Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Welcome Christmas!

A dear priest we know from Ghana, Fr. James, signs many of his written communications with the exhortation to, "Stay blessed!" Keeping a good and holy Christmas is to really let the Lord in and to give Him every fiber of our being. This is easy to say, hard to do. I am organizing my workspace in my kitchen and am going to throw away the paper version of this quote, attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. As you can see, it is an examination of conscience of sorts:

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.


Mother Teresa

Those of you who know what a clutter bug I am will laugh. I am not throwing it away and am off, instead, to tape it into my new red leather F.Covey zipper organizer that I bought for myself at Wal-mart a few days ago. Watch out 2008, I am armed with a Day Timer!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Giving God the laundry

Yesterday, right before lunch, my 6 year old son, my 9 year old daughter and I made a major move toward a long-time goal of mine. My goal for many years now has been to enjoy, even for a few minutes, the feeling of having all of the laundry washed, dryed and put away. I have, on one or two occasions, come very close to this. My husband would think he'd "died and gone to heaven," just to arrrive home with all the wash done and put away. Since becoming a mother in 1995, it has been an ongoing struggle for me. To be defeated by heaps of clothing would be such an unhappy fate!

Some Advent notes:
Mother Church gives us a liturgical year filled with goodness, wisdom and plain common sense. I was fortunate to have experienced so much joy and energy as my husband and I prepared for the birth and delivery of our first child, Maggie. Preparing for the Child Jesus does not really depend on our energy level or mood. It depends on our will. Even the devil cannot touch our will. A major obstacle to the life of faith is equating our material happiness with our spiritual happiness. We are happy and at peace deep in our souls because we are in a state of grace, not because all of our material needs (or wants) are filled.

I was so blessed to get to attend a lovely evening two nights ago up in Cumming, Georgia, at the new chapel at Pinecrest Academy. Mass and Confession were part of this "Evening of Reflection," as well as two short and inspiring talks, given by an obviously passionate priest. I hope it is ok to share my penance because it was both unusual and so very thought provoking. The priest gave me absolution and told me to go and do something I'd never done before before Christmas.

Well, I've never started a business, seen a kangaroo, or written a book. These were the things that immediately popped into my head. I've never died and thought about that. But, that is not something within my control.

Control was a big topic that evening. Most folks interested in living a faith-filled life have read some Christian mysticism. The great mystics were really practicioners of the small. They gave to God by letting go of themselves. St. Paul in Phillipians mentions "emptying himself" so as to be filled with God's will. The priest listed 6 obstacles to the life of faith: 1. an "entitlement" attitude 2. a weak prayer life 3. intellectual over-confidence 4. over-confidence in self 5. control and 6. unforgiveness/anger...

Spending as much time as I do with children, I have spent alot of time studying what makes them tick. In general, I love being with children and young people as they are so honest and so full of desire to change the world. Adults tend to become entrenched and, as a whole, have a harder time with change. Children live in a world of change, and, when they are left to their imaginations and a wholesome surrounding, they are inquisitive and creative. They are not always as good as they should be (who is!). They need guidance, and it is my experience that they learn to pray from the heart, when given the time and attention that they deserve.

Well, I better go do some housework. I wonder if I will do that one thing I have never done before Christmas day. I hope my family will celebrate a lovely, peaceful Christmastime filled with family and friends. I am often repeating two things, one of which my own father said to me often, "Pretty is as pretty does." I have added, "People are more important than things."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Begin Again

This post could also be titled, "Back to the Drawing Board," as I am feeling the frustration all mothers feel at not having the time to do all that we'd like to do. This past October when I was on a women's retreat at our parish, I was reading an excellent little book, The Way, by the Spanish priest and saint, Jose Maria Escriva. That is where I got "begin again," it is an exhortation from him, and it is inspired by Him who is merciful forgiveness.

I think we need to pull in and check up on our priorities when we feel overwhelmed. Are we, in this order: first, a disciple of Christ, second, a "dream" wife to our husband, and third, a loving mother to our children. All this must be lived at once, which is a tricky business. I wish I could express this better, but here goes: I am both an idealist and a realist. All this means that I think we should dream big, while, at the same time, be gentle and forgiving with ourselves and others (this is the realist part).

That's all for now as I am off to pray, do some math and fold some (and put away!) laundry.

Thank you Lord Jesus for unending new beginnings. You are the Word made flesh and you lift us up every time we fall. Please put Your Holy Desires on our hearts!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Getting rid of our sins...

I was just watching a little EWTN via the Internet, as I cleaned up the kitchen (We have not had cable t.v. for nearly 4 years. Can you tell I miss the good part?), and the priest from England who was giving a little Advent meditation mentioned that when G.K. Chesterton was asked why in the world he wanted to become a Catholic, he responded, "to get rid of my sins." As any practicing Catholic knows, the gift of priestly absolution in the Confessional is from God and it is absolutely meant for us. We are called to be saints. We are called to love others as our Lord and Savior has loved, and continues to love, us. I think I could go to Confession once a day! I so desire to love God. So often, I find myself falling short, and I am in awe at the power of the sacraments to restore my soul.

Thanks be to God, my husband and I got what we sometimes call a "spiritual shower" (We went to Confession) on Saturday morning before the first Sunday of this lovely season.

Lord Jesus, thank you for Mother Church which continues to save us as often as we are willing to be open to our salvation. Our salvation is not complete until we see you face to face. Then, we will see ourselves and our earthly pilgrimage as they truly are. Help us, during this time of waiting, to examine the state of our souls. Help us to love ourselves, not judge others (as we never know the "whole story"), and love You as You have loved us. Amen.