Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like...

It's beginning to feel a lot like...Fall:)
This is on our "to do" list!
I'm linking it here since I'm not (yet) on Pinterest...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This And That...September Liturgical Highlights

It's hard to believe that September has flown by already...
Thought I'd share a few of my favorite liturgical things from the month:)
Happy Birthday Mama!  Mary's birthday was one of my favorite feast days this month.  Each year our Little Flowers and Blue Knight's group kicks off the school year with a picnic to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lady.  The highlight was having Father M. graciously stopped by to bless everyone.
One of the *new things* that we did this year was make a prayer box. Everyone wrote out their prayer intentions on slips of paper to place them in the box.  We got permission to place them on the altar for Our Lady's Intercession.  (The Mass for the Nativity of Our Lady was being held the next morning.)
It's a little dark but the children were placing their intentions at the foot of the altar.
Isn't this a cute photo (below)?  My friend's little one "running to Mama":)
Holy Name of Mary~  We said goodbye to one of our favorite priests on this feast day...Never an easy thing to do!  A group of our parish friends made dinner, hosted at our house.  I had NO napkin rings that weren't Christmas themed so this easy idea emerged under pressure:) It's an easy idea that could be used for any liturgical feast, tea, or party:)
Saintly Napkin Rings
I just took some wired ribbon and a photo of our parish Fatima shrine (changing the shape and size via my photo program) and printed on card stock...
Everything was connected by my trusty friend, the glue gun:)
I don't have the best precision when it comes to scissors but hey, it all worked out!
Exaltation of the Holy Cross:
Can I tell you how much we are loving American Heritage Girls? (AHG) A troop was recently started at our parish and it's been such a wonderful scouting program and Christian-based character development for girls.  Princess made these cupcakes on the Feast of the Holy Cross for our AHG National Day of Service, the next day.  If you don't know about the failings of Girl Scouts of America, please click this link and be informed.
The girls visited a home for the mentally disabled that had never had visitors!  That alone had a huge impact on our hearts...
Each girl made their own cupcakes based on the Free To Be A Blessing badge.
The remainder of the cupcakes were delivered to a home for abused children:)
It was a SWEET day on many levels...In fact, the Catholic News Service also featured a nice article in support of this American Heritage Girls National Day of Service...Thrilled to have great press from our faith:) I just can't say enough about American Heritage Girls and its positive program.  We simply love it!  
On the home front...I've been reflecting on how serving others really starts at home, the place where it's most difficult to serve. Sometimes it's easy to serve people outside our homes when we can step out and put on a happy face for a moment in time.  But when we really think about serving Jesus 24/7, day in an day out, by caring for our spouse and children or even extended family, it's just plain tough stuff.  As a parent, herein lies a serious challenge to care for the needy in our homes, each and every day.  I am reminded that an example of joyful service in my home begins with me.  Probably the biggest obstacle many parents face is being fully present with their families, not just being with them.  With all of the technological distractions, I know that I fail each day and I grow weary of my shortcomings.  Yet I try, try, again, keenly aware of my desire to be of better service to my family.
This beautiful sunrise on my morning jog reminded me of the beauty that God creates for us each day.  Through His gentle hand, we have the opportunity to see Him in all we do...And begin again, thanks to His loving grace.
  I'm working on being patient with myself (which I am not good at) and finding peace while working from the inside out.   This daily online retreat from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales is a gentle spiritual boost that speaks to me right now.  Check it out! You may also subscribe to the daily retreat via FB. They have Advent and Lenten online retreats as well:)
"He who is fretted with his own failings will not correct them.  All profitable correction comes from a calm, peaceful mind."
~St. Francis de Sales~

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tides of Life...Holding On, Letting Go.

I seem to be holding on to a lot of stuff lately.  Not stuff as in material things but stuff as in the trials of the heart.  I was reflecting on this as I took a little Labor Day jaunt to the lake with the 3 youngest kids and my parents.  It gave me time to think and pray (as dear husband and next oldest son worked at the fire department).  There I stood on this gorgeous beach, just holding on to all of my stuff, feeling stuck and rather stranded, to be honest.  Being a person of faith, you know with all your heart that your faith really is a stunning lake. In fact, it's down right glorious (just like this photo) but sometimes you're just stuck on the shore, despite the obvious beauty and blessings that scream out for you to notice and beckon you to embrace them.
I know I just need to let go and let God...Yet I stood here, like a stubborn rock, holding on to my sorrows for dear life.  I know that changes in life make me better and stronger but it's just plain hard to let go.  Inevitably, the tide rolled right over me... OF course it did!
  I was getting splashed and bumped around for awhile before I began to realize that standing on the shore is safe for awhile but sooner or later, it's time to let go.  It's time to let go; It's time to move forward with courage and trust.
 The unknown tries to get me.  Yet I know God has fabulous plans out there on the heavenly horizon... Just as St. Paul exhorted, it is also my inmost desire to "Be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
In the meantime, the good Lord is so patient.  He enamored me with the glory of His creation.  He wrapped me in His arms of loving beauty...God is always so good.
The once-in-a-blue-moon over the lake romanced the spirit of my soul.  It really was breath-taking!
My Dad brought his old kayak that hadn't been used for years.  I found it rather symbolic as we prepared to cast off from the shore.  There are some really great biblical references to boats but for some reason the gospel of Luke (5:33-39) hit home for me this week. Jesus tells the parable of the wineskins and how the new wine cannot be poured into the old wineskins, otherwise they will be ruined.  New wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
Leaving the beach was a good step towards letting go. I was struck, though not surprised, at the the stillness of my spirit, the solitude, the peace.  As we paddled far from shore, I sensed the freedom of leaving all of my stuff behind. It was certainly a tangible reminder that letting go really does set us free...Free to become a fresh new wineskin, a new dwelling place for God's holy will in our lives.  (Not surprising, I always feel the same way after the Sacrament of Reconciliation).  
So now the problem was that we let go and we didn't want to come back!  Even the kids could have paddled around ALL day...You bet, they felt the protection of that peace!  In fact, my Dad noted that we "used the heck out of that old kayak!"  I guess we just kept going back for another piece of that peace:)  
We were able to walk to this quaint little church on Sunday...Another little piece of peace via the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life.
When all was said and done, I'd venture to say that there are no easy answers but there are answers. Moving forward to unchartered waters is just plain difficult but it is the answer and it's what we are called to do as Catholic Christians...The tides of our hearts ebb and flow as we continuously hold on and let go through our entire lives.  Pain is really just a small price to pay for the peace that God promises for following His plan, His Cross, His Salvation.   We can certainly stand at the shore and hold on tight for awhile but ultimately it really doesn't loose the bonds that tie us there.  The image of hopping in the boat and paddling into the arms of peace and love really does help me practice letting go of my stuff.  I don't know about you but I need the practice...I no sooner let go and I'm taking stuff right back.
 Starting today, what do you say...Let's sail away!

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