Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Three Holiest Days of the Year

     We are about to enter into the three holiest days of the Christian calendar which are celebrated as one unbroken service.  Many people, including a number of practicing Catholics, don't realize that Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday are the three holiest days in the year. These three days known as the Holy Triduum give us a wonderful opportunity to pray and reflect on Christ's Passion, death, and Resurrection. 

     Over the years, I have prayerfully written a number of reflections on these three holiest of days and how they are observed.  I've included links to those reflections as well as to those posts that chronicle the joyous, miraculous occasion of my husband returning to the Catholic faith in which he was raised.

A Holy Week overview in two minutes:

Holy Thursday: Washing of the feet and Institution of the Eucharist
This evening we will remember what Christ did in His 72 hours on earth.  To read more about the significance of Holy Thursday and what we do to honor it, check out this reflection.

Good Friday: Veneration of the Cross
A new look at Christ's words on the Cross: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Remembering Christ's Sorrowful Passion

Easter Vigil: A culmination of the faith and summary of Christianity through Scripture reflection, songs, and sacraments.  Saturday evening is when people are Baptized and brought into the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults




Very Special Fond Memories of the Holy Week when my husband Kevin returned to the Catholic Church in 2000

May you and your family have a very blessed and most Holy Triduum!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

In Case You Were Wondering Where I've Been


     As part of the ongoing discernment I know to be life-long necessity for all who try to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit,  I have been prayerfully listening and making some changes I have felt urged to undergo in how I spend my time, energy, etc.  It has been a tremendous gift and encouragement that Kevin has decided going to daily Mass several times during the week would be his Lenten devotion, because there are few things that remind me of God's love and ability to change hearts and minds than sitting and holding hands with my dear husband at Mass.  
     I've been subbing at school pretty often, still reading a lot (mostly in English but also some French), and Kevin's been doing some odd jobs here and there while still looking for a full-time job with benefits.  We're both still praying and waiting for whatever will be the next big thing we undertake, but right now we're content to be serving on really wonderful Cursillo teams and growing closer to the Lord and each other.   

     I realized in hopping from one blog to the next to try and keep up with what’s going on in the world and the blogosphere, attempting to participate in the right link-ups and get the most visitors to my blog with frequent, timely posts was making my prayer time, faith formation, closest relationships, and my vocation to write (particularly: spiritual reflections, personal letters, and prayers) suffer.  
     This is why I have not been participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday recently or posting quite as often as I have at other times.  I have been getting back to a more regular chunk of time for daily prayer, journaling, writing reflections, letters, and things more often, and it's been good to process things with pen and paper and decide what I will share, if anything, on my blog.  Writing because I love to write and am inspired is something I don't want to lose and can too often get away from when I have too many of the how to have a wildly popular blog or what you should be writing about or commenting on things going through my head.  
     It's more important to me to have an active prayer life, loving relationships in person, and time to listen and reflect on what God is asking of me, than it is to see how much blog traffic I can get.  I get caught up in the shoulds and coulds ideas, and suddenly, I find myself stressed out, fragmented, unsettled without enough prayer time, disconnected from loved ones.  
     Plus, I figure that if I am dedicated to prayer and open to what the Lord wants of me, then what I write will reach the people that would find it helpful to read and ponder whenever and if ever they happen upon my blog.     

     I stepped back to look at how I have been spending my time by asking and praying about the following: 

1. What goals or motivation have influenced my choices the most? 

2. Does the Lord come first and my relationship with my husband second before everyone and everything else? 

3. What do I need to do differently so that my time, actions, energy, and on what I spend money reflect that God is first and foremost in my life and that our marriage comes before all else?

     I know it’s not a coincidence that I’ve been prompted to ask myself these questions when I am more often around people for whom prayer, faith formation, and acts of service are a way of life.  Certainly, when surrounded by those who do their best to put Christ first, I am more inclined and challenged to do the same thing.  For those reasons, I am incredibly grateful for the local Cursillo community as well as the Christ Renews His Parish contingency from our parish. 
     Earlier this week I had lunch with my mom, and we had an interesting discussion about how the decisions we make—both big and small, public or private—affect other people, especially those closest to us, whether we want them to or not.  I was mentioning how apparent it has been to me that I want and need to be around Christian community who make prayer, ongoing discernment, and faith formation a priority in their lives.  Their example inspires, encourages, and motivates me.
     The other side of that is also true: the time I spend with the Lord (or don’t) affects every single one of my interactions with other people—not just in terms of their faith and prayer lives, but in every aspect of our lives. 

     The best thing I can do is God’s Will both for me and for everyone else.  To be conformed to God’s Will, I have to spend time in prayer, take part in the Sacraments, and be aware and respectful of His Presence in each person and living thing. 
     In order to do this, I need to be aware of my own proclivities, downfalls, and sinful inclinations, so that I draw closer to Christ.  Once I step into the light of Jesus, He then creates in me a new, more loving, gentle, compassionate, tender, and merciful heart.  With a renewed heart and spirit, I am able to be a better, bigger vessel for the Holy Spirit to work in and through. 
     The more I am open to the Lord and fully present to the people He’s put in my life, especially those physically in my presence, the more God’s love will shine in, through, and around me. 

     Lord, so often I look around and see what others are doing and determine in my own mind the value of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, but I’m much more hesitant to observe and be mindful of my own thoughts and actions.  If I spend too much time looking inward, I easily become discouraged, depressed, doubtful, sorrowful, and afraid.  If I remain focused on You, then love, great mercy, living hope, and compassion will be closer to the surface. 
     God can and wants to work in and through me to bring others closer to Him.  Am I going to rejoice in that and cooperate or resist and refuse to go along? 

     Truthfully, I’ll likely do some of each.  Fortunately, He can bring about good even from my unwillingness and stubbornness in responding to His grace.    

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Catholicism: A Body Both Suffering and Glorious by Fr. Barron

     In the spirit of the New Evangelization and with the intention of illuminating the beauty, reverence, and relevance of the Catholic faith in this day and age, Father Robert Barron serves as a knowledgeable, thought-provoking guide to some of the most awe-inspiring mysteries of Christianity throughout the ages.  Though it’s quite unusual for me to say this or have it be true, I saw the Catholicism DVD series before I read Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith.  I must stay that both are well-worth your time and money. 
      This Catholicism blog tour is to celebrate the release of the paperback version of this book by Fr. Robert Barron, which follows, pretty much word for word the Catholicism DVD series which he wrote and hosted. 

     Oh yeah, and did I mention you can also win a trip for two to Rome and Paris?  Image Books and Word on Fire have teamed up to put together a really sweet trip for two, so you and whomever you choose to take with you will get to explore some of the gorgeous places and holy spaces visited in the DVD series and described in the book.  There’s more information about that here.
     When asked to write a reflection on a chapter of Catholicism, I immediately jumped at the chance.  As the Holy Spirit would have it, my husband has made it his Lenten practice to go to daily Mass most days of the week.  In addition to this best of practices, he’s also been interested in watching the entire Catholicism DVD series for a second and third time.  I can’t think of a better way to bring an already very intriguing book to life, so we revisited some of the breathtaking examples of the faith alive and well today.

Catholics hold that the church is not merely a human organization, simply a coming together of like-minded people, a community of purely worldly provenance and purpose.  Rather, the church is a sacrament of Jesus, and as such shares in the very being, life, and energy of Christ. 
     Father Barron talks about how the church is a living organism.  Each person is made in the image of Christ, and we are all intimately connected.  When one person suffers, we all suffer.  When one rejoices or is healed, everyone is affected.  Father Barron underlines the importance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as necessary outpourings of the grace we experience in the sacraments and are called to go and share with the world.  
     Fr. Barron shows in a myriad of ways why community is essential if we are going to remain in communion with the Lord and have an interactive, ongoing relationship with Christ Jesus.  I’ve been reminded of this phenomenon a number of times in the past several months.  When surrounded by people who make prayer a top priority and serving others a way of life, I am more likely to do the same.
     Much of the time, I could easily enough go to daily Mass most days of the week, take time for silent prayer time alone, and reach out to someone who is suffering in mind, body, and/or spirit.  Does that mean I always do?  No.  It is most often in my conversations with the Lord and my interactions with others that I am challenged to be transformed so that I can be made into a more effective living part of the mystical Body of Christ.
     We are all made in Christ’s image, but we need to stay connected to the Source of all Life, Love, and Truth if we are going to have our will, heart, and mind transformed to be like our Savior’s.  That requires that we accept our God-given holiness, remain open to faith formation, and live out what we’ve learned through action, particularly through serving and ministering to others.   
     Through a deeper understanding of how and why the church is described as "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," we see how such a delineation across the centuries has set the Roman Catholic Church apart as the great gathering force rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and subject to the interpretation and leadership of the apostles and their descendants.  
The Catholic Church has all of the gifts that Christ wants his people to have: Scripture, Liturgy, theological tradition, sacraments, the Eucharist, Mary and the saints, apostolic succession, and papal authority.   
      I highly recommend reading Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith along with watching (or in some cases re-watching) the Catholicism DVD series, and if you have any interest in going on a trip to Rome and Paris, then you should probably enter these sweepstakes
     To check out all ten bloggers who have read and written about Catholicism as part of this blog tour, click here.  
     

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Catholicism Blog Tour: March 31-April 9, 2014

     We're celebrating Image Books paperback release of the highly acclaimed book and DVD series by Fr. Robert Barron called Catholicism.  Over 10 days, ten different bloggers (including yours truly) are hosting the Catholicism virtual blog tour by posting a reflection inspired by one of the chapters in the book.  In case you're wondering, the chapters in the book correspond directly with the episodes in the DVD series.  
     For more information or to order your own copy of Catholicism, click here.

March 31 – Chapter 1: Stuart’s Study
April 1 – Chapter 2: Seasons of Grace
April 2 – Chapter 3: A Good Measure
April 3 – Chapter 4: 
Snoring Scholar
April 4 – Chapter 5: The Catholic Book Blogger
April 5 – Chapter 6: Prints of Grace
April 6 – Chapter 7: Catholic Bibles
April 7 – Chapter 8: Team Whitaker
April 8 – Chapter 9: Single Catholic Girl

April 9 – Chapter 10: The Curt Jester

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lost in the Labyrinth?

     I have a confession to make: I managed to get off-track doing a labyrinth walk (aka Jerusalem Mile).  I can’t bring myself to tell Kevin, yet, as he already loves to hassle me mercilessly about my uncanny ability to get ridiculously lost.  I will never hear the end of it if I explain to him what happened when I was doing the journey inward (to the center) part of the labyrinth.  I don’t have to worry about him finding out by reading my blog.  As is the case with many if not most of my family and friends, that’s rarely something they’re inclined to do on their own.  (At least, Kevin doesn’t check it much since I typically read to him what I’m going to post.  He’s actually the most supportive person in my life about my writing and my blog, and I consider that a tremendous blessing!) 
     After the others had left Richmond Hill at the conclusion of our Cursillo team overnight, I took the opportunity to spend some quiet time alone in their garden.  I made my way to the labyrinth walk, something I’ve had an affection for ever since my first encounter with it when we went on our pilgrimage to Ireland.  The weather was gorgeous that day.  No one else was in that part of the gardens.  I could walk and contemplate in silence, looking out over the city, and have some much-needed downtime before Kevin came to pick me up.
     I must have gotten off-track at some point on my inward journey because I never ended up in the middle when I started from the outside going in.  When I got back to the beginning without ever having made it to the very center as intended I just walked straight to the center and did the outward journey correctly. 
     How perfect an analogy for my life!  Only I could get lost on a labyrinth walk.  Oftentimes, I’m much more concerned about my inner journey than I am about my outreach.  And sometimes, I have to go straight back to the center (God) without any twists or turns.  At least I know enough to go back to the center and begin again when I realize I’m off-track.
     God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and polished inwardly before He sends us out to serve others.  Part of our outward journey is sharing our inner wisdom as well as gleaning wisdom from our interactions with others. 

     Lord, help us to be open to the interior formation and transformation You know that we need most in order to be more effective vessels for the many blessings You wish to give others through us.  Amen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Night in a Penitential Suite

     When we arrived Sunday afternoon, John greeted his parents, Kevin, and me outside St. Mary’s Seminary, then he jokingly told us that he’d reserved “penitential suites” for us.  He had no idea how true that would be, at least for Kevin and me. 
     Our room was freezing cold when we got there at a little after 8pm Sunday March 9, 2014.  We couldn’t get the heat to stay on for more than maybe five minutes, tops.  I was sitting in the armchair in our room reading while Kevin lay on the bed listening to music on his MP3 player.  I wrapped up in my big white scarf and draped my winter coat over my legs. 
     Kevin would get up, turn the heat on at the control panel for the heating/cooling unit in our room, then sit back down for a whole two to five minutes before it would cut off, again.  I’d have to tell him it had clicked off because he couldn’t hear it with his earbuds in.  He’d get back up and try a few of the other buttons, turned the temperature up to 80 then 90 to see if that did anything.  Usually the heat would come on for a few more minutes, but that was it.
     When he wasn’t fiddling with the thermostat, Kevin tried to set the big radio alarm clock on the nightstand by the bed.  Apparently, you could only go forwards to set the time, and for some bizarre reason, it skipped over the eight o’clock hour completely.  This prevented Kevin from setting the clock to the correct time, according to his atomic watch, which read 8:17. 
     A few minutes later Kevin realized, no doubt from his excellent vantage point from the thermostat, that the digital alarm clock had actually gone backwards two minutes.  The two of us were laughing so hard we were both doubled over.  Every time the heat kicked off, we started a new round of LOL. 
     At one point, Kevin said: “It feels like it’s getting a bit warmer.”
     “No,” I told him.  “You just feel a little warmer because you’re up every couple minutes to try and get the heat to work.”
     I took the bag with our toiletries into the bathroom and discovered yet another peculiar feature of the penitential suite.  The water when on full-force was not coming out enough that I could rinse the soap off of my hands.  Our prospects for showering weren’t looking good, but at least there was enough water pressure coming out of the bathtub spigot that I could get the soap off of my hands, and for that I was truly grateful. 
     There was an ice bucket in our room, so Kevin went to find the ice machine.  He returned with an empty bucket, having searched our floor and not found any ice.  It was probably just as well since we were already feeling pretty cold.  
     Kevin propped up the three inch panel blind that had fallen on the floor at such an angle that we didn’t have quite so much light coming in from the parking lot below.
     It wasn’t long after that when John texted us to ask if everything was okay with our room and if we wanted him to bring us anything from the lounge. 
     I texted back: “We’d both like something hot to drink.  Can we meet you there?  There’s heat in the lounge, right?”
     Yes, the lounge had heat and hot tea.  John made us each a nice hot cup of Sleepytime tea, and the three of us sat and talked for a bit.  One of his seminarian friends overheard us mention about the lack of heat in the room where we were staying and offered us a small space heater he had.  He went to get it for us before we went back up to the penitential suite. 
     Fortunately, we turned on the little portable unit for more than half an hour during which time the Kevin finally figured out how to reset the thermostat.  During the half an hour or so that we had both the portable heater and the heat in the room working, it warmed up nicely.  We gave the small unit back to John to return to his friend.  I consider it a major plus that we didn’t need to keep it on all night since with the luck we were having it probably would have caught on fire or at least set off the smoke alarm and sprinklers. 
     We insisted John take a look at the water coming out of the bathroom faucet.  He was totally baffled by the ridiculous trickle.  I was satisfied I’d proved my point.  After we talked a little more, John bid us goodnight, telling us to let him know if we weren’t able to take a shower in the morning due to a serious lack of water pressure. 
     The next day, we met the friar who was staying in the room next to us when we met John for breakfast in the refectory.  We asked the gentleman if his room had heat.  He said that it had been very cold.  We inquired about the water pressure in his bathroom, and he said it was great and that the water came out hot right away. 
    Apparently, they have some adjustments to make in some of the rooms in the Center for Continuing Formation wing of St. Mary’s Seminary and University.  Either that or they should let people know that part of their stay will include putting up with a number of standard issue things not working correctly in their rooms.  If the latter is indeed the intention, a little support group held at a certain time on each floor might help create community and greater camaraderie.  I’m just sayin’

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blessed Occasions & Causes for Celebration

     Kevin and I both felt the Holy Spirit present in a big way throughout our trip to St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland.  We went up there with Carl and Cathy for the institution of their son (and a number of his brother seminarians) to the ministry of acolyte.  
A number of family, friends, some priests we recognized, and others we would meet for the first time, gathered together to celebrate Mass on Monday, March 10, 2014, at 4:30pm.  It was really uplifting to see the Vicar for Vocations from the Diocese of Richmond, Fr. Michael Boehling, among those who had traveled several hours to offer his support and prayers. 
     We experienced a great deal of joy being present for such a blessed occasion.  Kevin was positively beaming through the entire event.  Bishop Joseph C. Bambera from the Diocese of Scranton presided at the Mass.  His homily was beautiful and thought-provoking.  The ceremonies of institution to Lector, for those in their first year of seminary, and Acolyte, for those in their second year, were also quite moving. 
  There is something incredibly powerful about having so many priests in one place for any reason, but what always gets me the most is when they are praying the Eucharistic prayers in unison, some standing on the altar with the bishop, and others from their place in the first section of pews on either side of the altar. 
     The seminarian choir gathered near the piano after Communion to sing a reflection.  I had trouble recalling the last time I’d heard such a strong all-male group raising their hearts and voices to the Lord, thereby, praying twice.       
     I’m absolutely convinced that if more Catholics from all walks of life came to such events, we would have an increase in vocations to marriage, the priesthood, and religious life as well as a whole lot more people regularly praying and encouraging the young men and women who are actively discerning and following the Lord’s call for their lives. 

A Message to John and his brother seminarians: You have been given another level of grace with these new responsibilities.  And with responsibility in a Catholic and priestly sense comes a need for greater dedication to the Lord, more humility, and a deeper level of interior and exterior submission to Christ.  You are up to these challenges.  Your professors, classmates, family, and friends know this.  Most importantly Christ knows this.  Christ is counting on you, and He expects you to be counting on Him.  Anything that is true, holy, and good is possible if you will set aside your ideas and ways in order to submit all that you were, are, and will be to the Lord to use however He determines is best in time and eternity.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lumen Fidei: The Light of Faith

     Reading Lumen Fidei: The Light of Faith for the second time on Transfiguration Sunday seemed appropriate.  Last Friday, we had our Cursillo Women’s Team overnight, and I believe it’s safe to say we all had a bit of a mountaintop experience while at Richmond Hill.  We were fed in mind, body, and spirit, then sent out to live the Gospel in hope to bring others closer to Christ. 
     In the sermon our pastor Fr. Dan Brady gave Saturday evening, he emphasized that following Christ, giving your life over to Him, doesn’t mean you won’t face any suffering.  What it means is that you will not be alone in your suffering—for Christ will always be with you.
     The message of being sent into the world as a light for all nations is one that appears many times throughout the Bible.  Faith isn’t always easy, neat, or tidy.  At times, it can require a whole lot more of us than we ever thought it would. 
     The New Evangelization we’ve been called to requires that we acknowledge the light of Christ and bring illumination to the dark places in our world so that they may be transformed, so that we may be transformed from the inside out. 
     God’s love is at the core of who we are and is what we desire more than anything else.  We are given the gift of that love as freely as we are given inherent dignity because we were made by God and in His image.  The more we claim, accept, and grow deeper in that love, the more faith we have in Christ to be with us, especially in the midst of suffering. 
     Pope Francis describes how vitally important it is that our faith in God and the blessings He gives us are used to help others who are suffering to know, experience, and be opened to the Lord’s unconditional love.  Light, just like faith, changes the way we see things in and around us.  It brings us to a greater awareness of who and what are before us. 
     The guidance and security of the Light of Christ give us the courage and strength we need to carry out such apostolic actions as will build up the Kingdom of God.
     Lumen Fidei, the encyclical letter à quatre mains begun by Pope Benedict XVI and completed by Pope Francis, was issued on the feast day (June 29) of two of the original evangelizers: Peter and Paul.  The two apostles, like these two popes, promulgated the faith using their God-given gifts.  We are called to do the same: to offer all that we have been, all that we are and all that we will be to Our Lord to use however He wishes in time and eternity. 

     I highly recommend every Christian reading Lumen Fidei.  For more information, or to order your own copy of this encyclical letter, click here.  I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Pilgrimage to Ireland

     My mom took my grandmother, sisters, and me on a pilgrimage to a house of prayer in Ireland to receive a special blessing the summer after my sophomore year of college.  For my sisters and I, this was a first.  We’d never been to Europe or gone on an official pilgrimage.  In more ways than one my experience in Ireland foreshadowed what my junior year studying abroad in Paris would be like.
     My mom and her good friend Colleen had taken a day off from the group tour they’d gone on together the previous fall in order to visit Our Lady Queen of Peace House of Prayer in Achill Sound, Achill, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland.  My mom had read Thomas W. Petrisko’s book titled The Sorrow, the Sacrifice, and the Triumph: The Apparitions, Visions,and Prophecies of Christina Gallagher and was inspired to make a pilgrimage to the house of prayer the woman about whom the book was written had been instructed to have built.  In the book it is said that Our Lady appeared many times to Christina Gallagher, a visionary, mystic, stigmatist, and victim soul.  “The Queen of Peace requested this house of prayer be especially used for the recitation of the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and as a sanctuary for priests” (pg. 234).  
     My mom wanted to take all of us on the pilgrimage, but one of my sisters wasn’t sure if she wanted to go.  She had joined a nearby Presbyterian Church and wasn’t sure about coming with us on a pilgrimage to a Marian house of prayer.  Mom asked her to pray about it.  When she did, she was led to a Bible verse.  When she checked out the website for the house of prayer, she saw the exact same Bible verse on there, and that was sign enough for her that God wanted her to come with us. 
     I really wanted Kevin to make the trip as well, but he couldn’t afford it, nor did he understand why it was important to go to a specific place to pray and receive a special blessing.  He still didn’t understand why I enjoyed going on retreats, so traveling overseas on a pilgrimage was way beyond anything he was ready for at that time. 
     I brought a photo of Kevin and me together to put in the box of prayer intentions at the chapel in the house of prayer.  I prayed for us often during that visit, not just at the house of prayer, but also when we stayed at the Connemara Coast Hotel

     I had lots of time to pray, read the Bible, and write since I wasn’t able to adjust to the time change.  I shared a room with my youngest sister and didn’t want to keep her awake at night, so I sat in the bathroom where the light wouldn’t disturb her and prayed, wrote notes to Kevin, and filled up page after page of hotel stationery with possible Scripture readings for our wedding, along with hymns, and even a preliminary guest list. 
     During our stay on the Connemara Coast, I would usually sleep during the day while Mom, Grandma (my maternal grandmother), and my sisters went sightseeing.  I’d wake up in the afternoon and walk to the nearby church.  Mary Mother of the Sea Church had a labyrinth walk in the courtyard.  For the first few days I did the labyrinth walk, I unknowingly went about it wrong.  I started on the outside and went in, but then I left.  I finally got a pamphlet from the church explaining the labyrinth walk, and from then on I knew to contemplate my inward journey with God while going to the center of the circle, then meditate on outreach from self to others and the world while retracing my steps back out. 
     Though I thought about Kevin often and went so far as to write down ideas about our wedding, though we weren’t even engaged yet, it was one of the few times I didn’t get to talk with him once or twice a day on the phone.  For some reason, I still felt very close to him. Praying for us encouraged me about the prospects of our relationship and future together.
     It's truly miraculous what God has been doing in our lives since that summer of 2001.  Our marriage, our faith journeys, and our witness are all proof that nothing is impossible with God.  
     Lord, thank You for reminding us from time to time how far You have brought us, through the many twists and turns of life, in and out of joy and sorrow, with an ever sharper focus on You.  Amen.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer

St. Patrick's Breastplate is a popular prayer attributed to one of Ireland’s most beloved patron saints. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. (The term breastplate refers to a piece of armor worn in battle.)

More recent scholarship suggests its author was anonymous. In any case, this prayer certainly reflects the spirit with which St. Patrick brought our faith to Ireland! St. Patrick's Breastplate, also known as The Lorica (the cry of the deer), was popular enough to inspire a hymn based on this text as well.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

[Note that people sometimes pray a shorter version of this prayer just with these 15 lines about Christ above. The conclusion follows below.]

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

When St. Paul referred to putting on the “Armor of God” in his letter to the Ephesians (6:11) to fight sin and evil inclinations, he could have been thinking of prayers just like this one! We may not wear combat gear in our daily lives, but St. Patrick's Breastplate can function as divine armor for protection against spiritual adversity.

Friday, March 7, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila poem: In the Hands of God

I am Yours and born of You,
What do You want of me?
Majestic Sovereign,
Unending wisdom,
Kindness pleasing to my soul;
God sublime, one Being Good,
Behold this one so vile.
Singing of her love to you:
What do You want of me?

Yours, You made me,
Yours, you saved me,
Yours, you called me,
Yours, you awaited me,
Yours, I did not stray.
What do you want of me?

Good Lord, what do you want of me?
What is this wretch to do?
What work is this,
This sinful slave, to do?
Look at me, Sweet Love,
Sweet Love, look at me,
What do you want of me?

In Your hand
I place my heart,
Body, life and soul,
Deep feelings and affections mine,
Spouse – Redeemer sweet,
Myself offered now to you,
What do you want of me?

Give me death, give me life,
Health or sickness,
Honor or shame,
War or swelling peace,
Weakness or full strength,
Yes, to these I say,
What do you want of me?

Give me wealth or want,
Happiness or gloominess,
Heaven or hell,
Sweet life, sun unveiled,
To you I give all.
What do you want of me?

Give me, if You will, prayer;
Or let me know dryness,
And abundance of devotion,
or if not, then barrenness.
In you alone, Sovereign Majesty,
I find my peace,
What do You want of me?

Give me then wisdom,
Or for love, ignorance,
Years of abundance,
or hunger and famine.
Darkness or sunlight,
Move me here or there:
What do You want of me?

If You want me to rest,
I desire it for love;
If to labor,
I will die working:
Sweet Love say
Where, how and when.
What do You want of me?

Calvary or Tabor give me,
Desert or fruitful land;
As Job in suffering
Or John at Your breast;
Barren or fruited vine,
Whatever be Your will:
What do You want of me?

Be I Joseph Chained
Or as Egypt's governor,
David pained
Or exalted high,
Jonas drowned,
Or Jonas freed:
What do You want of me?

Silent or speaking,
Fruitbearing or barren,
My wounds shown by the Law,
Rejoicing in the tender Gospel;
Sorrowing or exulting,
You alone live in me:
What do you want of me?

Yours I am, for You I was born:
Yours I am, for You I was born:

What do You want of me?

Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 143) Love is Fully Present, Always Miraculous


-1-
Grace is… sharing a meal with another person of faith who serves as such a tremendous inspiration just by being who he/she is that you leave feeling more joyful and hopeful than when you arrived, a full-house for the Charismatic Mass held at a nearby parish, people who never cease to amaze or amuse you, unexpected answers to prayer, the Holy Spirit working in and through people in ways they don’t even begin to realize the significance of at the time…
-2-
All We Have There have been a number of things that have happened over the course of this week during which the Lord has reminded Kevin and I in no uncertain terms that He is ALL we have and that He gives us ALL we need.  For now, suffice it to say that we are blessed to serve an amazing God who has placed some really awesome people in our lives from which we can learn and grow!


-3-
Being Fully Present I had to give my Cursillo talk during team formation last Sunday, and after doing several versions and really stressing over it, I just did it.  I received some really positive feedback and some helpful constructive criticism.  I now know some of what the Lord inspired me to write in one of the versions in my talk that I didn't present to the team is meant to be shared elsewhere, perhaps on my blog, maybe in our memoir, definitely in our daily lives.  
Here’s a taste: Being fully present to others is one of the most important aspects of Apostolic Action.  Check back for a more in-depth look at this concept, as I’ve experienced it in my own life and seen it played out in the lives of others. 
                                                   
-4-
Stuff my husband says: “Sometimes I’m so far beyond irresistible it’s mindboggling, isn’t it?”

-5-
A Lenten Journey I enjoyed reading A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Thomas Aquinas with its single serving size insights from St. Thomas Aquinas to go with the Gospel readings for each day of Lent and Holy Week.  Dominican author Fr. Paul Jerome Keller has done a magnificent job of incorporating brief passages from one of the most well-known and widely read members of the Order of Preachers, Thomas Aquinas, into daily meditations that are perfect for the season of Lent.  Fr. Keller has selected poignant passages from Aquinas’s vast works as the precursor to his own short reflections and original prayers written on the Gospel for each day. ..Read more here.

-6-
Preparing for Lent Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  These practices are intended to bring us closer to Jesus not only as we prepare for the upcoming Easter season, but also as we move beyond it and live out our call to apostolic action.  Here is one of my favorite Lenten practices that was definitely the Holy Spirit inspiring my husband.

-7-
40 Days for Life The Lord has repeatedly asked His servants to devote time to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in preparation for a huge mission He intends to give them. Would you like to know what part of your mission is over the next 40 days?  Watch this video.  It’s under 5 minutes long and is about miracles.  

Check out Jen Fulwiler’s tradition of 7 Quick Takes Friday at her tremendously popular blog Conversion Diary.  

A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Thomas Aquinas

     “Prayer transforms us, for it is impossible to come into contact with God without being changed.  The change is proportional to our openness, our disposition, to being transformed by God.” (p. 24).    
     A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Thomas Aquinas is a wonderful resource to help Christians understand the importance of prayer, the necessity of ongoing transformation, and the value of the Sacraments.  This book is one that could easily be used for a group study as well as for journaling, personal prayer, and contemplation. 
     I enjoyed reading this book with its single serving size insights from St. Thomas Aquinas to go with the Gospel readings for each day of Lent and Holy Week.  Dominican author Fr. Paul Jerome Keller has done a magnificent job of incorporating brief passages from one of the most well-known and widely read members of the Order of Preachers, Thomas Aquinas, into daily meditations that are perfect for the season of Lent.  Fr. Keller has selected poignant passages from Aquinas’s vast works as the precursor to his own short reflections and original prayers written on the Gospel for each day.
     During the season of Lent, we are all encouraged to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  These practices are intended to bring us closer to Jesus not only as we prepare for the upcoming Easter season, but also as we move beyond it and live out our call to apostolic action. 
     If we are truly changed from the inside out by our encounters with the Lord, then we will not be content to return to our former ways.  We will be inspired and called to keep moving forward into a more intimate relationship with the Source of All Love and Mercy.       
     “The real benefit of prayer is that we are lifted to God; in our conversing with Him, which often should involve more listening than our own talking, we are deepened in our love of God.” (p. 23). 

       For more information or to order your copy of A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Thomas Aquinas, click here.  I received a free copy of this book from Tuscany Press in exchange for an honest review.
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