I look at him I see the epitome of holiness and humility. I've listened to Father Mike Schmitz and Father Leo Patalinghug speak on the scandal. They both said (along with Father Don Calloway in his book Under the Mantle) that someone has verbally said they are a child molester. One morning, my priest's Homily hit home. He said he was in a grocery store; someone walked behind him and said, "There's one of those pedophiles." My heart sank when he said that. To see him so persecuted, it was like seeing Jesus being persecuted. This man, this sweet, gentle, kind, holy man had to endure those words without saying anything back. My first thought was that people are just ignorant, but Father said that the person who said it wasn't ignorant. It breaks my heart to think how deflated he must have felt.

The Readings over the past couple of weeks have been amazing. The Holy Spirit (heck the whole Trinity) is telling us to have faith; to not give up on our faith but to rely on HIM. I didn't realize this, but I heard on a podcast (I don't remember which one it was) that the news broke on the Feast of the Assumption. That has satan's signature all over it. We all know that he has NO power over Mary; that Mary is the one who he leaves alone because she's awesome that way. Of course, he would get someone to do his work on such a special day.

Here's a run-down of God telling us what's up:

  • Ephesians 5:15   Brothers and Sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.
  • Ezekiel 24:21   Thus says the Lord God: I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul. 
  • Ezekiel 34:2    Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!
  • Ezekiel 34:10   Thus says the Lord God: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
  • Ezekiel 36:25-26    I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.
  • Joshua 24: 15    If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve...
  • John 6:66-69    As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."  

I heard the Lord loud and clear the day we read Ezekiel 34. Who could have missed that message? During the Homily, the priest said he has received emails from parishioners who said they just couldn't come to Mass. These people need our prayers, for sure. In my opinion, those people either were looking for an excuse to stop attending, or they don't have a true grasp of what being a Catholic means...of why we go to Mass every Sunday. It hurts me to think of what they're doing to themselves. Are they hurting the Church? Not as much as they're hurting themselves. It's like when my boys wouldn't turn school work in or wouldn't study for a test because they didn't like their teacher. I would just look at them and say, "Well, you showed her, didn't you?" The difference is that Jesus does care. The teacher may or may not have really cared, but HE DOES.
This song is a reminder that we should continue to let others see Christ in us.
I love my faith. I love being Catholic. I love that I have the privilege of receiving His Precious Body and Blood at least every week. I have had the honor of knowing some very holy priests. It hurts that every single one of them has been affected by the terrible actions of some. It breaks my heart that my parish priest has had to endure some snide comments by someone who has no idea what a holy, gentle man he is. People can be mean. Priests have a heavy cross to bear right now. Please pray for them.

Weird Stuff When I'm Tired During My Adoration Hour

I can think of some really weird stuff when I'm tired during my Adoration Hour. As I read John 6:51-58, I had these thoughts:
I wonder what the crowds thought when Jesus said that in order to live they had to eat his body and drink his blood. Did they think it was just so bizarre?
Those thoughts were validated when I read the Blessed is She reflection. In the second paragraph, Kendra Tierney says "Don't worry, it didn't sound any less weird or horrifying to them than it does to us today." Whew! Except that's not all I wrote in my journal.
It's easy for us since we know we can take in Jesus through the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but I wonder what they really thought of Jesus. I think it just makes everything seem so far out there. Today if someone said that we would think of zombies or vampires. Here was this man offering eternal life if they would eat of his body and drink his blood. Isn't that what the vampires in the movie promise? Maybe I'm just thinking of this because I'm exceptionally tired. Maybe that's where the originators of vampires got their idea.
See what I mean? Blessed John of Ruysbreck is quoted in Magnificat: "and therefore there abides in us, together with all saints, an eternal hunger, and an eternal desirous introversion." And there you have it: an eternal hunger. We are longing for Him. We hunger for Him. And the only way to satisfy that hunger is through the Holy Eucharist.
Proverbs 9:3-6 goes hand in hand with the scripture from John. We are all called to His table. No matter who we are, us miserable sinners, we are called. He has prepared the table for us- it's up to us to accept the invitation. To RSVP with a "no thanks" would be foolish. And Ephesians 5:16: Making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. If we don't stay busy and do everything for Him, we can be sucked into doing evil. I am so guilty of this. I stay out of trouble at work by staying in my room and staying busy. Even eating lunch by myself in my room is a necessity when I feel the negativity pulling me in. If I was wiser I would know when to keep my mouth closed.

A Church in Crisis

Today the Catholic Church is in crisis. Satan is pulling out all the stops to attempt to destroy Her. Just this year, Ireland voted to legalize abortion. In light of the clergy scandal, there will probably be many people who will leave the Faith just as many of Jesus' followers left when He said: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life...". (John 6:54) The evil one won battles that day, and he will win battles over this crisis. Priests are human...they are men. They make mistakes, and unfortunately, some of them have hurt many people. But you know what? We don't participate in Mass for men. Our goal for Mass is to receive the Eucharist...the body & blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If you're one of those who is debating leaving the Church because of the crisis....don't. Please don't put your salvation in danger because of the actions of men, or the Catholic Church as an institution.
Our faith will be tested but we have to stand firm. Satan is doing his best to destroy Catholicism. Just when we think things are better Satan rears his ugly head and finds someone who will carry out his plan to demolish The Church. I for one thought we had moved on from the crisis. Through Virtus Training, the Church has made great strides in educating anyone who went through the training on the signs and follow-through with sexual abuse. A recent article in the NCRegister was extremely disturbing with its reporting of priests and seminarians disavowing their promises. The article just made me sick to my stomach.
Pray for priests. They need our prayers more than anything. Pray for the Leaders in the Catholic Church that they are able to rid Her of the ones who are not staying loyal to Him and to their vows. Father Donald Calloway, in his book "Under the Mantle" admitted that he is tempted a lot. Priests are tempted in ways we can't even imagine. They need our prayers to hold Satan at bay.
This Prayer for Priests was given to us by our Diocesan CCW Spiritual Commission Leader:

The Bread That Sustains Us Through Life's Journey

Priest at an altar holding up a host during consecration; words above the host
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
God gives us the bread that sustains us through life's journey. I have family members who will say that being out in nature is going to church for them. They say they speak to God when they are in the mountains/out in nature. My comeback to that is that you can't receive the Eucharist without participating in Mass. 

In 1Kings 19:4-8 Elijah had given up. He just wanted to die, but God sent an angel twice with bread and water to sustain him on his journey. God is continuously offering us the living bread and water to sustain us on our earthly journey. He offers Himself daily. Unfortunately, there are those of us who are not able to participate in Daily Mass due to work obligations. On those days, we can pray a Spiritual Communion.

What is a Spiritual Communion?

A Spiritual Communion is giving your whole self to God when you can't receive Sacramental Communion. It's having the desire to receive Christ but not being able to physically receive Christ through Holy Communion. In a Q&A from Our Sunday Visitor, Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D. defines a Spiritual Communion as "a personal devotional that anyone can pray at any time to express their desire to receive Holy Communion at that moment, but in which circumstances impede them from actually receiving Holy Communion." He explains that the circumstance may be anything from being home-bound to being on a mountain top. He goes on to say that "your soul receives grace to the degree that you have true hunger for the Holy Eucharist".
Even though a lot of Catholics may not have heard of a Spiritual Communion, it has actually been around for centuries. In the late 16th Century, the Catechism of the Council of Trent devoted a whole section to Spiritual Communion. Pope John Paul II spoke of it in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharitia. Many saints made Spiritual Communions numerous times during their day. Padre Pio, even though he celebrated Mass every day, made them during his day. St. Catherine of Siena, concerned that her Spiritual Communions were lacking, had a vision of Jesus with a gold and silver chalice. In the gold chalice were Sacramental Communions, in the silver were Spiritual Communions. He then told her that both forms of Communions pleased Him. Other Saints who prayed Spiritual Communions include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Alphonsus, St. Teresa of Jesus, and St. Josemaria Escriva.
The Spiritual Communion doesn't have to be a formal prayer. You can simply ask Jesus to come into your heart since you can't make a Sacramental Communion at that time. The RCIA attendees are encouraged to make Spiritual Communions since they are not in full communion with the Catholic Church yet, and as such are not able to receive the Sacrament.  For those who prefer a formal prayer, this is the prayer that St. Alphonsus Ligouri prayed:

"My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you with all my heart. Since I cannot receive you now sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already in my heart and unite myself to you completely. Please do not let me be ever separated from you."

As you may know, I work for a school system. My schools have a moment of silence after the Pledge of Allegiance every day. (Yes, there are still schools out there who do this!) What a perfect time to ask my Angel to go to any Mass that may be celebrated throughout the world at any given time. 

Send Your Angel to Holy Mass
O, holy angel at my side,
go to the church for me.
Kneel in my place at Holy Mass,
where I desire to be.
At Offertory in my stead,
take all I am and own,
and place it as a sacrifice
upon the altar throne.
At holy consecration’s bell,
adore with seraph’s love,
my Jesus, hidden in the Host,
come down from heaven above.
And when the priest Communion takes,
O, bring my Lord to me,
that his sweet heart may rest on mine,
and I his temple be.
Then pray for those I dearly love,
and those who cause me grief,
Jesus’ love may cleanse all hearts
and suffering souls relieve.
Pray that this sacrifice divine,
may mankind’s sin’s efface,
then bring me Jesus’ blessing home,
the pledge of every grace. Amen.
— Author unknown

The Bread That Gives Us Strength

In John 6:41-51 the word "bread" is said 6 times. Do you think He's trying to tell us something? My parish priest said the partaking in the bread we are offered at Mass "gives us the strength and courage to do the will of God; to get over ourselves and to spread the Word of God." He said that, just as in the Gospel passage, we at times come into Church mumbling and murmuring, but the bread of life is HERE. Here is where we take the bread of life into our bodies and are called to take it out into the world. 

As Catholics, what a gift we have been given! To be able to receive the Precious Body & Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ to sustain us on our life's journey. I don't know how my Protestant friends sustain their strength. There have been periods in my life when I did not regularly attend Mass. Looking back, I felt weak at those times. There was definitely something missing. Sacramental Communion definitely gives me the strength to continue on as God wills. Not only that, but I feel that I am able to carry out His will and to accept things that may not go as I want them to. 

I love being Catholic. I love that my parents gave me this gift and I chose to accept it. It's hard to imagine what my life would be like and how difficult this journey of life would be if I wasn't able to eat the bread of life that sustains us.
For more information on Spiritual Communion:

Adult Parenting is a Lot Harder Than It Should Be

Image with quote from Charlotte Gray
Parenting is hard. Adult parenting is a lot harder than it should be! When I look at how my parents did it, it looks easy. They made it look easy. There had to have been times when they were worried about us but they didn't show it. Okay, they didn't show it much. I know there were times when they were hurt by our choices as adult children but they were wise enough to let us make those bad choices (which, in the grand scheme of things, weren't all that bad). Being the 8th child and the 6th girl, by the time I was an adult I think they had adult parenting down pretty well. They never sat me down and gave me lectures or advised me about the choices I had to make...unless I asked. I can't say if they did the same thing with my older siblings or not, but we all turned out pretty well; we are all responsible adults.

I am attempting to parent my adult children the same way. I would like to think that my husband and I gave them enough guidance when they were children, but I'm afraid we were lacking. It's too late to do anything about it now, and we're being forced to show some "tough love". It just breaks my heart. You want your children to have it better than you did, to not struggle with the same things you did. In doing so, sometimes we go overboard with trying to make it easier on them by giving in to their requests/demands. But at some point, it has to stop. They have to learn to live on their own without the support of their parents. It means some rocky times, some times of maybe not hearing from them. That results in requiring a lot of trust in God.
A few weeks ago, during daily Mass, my priest said that we say we trust in God and we give him that trust, but then we take it away. That really hit home for me in so many ways. I want to completely and totally trust in His plan for my boys and, being a control freak, it's so hard to give up that control and hand it to Him. He knows the mistakes my boys are going to make and how they are going to fix them. If He knows, why is it so hard to hand it all to Him? (Enter the control freak.)

After not hearing from one of my sons in a few days (after an abrupt ending to a text conversation) I was worried. I poured out my heart in front of Jesus in the Adoration Chapel. I had a good cry and called upon the Holy Trinity, Mary, St. Monica, St. Augustine, and St. Anne to please watch over my baby and guide him. I got up to turn on the light; when I did I saw The Divine Mercy picture in the back of the chapel.
Picture of Jesus as the Divine Mercy
I heard my heart say, "Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet". I didn't have my pamphlet with me, but, since I was in the Adoration Chapel, I knew there would be one on the bookshelf. There was, but it was in Spanish. There were cards there, so I grabbed one, went back to my seat (after turning on the light), pulled out my Rosary, and began. When I finished, I cried my heart out to Him more and spoke to Him...really spoke to Him. What a cleansing! When I got home I spoke to my husband about how I felt. He is usually more concerned than I am, and he didn't seem very concerned which eased my mind more. He is usually the one checking up on our sons and making sure everything seems to be going okay. My parents rarely contacted me unless they had a question about something. I hate to admit it, but there were times in my life when I would go weeks without calling them. My boys know where we are when they need us. They need to live their lives without having helicopter parents, and if I'm totally honest, it keeps me from being anxious and worried about them.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it: It's hard. It's hard to know what to say, when to say, and when to be quiet. It's hard to not give advice unless it's requested. With each of my 3 boys, adult parenting looks different. It looked different when they were growing up so I shouldn't be surprised that it looks different now that they are men. In the end, they are my babies regardless of how big they are or how old they are. I would take their pain rather than see them going through rough times. It just seems so much harder than it should be.

  • Are you getting close to having adult children? Are you already there? This article offers 3 ways we need to "let go" of our adult children. 
  • Maybe you're in a situation where you are estranged from an adult child. This post may give you some consolation.
  • If your child is entering the "independent" stage, here are some tips that may be of some assistance in learning to let go.
Quote on picture

Someone in the Passage Who is Often Ignored

The words "who is he?" is above a picture of small loaves of bread in a basket.
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels
John 6:1-15 has to be a very important Gospel; a lesson that Jesus wants us to learn. My priest mentioned that this passage is in the Bible 6 times. SIX.TIMES. Not only that, but it is in all four of the Gospels. Everyone seems to focus on the miracle that Jesus performed but there is someone in the passage who is often ignored, or not given a lot of time. The boy. 

6 Places in the Gospels

Who is this boy? Where did he come from? Matthew 15:32-39 doesn't mention him in his relaying of the miracle. In fact, Matthew says the people were with Jesus for 3 days, there were 4000 people instead of 5000 (but what's another 1000 to our Lord?), and there were 7 loaves and 2 fish. Looking at the footnote, Matthew 14:13-21 says there are 5000 people (excluding women and children), 5 loaves and 2 fish. Mark 8:1-10 is on target with Matthew's account in Chapter 15; however, Mark 6:34-43 corroborates John's Gospel. The only difference is that the boy is left out.  Luke 10:2-17 mirrors Matthew 14:13-21 and Mark 8:1-10. Could they be 2 different events? Nowhere is the boy mentioned except in John.

He Gave All He Had

Why could that be? Should we take John's word over the other 3 that the boy provided the bread? He seems pretty accurate with his recount of the miracle; enough to include the boy. He must have thought the boy was important. Maybe the other 3 thought the boy would detract from the event. I never gave the boy another thought until the priest mentioned it during the Homily. It made perfect sense. Here is this boy who has some bread tucked in his pocket. He's just hanging around the apostles, most likely looking up to them and wanting to be like them. (This is probably why the other apostles didn't include him in their recounts: they probably didn't even notice him or thought he was in the way.) He hears them talking about not having anything to give the people to eat & he pipes up, shrugging his shoulders, thinking it insignificant. He offers them the mashed up bread in his pocket. Or, maybe he pulled Andrew to the side and told him he had 5 loaves and 2 fish. Either way, the main point is that he gave all he had.

All. Not a little bit, but everything, which is what God is calling us to do 24/7.  It took the little boy in this Gospel to place a subtle reminder in our heads. God can do all things, even turn 5 loaves into enough for 5000+.  In return, He asks for us to give Him our all.

Resisting the Urge to Take it Back

I come from a long line of worriers on my mother's side. I try so hard to give it all to Him and sometimes it's easier than others. The priest asked this question (not his exact words; I'm paraphrasing): If we're worrying, are we give Him enough? Are we giving Him our all? And if we aren't, what's holding us back? A few weeks ago he said that we say we trust in the Lord and we put things in His hands, but then we take it back. Isn't it so hard to place it in His hands and not be an "Indian-giver"?  Now that I've drawn your attention to it, will you look closer at someone in the passage who is often ignored?

Getting Back on Track With My Prayer Routine

Picture of train tracks with the words "How I got back on track" above it and "with my daily prayer routine" below it.

Ah, summer. I always do so well with being on a schedule...until we go on vacation. Then it goes by the wayside. I always have good intentions of sticking to my routine but then...vacation. And I get lazy. Getting back on track with my prayer routine is a struggle. Anyone else?

Getting Off-Track

My pre-vacation morning routine looked like this: Wake up at 5:30, out the door with the dogs by 5:45 (before the squirrels are awake!), come home, eat breakfast, feed the dogs, take a shower, pray and reflect, daily mass. All of that before 9:00 a.m.! Surprisingly, I haven't been crashing in the afternoon. Well, most afternoons anyway.
Then we went on vacation. The next week I attended a conference. I did pretty well with my prayer routine on vacation...I at least prayed The Divine Office and my daily prayers. The Daily Mass Readings and journaling went by the wayside, but at least I had my talk with God. The next week at the conference, I prayed The Divine Office in the mornings while my roommate was in the shower. So that's something, right?

Except that I feel a distance to God that wasn't there 2 weeks ago. To keep a good relationship with anyone you have to communicate. It would only make sense that to regain a relationship the communication has to be there. I don't doubt that God was certainly trying to communicate with me while I was gone. It takes 2 to communicate and I'll be the first to admit that I didn't give it my best shot. I may have panicked just a bit when I returned home from the conference, realizing that I have 1 full week of summer left before I go back to work. (I know, I know! That's early for teachers to go back! Our students start July 31st!) Y'all, I really need  God to be on my side when I start the new school year!

3 Answers

The answers are quite simple:
1)Discipline yourself to start over. You had discipline in the first place, right? You know you can do it, so just do it!
2) Forgive yourself. It is what it is and there's no sense in beating yourself up about it. Our God is a merciful (and forgiving) God. If He forgives you, why not forgive yourself?
3) Slide back into it if you need to. I was so tired when I first returned home from my conference that I needed to slide back into my routine. It took me a few days but I did it.

Personally, I'm the kind of person who thrives on routine and schedules. Even so, it is kind of nice to get away from that every now and then. Getting totally out of the routine can make the return a little more difficult, but who said life is easy? So it seems that I'm getting back on track with my prayer routine just in time to have to tweak it a bit for the school year. 

In this post, I discussed why I need a daily routine and what happens when I get off track. There's even a quote included from a book that I read from every now and then that really drives things home.

Need more inspiration?

  • Take a peek into Brandon Vogt's prayer life in this post.
  • This article tells you why Daily Prayer is important and explains the how.
  • What, how, why, and where is discussed in this post.