Lent


It’s all in the Pause

Do you ever wonder what the great “secret” to finding more joy, peace, and time is?

The answer is all in the PAUSE. 

The season of Lent calls us to dive deeper – deeper into our relationship with Jesus by focusing on his great and merciful love for us.

But how?

This month, at CatholicMom.com, I shared how to

Pause for More Joy, Peace, and Time.

Read more about how a simple PAUSE in your day is the way to a deeper, more joyful, more peaceful, and more intimate relationship with Christ.

How do you like to “Pause” throughout your day for more joy, peace, and time?


Suffering with Others brings Peace and Grace 5

Earlier this week, for Holy Week, I shared a few thoughts on Uniting our Suffering with Christ’s and Why We Suffer and How to Respond.

As I concluded, what I’ve come to learn about suffering is that I may never understand why God allows us to suffer but I do know we have control over how we respond.

The only way to get through suffering is by embracing and offering it with Christ’s offering.

But how do we do this precisely?

First, Pray.

Jesus, I give this to you. Take this [my sickness, this challenging child, my job, my marriage, etc.] as an offering with your suffering. I unite myself and my pain with yours. Please give me Your strength and Grace to bear it for you and with you.

Second, Pray of Others and their Suffering.

When we experience acute pain, in the moment it’s impossible to really focus on anything else except for the terrible pain we are feeling. When we are going through a challenging time in our lives, though the pain isn’t physical, it can still consume all of our thoughts and make it impossible to focus on anything else.

So how do we get away from that? Turn to others. Join your suffering with their suffering.

Whenever we turn our focus to helping others, it doesn’t exactly take our own pains or sufferings away but it takes our sacrificial offering and turns it into something goodLOVE.

One day last week over Spring Break everyone had reached their limits on patience and things were starting to unravel – especially me. So I said,

Ok kids, get your shoes on, we’re going for a walk.

Almost as soon as we got out into the fresh air and warm sunshine, our spirits lifted. We decided to walk down to the assisted living and nursing home maybe ¼ of a mile down the road and visit our “Park West friends” as we like to call the residents we visit there.

About two years ago we started visiting the nursing home residents as part of a Visiting the Homebound Stewardship opportunity through our parish.

It has taken time for us to get used to it – old people can be scary to little kids (and adults!) but we’ve come to really enjoy our visits there because we see how much the residents enjoy seeing us.  And we’ve learned a lot of through going also.

We brought some hand-made cards friends of ours made and asked us to share. The cards had cute doodles and kind messages like, “Have a Nice Day” or “Happy Easter” and we went around bringing one to each resident we saw.

Each time we did, an amazing transformation occurred. When we first walked in to see a resident lying asleep on their bed looking as if they couldn’t move on their own, as soon as we came in and they saw the kids’ bright faces (and wiggly energy), their eyes fluttered open, their faces lit up, and some of them even sat up as if they’d never been asleep. We left each room with a smile on everyone’s faces.

We came to visit one man who, as soon as he saw us come in, pulled the blankets off and shot up and immediately started talking with us, obviously pleased to have visitors. Rex told us all about a condition he suffers from called MRSA. He told us how a few months ago painful blister bubbles spread over his whole body, even the bottom of his feat, and how the liquid inside is poisonous so if it gets on anyone it would spread the same ailment.

Leprosy

He confirmed my thoughts by saying it’s known as a type of modern-day leprosy. Thankfully his ulcers have abated and we were in no danger of becoming infected.

We sat there a while as he recounted his ordeal and told us how he had endured the worst pain he had ever experienced in the whole of his life. He looked about 75 or so and was a big burly man who looked like he might have served in the military so we could only imagine how bad it must have been.

We visited a few other residents that day, all of whom had their own stories of pain whether they shared them with us or not. As we passed out the last “Kindness card” as we called them, we left feeling filled with Grace and renewed spirits.

I could have stayed at home that afternoon and wallowed in boredom, self-pity and selfish discontent. Instead, we stepped away from our own “suffering” and stepped into the suffering of others and we were greatly blessed by it and hopefully so were those we visited.

Today, on Holy Thursday, begins what’s called the Easter Triduum – “The summit of the Liturgical Year…from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.the Three Days of Christ’s Passion and Death.” (USCCB, emphasis mine)

On Holy Thursday, even as Jesus knew the tremendous pain he was about to endure, He began by providing a meal (the Last Supper) to the Apostles and He humbled himself by washing their feet.

Over the next ‘day’ he endured great suffering. Along the way others stepped onto the path with him and helped him in his suffering.

As we walked home from visiting our home-bound friends that day, I thought about everyone we visited and remembered how their faces lit up and smiles spread across their old-wrinkly skin and hid their sad and lonely faces. And this filled me with a certain peace and happiness that I’ve been missing. I especially thought of Rex and told the kids when we got home,

Today, we visited a leper (in a way) just like Jesus did.

They all nodded and then, just as quickly as the moment came, it evaporated and the kids were off chasing and yelling at each other in the yard.

The great Mystery of Jesus and the reason His Sacrifice means so much is because God became man so that he could enter into our suffering with us. He comes to us, takes our cross and says,

Here let me take that heavy load from you. Let me carry it for you. You’re not alone anymore, I AM [is] with you.


Uniting our Sufferings with Christ’s 3

A couple weeks ago, I picked a friend up to drive her out to a mini retreat we were both going to for the day with a group of wonderful women from our parish.

My friend (I’ll call her Jane) can’t drive anymore because just a few months ago she became suddenly very ill and can no longer drive.
She was hospitalized in the Fall because she had started having terrible pain throughout her whole body and couldn’t move. She was there two weeks before the doctors finally diagnosed her with Polymyositis, a rare auto immune disease that attacks and weakens the muscles and can cause permanent tissue damage.

Jane told me she had never been in such terrible pain as those couple weeks of agony. She couldn’t even dress herself, she told me it was so terrible. Thankfully, after some treatment and physical therapy, she’s able to move around better now but uses a walker to walk and still needs a lot of help.  With the Polymyositis, she also developed painful ulcers on her hands and has to wear special gloves. I joked with her that she was becoming like Padre Pio.

My friend Jane has had a rough time but even her own physical pain is not so much compared with the emotional  pain she’s gone through watching her daughter’s son, her grandson, go through the trial of battling pediatric lymphocytic leukemia for 10 years now.

While I drove, Jane opened her heart to me and shared how she wishes she could take her grandson’s place so he didn’t have to suffer anymore.  She has offered up her own pain and ordeal for him and her daughter, hoping to unite her own suffering with him and hopefully help alleviate his pain. She said she knows that if she accepts this for and with Jesus it is better than becoming depressed and bitter. At least in this way, her suffering isn’t meaningless – it has a purpose. 

Jane said she hopes that her illness can somehow help bring others closer with Jesus so they will see how He helps her and see that He can help them also. I told Jane that even if she isn’t healed physically (which we still hope for) she is already bringing people to Jesus by her example of acceptance and offering of her suffering to Christ. That’s the real miracle. Jane has figured out the answer to suffering and how to respond to it:

The only way to get through suffering is by embracing and offering it with Christ’s offering. 

Today, over at my other virtual home, CatholicMom.com, I share my thoughts on suffering – Why we Suffer and How to Respond.

I shared some very wise insights on this by Bishop Barron that shine a different light on The Problem with Suffering.

As we begin this final lap of Holy Week and remember the Agony and Passion Christ suffered it’s a good time to think about the great example he gave us about how to respond when we go through physical, emotional or any type of struggle.

Yesterday’s second reading from St. Paul puts it best:

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Second Station of the Cross: Jesus Accepts His Cross Pictures of the stations at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria, IL taken by Timothy & Julia Robinson.


Pilgrimage {A Journey to the Shore} 5

Pilgrimage:

a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion:
any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay homage: (Dictionary.com)

If there was one word to act as motif for this season I find myself in, it would be “Pilgrimage”.

…or maybe transformation…or metanoia…ok I’ll stick with Pilgrimage for now.

The truth is, we are all pilgrims, whether we know it or not, we are all on our way “somewhere else”, even if we do not know where.

I know it’s an overused analogy, the “path of life”, but it’s a good one that’s easy to relate to so I’ll go with it.

When I reflect on my life, it’s all been a series of roads that widened and narrowed, diverged into trails leading into the unknown or which have led me down and up winding paths through soft meadows or jagged rocks. It’s all been one long journey, a pilgrimage.

In some parts of this journey, I’ve felt both confident and self-assured, whistling my way along, knowing exactly where I was at, where I was headed. Other times, I’ve felt desperately lost and alone, losing all sense of direction without a certain destination. When this happens, all I can do is follow. 

I’m reading a book right now, Laurus, which is, to encapsulate, all about Pilgrimage. In it the main fictional character, Arseny, reflects on his journey in this way –

Sometimes I feel. ..the road unfolds itself under my feet. And. ..I do not know where it leads.

This analogy literally met the pavement as I recently journeyed for a cumulative four days west to Los Angeles (by air) and back across five states with my younger brother (by car).

It’s the first time I flew, or traveled anywhere far, on my own for a long time, not even a toddler or infant as an extra passenger this time. Just me, soaring above the clouds as the sunrise raced to follow. Climbing higher, I could feel a weight shedding and my soul loosening. I ached for my dad, though, somehow I knew he was right there with me.

Up, up, up into the air I soared, watching the buildings and houses turn into miniature toys scattered across the plains and fields. Over snow-capped mountains stretching their peaks to meet us in the clouds and soaring over miles of dry cracks, stretch marks and time-worn crevices in the earth’s surface.  Finally, reaching the end of the new world, I escaped my sky-shuttle confinement and was greeted by the cool ocean breeze running to welcome me.

My brother showed me around some places around LA,  starting with a satisfying meal that hit the spot at HomeGirl Cafe, a cool deli cafe that’s part of a non-profit gang rehabilitation program, a quick walk-through (because parking is expensive!) of the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  a lovely stroll through the architectural gem and masterpiece galleys of The Getty Center art museum, and finally embracing the ocean’s soothing waves that have beckoned me to come back to them after many years.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA

View of downtown LA (in the distance) and Culver City

One of the Getty Center’s exhibition buildings.

View into the Getty Courtyard

I was in love with the Getty’s architectural design

Alone – or at least without my usual dependents attached – I felt I was able to just follow the road, letting my brother guide me through the city, allowing God to pull me along the path.

We made our way down the boardwalk and onto the Santa Monica beach. Unfortunately, a cold front had blown in that day and it was chili, in the 60’s as opposed to the warmer 80’s from a few days before.

Apparently this didn’t bother some people as they plunged right into the waves, hitching a ride on the waves on their boogey boards back to the sandy shore. I’m a wimp for cold and kept both my jacket and shoes on snug.


I stood on the beach, inhaling the salty air mixed with a seaweedy smell, watching the people around me, closing my eyes and letting the sound of the waves roll over me. I crouched down as one wave broke away from the group and came skipping right up to me, allowing me a quick tickle with my fingers, before the giggly wave twirled back just as fast as it came.



Though I didn’t take my shoes and socks off to dip my feet in – much to my later agonizing regret – I could almost feel the waves wash over me, coaxing and tugging me to come and play with them.  I remembered, from previous experiences on the Pacific Mexican shore, the exhilarating feeling of the waves crashing around my legs, the delicate sand sinking below my feet as the water receded, taking a part of the shore with it each time.


We lingered there a short time then walked along the shore, listening the the rhythmic waves rising and crashing, the sound lapping over me, soothing me…healing me. 

We breathed in one long breath and bid our final farewell to the ocean, unsure when – or if – we’d return to it’s embracing arms again. We trecked back through the thick sand, hiked the staircase back up the ridge, found our way back to the car and then enjoyed a overfilling meal in the twilight-lit bay of the Marina.

Stay tuned for more pictures and story from my “pilgrimage” soon.

(Photorights: I took all these pictures with my husbands’s A6000, no editing or filtering because I’m lazy.)


What was Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden?

I was planning on staying mostly quiet on the blog this week on account of Holy Week. But I came across the prayer of the hour of Jesus after a recent conversation and after reading it, decided I had to share it.

If you’ve never read it and may have wondered what Jesus was thinking before his Passion, or if you’ve maybe forgotten about it, take some time this week to read it and meditate on the last prayer of Jesus before he died for us.

It is a beautiful romantic prayer prayed by One who really, really loves us.

The Prayer of Jesus

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said,

“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,  just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.

Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.  I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.

And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.  When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.  I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

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