Friday, March 27, 2015

Overcoming The Lies and Tasting the Resurrection

Below is a powerful and honest piece originally posted on www.joyfulmysteries.me written by my friend @heatherkhym

Perhaps we have all felt this way at times and we all long to taste the Resurrection.

Great job, Heather.

Your Real 

I could see it coming from 1000 miles away. The place I could end up if I wasn’t careful. The place so many strong ones have gone before….never to return.  When I suddenly found myself questioning the things I thought I was most certain about, honestly, it freaked me out.  My daily prayer became, “God, please save me…from myself.”
I’ve been Catholic my whole life, and at 14 had an encounter with God that was so real and deep it forever changed the course of my life.  I knew He was real, and out of hundreds of people in the room that night, He saw me, chose me, and came for little old me.  Only He knew my story, a shy, broken girl who was paralyzed by fear.  He knew how much I needed Him and He rescued me from the dark and brought me into the light. 
I’ve been working in lay ministry in the Church for 21 years now and my faith has been a constant.  I have seen both tragedies and miracles and when hardships in life came, I was anchored in my trust of the One who could see me and who loved me.  So, how did I get here, to the point of questioning almost everything?
I think we all know those voices in our head that are at war against the voice of God and His plan for us.  They are like tapes replaying familiar songs full of twisted lies.  Things like… “you are never going to be good enough, you will always end up disappointed, you are unloveable, you can’t trust anyone, you are so ugly, you don’t really matter, you will never be safe.” Oh, so familiar.  
The problem with the tape is that it sounds so damn true!  In moments that you are aching or crying out, the enemy’s whispers lies that are chillingly “true” and the voice of God fades fast.  Usually we get so intoxicated with the lie and soon find ourselves a broken mess on the floor, taken out by the enemy again, wondering, “how did I get here???”. 
In the midst of this recurring battle, something I’ve realized is that precisely in those moments, when the enemy begins to whisper, I have a choice.  I’m back in the garden of Eden with two trees to choose from, life or death.  The lies have no power on their own, but if I choose to agree with them, well….then the assault begins.  
The enemy always fights dirty and lately he has come on strong, with an unrelenting assault on my heart.  The uncanny life events coupled with his violent, persistent lies led me into a place where I was questioning everything from my calling, to being loveable, to wondering if there is even a place for me in my beloved Church.  It all seemed so true….and isn’t that the story of humanity?  The beloved turning from the Lover to trust the evil one who has no love for her and seeks only to destroy her.  I was beginning to agree with the lies and was drowning in doubt. I was losing myself. 
I struggled to speak truth to my weary heart. Honestly at times I just couldn’t do it, so like a parent making their child take their medicine, I force fed myself inspiring podcasts, books, and worship music letting them speak the truth over my life that I desperately needed.  Over a few months, I prayed, I fumed, I cried, I ranted, I ached, and finally conceded to the fact that I could not do it alone.  In my blindness and self reliance, I couldn’t see my desperate need for reinforcements.   I have no idea why it still takes me so long to realize my need to reach out to someone who can help.  
I called a close priest friend. A dear, trusted priest friend who knows me well and who recalled God’s story over my life, reminded me of truth of who I was and threw down some major spiritual warfare. Finally something broke and my head was lifted out of the choking waves.  This well loved psalm came to mind:
Psalm 18
He reached down from on high and seized me;
drew me out of the deep waters.
He rescued me from my mighty enemy,
from foes too powerful for me.
They attacked me on my day of distress,
but the Lord was my support.
He set me free in the open;
he rescued me because he loves me.
The breakthrough wasn’t anything earth shattering. But, I could finally breathe again and the screeching static separating God’s voice from my ears lifted. The veil got thin and Christ was suddenly close and whispering for me to come away with Him again.
A few days later on a family trip to Tennessee, I went to the Nashville Dominicans’ motherhouse with my family.  Its a beautiful place filled with beautiful, joyful sisters.  Within a few minutes of my arrival, my eyes welled up with tears. I could feel it, my nostalgic soul waking.  Something sacred was happening, God was coming close again.  
That place was so saturated in prayer and peace. The stillness, the smell of stone and incense, the stained glass.  I realized how homesick I had been for this.  It wasn’t the convent, it was the mysterious passing through the veil from the worldly into the sacred, where the truth, beauty and goodness of God quickly calms the restless heart.  I stood breathing it in, remembering how much I have missed the secret place and the aroma of heaven.  This is the challenge and the gift, to have this place in my heart that always remains, where the lies have no power and the encounter with God is happening, where His truth is the song over my life.  The funny thing is, I could have had it all along, but my choices to agree with the lies and ugly patterns of thought created solitude and separation from the One my heart was so longing to be with.  The lies aren’t gone, they are being whispered to me daily, but the difference is that I have clarity to see and agree with the truth instead.  It is my choice and I’m choosing to stay close Jesus.
As I’m approaching Holy Week, my prayer for myself and for all of us is that the power of the resurrection would become a deeper reality in all of the dead places in us, the lost ones, the broken ones, the ones filled with lies and that we begin to truly live as children of our faithful and loving Father.  Here’s a worship song by one of my favourite worship leaders called “Christ the Rock”.  It’sa been a good reminder to me.
  
Heather lives in Canada with her hunky husband, and raises three beautiful amazing talented children, and a cute pup. She is passionate about ministry, music, family, and good coffee. She loves God, and lives to serve him First. She loves long walks on the beach and has great hair… -joyful mysteries.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Passing Look At Football

Below is a great article by Sr. Anne Marie Walsh as Super Bowl Sunday draws near...

A Passing Look At Football 

This is a hard article to write because I love football.  


I come from a family of nine:  Mom, Dad, 6 brothers and myself.  From late August through January,  the Sunday family ritual always included football.  Packers football. No question.  We all went to Mass together, and when we came home, Dad gave Mom a break by feeding all of us ham and rolls from the local bakery.  

Then, we settled in front of the TV for time together, united in one and the same desire for a good game and a win for our team.  It was something we were all a part of.   As a girl, I was not excluded.   A fan is a fan after all!  We loved being able to throw ourselves into the game with Dad.   And he enjoyed teaching us all he knew.  As a result, I can talk football with the best of them.  Every game links me back to the feels, smells, tastes and high excitement of Sunday afternoons growing up.

So what is the problem?  It is difficult to admit but my observation is that football today (which I still watch and enjoy) has become a kind of liturgy of the secular culture.  And unfortunately, it is the only "liturgy" many people participate in on a weekend.  

Humor me for a minute and consider the typical game.  There is a communal gathering, most often on a Sunday. People arrive hours ahead of time, prepared to celebrate.  They are willing to sit in open air stadiums, through rain, sleet, snow and even subzero temps, hoping  to participate in their teams' victory.   The Game begins with an entrance procession in which the specially vested (uniformed) enter the sanctuary (I mean arena).  An opening hymn (National Anthem) is sung.  The seating of the congregation (fans/crowd) takes place, and the beginning of long commentaries (or mini homilies) on the game play starts.  The crowd has the "appropriate" responses, before, during and after.  And, of course, there is special football food and drink.  The homage paid is evidenced by the offering of incredible amounts of time, money and attention on both sides of the ball, by the Management, and by the fans.  All elements of Liturgy, but without the Divine.  Interesting.

I find myself wondering about these players today.  There are many I admire, who 
acknowledge God for their gifts and express gratitude for His help.  (I do wonder if they're given time on Game Day for worship.)  But there are also many I've had to mentally "unfriend" after learning about the lack of integrity in their personal lives.  This is not because I am any better than anyone out there.  I have my sins too.  But at the same time being gifted doesn't give anyone the right to behave like a jerk, especially as a public figure who has a part in shaping the attitudes of youth. No free passes here.

Disinhibition is a growing contemporary phenomenon that is alive and well in the world of sports.  Fame nowadays seems to give stars license to do and say almost anything they feel like, with little repercussion.  It can bring out the worst, just as it does on the internet, where there seems to be hardly a filter left.  (Witness the commentary after any article or post.  It is 90 % negative, filled with incivility and vitriol.  It is embarrassing to see the level that people regress to when there is no moderating influence on them.)

Personally, I prefer to see character, not beast mode, on display.  It is mortifying to see grown men behave with vulgarity and crudeness, braggadocio and temper tantrums, gifted or not.  Ego can be an ugly thing to watch.  And were it not for penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, who knows how far it would go? 

When I discover I have been duped by a public  persona I am always disappointed and it causes me to back up. Public image does not make the man.  And being gifted can create a lot of illusions we eagerly buy into.  In our minds we can form one-sided, sentimental relationships with our favorite players (Hollywood star, musician, etc.), all based in fantasy.  We idolize people who don't actually exist because we've made them up in our minds.  In a similar way, women complain about being loved just for their bodies and not known for who they really are.  So it is good to "unfriend" these kinds of ghosts.

Mind you, football, like most everything, has always had it's bad guys.  And nobody who knows the game wants it regulated into a tea party.  But really, when increasing violence becomes the objective, and winning at all costs is the only motivation, (witness Spygate, Bountygate, Deflategate, etc.) then something is wrong.  The game is on the dangerous road to the Roman coliseum.  No joke.

I find myself wondering about us too.  It is a strange enmeshment.  Our own identities become wrapped up with our teams.  We're no longer merely fans.  When we say we're going to the Super Bowl we mean it personally.  And we sometimes take it personally when
our teams don't do well, as if they have directly failed us and altered our lives forever.  It must be a great weight for particular players to realize that thousands, perhaps even millions, are vicariously living out their own desires for success and excellence through them.  

Fantasy of course, in the world of the football money changers is now big business too.  And money does  drive the game.  But it's worth remembering that the coin of Caesar is not the currency of heaven.  And Hollywood stars, sports heroes and any famous person, will not find entrance there based on their popularity, or performance in their field.  They may be known the world-over, yet still hear The Lord say:  "Depart from Me.  I never knew you." One of my favorite quarterbacks recently said he doesn't think God "cares a whole lot about the outcome (of a game).  He cares about the people involved."  -A Rodgers, SI wire.  I agree.  As Jesus said: "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world yet lose his soul."  Mark 8:36. The measure of success in this world is hardly the measure of success in the next.

So, is there room for football on a Sunday?  I hope so.  With a few cautions.   Like anything we enjoy, there is a temptation to go overboard and to give inordinate amounts of attention to what we love until before we know it we're in a kind of bondage to it.   

It's good to remember that worship and recreation/ entertainment, are different things.  And it's good to remember, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen pointed out that “If you do not worship God, you worship something, and nine times out of ten it will be yourself."   (Sports can definitely become a vehicle for the vicarious worship of oneself, even as a spectator.)   Archbishop Sheen reminded us, " we have a duty to worship God, not because He will be imperfect and unhappy if we do not, but because we will be imperfect and unhappy.”  He also wisely noted that  "All these externalizations are signs that we are trying to escape God and the cultivation of the soul".  So, first things first.  

In the meantime it is helpful to understand that our attraction to physical and moral excellence touches on our yearning for the transcendent, which will only be completely realized in Christ.  He is the fullness of all excellence! That is why excellence is exciting to see in any area.  Sports is no exception.  Pope John Paul II expresses this beautifully:

"...every sport, at both the amateur and competitive level, requires basic human qualities such as rigorous preparation, continual training, awareness of one’s personal limits, fair competition, acceptance of precise rules, respect for one’s opponent and a sense of solidarity and unselfishness. Without these qualities, sport would be reduced to mere effort and to a questionable, soulless demonstration of physical strength.

“When sports are played and understood in the right way, they are an extraordinary expression of a person’s best inner energies and of his ability to overcome difficulties, to set goals to be reached through sacrifice, generosity and determination in facing the difficulties of competition.”

All lessons  to be learned and disciplines to be cultivated in facing the  ever present challenges and battles that need to be won in our own lives!  

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT 

I Will Follow

Check out this incredible new vocations video produced by Ascension Press! God is still calling heroic men to follow Him to the priesthood. Know of any? Watch it and pass it on!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Man, Woman and the Meaning of Life

I am absolutely loving this incredible video series on man, woman and marriage that debuted this week at Humanum, an international colloquium in Rome.

This series is visually captivating and deeply substantive. So beautiful!

Here is the trailer that introduces the series of six short documentaries. Check out the rest on the Humanum youtube page.

Watch, learn and share.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Loved As I Am

I am delighted to announce the November 3rd release of my first book, Loved As I Am.

Read a sample here and buy it at www.avemariapress.com

Thank you!


Auto-correct Humanity?

Thought-provoking

Synods and Such

Twitter and the blogosphere has been abuzz regarding the report released Monday by the participants of Synod on the Family. It was a gut-check for a lot of Catholics while others hailed the "revolutionary" language of the document regarding marriage, same-sex attraction and birth control.

Fr. Robert Barron posted one of the best responses to the document that I have seen. I appreciate his honest, historical perspective on what seems like a daunting synodal direction.

Let us continue to pray and fast for all those who are participating in the Synod. Dealing with crises is never easy- where it be the topics of Christology, salvation or what it means to be human. I think we would all like a tidy discussion on these matters with a swift, orthodox consensus. However, even from the beginning of Christianity, it has never been a tidy affair. From the beginning we see things like weakness, betrayal, deceit and cowardice. And I think if we are honest, we see those things in ourselves at times. We ALL need the grace of God who gives us every good thing.

Yet, in all of our "crooked lines", God makes a pathway. Let us continue to allow God to purify our motives and sentiments. May He embolden us to speak the truth with love, even when it's hard.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Awesome New Blog

The most popular guest blogger on my blog, Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, now has her own site! Read her wisdom at: http://missionaryinthemodernworld.blogspot.com

Sr. Anne Marie is our former SOLT General Superior and she has an incredible ministry in the areas of healing of families and women's ministry. Visit her site and invite her to speak at your parish today!!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Divine Love

From Sr. Anne Marie Walsh-


The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Urgency of Divine Love
In 1673, Jesus began appearing  to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Visitation Order, in Paray Le Monial, France.  He revealed to her the tender wonders of His love for her, desiring through her to share these same wonders with the whole world.  

In the course of His revelations to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus complained of our ingratitude.  But His complaint was weighted with the sorrow of a lover who knows not what else He can do to gain the attention of his beloved, a beloved who is totally distracted and uncomprehending.  In the great apparition which occurred sometime during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1675, He said, in what must have been an imploring spirit, "Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.”

We should ask ourselves: What is it we behold, what is it we see, when we look at the Heart of Christ? What is Jesus trying so hard to show us?

It is interesting that Jesus says: "Behold the heart," and not:  "Behold My heart."  Jesus, in His Incarnation, comes to reveal the Father to us. Scripture says Jesus "is the image of the invisible God." (Col 1:15) He tells the Apostles:  "If you see Me, you see the Father."  (Jn 14:9)

So is He not really saying: "Behold the Heart...which is the Heart of the Father.  If you only knew the depths of His love!” ?

One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in the father of the prodigal son. The younger son, returning home after losing everything, though genuinely repentant, is in survival mode. He approaches the father completely broken by his own sinful choices. He has utterly spurned his father's love and squandered every gift that has been given to him.

Yet the love in the heart of the father who has been anxiously watching and praying for his son's return sees only that his son is back.  And though the son has no real expectations, other than to be treated as a slave, the father's response instead is an explosion of love! He orders the best robe, a ring for his finger, sandals for his feet, and the commencement of a feast!  His heart has no other response.  Not anger, not judgment, not punishment.  Only rejoicing, tearful embraces, and celebration! Perhaps we are sometimes held back from approaching or returning to our Father, because we have the same poor expectations as the prodigal son did.  Our defective appreciation of God's love only harms us!

The sufferings of our lives, especially those that come from our sinful choices, wound our hearts and often plunge us into our own little hells on earth.  But the Wound in the Heart of Christ, which we caused, is different.  It is a gateway into the Father's love.  Entering that Wound takes us on our first steps into Heaven.

Witness the promises of Jesus to those who recognize His love, the Father's love, and seek to live in the Heart that is the source of that love.  These promises were given to St. Margaret Mary as part of the revelations of Divine Love and are made to those who are devoted to Jesus' Sacred Heart:

1.  I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2.  I will establish peace in their families.

3.  I will console them in all their troubles.

4.  They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.

5.  I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6.  Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.

7.  Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8.  Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9.  I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.

10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.

12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Does that not already sound like Heaven begun on earth?  Isn't that what we're seeking? 

But there's even more.  Poor as we really are, and we are all poor in the presence of God, just as stripped as the prodigal son, we have the possibility of being able to bring joy and consolation to the Heart of Jesus, to the Heart of the Father, by returning to Him, by remembering Him in the ways He asks above.  This helps repair, in some mysterious and superabundant way, the hurt Jesus feels, the hurt the Father feels, over the indifference and ingratitude of the vast majority of men.  When we behold the Heart that has loved us so, these are small requests.  But fulfilling them can transform our lives.  And at the end of our lives, these practices will safely lead us through the Wound of Divine Love into the glory of Eternity.

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT

Late Post

Sorry I have not posted on the blog in a long time! My twitter account is a lot more active- check it out: @onegroovynun