Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pope Francis stirs things up...

Last night I went to a talk. It was a miracle I made it. These pregnancy migraines have really done me in this time. I am praying for a reprieve. Thanks to Jenny who drove me. Tonight for the first time, I do not feel nauseous. I cannot remember the last time I didn't feel as if I was on the verge of gagging. I am not sure if it will last... but I know well that the first sign of relief means the end is in sight... I pray Mary chose well with my suffering this time... I know she did.

So... back to Pope Francis. It was beautiful how Fr. Edward explained how this Pope of ours has come to be the third step in a series of three. He reflected on the way that JPII spoke to the will, Benedict spoke to the mind, and Pope Francis now speaks to the heart. He is using the media in such a creative and strategic way. He is not only teaching the world, but at the same time, guiding the media... to be reminded that not only does the Church focus too much on contraception, abortion and same sex marriage, BUT SO DO THEY! He is finding a way to bring back the love and mercy of God to the media. It is a message lost behind the many doctrines and teachings. We're getting back to the basics.

We were reminded last night that our Pope is encouraging us to not be satisfied in our bubble of Catholics or even Christians, but to go out, to make contact with those who have never experienced the love of God. The most prominent point here is... there is never conversion without the experience of love. And there is always conversion with the experience of God's mercy. This is what we are being called to bring back to the souls in our path... and those that may not be so close to our path. We must go out.

JPII led us back to the Church by reminding us its beauty and setting our hearts on fire to change. Benedict taught us with his intellectually stimulating letters and books and by his humility... and now... Pope Francis shows us that you must walk beside those who do not know Christ, get to know them, hear of their brokeness, and then share the mercy of God with them. Today, people have forgot that Christ has died for them. They need to know.

It has always been true for me... and probably for you too. There is nothing I have ever done for Christ without remembering His mercy. He has saved me from so much. He has loved me so much. He has so loved me.

I am forever grateful that I chose St. Margaret Mary Alocoque as my confirmation name so many years ago... at the time, I did not realize what a great treasure she is to me... and to the Church. The message Christ gave her is the same one we are hearing from Pope Francis. The heart of Jesus burns for us. His sacred heart wants nothing more than our love.

It is all very simple. We must love better and bigger every day. We must love our husbands and our children and be patient with them. And then we must be courageous enough to share God's mercy with the world.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Let the children come to me...

I brought the boys for a quick visit to Jesus the other day.

No one was in the chapel... every mom's relief when she goes to visit Jesus with three little boys.

They ran in. I cautioned them to slow down, no running.

I explained like I always do that Jesus was there in the tabernacle. I suggested they talk to Him. 

Well, they got really really close. I cautioned them, "Not so close, guys." But, why? Why not up there right next to him, sitting on their knees? Talking to him like a best friend? Or a father? Their dad doesn't tell them to back up when they come to sit at his feet to talk or listen. So, I let them be. And as always, my children taught me something in their great simplicity. We must always come to Him like a child. Up close. So close. And sit at his feet. That is where He wants us. I am certain. So, I took a picture as to not forget this lesson they taught me.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me through these little souls. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

He's in control, baby

It just so happens that when you ask the good Lord for something, He gives it to you...  I feel like in the moments of my day where I do have time to pray, I am always asking him with a sincere heart to take my life and do whatever He wants with it. I use to be somewhat of a control freak, very anxious, wanting everything perfect and very impatient about it. It's still in there. But He has a way of sanctifying all that we are, especially when we ask. He strips us of everything to fill us up with holiness and self sacrifice to make us more like Him.

I love the homily Fr. Steve gave last week at Mass. He was speaking of rituals young boys have gone through throughout history to be initiated as a man. There was 4 common goals in these rituals and he compared them to the Christian life. (Because, yes, being a real man and a Christian are certainly two high standards that have much in common). He listed them as such: 1) Life is hard  2) You will die  3)You are not as important as you think you are  4) Your life is not about you

It was all very inspiring. And a great reminder to me of what the Christian path looks like. It's not about me. It's a total self giving, self sacrificial life. One point I have been reflecting on about self giving is self giving in marriage in particular. One of the easiest "rules" or should I say "teachings" of the Church for me has always been the issue of birth control. By its very nature, my heart has always understood on a very practical level and also a very spiritual level the meaning and depth behind this law. It is not in our right to take the gift of fertility out of the hands of God and into ours. Along with the harm it does to our bodies, the chance of chemical induced abortions that are caused by the pill, and the way it destroys marriages, taking out the "possibility of life" and leaving only the pleasure to remain. But, I have to say that now, more than ever this has been a challenge for me... not because my understanding has gone away, but because I have come to a point of real surrender to God. I am in a moment where I am exposed, out of control, and in a place I could argue (maybe), I did not choose.

This has left me scrambling for answers. How do I explain now that NFP works? Especially if I followed the rules. How do I explain now that I am not an idiot? Or irresponsible? But, then I realize, these are not the questions I need to be asking. It is not about NFP. It is not about what others think or even what I think of myself. It is about God. It is about trusting in Him. It is about letting all my control go and letting Him choose what is best for me even when I discern something different. It is a complete surrender to His divine plan. A plan that He hopes will make us more like Him. "This is my body, given up for you."

It will take me a lifetime to figure out how to surrender. Holiness comes slowly. It comes very
s l o w l y. When I pray for a generous heart, at this moment, he is not allowing me to cook more meals for people who are struggling. When I pray for more patience, he does not only want me to be better at waiting in line. When I pray for everything to be in order, his order is different than my idea of order. Generosity comes from allowing him to take my life, however he wants to. Patience comes from waiting for 16 weeks to feel better from morning sickness, and another 24 to get through the back discomfort, the restless legs and the heartburn. The order he wants, it must come from me ordering my life through the tiny souls He has entrusted me and the daily tasks to help them survive.

Baby Bentley #4 is due April 3rd. Our most unexpected expectation! After a week of tears, I came to realize more than ever the gift and miracle that I have been entrusted with... and that life is hard, I am going to die, it's not about me and I am certainly not as important as I think. On the other hand, to God I am so important... so much so that He made no mistake in giving me this gift. So, now I accept it with a full and open heart.

Thank you to a husband who celebrates, pulls SO much weight and just loves on me every single time we find out we are expecting. For a man who has no limits in his giving. Already, he lets me nap more, makes me eggs the moment I wake up to help curve the sickness, and pushes through those difficult moments of kitchen clean up and dirty diapers for Adam. I could not manage this path of fidelity to God without you. It is very hard. But, it is an eternal soul, who will exist for all time. My child is worth mountains of sacrifice and love and suffering.

I want to offer this pregnancy for some intentions very close to my heart. For those who have been told they may no longer have babies. For those who want a child so badly and can not. For those who have a difficult time conceiving. For those who have recently had a miscarriage. For those who lack appreciation for their fertility. And lastly, for those who are pregnant often, struggling through the tired and sickness, the acceptance and the appreciation for this gift.

Lastly, I will leave you with a part of a beautiful letter a friend sent to me when I expressed I was struggling this time... so tired and so confused at God's plan... she sent me part of a writing by a very holy priest, Fr. Jacques Philippe.

"If we decide to make an effort to achieve some spiritual progress according to our ideas and our own criteria, we are by no means sure to succeed.  As we have seen, there is sometimes a big difference between what God is actually asking of us, and what we imagine he is asking.  We won't have the grace to do what God is not asking of us.  But for what he is asking, he has promised us his grace: God grants what he commands.  When God inspires us to do something (if it really is God who is the source of that inspiration), at the same time he supplies the ability to do it, even if it is beyond our capacity or scares us at the start.  Every motion that comes from God brings both the light to understand what God intends, and the strength to accomplish it: light that illuminates the mind, and strength that gives power to the will."

Let's do this. Totus Tuus. I am totally yours, Lord.