Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 6



Sixth Day
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of  Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.


The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 5



Fifth Day
"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church,
and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion." 

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 4



Fourth Day
"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.



The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 3



Third Day
"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness."

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 2

Second Day:
"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.


The Divine Mercy Chaplet

Friday, April 18, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena - Day 1






The Divine Mercy Novena begins today. I pray this Novena each year and will carry the entire Novena on my blog. It's a favorite of mine. I pray the daily intentions followed by The Divine Mercy Chaplet. (You can read about Divine Mercy Sunday and the plenary indulgence granted here.)

First Day (Good Friday)
"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Do not Feed the Bears"



Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons



When trying to cope with bad thoughts an important thing to remember is this:

DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!

This is critical.

The last thing you want to do is feed those snarling, ugly "bear" thoughts prowling through your head. No, we want to starve them not feed them. I guarantee that if they are fed they will consume far more than you think. Feed them and they'll hang around wanting more. Starve them and they'll go quietly. Well, maybe after a few growls for effect. But if you don't feed them they are all bark, no bite. They eventually go.

When I was young I fed the bears generously each day and pretty soon they grew fat and healthy and consumed almost everything, including most of my joy. Worse than that, they multiply when well fed. I mean let's face it, it's pretty hard to feel joyous when joyless thoughts are prowling through your head constantly.

And peace?

Forget about it. I had none. Or very little, at least.

And I lived this way for years. How I managed I'll never know.

But I DID learn eventually.

In my last post I brought up looking for the underlying issue that may be exacerbating the toxic thoughts, in this one I am addressing the thinking itself. If you feed or give weight to the thoughts they get worse. You don't want to AGREE with the thoughts in any way, shape or form. They are not worthy of your worry and certainly not worth losing your peace over. Thoughts are not sinful unless the will gets involved. Random "thought bombs", as aggravating as they might be, are not sinful. That is, they are not sinful unless you choose to make them so. (Note for the scrupulous - noticing the thoughts are there does not mean you are agreeing with them.) It's interesting to note that many great saints had to deal with blasphemous thoughts, sometimes barrages of them, and yet stayed peaceful, such was their humility.

 An example would be: if you are bombarded with angry thoughts, don't give your consent to them. Don't let the thoughts have any power over you. In reality, they don't - you are in charge and you decide whether or not to give these thoughts weight.

Have you ever noticed that when you dwell on angry thoughts your anger increases?

This is what I mean.

Do not feed the bears.

I can't get over how many people believe they have committed the unpardonable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, because satan dropped a random "thought bomb" or two about the Holy Spirit into their heads. It's one of the most common questions I find in the keywords of this blog. This is NOT blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. (Truth is - I fell for this one when I was young too. Many do, which is probably why satan loves this particular thought bomb. Even Billy Graham fell for it as a young man.)

The difference between a few bad "thought bombs" (or a barrage of them) and the pattern of thinking I mentioned in my previous post is that praising God will usually get rid of the first fairly easily but the second tends to come back because the underlying problem hasn't been taken care of.

Ignoring "thought bombs" is good and often recommended.

You can also offer it up in reparation for sin.  I like this one.

I mean, you gotta hand it to the Catholic Church - nothing is ever wasted, is it?  (Grin)




Helpful tips for those under siege:
~ Praise helps
~ If you offer it up, once during a barrage is sufficient. (You don't want to give it too much attention.           Focus on the good, not the bad.)
~ You can also ignore it.
~ Go do something that requires your full attention. Often this is enough to do the trick.
~ Don't worry about it - you don't want to give it extra weight. There are other things more worthy
    of our attention.







Friday, April 11, 2014

Toxic Thoughts - Part 1




Toxic thoughts used to be the bane of my existence. Looking back, I can see just how much they affected my life. I wasn't really fully aware of them at the time. I thought my thinking was normal. The toxic thoughts were more like a background noise, subtle at times but almost always there if I payed attention. My thinking definitely leaned toward the negative side. Like a tape being played over and over again. These thoughts were like bloodthirsty leeches, slowly draining my energy, my peace, my joy. When I DID become aware of how problematic my thinking processes were I tried to do something to overcome them.

But kept failing.

Why?

Because I placed my focus on overcoming the bad thoughts without understanding that there were underlying issues feeding them. It was like trying to bail out a leaky boat with a straw. How can it work if you don't fix the leak first?

Fix the leak. Then you can bail out the water.

In my case, repressed/suppressed anger was one of the culprits fueling the toxic thoughts. I've spoken about this in numerous posts so I won't go into detail here except to say that you have a much better chance of conquering negative thinking if you deal with the underlying issue first. You can be mild-mannered on the surface and still have a lot of anger simmering deep inside. The surface mildness may just be saying that you have good control. Mine was rigid.

Even now, I have to be diligent in the area of my thought life because negative thoughts still like to creep in on occasion and if I am not careful they wreak havoc in a very short time. Anyone who has struggled with this knows how difficult it can be to overcome poisonous thinking processes. There aren't any "quick fixes", at least there weren't for me. I guess God could certainly cure a person of this in an instant but usually He doesn't work this way. It usually takes time, grace, and effort before we see lasting changes in this area.

In other words, He supplies the grace, you supply the effort. You work in tandem like a tag team.

So, the first way to deal with unwanted thoughts is to ask God to help you with the underlying issues lurking beneath the surface that may be helping to fuel the thoughts. Once these are addressed you can
start  actively working on getting rid of the thoughts themselves.

Some people may not even be aware that they struggle with toxic thoughts but it's not difficult to find out if you do. For a few days, pay attention to where your thoughts go. Don't dwell on them, just see if you can notice subtle poisonous thought patterns aimed at yourself or others. Thoughts such as:

"God doesn't really want to help me."

"I'm not good enough."

"I'll never be able to do this!"

"I can't lose weight! I'll always be fat and ugly."

These are just examples. Look for any patterns of cutting yourself or others down. Check for accusatory thoughts aimed at yourself or others. Note any patterns of despair:

"He/she (or I) will never change!"

"This is hopeless!"

"I hate my life!"

Remember, you are not looking for occasional bad thoughts that pop up, you are looking for recurrent patterns or themes. Thoughts that consistently come to mind when you aren't caught up in an activity that holds your attention. The good thing is that the thoughts themselves will give you an idea of the underlying issue.

For instance, some consistent patterns of thinking can point towards a particular Deadly Sin that may need to be worked on, so as frustrating as it may be to deal with such thoughts they can actually help you pinpoint certain areas of your life that may need work. To give you an example, if the thoughts tend toward:

God doesn't want to help me/ I am all alone and God doesn't care/ I'll probably go to hell, God doesn't love me/ God is always silent (thoughts that doubt the goodness of God) - it may be a good idea to look at sloth first.

If the thoughts tend toward:

I never do anything right/ I'm such a loser/ I can't keep up/ I hate myself (etc..) you can look for suppressed/repressed anger issues (and these thoughts may suggest that you have difficulty forgiving yourself so praying for humility may help as well).

If you DO find "negative brain tapes", don't worry.

God already knows about them and wants to open up this area to His grace.

In brief, step one is to come to terms with the underlying issue (or issues) such as anger, envy, unforgiveness, despair, (etc...) by admitting you have trouble in this area and asking for God to help you with it. Once you face the problem, you can tackle the thoughts themselves which I talk about in my next post.




Next post: Do not Feed the Bears





 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Time Gluttony


James Tissot: Wikimedia Commons




I suffer from a strange malady.

I am a "time" glutton.

Let me explain:

I have to force myself to be generous with my time. (Notice the "my" that comes before time.) And it doesn't come easily for me.

See, I like to cram as much as I can into as little time as possible so that each moment is ready to explode like a volcano because it is stuffed beyond its capacity.

In other words, I have a tendency to multi-task. Multi-tasking robs me of my peace and makes me feel as if I am rushing through life and using my time unwisely. And that is exactly what I am doing. I know it, I fight against it...and still catch myself stuffing each moment with too many things. Too much thinking, too much activity.

A wise use of time is to focus on the task at hand. To give it your full attention and live in the present moment.

Sadly, I often don't even notice the present moment because I'm too busy overfilling it.

Just sayin'.

It's okay if you think this is an odd thing to post about.

I think so too.








Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Evening of the Visitation




The Evening of the Visitation
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance,

While you, full moon, wise queen,

Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven,

And travel no less stately in the summer sky

Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.



The woods are silent with the sleep of doves,

The valleys with the sleep of streams,

And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest.

Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat

Preach and say prayers:

You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours,

Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn,

Seems to have seen, this day,

Into the secret of the Lord's Nativity.



Now at the fall of night, you shocks,

Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings

The way you did this golden morning when you saw God's

Mother passing,

While all our windows fill and sweeten

With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.



You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses

Your gentle benedictions.

Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy

influence,

Blesses our rooves and eaves,

Our shutters, lattices and sills,

Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms,

Smiling by night upon her sleeping children:

O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven.

                                           
                                          Thomas Merton

Sunday, March 9, 2014

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. Got it?


"See? I created day and night and it WAS good."



Some people love Daylight Savings Time - they enjoy the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.

Me? Not so much.

I never understood (barring wartime) why anyone wants an extra hour of light at the end of the day.

People who struggle with insomnia do not like Daylight Savings Time.

And you know who else hates DST?

New moms, that's who. They hate Daylight Savings Time. With a passion I might add.

And Moms with babies and young children? They hate DST too. Messes up the sleep schedules and all other schedules in the house.

You know who else hates it?

The dads who have to deal with the grouchy moms and kids.

Teenagers also hate it. (What's new?)

People who have to get up early for work hate DST - nurses, doctors, EMT's, firemen, policemen, pharmacists, etc...

The folks who work at bakeries, doughnut shops, TV news (and radio) stations hate it as well.

And dogs hate DST. They can't figure out why their human doesn't come home from work when they are supposed to anymore and why their walk and food schedules are all messed up. They have to wait at the door a lot. For nothing.

So, there are tons of people who hate DST.

And by the looks of the half-empty pews at Mass this morning we are the majority rather than the minority.

Which means God doesn't like Daylight Savings Time either. "My people, my people, what is wrong with the day as I created it? Must you control time itself?"

Yes, Lord, I guess we must. The proof is in the chocolate pudding. (Oops, sorry...one of those Lenten Freudian slips.)

Man, it felt good to let that out. Been brewin' for ten tears (okay...now THAT proves it, folks - I wrote tears instead of years by accident and the reason for that accident is because...

... my frain is bried due to Staylight Raving Lunatic Time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Healing Balm for the Soul

An Allegory of Man


What is the cure for the soul that is weary? What is the antidote to a world stricken with vice? The remedy for the soul overwhelmed by despair?

What "sweetens" the crosses we bear?

The answer is one and the same for all of the questions above.

Virtues. Those God given helps for the soul. The beautiful "coat of many colors" the soul needs to be cloaked in...that God yearns to cover its nakedness, its poverty, with so it doesn't walk about the world completely exposed to that which seeks to harm it.

In the painting above, "An Allegory of Man", Man is being attacked by the Seven deadly Sins and Death, but is shielded by the Seven Virtues. We have really gotten away from studying and practicing the virtues in the past century and this loss is becoming more noticeable each day as the proliferation of every kind of sin and vice sweeps across humanity. Sometimes it's hard to believe that we can be so obdurate in our unwillingness to see what is as plain as the nose on our face:

The world is drowning in the Seven Deadly Sins. We all struggle with them but millions have given themselves over to them completely.

The loss of the practice of virtue in this world has had tragic repercussions. One of the effects of the Deadly sins is that they do in fact have a deadening effect on the soul. The soul grows numb and weary. It cannot function properly in the manner that it was created to - as a clean and holy temple of the Holy Spirit. It loses its sense of being closely connected to God. The soul falls asleep, you could say.

We are a people who are snoring their way into oblivion. An oblivion where no one exists except me, myself, and I. The ultimate dreamworld where the only god that exists is the god of self. A world where people have forgotten both God and neighbor. (Oh, wait, so sorry...I forgot that this "dreamworld" actually has a name. Hell, I think it's called. )

The virtues on the other hand "wake up" the soul. They have a vivifying effect on it because their source is God. When the soul is not coated in virtues it feels their absence because the spiritual state of man depends on the virtues. We have lost our understanding of the protection virtues give us, a truth which the people of past centuries understood well.

When our physical bodies are ill they manifest clear symptoms so that we know something is wrong. It's the same for our souls - they too manifest spiritual symptoms so that we may take note and apply the remedies needed to cure its ills.

And God has given us so many remedies.

 One of the greatest is Confession, which purges the soul of the poisons within it. Once the poison is cleared, the virtues have the necessary room to take root, flourish and grow. Not confessing our sins is like trying to plant a seed in rocky soil, the plant has no room to grow because the soil (of the soul) is so poor. Confession removes the rocks and preps the soil.

Prayer is the conduit through which the soil is watered.

Holy Scripture and the Eucharist feed it. (Anyone who likes gardening knows soil needs to be fertilized to produce anything worthwhile.)

The virtues protect it and cause the soil of the soul to produce fruit abundantly.

Let's turn the tide of sin and despair in our world today by praying for and practicing the virtues.


Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.
                   St Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bucket of Virtues for Kids (And Adults too!)

 Keep Love in Lent 2014

Join in on the 2nd Annual Keep Love in Lent Link-Up!
Add your inspiring LENT post at one of the following Catholic Blogs:

Catholic Bloggers Network

  Equipping Catholic Families (Monica)
 Campfires and Cleats (Chris)
 Truly Rich Mom  (Tina)
A Slice of Smith Life (Tracy)
and discover NEW WAYS to Keep LOVE in LENT!

For Lent, our family usually makes a fasting cup which we fill with slips of paper that have things that we can fast from listed on them but we decided to do something different this year:

Michaela and I have been studying virtues lately and since the best way to learn is by doing I decided that a "virtues bucket" would be the best and most practical way for her to integrate the virtues into her daily life.


We used an old plastic coffee container as a bucket, decorated it, and then cut out flowers and butterflies and wrote down a virtue on each one. On the reverse side of the cards we wrote down
which vice the virtue opposes or what help the virtue gives.



Each day we will pick one card from the "virtues bucket" and will then put into practice for that day the particular virtue we have picked. At the end of the day, after our evening prayer, we will go over the opportunities we had to practice the virtue and how we can further work the virtue into our everyday lives.

The list of virtues we used can be found here (Theological and Cardinal Virtues, along with a good activity that will help kids learn about them) and here (the moral virtues).


Have a blessed Lent!

(Can you tell I just dusted? Yep, Mom is practicing "diligence" today!)


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Your Biggest Cross

Sisyphus: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rumor has it that a newspaper once sent out an inquiry to famous authors, asking the question, What’s wrong with the world today? And Chesterton responded simply:

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”



This story about G.K. Chesterton is not substantiated but I sure wish it were true. Why do I wish this?

Because sooner or later every person stumbles upon one of the great truths of life. And "stumbles upon" is the right phrase because this truth sure feels like a huge stumbling block. God knows this truth, the saints knew it, the souls in Purgatory definitely know it. We may know it as well, but our pride resists it. This truth is:

We are our own heaviest crosses.

There, I said it.

And it's true for all of us.

When I first came upon this realization I thought it was only me. That I, myself, was my own heaviest cross and that this didn't apply straight across the board.

But it does. It applies to all of us. When you read the lives of the saints you see that every single one of them came to this conclusion about themselves. It's a common thread that runs through their writings and one we should take note of.

Those who say, "But my husband (insert person or circumstance of choice here) is my heaviest cross!"

Nope. Not true. You are your heaviest cross. This is a truth about ourselves that we tend to resist in an extraordinary way because pride has taken root in our hearts and we don't want to believe that one of our biggest problems just might be ourselves.

When we believe that others are our "heavy crosses" it may be one of the strongest signs that a virtue we should be praying for in abundance is the virtue of humility and maybe some charity to go with it.

It took me ten years to learn this. (And another five to accept it.)

It is part and parcel of our fallen human nature.

It's a great lesson though because as soon as we REALLY learn this,as soon as we stop resisting God's
efforts to point this oh so hard-to swallow, it's stuck in my throat fact out, we can begin to make quick progress in the spiritual life because our focus is taken off the sins and faults of our neighbor and responsibility is planted squarely on the shoulders to whom it belongs. We stop blaming others for our heavy loads and start seeing that WE are the heavy loads. This is not to say that there are not external circumstances in our lives that do not make our cross heavier. There are. But the reason the *external circumstances* are so "heavy" is because of our *internal circumstances*.

In other words, if you want to lighten your load you have to work on yourself first.

As G.K. Chesterton so bluntly puts it: Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all seasick.

Funny how some of the most obvious things in life are the most difficult to see. Not only are we seasick, we are "see sick" as well and our biggest blind spot is ourselves.

~ You cannot escape it, wherever you run. For wherever you go you carry yourself with you, and will always find yourself. Turn upwards or turn downwards, turn inwards or turn outwards: everywhere you will find the cross.                      Thomas A Kempis

~ The greatest cross of all is self.       Archbishop Francois Fenelon