Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Sunday's Readings: Aug 22, 2010

A friend asked me whether I type out the readings when I post or copy them. I copy them from the USCCB website:

Reading 1, Is 66:18-21 says this:
Thus says the LORD:
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:
to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

As I read this, I cannot help but be filled with hope. I hope that this is a day that is coming, rather than a day that is past. I hope that the Lord will someday show His glory, gathering nations of every language, and turning their heart to Him. As sin and depravity are becoming more and more evident, as "tolerance" and "social justice" are being pushed and exemplified, and agendas are being forced into our lives, it's difficult not to wonder where is God? But also to wonder, what are we to do about all of this? It seems we are being bombarded by all sides. Evil is coming at us from the television, radio, internet, our children's schools, laws and regulations, these agendas and propaganda, the supermarket magazine racks... the list goes on and on. We're overwhelmed. Where do we start? What difference can we make? And what is to become of our children? I just read tonight a chapter in a book by James Dobson (Bringing up Boys, p202), in which he quotes a columnist named Ellen Goodman. She says, "But it occurs to me now that the call for 'parental responsibility' is increasing in direct proportion to the irresponsibility of the marketplace. Parents are expected to protect their children from an increasingly hostile environment.... Mothers and fathers are expected to screen virtually every aspect of their children's lives. To check the ratings on movies, to read the labels on the CDs, to find out if there's MTV in the house next door. All the while keeping in touch with school and, in their free time, earning a living." We must be everywhere at once. And even if we're able to do that, we can still end up feeling defeated. (And that's not to even mention the other atrocities that are occuring around the globe: the poor being oppressed by their own governments, children being taught radical violence, innocent people being caught in war, Christians being beaten for their convictions, etc)

But the Lord knows our thoughts. He knows our trials. And He knows the thoughts of our enemies. He will gather us; He will show us His glory, in Heaven if not before. Our hope is in Him, in His power and His glory, in His mercy, and in eternal life with Him. I do hope His plan includes showing His glory here on earth, before more souls are lost, but I do not know the mind of our Lord. Part of our purpose is to live in the hope He gives to us and to pass that hope down to the next generation, to our children, in the midst of all the depravity around us. In trying to help Blaise to behave during Mass (he did very well today, by the way. Yay!), I repeat the same thing to him week after week: "We can either have a nice time in the Church, or we can have a really bad time outside of the Church." I am not oblivious to the meaning beyond the words when I say this. We must teach this by word and example to our children: we can have joy and hope with God, or hopelessness and depravity away from God.

Reading 2 also fascinated me. It is Heb 12:5-7, 11-13:
Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

This reading also gives me hope. Does is seem to you, as it does to me, that often the way of the Christian life is an uphill road, a difficult journey? It seems it is filled with trials, for reasons I mentioned above, but also in countless other ways. But this "discipline" is also a gift in that it builds our character, gives us reason to rely on faith, and "brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it." If only it were not so difficult to be grateful for it and to see its fruitfulness during our times of trial. We are told by St Paul:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline...”

Discipline is an interesting word. It has such a horrible connotation. We use in synonymously with words such as punishment. One definition of discipline is: "Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement" ( God then shows His love for us through disciplining us, helping us and training us in moral thought and behavior, teaching us His ways, drawing us closer to Himself, and stripping us of that which is worldly that we may not become tainted. A challenge here is to remain grateful and hopeful during those times of discipline, looking forward to our increased righteousness before God and the intimacy our reliance on God will bring us to.

And the Gospel (Lk 13:22-30):
Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Because I want to do this passage justice and don't feel able to do so, I will turn to The Better Part by John Bartunek, LC, again: "Christ himself is the way to salvation and fulfillment. Salvation comes from actually following him, from striving to know him better and from obeying his teaching. This is the narrow door, because he is demanding. It is possible to be labeled a Christian on the outside without really making an effort to follow the Christian way in our hearts, or to go to Church and be seen frequently at the parish without ever really entering into a committed, life-changing, personal relationship with Christ....
"He told us to 'try your best' to enter into his Kingdom, because 'many will try to enter and will not succeed.' Certainly, the Church teaches that without the help of divine grace no one can live in eternal friendship with God, but Jesus is emphasizing here that we each must do our part as well. If we settle for a comfortable, self-satisfying Christianity, we may be deceiving ourselves - instead of building up God's Kingdom, we may in fact be erecting an idolatrous house of cards. The spiritual life is a battle, as the Church never tires of telling us, and we are not to take victory for granted....
"Because Christ is a true friend, he sees the heart. Many times those who seem great or holy by the world's standards are filled with selfishness and arrogance, while those whom the world despises are filled with humility and wisdom. But Jesus will correct this injustice: 'There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.'... If we trust only in Christ, in his goodness and love, we will learn to see as he sees, and when judgment day comes, we won't have to worry about any surprises."

Lord, please let us know Your presence as we undergo our discipline, becoming the people we were created to be. May we not lose hope as we face trials and as we fend off temptations and evil, but rely on You all the more. May we not put on airs of Christianity but honestly and fervently strive for true holiness for ourselves, our spouses, and our children.

I will be away from my blog for a little more than a week. Andy and I are traveling north to spend 4 days together, while our boys enjoy some time with Grandma and Grandpa. Then we'll be traveling back to my parents' house, and I'll spend time with them and the boys while Andy is in a 3 day long hockey referee seminar. Please say a quick prayer for our family and for a little time for Andy and I to de-stress before another semester swallows us up! I will also pray for all of you as I am falling asleep tonight. God bless you all!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How old do you think I am??

Lately, I've been telling Isaac, "You're my favorite 3 1/2 year old!" and Blaise, "You're my favorite 5 year old!"

Yesterday, Blaise pulled me over to him and told me, "Mommy, you're my favorite 90 year old!"

Coming soon... a post on Isaac. I realize he doesn't get much press around here, so he's going to get a full update when I am able to.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday Gospel Reading 8/15/10

The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

I have to confess I am too tired to do this wonderful reading justice. I hope to do better tomorrow. For now, I will simply say this reading affords me a chance to reflect on how very blessed I am, in the wonderful friends I have and the recent visits I have had with a few of them, in my amazing husband and children, and in God's presence and the work He performs in my life.

Lord, thank You so very much for all You've given each of us and for Your sweet presence. Thank you for being true to Your promises and loyal and unreserved in Your love for us.

A Rough Day

Blaise: "I had a rough day today.

I played a lot, ate a lot, and had ice cream.

Now I'm tired."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Favorite Catholic Prayers

Sarah, from With a Hopeful Heart, tagged me in this special Catholic meme. Check out her blog if you haven't already - especially her Aug 1 post. She's got some VERY EXCITING news that is just too great to not share.

Here are the rules:

"Name your three most favorite Catholic devotional prayers, and explain why they're your favorites. Then tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme. The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I'm more interested in people's favorite devotional prayers."

1. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, including Benediction when I am able to make it for that part. I love sitting with Jesus when He is so present. It is such a special blessing. As I tell my sons, it's Mommy's favorite place to go (between that and sitting in an empty church in front of the tabernacle) when I'm feeling sad or have something I need to talk to Jesus about. What a blessing He has given Himself to us in that way - to be present to us and to become a part of us!

2. I'm going to combine two because the reason we started one was because of the other. The Brown Scapular and The Rosary. Andy and I started a daily devotion to the Rosary almost 3 1/2 years ago when we started to wear the Brown Scapular in the tradition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It can be an outward expression of my faith and can make people think about God and Mary, or wonder what that tiny brown strap is. I've gotten surprisingly few questions about it, though. It also gives me hope of protection as well as an increased sense of responsibility to my faith. Regarding the Rosary, I admit it is very difficult for me to say it daily, partially because I am still learning how to make time for it. I admit too that my mind wanders too often while saying it. But it is a very special prayer to Mary, and when I pray it with my heart, I do see its fruits.

3. The Morning Offering. I typically make up my own, giving Jesus and Mary my upcoming day, all the trials and the joys, all my prayers and hopes, my family and work, and anything else coming that day, asking that they be with me. After having taken a long break from saying the Morning Offering, I am working on saying it again each morning. I'm slowly starting to say a short morning offering with the boys as well, hoping it will become a normal part of their daily lives.

On an aside, a couple people have mentioned devotion to St Anne, the mother of Mary. I am feeling perhaps a calling to have a deeper devotion to her as well. Thank you, Sarah, for including your prayer to St. Anne in your meme.

And as for those I will tag, here they are:

1) Katie at HuMAMAe Vitae
2) Allison at A Broken Fortress.
3) Tracy at A Catholic Mom in Minnesota
4) Krissy at A Fruitful Vine
5) The first reader to comment on this post, not including those above.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Countdown to Graduation: 10 months

10 months until Andy graduates! The countdown continues...